song composure/bassists role

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by s1carlson0589, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. s1carlson0589


    Mar 2, 2014
    Hi guys new here.

    I find I am the hardest working member of my band and as such I am constantly writing songs from my instrument, the bass. This is all well and good, however, I can't think of bass in the way it ought to be played when I'm composing. Without any contextual melody section I find I am writing for the bass as if it is the lead melody instrument. In the kind of music I want to be playing I'd prefer myself to have a more supportive role rather than the lead. I also feel like some of the rhythm section gets lost when me and my guitarist are matching up riffs too often and I'm too focused on locking up with the guitar and not the drums.

    Additionally, I don't have a knack for writing rhythmic hits such as the ones on bar 49-60 of this song. I want that kind of understanding of my instrument and it's not coming as naturally as I'd hoped.

    Does anyone have any advice on what I should do regarding song composure. (should I step aside, let the other members write, and write in the bass after the fact?)

    Also, how can I improve my ability to write rhythmic hits in interesting places and take more of a bassists role.

  2. worxforme

    worxforme Self Actualized Bad Speller

    Dec 10, 2009
    LAnsing MI
    I suggest you write using a guitar or keyboard. That's my approach and I believe being able to play the guitar and/or keyboards well can add another dimension to your bass playing, too.
  3. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL

    I agree. This is the exact reason I picked guitar up too about 6 years ago. I figured it would help me write songs as a whole better. And it did. Writing on bass is great and really works well depending on what type of song you're trying to write, but picking up a guitar will help. It opens more doors in your head to what may be possible.
  4. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Yes write a lead sheet, treble clef melody notes, lyrics with harmonizing chord names placed over the lyrics where needed for the melody line and chord line to harmonize with each other.

    That gives you treble clef melody, lyrics and chord names. Everything the rest of the band needs to play the song and then you work on fleshing out the chord names into chord tones, i.e. R-3-5-7 notes for the bass line.

    This may force you to concentrate on the bass line, aka, harmony and rhythm as a separate item and get your focus off melody. The song needs melody, harmony and rhythm. Melody and rhythm, aka note duration go hand in hand, harmony is another study in itself. Perhaps a refresher on how to harmonize a melody is in order.

    Good luck.
  5. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    “You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means”
  6. Hey Man, I'm new here as well. Although I don't the depth of your experience, musical preferences, or ability, it sounds like you're having a difficult time "saying" what you want to say with your bass. I've experienced that much in my 35 years of playing and found that my best solution came from 3 primary areas. 1. increased musical vocabulary - knowing how to find the right notes, chords and how to say them with the right emotion. 2. a more diverse mental music library - listening, playing, and memorizing diverse melodies, bass lines, and rhythms, and 3. Practice - if you're new to song writing and then keep writing. Write with other musicians. Create bass grooves, record them and think what melodies and other elements would blend well to communicate what you want.
    One last thing - Give yourself time to be in the creative mode. This means trying things, making mistakes, or sounding cheesy. But, we need time dedicated to creating and we cannot create without risk of failure.

    Regardless, I hope you'll press on and not give up on your efforts! Sounds like you love what you do, so keep doing it! Mike
  7. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Near the fridge
    From my songwriting/creation experience........the bass was the last instrument into the mix.....because there a lot of places a lot of times in a song where you have to craft the bass notes to a particular segment to make it sound right.

    Bass guitar would be my absolute last choice as a song writing instrument...

    Unless it was an instrumental....and you add words long after the fact......
  8. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    He is meaning to say composition. We get it.
  9. AndrewFord


    Aug 11, 2012
    Los Angeles area
    Endorsing Artist: Line 6, TC Electronics, Yamaha, Elixir Strings
    Although songwriting can include rhythms and riffs and what have you, in general it is a whole different animal, in the traditional sense a song consists of melody and lyrics, of course that can be expanded to include chords, drum beats, a bass line or a number of other musical contributions. As a songwriter I focus on chords, melodies, and lyrics. As an arranger, producer or bass player I focus on the other stuff, bass lines, drum grooves, horn lines, unison licks, etc. As others have said, learn piano and or guitar if you want to improve your songwriting