writing a bassline for a jazzy tune

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Vampyre, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. Vampyre


    Dec 9, 2004
    hey everyone i was asked to play the bass part for a song at my school. Its just a christmas tune with a jazzy feel for the majority of the song. The only weird thing is...the music teacher got a less experienced bassist to play the actual bass part for the song which is just your basic walking line. The teacher simply wrote out the chord changed for me and asked me to make something up. Now, ive been playing bass for about a year and half, been taking lessons for that amount of time also, and im really into it so i do know some theory (probably not as much as most on this site but i know many scales/modes so im not a complete beginner)

    Anyway, could anyone give me any ideas/approaches on things i could do with the task at hand. I mean...it doesnt make much sense to me to have two basses going but....i enjoy playing on stage and i hope to learn some more from this.Its also a failry upbeat song so it should be fun. If this isnt enough information please tell me so and ill try to add more.

  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Weird. Two basses usually equals mud unless you do something completely different than the other one. I wouldn't have a clue on how to approach it, quite frankly.
  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Sounds like a pretty pretty weird to me too! Altho not quite as weird as a couple of years ago when I had to walk a chorus of 'I only have eyes for you' with a free tuba and bass sax solo going on! :eyebrow:

    Best chance you have of making it work is to play as far away from the register the other bass player is playing in. When he plays low, you play high, and vice versa.

    Alternatively you could play a bass line a tone away from what the other bass player plays at all times just to make a point! :D

    If you're talking about how to construct a line, that's a different matter, loads on TB about building walking lines - the theory behind that is transferable to any style. To summarise, play chord tones on beat one (and often beat three as well) and find nice melodic ways to link them using scale notes or chormatic passing notes.
  4. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    What other instruments have you got in the band? It sounds like you don't really need a bassline as such - that's covered by the other guy (although it would be worth making sure you can play the written part in case he drops out or sounds so bad you have to take over... you said he was less experienced).

    I'd probably look to do something with chords reasonably high up the neck. If you haven't got a guitarist in the group, you can essentially take over that role. If there's already a guitarist, are there any other sections in the band that could do with beefing up?

  5. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Well, this sounds like your teacher is giving you a compliment - as well as a challenge - by asking you to do some composing. Are you sure that the intention is for both bassists to be playing concurrently?

    Implied in your assignment, since you don't know what the other bassist is playing, is that you compose your line without reference to the other bassist. That's how I would proceed in the absence of further information.

    When you say "jazzy", do you mean it's a swinging rhythm? If so, two things to keep in mind: 1) use leading tones, and 2) don't tart it up with too many notes which will end up impeding the good feel of the rhythm.