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How do you create effective basslines?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by artistasty, Jun 23, 2003.

  1. artistasty


    Jun 23, 2003

    I've been studying scales, chords, and progressions for a while now... Though, when I plug in the three together, my basslines seem cheesy... I am trying to create sad mellow lines but they always come out sounding happy and cheesy. I recently stumbled upon patterns, are they essential? I never quite understood what to use in my basslines... (root, third, fifths, sevenths) is there an order or way to plot them in a systematic way or do you just put down anything?

    Any help please?
  2. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    You create effective basslines by being a musician. You become a musician by having a wealth of listening experiences in your head, and being able to express musical ideas that are in your head, on your instrument. You become able to express musical ideas in your head, onto your instrument, by spending a wealth of time with your instrument, practicing all aspects of music; melody, rhythm, ear training, etc. You practice melody and rhythm by not only playing scales and arpeggios and rhythm etudes and the like, but by making them musical, and concentrating on the sound you are producing. You want to learn about music as a whole. Learn about harmony and how chords interrelate, tension and resolution, passing tones versus chord tones. You learn your scales and your arpeggios, then how they relate, then you practice these things in as many contexts as you can; pop songs versus european art music versus jazz versus country. You learn how music is formed and interpreted and you continue to practice your instrument, in a well-rounded regimen that forces you to learn your instrument as a whole. You focus on what you're hearing, and how it is musical, and you continue to plug away at these exercises. Because creating a bassline isn't about whether or not to play a fifth, or a fourth, or a passing tone, or to slap or pop; it's about expressing what you hear in your head, and the ability to do that, on any level, is what makes you a musician.
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I try to give you some more down-to-earth advice. Don't concentrate on scales too much, what you really need to know is how chords are built and are related to each other, so you can create a bass line that fits in with our around the chord changes (but of course you can say it's the same thing, just seen from a different angle).

    Listen to the drummer. Check what he's playing with the hihat and adapt to that pulse. If he's playing 8ths, play mainly 8ths in your bass line, if he plays 16ths, do 16ths.
    Then check what he does with bass drum and snare, you can either play on that or complement it - or even mix both.
    It's easier to play off a drummer than to create a line out of thin air.
  4. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Minor pentatonic. To paraphrase Nigel Tufnel, the saddest of all modes.
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Yeah, all what jazzbo said, plus "when in doubt play the 5th" ;)

    So jazzbo, have you heard Mr Fuqua play recently or something, what's with the dedication?

    I heard 'until the real thing comes along' with Mr F on it - actually I copied it and took it home, a fantastic track (not to mention a lovely bit of db)... but I aint never heard none more of him playin'

    Is this totally based on his words, or do you know more of his music? Do tell...
  6. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Yes, but you left out something critical.

    You do all this most effectively with a TEACHER!!!!! Learning to be a musician is not a DIY project.

    There've been a lot of threads started recently by young cats who just don't see the value of a good teacher. I'm off to start my own thread on the subject...

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