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mickomoo

writing basslines?

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What exactly is the theory behind writing one. Everyone tles me 3rd 5th and root, but is that all? Also is it uncommon to have two instruments playing the bassline. I know in an orchestra it isn't but in other types of music is it?

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What exactly is the theory behind writing one. Everyone tles me 3rd 5th and root, but is that all? Also is it uncommon to have two instruments playing the bassline. I know in an orchestra it isn't but in other types of music is it?

The purpose of the bass is to create a harmonic outline and provide a rhythmetic pulse. It can play any of the notes.

For example, in rock and metal music. The bass often plays the same thing as the rhythm guitar, only the rhythm guitar will harmonize with chords and such.

Say you have a chord progression....Em to D Major. The bass could play an E note rhythm through the Em chord and a D note rhythm through the D chord. That's an extremely basic form of the bassline....but it fills it's role.

The bass can play any of the chord tones and other notes of the scale in between those chord tones to create a riff. Listen to "bloodlines" from Castlevania dracula x. Listen to how the bass riff shifts intervals to match the chord progression. You could play just the bassline and you would still be able to hear the rise and fall of the music

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Bassline is root and rhythm. You can see it as a rhythm instrument that agrees with the chords, as a minimalistic and/or fairly monotonous melody in the low register, as the backbone of the track, or whatever.

Besides the 3rd and 5th, the 7th works well, and you can include the next chord's notes when transition into it. Sometimes, it's easier to write an interesting melody for a bassline, and then see what you can write on top of it. Might not work in all styles of music, but it works ok for me.

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A good tip on hip bass is to have the bass line end on the down-beat rather than start on the down-beat--as if arriving to the next harmony.

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The bassline can help define the genre of music, as well. A heavily syncopated bass, for instance, is a staple of funk and disco. A walking bassline is an essential part of many jazz standards.

Experiment.

Write a melodic line, then write a bassline. Then write a different bassline. Keep doing it til you're out of ideas. Listen to each one separately with the melody and what each different bassline evokes with the melody. You don't necessarily need to learn theory to write good basslines, you just have to figure out what works.

When I write basslines, I usually have my melody and percussion written, then I write a bassline to complement that. I tend to vary the bassline at times to make the chord progression sound a little more interesting (mostly because I'm awful at creating interesting, evolving chord progressions in the first place).

This is all just kinda food for thought.

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There are lots of ways to write nice basslines. Like others have said, 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and octave intervals often sound best. I'll use some music examples to try and explain a bit better.

In terms of note selection, you can choose to go mostly root throughout, long notes, keep it simplish. 0.55-1.28:

You can decide to create a riff/melody with the bassline if the other elements of the song are minimal (jazz and rnb styles do this often).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMrN8wTdAWA

Rhythm wise you can follow the kick and snare drums, or you can use the bassline to work with the drum beat to make the rhythm section itself more complex.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-r3If2zwEA&feature=related

Cutoff and resonance timed well can also add rhythm.

I remember one song I did where I followed the hi hats with the bassline, makes for something very energetic. The length of the notes of a bassline can also make a huge difference.

Resonance and cutoff mean that basslines can really fill out the texuture of any song, and a high synthy bass often compliments a simple low sine wave bass underneath. (from around 0.53)

You can even use 2 bass like tones in the same song at the same time, just keep one simple and one synth like (check out this tune from around 0.53):

In addition you can swap out basslines at some point during the song. From about 1.10:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3jmNxGi2xE

The bass is really the bit that can get people dancing, and can really make the biggest impact. Just imagine it as a melodic drum, part of the rhythm section.

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In an orchestral setting bass parts (like tuba and bass trombone) follow roughly as others have said pitch-wise, but tend to be less heavily rhythmic, leaving the more rhythmic parts for percussion/timpani, or full band rhythmic hits.

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In an orchestral setting bass parts (like tuba and bass trombone) follow roughly as others have said pitch-wise, but tend to be less heavily rhythmic, leaving the more rhythmic parts for percussion/timpani, or full band rhythmic hits.

I'm having trouble writing basses, particularly for orchestra. Mine usually tend to follow the rhythm and even mimic the notes of the melody. Also, is it necessary to have more than one section play the baseline?

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I'm having trouble writing basses, particularly for orchestra. Mine usually tend to follow the rhythm and even mimic the notes of the melody. Also, is it necessary to have more than one section play the baseline?

Is it necessary? No, but there are no true rules. In orchestra, pizzicato strings are quite popular for rhythms. You can use contrabass etc. Chromatic percussions like marimbas can play basslines too actually.

Check out my Arabian Nights, Orchestra cover. http://tindeck.com/listen/hlpl

I just have one bass. The timpani follows the bass line quite closely. But for most of the song, there is no Timpani. Experiment!

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