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Writing better bass


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From one of Darkesword's essays:

The Bassist:

The bassist obviously provides the bassline. He works closely with the drummer

to establish the pulse of the song, and he also is responsible for laying down

the chord structure.

In your piece, use the bassist to establish the low end of your song. Your

bassist will lay out the chordal structure of your piece. Low strings or brass

is usually heard in orchestral, and basslines in techno often consist of a

pumping synthline that gives the song a pulse.

I think I recall the concept of the bass note from theory course. However, I'm still struggling with (among other things) making a bassline that's catchy and interesting.

Also, I'm wondering if anyone has help to disassociate me from the idea that "bass guitar" or "double bass" is the only kind of bass out there. I also might be confusing a lot of bass with drums, too.

I don't really even know what I'm asking, unfortunately. I am struggling intensely still with composition and would like some advice, so I figure I'd start here.

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When I write a bassline, I dont actually build the chord structure with the bass(as was stated in darkeswords essay). I usually leave that to a string or piano instrument. Then I compliment the harmonies and melodies with the bass. I actually (99% of the time) start the bassline on the root note of the chord progression, then, if the progression changes ever measure lets say, I'll take the bassline in the second measure either a 3rd up or down from the root in the progression of that particular measure (if that makes any sense :lol:).

Then, the whole time, I'm throwing in "walking" rythms and small steps up or down in the key to give the bassline some depth.

As far as bass guitar and double bass being the only basses you can think of, try an incredibly broad definition of a bass instrument. Something like "the bass covers the lower end in the song". There. That could be anything. Low pads, growling synths playing in low octaves, a kazoo transposed down several octaves with an EQ boost. Anything really, you just have to be creative with it.

I'm always going through some kind of struggle with composition, but if I just keep writing and really just being stupid while doing so, I'll come across something really cool, and that will breed, and the next thing will expand, and before you know it, you have a good basic structure to add some meat to. I know writing through a block can suck, sometimes it might take a month or two before you get anything, but just know SOMETHING will come eventually.

And, feel free to IM or PM me blah blah blah. :wink:

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HOW DO I WALK BASS !

ok, you don't know what to ask, i don't know what to answer.

so, i will just tell you what works for me...

- i find basslines i like*

- i study them: learn them backwards and forwards

- i dissect them: break them into managable pieces or simplify them into their bare function

- i try embellishing/reworking/improvising on them

- i take what i've learned and apply it to my own music

cheers.

*for me it's usually some funky 70s minimoog bassline. (:

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Yeah I agree with what has already been said. I rarely start with the bassline, usually the bassline for me comes with the chords or the drums. If it goes with the chords I'll start with the root or the second note of the chord and work my way up and down, just going with the vibe really.

As for the sounds themselves, yeah sometimes I just feel like using a double or guitar bass, cause it just fits most of the time. Try working on a different genre, get the feel for other bass sounds as well. As much as double or guitar bass always seem to fit, most of the time you'll find another bass sound that is an even better fit.

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HOW DO I WALK BASS !

ok, you don't know what to ask, i don't know what to answer.

so, i will just tell you what works for me...

- i find basslines i like*

- i study them: learn them backwards and forwards

- i dissect them: break them into managable pieces or simplify them into their bare function

- i try embellishing/reworking/improvising on them

- i take what i've learned and apply it to my own music

cheers.

*for me it's usually some funky 70s minimoog bassline. (:

Well, what works for you is actually something I'd consider trying. I am in the stage where I struggle with finding good ideas. Don't take my lack of a reply as a lack of interest. I read this thread, hit the sequencer, and see what I come up with.

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I sometimes forget to write a bassline until I'm halfway done with the song. :wink:

Usually, I take the chord progression, write it out in the bassline, then just assign random rhythm values to the notes of the chords. Usually, unless I am writing for techno or jazz or something different where there is a nice set way that has worked for me before.

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The bassline is the second most important part in a piece of music.

I don't like static basslines and I try not to use them (though I admit that Mercenarios de Lobo had it's share of them).

I like basslines that have a semi-melodic charactaristic to them rather than just reinforcement of rhythms already being played by another instrument or as just a low long-note fill. Though there are times where doing so is desireable, sometimes for an entire song. It all depends on what is musically happening.

I also like to use low voices in more than just basslines. Giving the low voice the melody for a phrase or two can add some depth.

I generally start with my melody line and then go to the bassline. In most cases, the Bass should carry the root of the chord structure. Sometimes I'll put a countermelody in bafore a bassline, but that's only occasional.

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From one of Darkesword's essays:
The Bassist:

The bassist obviously provides the bassline. He works closely with the drummer

to establish the pulse of the song, and he also is responsible for laying down

the chord structure.

In your piece, use the bassist to establish the low end of your song. Your

bassist will lay out the chordal structure of your piece. Low strings or brass

is usually heard in orchestral, and basslines in techno often consist of a

pumping synthline that gives the song a pulse.

I didn't know people still read that.

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I usually write the bass first. A solid rhythm section is key to a good song. I usually go pretty far on bass, adding sweep arpeggios, chords, melodic lead runs and harmonies.

It's easy to overdo these things in a song, and completely ruin the flow, but if you use the techniques in a subtle manner and know how to break between a rhythmic run and a melodic run, you should have some outstanding music.

Just look at Iron Maiden. Every single song is centered around the bass guitar (since Steve Harris, the bassist, writes almost all of the songs).

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