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Song writing on bass

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by RonChase, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. RonChase


    Aug 15, 2008
    Been writing my own tunes for about 20 years now, I almost always do it on guitar, once I composed a song on the piano, my piano playing sucks though, I wrote a real power house tune titled 40 trips around the sun and somewhere during the session after I showed everyone the guitar parts I slipped into C studio and layed down bass tracks on a new ,well not so new now, song named Slip into a Smile, this was the first and up till now the only song I composed on bass first, I noticed the song is somehow different I feel that the bass really carries the tune, flash forward a few years I remarry and wife is in bans they do covers and few originals,The piano player in this band fronts her own jazz band and asked me to compose a blues tune, I was watching a movie call Cadillac records and there is a song played when little Walter dies, I remember playing this tune during my tenure as a blues man,,Anyway this jazz band has girl vocalist and drums and piano and upright bass, I developed a bass line similar but different than that movie tune, I tried to get an upright sound on my Hofner then I broke out the Epi Dot and composed chords I thought would translate to a piano, anyway my point is songs written on bass feel totally different, I was wondering how many bassist folks here write songs on bass And how does it work in they're development of new tunes?
  2. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    I do since it is the only instrument I'm proficient on. I do play a six string bass so it does help to be able to play chords.

    Usually I start with a chord progression. This helps me to know what parameters I'm working in harmonically. I can either do this by knowing what chords I'm working with in my head or comping them into a looper pedal. Once I've got that down I start working with a drum groove. By that time I pretty much have 3 quarters of a tune done. I'f it's a vocal tune I start humming a melody until I have something I like and works with my whiskey and cigarettes voice. If it's an instrumental tune I usually just bring the chord progression and groove to my band and everybody puts their greasy fingerprints on it.

    I hope that helps.

    Stay Brown,
    Rev J
  3. RonChase


    Aug 15, 2008
    It is nice to hear from people who create in a similar way
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Geddy writes songs from the bass.
  5. daveman50

    daveman50 Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Westchester County NY
    I have limited experience, I'm not much of a songwriter; but for me, writing on the bass clarifies (simplifies?) the relationship between the harmony and the melody; then I can add the other parts of the harmonies/chords. It can make for strong writing. But you need to be a good bass player to make it work.
  6. RonChase


    Aug 15, 2008
    This could be an interesting topic, like I said also the song is somehow different, the guitar for example would be G,to C and let's get creative and put a D, now it just somehow feels different if the initial part of the song might start with a pattern or a walk or a riff, Someone mentioned Geddy Lee, he is universally liked and respected, I know he also plays keys, There are many bassists who might compose on bass , Entwhistle McCartney J.P Jones to name a few, I guess what I'm asking is how is it at least on my songs that the feel is so different when composed on bass.Oh and the song I am currently wrapping up the arrangements, it again has a feel, and this is the song I was working on that made me frame this particular question
  7. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I almost always write on bass first. Then I develop guitar and keyboard chords over what I have written.
  8. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out....

    Feb 6, 2010
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    I have been recently writing on bass, but originally wrote on guitar. I definitely write all of the parts including drum parts, and usually teach them to the players. I usually hear the "total" song first in my head, then have to sift all of the parts out
  9. I have written many songs with just the drum bass foundation to start.
    I normally get a drum beat I like and throw together a few ideas once that is done I work on the melody and that usually determines the chords I choose for the song. Once the body of the song is complete I paint over it so to speak add stops key changes sometimes slower pretty parts that lead into punch you in the face hooks it is different every time but I've been writing since my early teens I am 54 the well still hasn't dry up thankfully ha ha ha.
  10. Ron sometimes it is the bass riff that brings the song to life over simple chords and sometimes the chord progression is so powerful it could just stand on its own. Think about under pressure what would that song or another one bites the dust be or feel like without the bass riff. Then on the other hand you take a Classic like Layla and the chords need nothing to add to the feeling they were trying to get.
  11. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    IMO if ya write on bass you have a rhythm track bouncing around yer head,, the song becomes rhythm oriented bass biased,, on piano much more melody oriented,, as well as guitar but now with a bass written tune ya also get a bit more groove oriented like most funk stuff would bet a buck they all start with some bassman noodlin then tje drummer says whats ,, etc etc,, ya get the jist.
  12. Winemule

    Winemule Guest

    Feb 27, 2005
    I've mostly used the guitar as a writing tool, but I'm experimenting with using the bass, mainly because I want to get the bass part coordinated with the singing at the beginning, not at the end. I've written quite a few songs that I can't sing while playing bass. I've been lucky enough to have good singers to work with, but it still kinda bothers me. We'll see what happens...
  13. RonChase


    Aug 15, 2008
    Way back when I started bass my job prior was singing and backup guitar, I found it tough to sing and play bass but over time it came together,I find being in a oldies band All My Lovin by the Beatles was when I knew I arrived as a singing bassist and Slip into a Smile is when I knew I arrived as a song writing bassist
  14. Waster


    Nov 24, 2011
    When I write songs on bass they do feel completely different; the bass drives the song, it's rhythm orientated, as others have said. However, I much prefer writing on an acoustic guitar. That way I can envisage what each part will sound like as I play it, and I write the lyrics simultaneously. Two songs that everyone should listen to; 'As Lovers Go' by Dashboard Confessional, and 'The Game' by Amy MacDonald. Both of these songs are written on acoustic guitar, but, IMO, everyone's part is cool and interesting.