Songwriting on the Bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by po3t, Jul 24, 2002.

  1. po3t


    Jul 24, 2002
    Marion, NC
    I have only recently picked up the bass, so I'm brand new to

    Anyway, I recently read that Robby Takac, bassist for the GooGoo Dolls, writes songs on the bass. Doing some research apparently there are several bassist/songwriters, but I never see anything about how they use the bass to write. Do they write a bass line/chord progression and then write lyrics for it or what?

    How would you do it? I'm a lyricist mostly so I need help on the other side of the fence.

  2. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    I come up with an interesting "riff" and go from there. I usually put together two or three "riffs," all based on the first one and string 'em together to form a bassline. Next, I listen to the bassline and play air drums (I'm a geek, I know) to get an idea of what I want the drums to do. When I get everything the way I want it, I write some guitar parts, which are usually just strummed power chords (they're more of a "blueprint" than anything else), then I go back and rearrange everything until I get it the way I want it. When that's all done, I start on the lyrics, which I try not to let follow the music too closely. To me, writing lyrics -- decent, meaningful lyrics -- is the hardest part of writing a song.
  3. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    Call me old fashioned, but I still think it would be easier to write them on paper.
  4. po3t


    Jul 24, 2002
    Marion, NC
    So I could take the 12 bar blues, write a bass line using some riffs. Play it through and add lyrics?

    I'm not a guitar player so I wouldn't feel comfortable delving into that area. I guess I need to start with music and move toward words.

    Anybody start with lyrics and go toward music?
  5. when we are together playing i just jam a little with the guitar player and after half an hour we come up with a new song, we've got a really good drummer so he quickly brews something and for the lyrics we search trough pre-written lyrics and use one that fits, sometime we have to adjust it, but that doesnt take long
  6. Steve Harris of Iron Maiden writes mainly on bass-
    but then again, 99% of his songs are in Eminor, adding the chords of C and D.
    presumably he then works out the twin harmony parts for the guitarists.
  7. po3t


    Jul 24, 2002
    Marion, NC
    Where are all the resources for bassist songwriters?

    In "Performing Songwriter" magazine, there are two regular columns; "Using the keyboard" and "Using the guitar", but none for the bass. In "Bass Player" mag I've never seen any articles, of course I haven't read the mag for long, but nevertheless.

    As a beginning bassist and not exactly beginning songwriter I find this sad. The bass doesn't get near the recognition it deserves already and these Mags aren't helping the matter any.
  8. I play both acoustic guitar and bass, and I usually write more on the guitar, truthfully. Many times, however, I will get a bassline stuck in my head for a tune, and everything falls into place. The guitar part comes in and everything works out. Lyrics are written first, in all cases.

    The reason I write lyrics first is because that is the one part you know you will identify with the audience. The music is the medium to get the message across, but the words are what everyone (and I mean the non-musicians in this case) understands. I always work towards the goal of writing lyrics that connect with everyone, while providing music that fits the song perfectly.

    The only difficult part in my case is being able to provide a vocal melody that fits the words. Writing lyrics isn't hard, and I think I'm pretty good at it, but I can never figure out exactly how I want the vocals to float over the music. Once I get better at that, it's just a matter of time :) :cool:
  9. po3t


    Jul 24, 2002
    Marion, NC
    I'm the same way the lyrics are the most important thing in my songs. My thought is, unless you have something real to say don't even pick an instrument up.

    Right now I am confined to using lyrics I've written and figuring out a chord progression that fits them. The rythm I I work out with my bass, of course I've only had the thing for three months so I'm stillworking on that too.
  10. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    I do that, and then i get like the root note, or the first note i played in the riff, and usually play that 4, 8 or 16 or whatever times, and it kinda creates a intermediate punk song :D