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Help creating bass lines

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by thorne_92, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. thorne_92

    thorne_92 Banned

    Mar 10, 2013
    Hey guys, so I'm just needing help understanding how to create interesting bass lines. I play for my church and this Sunday we are going a new song and I'm stuck trying to come up with something in the intro/verses. The song starts with a synth holding the chords Gadd4 for two bars then Dmaj and Cmaj. Any tips to help me come up with something would be much appreciated.
    Thanks guys
  2. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Coming at this the wrong way i am afraid to say...assuming i had the chords i would come at it like so.
    First the tempo, then the meter being used, add to this the syncopation of any melody/vocals for something to harmonise against, then mix it all up with imagination and experience to flow as a piece of music within a piece of music.
    Simply having the chords is the information that everyone would have, what is taken from or read into that information is the art, that is the subjective part of what helps makes great music. :)
  3. flojob

    flojob Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2011
    There's nothing wrong with just doing root notes if that's what fits. Sometimes it's hard to play what serves the song best, because it's boring to play. But if G/D/C sound good while the synth holds the chords, don't be ashamed to do it.
    Also, perhaps you could play a rhythm that goes with what the bass drum will do once they come in.
    I think your best bet is to connect what is happening with what will happen.
    If you know how to spell chords, you could try playing some harmonizing lines. Like instead of root notes, play the 3rd or 5th.
    Or you could play the melody. Play the melody of the vocals. Just some simple ideas.
    Play what sounds good. If it sounds good people will find it interesting.
  4. Lot depends on how the band plays Praise music, i.e. what is your role in all this. If you go outside the box you may start stepping on toes.

    Intro is normally the chord progression for the first two lines of the verse.

    Bass line in Praise is root on one. What you do after that is normally a lot of roots.

    Gotta go............
  5. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    As well as the advice given so far, you could also try leaving the bass aside for a while, and simply try humming/singing a bass line. Have the song playing (assuming that this is possible) at a low volume in the background. Then, when you think you have found an appropriate bass line, then pick up your bass and play the line.

    Sometimes when we are thinking in terms of theory, we are not giving our ears a chance to "contribute".
  6. flojob

    flojob Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2011
    I don't know what kind of church you go to, but if it's white folks kind of church, it's OK to play a more subdued bass line. Leaves more room for singing about god being an awesome God and what not.
  7. OK back....... Roots with some runs if they fit in. For example:

    In "Holy Spirit Rain Down" there are a couple of places where a diatonic run will fit in. For example:

    As we Stand on your word.

    .........5....(wait on it).4..........3..2..1
    Holy Spirit, .............. rain down.

    We play it in F thus the 6 and 3 are open strings, and make a 6-3-2-1, or a 4-3-2-1 run easy to do.

    Root's with a FEW runs at specific points fits with the Praise music we play. Nothing wrong with roots in Praise. Chord changes will use all 7 chords and they come quickly...... There is not a lot of room for elaborate bass lines. A heavy root on one with softer root beats work in most cases. Augment do not compete with the other members of the band.

    Little more on the intro. The intro will normally be done by the keys or the lead electric. IMO to augment a solo or lead break, which that intro would be, the bass should pedal a tonic root or a 5 and stay out of the way. That lead break belongs to the other guy, not to you, so augment, by keeping the beat, but, other than that stay out of the way.

    As mentioned chord tones make good bass lines, thus the root, correct 3, five, correct 7 make good notes for a bass line, however, in Praise the old saying; "less is more" is a good thing to follow.

    Understand I'm speaking of Praise music, not Black Gospel.

    Of course, IMO.


    Speaking of Black Gospel. Our Praise band was the guest band for tonight's Wednesday night services at the local black church. After we opened the service with three Praise selections, the church's keyboard played several Gospel hymns - the members sang and the sermon began. Then near the end of the sermon other musicians moved into place. What they played was more jazz than Black Gospel. I was not expecting that - drums, keyboard, electric lead guitar and a male vocalist playing softly in the background while the pastor ended his message. They continued playing during the time the members were moving to the refreshment area. I had not witnessed this in a gospel service before. I was impressed.

    For what it's worth......
  8. thorne_92

    thorne_92 Banned

    Mar 10, 2013
    Thanks guys, I do understand using chord tones and what not It's just not sounding right when I do it, oh well I suppose its just experience :)
  9. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    We improvise a grove off of a vamp the piano lays down on a regular basis. On the Black Gospel instructional sites they tend to categorize as Jazz, Traditional and Quartet where I basically am using blues licks, and Contemporary which runs from classic R&B to Funk to Neo-Soul...

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