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Help Needed With Playing Bass Line - Help is on the Way

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Larry S, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. Larry S

    Larry S

    Mar 9, 2007
    This bass line is beyond my level of skill but it is one of my favorites and I really want to learn how to play it. I want to analyze the song from a music theory perspective instead of just looking for tab which is too easy and doesn't help me. What is the chord progression of the song and what scale is being played?

    The song is "Help is on the Way" by the Whatnauts.

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
    GrizzleTone likes this.
  2. GrizzleTone

    GrizzleTone Dig it.

    Oct 11, 2013
    Great song, with lots to learn in that line. Have fun!
  3. Larry S

    Larry S

    Mar 9, 2007
    Can you offer any tips? What's the chord progression of the song and what scale is it played in? With a bass line like this, what is the best way to approach learning it? Thanks for any help.
  4. I've been trying for some fake chord sheet music on this song and with out paying not having a lot of stuff come up, and if I listed the lyrics and chord progression here I'd get into copyright trouble, and the forum guys don't like that, but, to answer your question.

    1. Find the chord progression. How? Normally Google will do this in a snap. True Google is not helping in this case, however ask Google for Chords, "name of the song". The comma and quote marks help in the search. For example; chords, "Happy Birthday" will get you this. Happy Birthday The key/scale is in A.

    2. Once you have the fake chord sheet music the key, scale, and chord progression can be found by looking at the chords in the verse. If all the verses stop with the same chord the name of that chord is your key and scale. If they don't you need to listen to the song and pick out the tonal center of the song. How? Listen to the song and run your G string up the neck one fret at a time. When what you are hearing on the song and what you are doing with your G string sound good together you've found the tonal center of that song. Look down at what note on your fretboard this happened on. That note's name is the key/scale for your song.

    3. Composing a bass line from what we now know - Looking at the fake chord sheet music play the "Root" of the active chord played to the beat of the song. Change roots as the song changes chords. Just roots may not be enough so add a 5. Where is the 5? Up a string and over two frets from the root you were on. See what R-5-R-5 will do. Perhaps R-R-5-5....

    4. Still need more add an 8. Where is there an 8? Up one string same fret as the 5. Which makes R-5-8-5 an easy bass line. Yes use A, B, C and 1, 2, 3. A, B, C to identify the chord then when playing the notes of the chord think what scale degrees come into play - and find their location within the box. Fives are all ways up a string and over two frets. Three are always up a string and back a fret. Not a step for a stepper you just need to know where to look.

    Major scale box scale degree numbers and the root note on the 4th string.
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    For the minor scale box pattern - you will need a flat 3, 6 & 7. I catch the b3 right after the 2 and the b6 right after the 5 or b3 or the E string and b6 on the A string right over the b3. You could use the A and D string, up to you.​

    5. That's enough for now. If you get to this point, be happy. We can get into adding the correct 3 and 7 later. Starting out - bass lines are made from the notes of the chord. What are the notes of a chord? For a major chord the root, 3, 5 and 7 notes of the chord's scale. And for a minor chord the root, b3, 5 and b7. The 8 is just the root in the next octave. Again R-5-8-5 will play a lot of bass. Why? Well both major and minor chords have a root and a five and the 8 is just another root in the next octave -- so that R-5-8-5 is about as generic as you can get - it'll fit most anywhere.

    Recapping; Find the chord progression - How? Ask Google to find it for you. Then armed with the fake chord sheet music look for the active chord and play it's root note. Keep going changing chords as the music moves through the verse. When that flows think about adding some of the other chord tones (notes) say the 5 or correct 3 and 7.

    Now that did not help you with the specifics of the song you asked about, but, using this Somewhere Over The Rainbow fake chord, apply what I gave you and see if you can come up with a bass line for this old classic. It's in G. Yes a couple of the verses (called "middles" which look like chorus to me) end with a D, well D is the 5th of G and the 5ths like to move to the tonic 1 chord.... so the D is acting as a lead from the chorus to the new verse that starts with G. So --- it's in G.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
    lowplaces likes this.
  5. GrizzleTone

    GrizzleTone Dig it.

    Oct 11, 2013
    I'm sorry; I thought you were asking about the progression, etc., rhetorically, since you said you want to analyze the song from a music theory perspective instead of just looking for tab. I would suggest you follow your own suggestion, and really analyze the tune. Me or anyone giving you the progression robs you of the opportunity to learn it yourself. You might as well go pull the tab.

    The one thing I will suggest is to not worry about learning or transcribing the bassline note for note at this point. Learn the universe in which it's operating, and then you have a solid frame of reference to work with to figure out the details.
    Lownote38 likes this.
  6. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    Tabs are easy because you are just playing the string / fret combination.

    With a piece of paper and the tabs in front of you, turn the string / fret combination into note names. String:Fret

    E:3 = G
    A:2 = B
    D:3 = F
    G:2 = A

    Now that you know what notes are used, the next step would be to figure out what scale it is being used.
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