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Song Writing Approach

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Flanders, Aug 16, 2004.

  1. Flanders


    Oct 30, 2002
    Reno, NV
    Hi All
    Sorry if this is the wrong forum...

    To those of you writers out there, how do you approach writing a song as a bass player. I have some ideas of what I'd like to do, but I don't play guitar, so it's hard for me to communicate to the geetaristas. Do you start with the bassline, or a chord progression, or ???. I have done collective song writing within a band setting by jamming out some things and going from there, but I am now in a position to just "bring it" to a new group who can play well. Any recommendations or stories or flaming welcome.

  2. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Play a Bb scale backwards over and over again and say "Me know bass! Me play good!" :rolleyes:

    lol... songwritings a tough one sometimes. I think the person you might wanna be communicating with more is the drummer. That's the best way for me to go about it. I lay down off-beat rhythms with the beat-keeper, and let the rest unfold with the other guys around us.
  3. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    i will sometimes start with a groove, sometimes a chord progression, sometimes lyrics, sometimes just a feel. It just depends how it comes to me.

    If I have a specific guitar part in mind, I will just sing it to the guitar player, or chunk out a feel for him that is roughly the same on my bass, using power chords up high. It definitely helps to have a specific chord structure in mind, though you don't have to be too set on it.

    Everything is different, and the way it works with one group may not be the exact same way it works with different people.
  4. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I picked up guitar :p

    seriously though, it can't hurt to know a handful of guitar chords, especially if your theory knowledge is decent, you'll be able to communicate a general idea or specific idea much easier that way. Of course, it's equally useful to learn chords on the bass. ;)

    that said, I often have a melody in mind, or a certain feeling, and I work from there.

    There are a million chords that can fit over any melody, so I usually let the melody drive the song then fit chords under it later. Personally I think that the bass is a great instrument for melodic expression, and as such, I often write melodies with the bass.
  5. suicas


    Mar 12, 2004
    A lot of people I know use a guitar or piano to help get some ideas out.

    A guitar's obviously useful since you can easily play entire chords in several different voicings. I've also come up with several ideas using moveable chord shapes and chords with open strings droning, something which I would have found much harder on bass (with a 4 string anyway).

    Likewise, it's easier to play notes with much larger intervals on a piano, and experiment with a melody part over a bassline played at the same time. Gets you playing outside of patterns/fingerings that you might be used to on bass.

    If I'm just doing something on bass, I'll usually muck around with a bass line first, then play around with thirds until I have a progression of minor/major chords. I'd then flesh that out a bit, and that's it really.
  6. Kurisu


    Nov 19, 2003
    Saskatoon SK
    I'm actually getting a guitar soon, for this very reason. I want to learn more about composing, more about how songs are put together, about harmony etc. I think it'll improve my overall bass playing too. Or at least I hope it will. :)
    At least the skills would be a little more transferrable than, say, learning the piano.