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Newbie: Help me make a bassline out of 4 root notes!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by goat, Feb 27, 2003.

  1. goat


    Jan 18, 2003
    Bournemouth, England
    Hey all,

    I'm a bit of a newbie when it comes to creating basslines, using musical knowledge and such, as I have none.

    Basically, my band are doing a cover of Oasis's 'Wonderwall' - ut theres a catch, it's a funky version!

    The guitarists know what they're doing so theres some funky chords and a wah involved, so they're sorted, but all I've got are root notes.

    Take the verse of example, it's four notes - F# , A , E , and B. Rather than just hit those notes, how can I spice it up a bit?

    I know it works with scales and stuff, but could someone explain how I'd do a 'rolling' bassline on a simple song like this? An example for those notes would be good too :)

    Thanks a lot.
  2. Check this out.

    Just try applying the concept to the song you have in mind, using the correct scale mode for that type of music.

    It really, really works.
  3. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Ok, well, you're gonna wanna know the chords to the song.

    As it happens, I do!

    It's in F# minor. Here's the verse:

    | F#m7 A | Esus4 B7sus4 | (repeated).

    As I recall, the last time through that before the break on the original recording (where the drums & cello come in) - the chords are D Esus4 B7sus4 - where it hangs on the B7sus4.

    Here's the bridge ("all the roads that lead us there are winding..."):

    | D Esus4 | F#m7 |
    | D Esus4 | F#m7 |
    | D Esus4 | A Esus4 D |
    | B7sus4 | B7sus4 |

    Here's the chorus ("maybe you're gonna be the one that saves me..."):

    | D F#m7 | Esus4 B7sus4 | (repeated)

    Ok, so there are the chords. Now, don't be overwhelmed - it's actually very simple, harmonically. It's all variations on a theme. There are only 5 chords there:

    F#m7 Esus4 B7sus4 D A

    And these chords are all diatonic in the key of F# (natural) minor. Which means, a good scale to stick to is F# natural minor (AKA F# Aeolian) :

    F# G# A B C# D E

    However it would also help if you knew the notes that are in the chords:

    F#m7 : F# A C# E
    Esus4 : E A B
    B7sus4 : B E F# A
    D : D F# A
    A : A C# E

    That's how those chords are composed. You know that under any one of those chords, you're pretty safe playing any of the notes I've listed next to it - without clashing. However, I'd suggest that on the chord changes, you play the root (i.e. when it goes to F#m7 you play F#, etc.). And then you use the notes I've given you to help you decide what to play in between. Given that you don't know the theory side of it, and you don't fully know what notes will work and which ones won't, you'd probably do well to stick with the root notes when the chord changes.

    You might notice, that all those chords have an A in them. So, you know that at any time, you're pretty safe to play an A in your bass line.

    As for making a funky bass line from this - you'd do well to listen to some funk bass lines, and get an idea of the rhythm and feel of what you wanna be playing. Then, apply that to the chords I've given you.

    I hope that helps.
  4. goat


    Jan 18, 2003
    Bournemouth, England
    Thanks a lot, I understand it a lot more now.

    Time to get to work!

    PS - I might need some assistance at some point! :bawl:
  5. There are SO many things you can do with 4 root notes. To add a funk vibe, add octaves. F# on the 2nd fret of E, then up to the 4th fret on D, stuff like that. Add some funk to the rhythm.

    Use the modes for the 4 notes, as well. See? All those possibilities just opened up. Good luck :D
  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Like I said in my post - there is essentially one scale at work here - F# Aeolian. All the chords fit in that scale - there are no modulations here.
  7. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    The chords also fit F# Phrygian. ;)
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Not really - the G natural isn't really in key here.
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Right then

    moley is absolutely spot on there with that little tutorial, but depending on how much time you have to learn an easier way to approach it would be to just embellish the root notes with 5ths (up a string & up two frets) and octaves (same fret & up a string from the 5th)

    Also, where there are many sus4 chords in there, you play 4ths (same fret, up a string). This could probably be used throughout actually, but where some chords (A and D) contain a major 3rd (down a fret & up a string) it might sound a bit off.

    Countless great basslines are created using root, 5th, octave patterns. It's dead simple so it might not get you on the front of bass player (unless you're flea), but it sounds great and that's the most important thing :)
  10. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I aim to please :D

    Some good advice from Howard too there, though - roots 5ths and octaves are a good place to start - perhaps I should have mentioned that.
  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I have a bob marley album 'babylon by bus' where familyman barret plays a one note bass solo.

    ...and does it groove like a mutha?

    You bet yo funky ass it does!!!!!!

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