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Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by stephanie, Jan 11, 2001.

  1. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    I believe I have asked a question before on how us bassists should begin a song.

    To me, it seems easier if there is other music to help begin (ie. a guitar part written). Just like listening to a song and making up your own bassline. But if I sit down with my bass and start from scratch, naked, so to speak, I just don't know where to begin. Like, I try to explore what I'm feeling at the moment and try to find a sound (notes, etc.) to define that feeling. Or I just pick a chord (like I will just say to myself "oh I'll explore this C chord) and flow with it.

    Whatever I try nothing seems to come. I sometimes have a tape recorder on when I'm 'fiddling' around on the bass and I go back and listen and some things sound good but (LOL) I can't remember what notes I was playing or anything. Same with rhythmn. I know basic rhythmn patterns and can play them but when one pops in my mind that I think would be good for a song I don't know how to write it down.

    In my current lesson I am learning Dominant 7th to Tonic Progressions/Bass Patterns. In my book I have it states: "...they appear in practically every tune." Now I love to study some of my fave bands' basslines and I can't really find this pattern in the songs.

    Patterns tend to frustrate me cuz I really like to go with feeling first. I don't want to have to think: "oh no this note's not in the chord, this isn't a V7-I, etc. etc."

    To make a (very) long story short, is there any advice you can give me? Am I thinking wrongly on what I've stated?

    Just confused tonite...


  2. ruharg


    Dec 17, 2000
    I'd suggest that you get in a band first, and then all of the band members can work on a song. i don't know anything about guitar distortions or drum music, so no matter how good my bassline is, i can't write out the music for other instruments. man i need to get in a band!
  3. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Whether writing music is better in a band or not changes from person to person - they are different scenarios, and will have different results. I write in different ways - sometimes I improvise with other musicians, sometimes I have a mood in mind, sometimes I have a particular chord shape that I've found that seems to point somewhere, and other times it's a bit more theoretical and formalised...

    Ah, now there's a great exercise - relearning things you've played onto tape - one thing you can do is when you play it onto tape, if you find something you like as you're playing it, you can play it again saying into the tape what the notes are...

    Rhythm wise, I'd suggest focussing in on drum parts and trying to work out bass lines that follow intricate drum parts - when you've got a new pattern of notest that you want to embellish, take a drum part and see where it goes rhythmically, rather than just doing it from your head.

    They might be there, just not in the obvious form that is written in the book. also riff based music (like Live) tends not to follow the rules of tension and resolution that the writer of that book was more familiar with. It is a common change, but in it's 'naked' state, it can sound a bit cheesy...

    the formalised approach can be a good start point, but use it to spark ideas - take a shape or progression from your lesson then play it onto tape and listen to it - try to hear where it wants to go next, where you hear it going, then try and find that...

    Songwriting is a labour of love - it's a great feeling to write music, but can be hard work.

    God luck

  4. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Thanks for the advice!

    I didn't get a new lesson this week cuz my teacher was showing me how to put new strings on my bass and he figured I didn't need a new lesson--he told me I'm the farthest with that book than any of his other students! :)--so I am still working with IV-I. So I've been practcing that and listening to how the different patterns sound. Some sound good. Some don't.

    I have one of those electronic drum pads. Is this a good thing for me to work out drum parts with?

    I am finding melody comes pretty easy for me on the bass. So that should be good. I can improvise a melody on the spot. (Hopefully I will have my recorder on!)

    Well, thanks again for the advice,


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