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Help with Christmas tune arrangements!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by pocketgroove, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010

    I know it's a bit late now, but I'm trying to put together some relatively simple arrangements of Christmas songs with a guitarist. I don't want to just follow the roots of the chords, so I've been listening to piano versions to pick out what the bass hand is doing and use that as material for lines. However, I'm having a hard time pulling out the lines and figuring them out.

    The first song we're trying to do is Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. I can hear a strong bass line with some walking in it, but for whatever reason I can't figure it out or place it on my fretboard.

    Any ideas or resources? Thanks, and I really appreciate the help.
  2. GigJones


    Jun 10, 2009
    With traditional songs, such as “Hark The Herald”; sometimes I download free piano sheet music
    and use it as a starting point for arranging a bass line.

    Using piano music as a guide, one can learn harmony and counter-point.
  3. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010
  4. GigJones


    Jun 10, 2009
    Hmm. That arrangement has mostly chords in the bass.
    I’m not sure how much time you have but it may be a little tricky building a logical, walking bass line from it.

    Try to find a single line score -- the simpler the better.
  5. Already In Use

    Already In Use

    Jan 3, 2010
    Bit off your topic...but a killer(IMO) Christmas tune thats bass driven...used it a show 2 weeks ago...older crowd...loved it...carry on!

  6. phfreq


    Apr 20, 2012
  7. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010
    Awesome, that seems perfect! I just wish I could find it locally as there's not enough time left to order it and learn the songs.

    Thanks for the help everyone!
  8. millertx

    millertx Supporting Member

    Dec 18, 2006
    Flower Mound, TX
    If you have access to a church hymnal and can read music, you can read the bass line straight off the bass vocal part (the bottom notes). Most christian church hymnals have the traditional Christmas carols in them. Although you may end up having to transpose them to a different key so the guitarist can play them better. Those traditional Christmas songs often have some pretty interesting harmonies.
  9. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010
    Okay, so I was able to dig up some sheet music online (via IMSLP), and I figured it out! I'm not a reader, so I'm pretty proud that I was able to read the whole thing and learn it like that. With that song and some of the other traditional ones, it's pretty interesting; the bass part is actually written in harmony to the treble part, which explains the trouble with picking it out my ear. Thanks again everyone!
  10. bassfart


    May 5, 2008
    I have learned a lot of Christmas songs from Hal Leonard's Christmas song book. To help me hear the bass line I would record the main melody of the song, then play along with the melody. I love how those Piano lines translate to other instruments, it has done wonders for my Harmony training.
  11. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    If you can get a hymnbook from a church you'll find a lot of good bass lines there. However, if you are playing a two-part arrangement, that is the melody and you... grab the tenor part from the hymnbook, it will be a better line. Just make sure you play the root for the last note.
  12. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    The lines you want to use are the lines you want to use to make the arrangement sound good no matter what type of music it is. Knowing the melody(really important) and knowing the harmony are the fundamental things you need to create lines that work. Sometimes the roots plus movement notes are all that you need to make the bass part work, but you need to know your chords, what notes make them up and when, where and how to move from one chord to another.