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Hooking your listener

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Timbo, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. Timbo


    Jun 14, 2004
    I've been trying a lot to try to so called "hook my listener" with my bass lines. I've learned through some experience that a kind of "question and answer" type bass line does this pretty well, but I think some more techniques to add to my arsenal would do me a lot of good. So how do you guys hook your listener?
  2. Good example of "question and answer" (call and response) melody is My Generation by The Who.

    Hooks are usually created by using melodies of 1-4 bars in lenght (maybe more), and are repeated to re-inforce the hook melody. A strong, dominate bassline could act as a hook melody. After all, a bassline is a type of repeative melody.
  3. tzadik


    Jan 6, 2005
    Ooooh, hooks. A favorite topic of mine. I'd write a novel if I had time, but I don't so I'll give you a giant hint:

    Focus on the rhythm. Not the melody so much. Keep it SIMPLE, painfully simple. Use rhythmic stuff. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm.
    Be careful to hook and not trick. Teach the audience what they need to know and then tweak it just a little. Don't fool them, just play with them. Rhythm. DId I say rhythm? Use it!
  4. This is good advice! What's the point of cool notes if the rhythm isn't groovy and catchy?
  5. Isn't Melody the combination of both mode (succession of pitch) and rhythm :confused:

    I would say very bad advice!

    sorry tzadik, I don't think you have a clue as what you're talking about.
  6. Timbo


    Jun 14, 2004

    Can I ask what you would suggest in place of that advice?

    The advice he gave seemed pretty sound because as I began to think about it I noticed that pretty much the bass lines I listen to are just cool rhythms using mainly 1 3 5 .
  7. Whats sound about it?

    Believe what you want to believe. No skin of my nose. ;)
  8. Timbo


    Jun 14, 2004
    I'm not saying I don't believe you. I'm just asking you to offer a suggestion in place of his. I can try them both and see what I personally like more/am able to do better.
  9. Melody and Rhythm are NOT two separate things, they are interconnected. Melody can not exist with out rhythm. To imply that melody is not as important as rhythm is laughable, because rhythm is apart of melody. A good repeativite melody (bassline) MUST have rhythm. "Use rhythmic stuff" as tzadik has posted, explains nothing.

    I re-iterate what I said in my first post.
  10. tzadik


    Jan 6, 2005
    I apologize - I wasn't clear. Let me try to make an example of my point. By the way, I can assure you that, while I may indeed not have a clue what I am talking about, I've spent a lot of time with this concept, so feel free to ASK for more info and I am happy to provide all that I have. I'd love to put it to some use. Take it or leave it.

    On with the example.

    Tap your foot in 4 at about 120 bpm.
    Sing three notes in a row, C D E.
    Sing quarter-quarter-half. Da Da Daaaah. Repeat it four times. K?

    Now, keep you foot going.
    Sing the same three notes, C D E.
    Sing the C on the "and" between beats 1 and 2.
    Sing the D on beat 3.
    Sing the E on the "and" between 3 and 4. And accent it.
    Repeat 4 times.

    Which is hookier?

    What changed to make the hook?

    Hope that cleared it up a bit.
  11. Kiwi, you're really just disagreeing with his usage of the word melody, right? Would you agree if he had said, "Worry more about the rhythm than the notes."?
  12. tzadik


    Jan 6, 2005
    Another note of babble...

    Everyone has a heartbeat and therefore some sort of internal rhythm. And furthermore, what are melody notes, anyway, but vibration of sound waves? And what is vibration but rhythm? Rhythm seems to me more fundamental than melody notes.

    I can hardly straight think because it's late out. *yawn* FYI, by the way....no biggie, but I'm actually a her. Shh. :bassist:
  13. BassChuck

    BassChuck Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Just to stir the pot a bit.

    You cannot have a melody without rhythm. Impossible. The tones require time (rhythm) to be heard.

    But you can have music without melody. Many (if not all) music texts will tell you that rhythm is the most important, basic part of any music.

    It really makes sense to me when composing music or constructing bass parts to attend to the rhythmic aspect first. And if any of you as bassists have been accused of 'not playing in the style' you can bet that the problem was rhythmic more than melodic.
  14. SolidFoundation


    Apr 7, 2006
    I went to a bass workshop where Norm Stockton was giving a class and he did a great example of rhythm vs. notes. He played some weird riff that was not overly complex note-wise but just seemed "busy." Then he asked, "Who could sing that back to me?" (Silence.) Then he went on and said he would use the same exact note sequence in a much simpler, but catchy, rhythm. It turned out to be The Police's "Walking On The Moon." His point was just that what we cling to as listeners tends to be rhythm first, and it is rhythm that primarily makes a tune recognizable and the notes just determine if you're playing it "right."
    Just a thought that seemed appropriate to pass along.
    However, its an individual issue I guess. If you can "hook your listeners" by coming up with great melodyies and considering rhythm as secondary, then that's cool.
  15. SolidFoundation


    Apr 7, 2006
    Correction: melodies not melodyies...
    I really can spell as well as groove, honest...
  16. spindizzy


    Apr 12, 2004
    These are all good points for song writing. However don't forget the question was how do you hook the listener with the bass line. In the case of the bass line it will depend on who wrote the song in the first place. Hooks are ever present in most pieces written yet the bass players job is to tie all of the various aspects of a piece together and that means hooks too.

    We (meaning bassists) are the thread that ties rhythm, chord and melody together. If you are doing your job then at any point in any piece you could be answering an accent driven by the drummer, or borrowing from the melody, or carefully altering the texture of the chord, or leading the whole piece to a destinct change in direction for all of the above. It is all of these things that hook the audience into the piece, not just your bass part. In a group setting isn't that the true objective, getting the audience "tuned in" to your composition and viewing the whole picture not just the various parts?

    So to me a bass part that will hook the audience is one that effectively ties all of the other aspects together by playing off of all three. If you wrote it then you have a leg up.
  17. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Rhythm is absolutely the foundation - to all music, for that matter. But it's certainly not enough by itself...

    Being that my most enduring personal influences are players like Paul McCartney & Chris Squire, I tend to put more emphasis on melody than do most bassists. So my more interesting parts tend to either reinforce the main melody, or play counterpoint to it. Or play a parallel harmony part. (My favorite intervals are the major 3rd and the major 6th)...

  18. kenlacam


    Nov 8, 2005
    akron, ohio
    Before stating that it's bad advice, consider this. Melody has nothing to do with rhthym-it's totally separate, so please know your stuff before critisizing....:rollno:
  19. barebones

    barebones Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Let's put an end to all this bickering, shall we?

    I have a wonderful music dictionary published by Harper Collins that gives a simply beautiful definition of the word melody. It's rather lengthy, though, and I have no intention of typing it all out here. I did, however, find another well written definition when I typed the words "music dictionary" into a search engine. Here's the link:


    Regarding the original poster's actual question about hooking a listener, I will say this: I believe there is no true formula for doing so. If there were, eveybody'd be doing it, right? Add to that the fact that what is "hooky" is largely subjective. For example, I personally have a difficult time picking out a hook in a semi-tone riddled piece of music from the Far East, while someone who is accustomed to listening to such a musical form would have a completely different perception.

    That said, I can tell you what typically hooks me, for whatever that might be worth to you. I always like to hear a composition that includes several distinct and unique parts contributing equally to the song as a whole. I'm often bored to tears when I hear two guitarists hammering out the same exact power chord riff while the bassist drones on the root note and the singer sings a "melody" that sounds strangely like the guitar line...

    But then... I really like Black Sabbath, too, so...

    Sometimes a solid unison part can be hooky, too, right? What the heck?

    Again, it's largely subjective and there's no way to automatically hook everyone. Try hooking yourself first, and maybe it will be contagious!

  20. Im hooked !! 200th thread. I had to do it..

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