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Help with an original song / bass line

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by DerrickShaney, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. DerrickShaney


    Jun 18, 2011
    St.Cloud MN
    I am having a little trouble with a song that my band has come up with. It's always a little tricky because we have no percussionist and we keep steady rhythm with a foot bass drum and tambourine with a steady driving 8th note beat. However I am having a little trouble with a new song of ours. The song is in the key of Am and the chord progression is

    Am G D for the verse

    and E D C D for the chorus

    The tempo is relatively fast and steady throughout the whole song I have just been playing 16th notes on the root however I would like to spice up the line a little with approach notes but no matter what I play it doesn't seem to be fitting for the transition between the chords.

    Would anybody be able to share a little advice that might steer me in the right direction?? :help:
  2. 1) Are you shooting for the key of D? If not what?
    2) Easiest walking bass lines IMO are secondary dominants as the last beat (note) in the measure, i.e. the V of the next chord pulling you into the next chord and or chromatic runs to the next chord. Have you tried this?

    Check this out.
  3. Let's look a little at modes and chords.

    Am is a nice key because we can use C Ionian for a referenced.

    The reason we are going to use the modes is to learn the chord tones of each note -- the 3, 5, and 7.

    A minor will have a minor 3 and 7, so you can effectively play an A minor chord.

    G is the Mixolydian mode, which has a major 3 and minor 7.

    D is the Dorian Mode, which will be a minor chord type. If you plan to use a 6 as a passing tone, it will be major.

    E is the Phrygian mode, a minor mode with a flat second.

    And C is the original Ionian mode, a class major scale.

    You aren't dealing with Lydian or Locrian, so your 4 and 5 notes will all be natural. Experiment with the 3,5, and 7 tones of each chord. 4 is a strong passing tone, but I wouldn't stick on the 2 and 6 as much
  4. DerrickShaney


    Jun 18, 2011
    St.Cloud MN
    thanks for the help guys Malcolm yes I was actually experimenting with the Vs and I think I found something I actually like after I posted this. Oniman... I am still somewhat new I am familiar with all the modes however I am still confused as to how you specified each note as a mode? Is this a constant rule? Like is G always mixolydian?? Or sometimes different in different cases? Just curious. I feel like knowing this would be a big help to me. Thanks!
  5. You are in the key of A minor, which is the same signature as C Major.

    The C major scale is C D E F G A B
    The modes of C Major are C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian (Natural minor - this is the key of Am), and B Locrian.

    In Key of G, you have G Ionian, A Dorian, B Phrygian, C Lydian, D Mixolydian, E Aeolian/natural minor, and F# Locrian.

    So, which chords have what tonality directly relates to the key you're in. That's a simplified answer.

    If you're in Key of C, E and D should be Minor... makes me think you're in another Key, at least temporarily
  6. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    The problem that is arising is that you used incomplete chordal notation, or should I say, it is possible that the actual chords in the song are not structured within standard diatonic western harmony.

    Since you bothered to use Am, I'm assuming that the verse is:

    A minor G Major D Major

    and the chorus is:

    E Major D Major C Major D Major

    If this is the case, you really aren't in any strict key, it's just what "garage band" rock and roll has evolved into. I don't mean this as a slight in any way, but you can't really analyze the song using standard theory (and you aren't really in A Minor, either).

    If the chords are indeed different from what I posted (i.e., some are dominant7 and/or minor, etc.), you need to let us know, because, you know, that really matters.
  7. swelltrain


    Mar 3, 2010
    Not knowing anything about what your song sounds like, here's how I might approach it off the top of my head.

    For the chorus, I'm assuming you only put in the root notes? E D C D

    Assuming it really is in the key of A minor, the chords would be Em Dm C Dm. I would know this because Am is the relative minor (aeolian) key of C major (C D E F G A B C) And (basically) the chord pattern for the major key is Major minor minor Major Major7 minor, minor diminished7. So C Dm Em F G7 Am Bdim7 C.

    So for the chorus I would go up to the E on the seventh fret of the A string, give it some color by bouncing on the D on the fifth fret (the minor seventh in your Em chord). Then use the minor third of your Em chord as passing tone to the D. That would be G, up on string to the D string 5th fret. This is also conveniently the 4th of your Dm chord. Continue with the rest of your line.

    Basically forget modes, etc. Just focus on the 1 3 5 7 of the chord. If the chord is minor then remember your minor 7 is two frets behind. Your fifth is same fret one string down, or one string up two frets up. Your minor third is one string up two frets back, or same string three frets up.

    Major chord: 7th is one fret back from current note, fifth is still the same, and third is one string up one fret back.

    Here's something that helped me work it out. Take a basic chord progression C Am Dm G7 C (I vi ii V I). Mark the 1 3 5 7 of each chord on your printout, but use a different color for each chord. Then you will see how the chord tones in a progression tend to lead nicely to the next chord.

    Hope that helps. -s
  8. DerrickShaney


    Jun 18, 2011
    St.Cloud MN
    thanks for all the help guys. I am still learning a lot and mostly just doing what feels and sounds right based on my limited knowledge of music theory. I hope to take bass lessons soon to expand what I do know.
  9. valenore


    Jul 22, 2005
    It is pretty much impossible without hearing the song to say what might sound good, but ideas on how to move between those chords could be (apologize for my lack of tabing ability and only two strings). Also I am too lazy to try to add "timing" to the tab, so this isn't meant to be straight 16ths

    ---Am------G-----D--------- Am
    A --3---------2-3-5---5-7-|--- repeating that progression
    E 5---0-1-3-3-------------|5--

    G ---9------------------------------------|
    A 7----7-6-5-5-0-2-3--3-2-3-4-5---5-3-5-|7
  10. DerrickShaney


    Jun 18, 2011
    St.Cloud MN
    Build Paradise - Keychain - YouTube

    Here is a link to the song... The bass part is drowned out due to poor recording method, but in this case its probably for the better. I am really having trouble with this one for some reason... Nothing I can come up with really sounds right to match the mood of the song. Any suggestions or ideas are greatly appreciated.
  11. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    I would focus on chord tones first. You can never go wrong playing chord tones.

    For the verse, you can also experiment with pentatonic scales:

    Am - A minor pentatonic = A C D E G A
    G - G Major pentatonic = G A B D E G
    D - D Major pentatonic = D E F# A B D

    For the chorus, I would probably focus primary on playing roots and fifths, and maybe connecting them with chromatic passing tones. For example:

    E E B E E E E D# | D D D A D etc.

    As FretlessMainly has already mentioned, this song is not strictly in A minor, so with all due respect to some of the prior posters, posts that suggest using modes of A minor (or C major) or changing what you have listed as major chords to minor chords are not very helpful.
  12. I listened to the Youtube vid, and heard lots of rhythmic playing but very little in the way of melodic accompaniment. I'd probably work out a bass line that add had sustained roots with scalar or arpeggiated melodic connecting passages.
  13. Liam Wald

    Liam Wald Supporting Member

    May 17, 2011
    California Coast
    For me music isn't like solving some kind of math problem.
    Sure, you can follow all the formuli and structure to create a bass part, but so can a $50 Casio keyboard.
    Have the guitar player play through the changes while singing or whistling the melody line and record them on a simple little recorder. Take it home and listen to it over and over until until the bass parts emerge in your head and you can "hear" them.
    Those are the right parts! Your parts. Original parts.
  14. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Joe Osbourne said something along the lines of, "If you listen, the song will tell you what to play." There is a lot of truth to that quote. But there's nothing wrong with using theory to help you hear what the song is telling you a bit faster. :smug:
  15. gleventhal


    Nov 30, 2011
    Depending on the tempo, instead of straight sixteenths, sometimes I like to play this rhythm... 1 +a (2)E+ 3 +a (4)E+ Accent on one and 3. It helps by skipping 2 and 4 to create a certain groove, it is best for very fast tempos. Just groove, it's all that matters, think of a rhythm and then use the approach notes to complete the line.. approach from 2 frets above the note, or walk up to the note chromatically.. Maybe |A AC AF# |G GG B C |DDDDDDDDDDD| If you are feeling the beat, dont worry about the notes too mcuh, just try to land on the root of the chord near the down beat of one.

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