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Question on writing bass lines

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by Slap bass Lucas, Jan 1, 2018.


  1. Slap bass Lucas

    Slap bass Lucas

    Oct 15, 2016
    So ive been reading a lot on chords and scales. And I'm a bit confused on how to apply it all.
    For instance on a major chord. The suggested pattern is r-3-5 which is kind of restrictive. And it makes me think it makes no sense to learn the scales beacause no chords use M2, P4, and M6. But I hear a lot bassists useing more than r-3-5 when there guitarist is playing a major chord.

    During the line do you have to start on the root?

    When you switch to a different style chord Do you keep it simple? Beacause it sound weird to me to play a 3rd and switch to a flat 3rd for a minor.
     
  2. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    It's much more complicated than this, but I'll try to shed some light. It sounds like you are early on in your learning.

    You don't have to start on the root, but depending on what type of type of tune your playing it sometimes is almost a given.

    If you are following chord tones, then you'll want to learn the root, third, fifth, seventh, and octave. I posted a video below from Discover Double Bass dot com that explains a good way to practice this.

    I would encourage you to continue to work on scales. The chord tones you are trying to locate are all contained within those scales, hence the R, 3, 5,....etc. You'll also develop better muscle memory, stamina, technique, etc. If you thumb through a lot of the technique and instructional threads here, you'll find the pros continue to use scale work in many of their practice routines. Most of what do is derived from scales.

    Again there is a lot more to it all, especially walking bass lines. There are a lot of really good resources online nowadays. I've linked a couple of youtube channe;s with great material, from pros who are also members here.

    Discover Double Bass

    Chris Fitzgerald

     
  3. Slap bass Lucas

    Slap bass Lucas

    Oct 15, 2016
    I'm only new in learning the theory I've played bass in punk bands for 15 years, and upright for 10. But I learned from listening to bands and learning there songs, and learning what sounds good. I use to adapt there music to the songs I wrote. I never had an interest in learning the theory before recently. Because i was without an upright for 2 years due to a irreparable beck break.

    However I am a classically trained French horn player. And I ended up loathing it. All the years of training in playing french horn and I never understood how to write because they drilled scales and theory into my head without application. So I quit playing it.

    The video you posted is not the kind of information I'm looking for. I already have all the scales drilled into my head from classical music. And I never intend on playing any other style than slap bass for rockabilly or psycobilly onupright. I don't really need to spend all that time relearning scales if it doesn't apply, hence the post on the rockabilly section and not music theory section. I'm not trying to be an ******* or anything, but everything I read past playing off the chord almost seems like useless information.

    I'm just looking for the application of the scales when it come the scales and chords. Like if I was play r-3-5-7 it sounds bad to me. But if I play r-3-5 in the key A and play 6-5-3-2 to transition to the d it sounds great. So do the extra notes from a scale only sound good in transion when played with a guitar?

    And again when switching from minor to major do you use the same pattern? But change the 3rd to a flat 3rd. Or 7 to flat 7.

    not trying to sound like a dickhead but I don't want to know the theory if it doesn't apply to my style of play. I don't need to completely know how to play everything upright if I doesn't apply to what I'm trying to play. beacause I believe too much information stifles creativity. I'm looking for information that cuts through to ******** and puts it into lemans terms. Like transitions into other chords.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  4. Most rockabilly is 2 beat or swing.

    In 2 beat, play root-5’s, doubling up on the root prior to a chord change. A better option is a walk-up or -down to the next root, but this requires scale knowledge.

    Swing is walking. Walking is scales, chords or chromatics (or a hybrid). The simplest is walking a major 6 arpeggio on I, IV, and V chords.
     
    equill likes this.
  5. jasonrp

    jasonrp

    Feb 19, 2015
    vt
    Also: Switch up your chords. On rock and roll is here to stay I'll play the C with the first G and E (third "fret" G, open E) for 4 then switch to the octave for the next 4. I'll sometimes invert them too or climb up chromatic from the IV to return to the I. So that would be C, E, F, F#, Octave G. It kind of has a tension to it that works right before the chorus. Bill black would climb downward from the octave quite a bit- C, A, G, A and that sounds great for tunes like Train kept a Rolling. I play it pretty straight with 7th chord walking and play that downward part one octave up during the chorus.

    Most of this I picked up from listening to the songs but I also recommend the book "The Art of Walking Bass". It really helped me with ideas and understanding how to make them (semi) coherent
     
  6. jasonrp

    jasonrp

    Feb 19, 2015
    vt
    Or I'll climb up chromatic on a chord (like the riff from Rock This town) but I'll climb down from the 5th like playing a scale in reverse playing the 5th, 4th, 3rd, and 2nd.

    Once I know the song, I'll play it really slow and start messing with how I walk it until I find something I like. Rock around the Clock is played pretty straight forward using scale notes 1- 2- 3- 4- 5- 4- 3- 2 but during the first solo I start playing the riff like Rock this Town (chromatic from 3rd to 5th). It mixes it up and matches the guitar pretty well.

    Runaround Sue doesn't even have a bassline as far as I can hear and the piano sounds like root five so I turned it into a walking line that only uses 1 3 5 but outlines the melody pretty well (IMO)

    I think those replies deal with what you are asking. It was easier for me to explain with examples using what I play.
     
  7. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    You don't sound like a dickhead...and I didn't realize this was in rockabilly when I posted. But having said, I still think the answer you're looking for is little more complicated than you want it to be (even if it's rockabilly). I'm surprised to hear someone say that they've spent years in classical training on any instrument, and yet don't understand the application of scales into the structure of the music.

    To answer your question about switching from major to minor keys, in layman's terms - no I likely wouldn't play the same pattern while just flattening the 3rd or 7th. I can't really answer how I'd play it having not heard the song.

    Also whoever suggested that you focus on R-3-5 in general doesn't know what they are talking about in regards to bass lines.
     
  8. It sure is. There are so many more available options.

    Walking lines are the perfect example. Outlining chords is the simplest way to walk. Scale-wise and chromatic are way more interesting.

    you never have to, but until you are experienced enough to know when not to, you should.

    This is a hard question to answer out of context. If I’ve been outlining chords, then the progression moves to a major IV chord, then a minor iv chord (on the way to a i chord) that’s exactly how I’d play it.
     
  9. Lazurus

    Lazurus

    Nov 17, 2016
    Norfolk, UK
    Ok so for a newbie still practicing scales, which scale or chord is the most popular in Rockabilly, I would rather spend more time on the most common than trying to commit to memory all of them including the less popular - yes I know I will need them all eventually but be gentle with me!
     
  10. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Not a DB player, but the theory is the same...

    IF 1-3-5-7 sounds wrong to you, I'm going to guess it's because you're playing the major 7th. Most blues-based music (like Rockabilly) uses the dominant 7th (the minor, flat, 7th) instead, though the rest of the scale is major. It's a mixolydian mode. Your standard "boogie woogie" bass line, for instance, normally runs 1-3-5-6-b7 and down again. That and root-fives will get you through a lot of basic stuff, and chromatic walks into the next chord in the progression.

    Going beyond that, it's mostly a matter of listening to the tunes and seeing what other bassists do. Rock This Town is chromatic all over the place. You can start at an octave, or at a 5th, and walk down instead of up. There's a lot of leeway.
     
  11. jasonrp

    jasonrp

    Feb 19, 2015
    vt
    EDIT: Lazarus:

    It's not really any particular scale or chord and the finger patterns are the same anyways so If you know how to play a major and a minor scale, (open string or fretted) you know how to play any scale.* The most popular chord progression in rockabilly has to be the I, IV, V. I'm sure a lot of musicians would agree that they would rather have a guy who knew what they meant when they called a I IV V in A than a guy who had the intergalactic scale book memorized.

    BUT... You do need to have an at least basic knowledge of scales to understand chord structure. The above I IV V in A is made from the A (I) D(IV) and E(V) chords which are the first, fourth, and fifth notes of an A major scale**

    * I'm not getting into modes for a guy starting out
    **Not getting into intervals either
     
    Mushroo likes this.
  12. jefkritz

    jefkritz

    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    For rockabilly, your best bet is to use the pentatonic scales, the major pentatonic especially.

    Major pentatonic: 1 2 3 5 6 8
    Minor pentatonic: 1 b3 4 5 b7 8

    If you want to get fancy, move on to the blues scales.

    Major blues: 1 2 b3 3 5 6 8
    Minor blues: 1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 8

    Beyond that, if it sounds good, it is good. Which it sounds like you already know. Root - fifth will take you far.

    Edit: pretty much always start on the root. Unless you have a good reason.
     
  13. Lazurus

    Lazurus

    Nov 17, 2016
    Norfolk, UK
    Thanks Guys, back to the practice room.....
     
  14. Lazurus

    Lazurus

    Nov 17, 2016
    Norfolk, UK
    Oh one more can you explain the b3, b5 & b7 as opposed to 3,5,7 etc..... sorry if a bit dim today :)
     
  15. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    I think they mean "flatted" 3rd, 5th and 7th note of the scale.
    But I'm no expert!
     
  16. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    And "flatted" would mean lowering each note by 1/2 step on the fingerboard.
     
  17. Lazurus

    Lazurus

    Nov 17, 2016
    Norfolk, UK
    Ah, lightbulb moment...... Many thanks.
     
  18. jefkritz

    jefkritz

    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    Well said. Glad we could help :)
     

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