writing a song, playing the bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by aliveroflife, Mar 21, 2002.

  1. aliveroflife


    Mar 20, 2002
    Hi, I am about to delve into the electric bass, and I was wondering how you go about writing a song as a bass player. This may be a stupid question, but it seems to me that songs match the guitar and not the bass. What do I need to learn to write songs as a bass player other than learning the bass itself (music theory, etc.)? Any good books on this? Thanks!
  2. chrisbs


    Jan 12, 2002
    that is sort of an open ended question
    You can write form the perspective of the bass, or just simply write.
    Check out Sting from early Police, all strong bass lines, songs built around above.
    Later on, he simply wrote, orchestrating the tunes as he felt best served the songs

  3. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    Thats a good site, and Libster is a good one aswell. Enjoy and Learn! :D
  4. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago

    I don't really see songwriting as having to come from a function ("writing a song as a bass player"). All songs have melody, chord sturcture, and rhythmic structure. The fact that you are a bass player does not imply that you would or would not consider any one of these components more or less than the others.

    It's not that songs match the guitar, it's that in a good song, the guitar matches the SONG -- as the bass (and all the instruments playing, for that matter) should also match the song. It is merely common that the guitar plays the CHORDS (the harmonic structure); I think that may be what's making you feel like the guitar is "in charge" all the time.

    When you write a song, YOU -- not the guitar -- dictate the harmonic structure, and all the instruments need to play within that structure. That having been said, you DO need to specify what that structure IS -- and that means you have to write chords so everybody DOES know what to play. And of course, that means you need to learn how chords interact. This can be done by formal classroom training, or just by "trying 'em out". You also need to understand how melody fits with chords.

    Songs can be written in many ways. Sometimes the melody comes first, and you have to find chords that support it how you want. Sometimes a chord progression happens first, and then you build a melody within it. Sometimes a bass line comes first, and then the other parts need to be composed in such a way that they fit the bass line. And almost every songwriter has done it each of these ways, and more. Some write songs in teams, so one person doesn't necessarily have to come up with everything.

    I'm not sure this has helped, but I wanted you to realize that being a bassist need not limit the way you write songs.
  5. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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