Having trouble with a bass line.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by MalcolmAmos, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. Having trouble with a bass line for this song. Normally root on one works, but, this one is giving me fits. Following the chords and changing with the chord changes is just not working for me. I think it is the lyric phrasing that is throwing me off. I’m leaning toward a droning - like in a vamp ( 1-5-2-5 (D-A E-A) for the verses and a 1-7-2-3-4-5 repetitive vamp (D-C#-E-F#-G-A) for the chorus.

    Little help would be appreciated. Normally root on one and follow the chord changes work, not this time.

    Thanks, guys.
  2. Milestones


    May 28, 2012
    One thing that might help, if right now you're playing D down to A down to your open E, would be to try the E up an octave so that your bass line has a different melodic shape. So D down to A up to E back down to A. This will probably help also because you'll be playing the E in the same octave as the guitar, making the lowest note a unison. It's easy to forget that guitar is actually a bass instrument.

    Roots on 1 are perfect for this song, no need to make it more complicated. Try a rhythm like this: half note on beat one, eighth note on beat 3 and dotted quarter on beat 3 and. Should sound like this: Buuuuuuum bum buuuum. Play around with the lengths of the notes while keeping them in the same place in the bar. Cutting a note short versus letting it ring til the next one, or picking some duration in between can drastically alter the feel of a song. Mess with it til you find something you like. And with this song it's better to be closer to playing behind the beat than on top of it because it has a relaxed feeling. Once you have the skeleton of a groove, try playing some simple connecting shapes between the chords as long as they don't interfere with the melody.

    And make sure that when the chord says D/F# that you're playing F# in the bass.
  3. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013

    First, I doubt that the harmony (chords) for that song is “refined” enough. I don't like too much of those 2's – A2, especially D2, etc... I would work with the composer/arranger to correct the harmony/chords.

    In simplified form I would play something like:
    4/4| D / F# | A / E | B / G | F# E / A |
    D / F# | A / E | B / G | A / C# |

    (Sorry, for me the melody “ I'll bring you more than a song” reminds me Robbie Williams' “I'm loving angels instead”.) Right after I wrote it, I broke my A string. Shouldn't have said it.


    B / A F# E | A / C# EC#| B...repeat.

    I would play the chorus like this, with some embellishments:

    |4/4| D / F# | A / C# | B / G | E / A |

    It's my quick automatic response to that song.
  4. Thanks guys. I'll go over this tonight and then one more time at rehearsal Sunday morning.

    Appreciate your input.
  5. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007
    what about something like this?
  6. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Make a pure out there call on it mate.
    My first instinct would be take Lee's great feel from Stratus, transpose it to 'A' and play Lees' line over the whole song.....without following the chords, but follow the feel.

    You should hear from Lee"s Stratus line that the, octave (A), the b7th (G) and the 5th (E) will work in a minor pentatonic framework, with a few tweaks hear and there, and free you from your present train of thought.

    I find that if i cannot formulate a bass line after a few listens, then get as far away from my present thinking and come at it left field so to speak.....it opens you up to developing new ideas far removed from what may be blocking your thinking.

    Hear how many times the notes A-E-G appear in the songs structure, and how there placement can run a counter line to the melody used because the notes function changes within the feel of a repeating progression.
    Its simple minor pentatonic fun.....so long as you can keep the line 'centred'.....and that is the real fun within that challenge......as it was for Lee in the original Stratus line.

  7. Yes, less is more........

    Again thanks, I'll let you know how it goes Sunday.
  8. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Sorry, but I did not know that the song, you were asking about, was a very popular and well known for some folks.
    I approached the song like something new, even in the process of creation; therefore, please don't invent the wheel and just play what other/previous musicians did.
    pedroims suggestion is just perfect.
    Because it's a song for others (non-musicians) to sing along.
    Don't confuse them. It's not a jazz competition, or even "Idol".
    People won't accept any new changes. It will irritated them.

    Fergie Fulton's approach is very interesting and innovative, like a organ/pedal point musical phrase.
    nothing will work because as I mentioned earlier, the more or less known song is for other people in the church to sing along. Don't mess with their song.

    P.S. Some other notes.
    1. I really did not like the bass playing F# in D/F# because the same F# note is in the lead vocal. It sounded dull to me.
    2. I got a feeling that the song should have a "two-chord-per-bar" harmonic pulse.
    3. A chord D2, played at the beginning of a verse, sounded too complicated in comparison with the lead melody.
    3. In pedroims' example, the fully arranged song requires a C# after D, because playing A (the same note for the lead melody) dulls the song, etc...

    What ever you do, don't mess with a well-recognized song.
    Remember what happened to the great composer Stravinsky


    "Stravinsky's unconventional major-minor seventh chord in his arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" led to an incident with the Boston police on 15 January 1944, and he was warned that the authorities could impose a $100 fine upon any "rearrangement of the national anthem in whole or in part".

    Stravinsky's Star-Spangled Banner Orchestral Version
  9. Along those same lines ---- the rest of the band will be using the chords that are on the fake chord sheet music we were given -- so I should stick pretty close to that.

    I'm going to try to follow the chords, but, I do not think I will use (play) every chord -- less is more. The beat is the thing.

    I'll let you know how it goes.
  10. I'd probably keep it simple too - root, with maybe some rhythm, and perhaps some lead-ins to the chord V to I changes - like the change back to D from A, so I'd probably play A-B-E-D - with the the B and E as passing notes, and emphasis on the D. I'd perhaps embellish with Root, 5th, Octave jumps - because it's a pretty dull song with nothing really happening musically - which for the purpose is perfect. As for rhythm - go with the drummer for feel.
  11. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    You see those a lot in Christian worship music.

    I mean a LOT.
  12. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    An entire generation of what are essentially singer/songwriter types of solo worship leaders have been taught to play like that. Slap a capo once you find your key and hit the open chords so you can concentrate on the singing and leading. From there the chords have been passed along on the chord sites. As the local church builds a larger band so drop from using the technique but the chord/lyric sheets still remain written for them. Sort of like the artist portfolios published by Hal Leonard and others are for a solo piano, sometimes in an easy piano format.

    On the other hand most CCM hits have been reinterpreted in many sub genres and styles and many local churches have heard them in their local musical dialect and not necessarily done in the style of the first iconic hit recording.
  13. ffutterman

    ffutterman Talentless Bass Enthusiast

    May 7, 2010
    Where can I find more videos like this, with the chords and what-not? I love finding stuff like that and trying to come up with my own lines for it.
  14. Google. Use these key words;

    Guitar chords, "name of the song"
    Video, with chords, "name of the song"
    Backing track, with chords, "name of the song"

    The comma and quote marks help in the search.

    I have had good luck with Google. And yes that is how I practice -- fake chord sheet music then a video of someone playing the song -- and I play-a-long with that. Every once in awhile you do need to transpose the key so it matches your fake chord sheet music. Not a step for a stepper.

    Easy to do, if you need some help with finding the key, just ask. Piece of cake.

    Good luck.
  15. Well, as promised here is how it all come out today.

    With our drummer and our vocalists it went well. What threw me was the lyric phrasing - the rhythm on that video I pulled up to practice with. Once I got with people that I am used to playing with - ole root on one kicked in and it went fine.

    If there is a point, I guess it is do not count on the lead guitar for rhythm.

    Thanks for all the help.
  16. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Have you recorded it, by any chance?
  17. Our sound board system does not record well, or at least we have not found out how to produce something we want to release. Our last venture picked up the vocalists and keyboards well, however, the bass was too loud and the drum track and lead guitar did not record at all. Something about the mix of our monitors and the house speakers - I go Jell-O when talking about the sound equipment and leave all that to the engineers.

    But, no we have not recorded anything.