Re: Writing a bass line

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Posted by Anonymouse on October 23, 2001 at 21:07:58:

In Reply to: Writing a bass line posted by Larry Lessard on October 23, 2001 at 16:10:51:

: We had an argument in the studio the other day while recording a bass line.
: I seem to remember something about a rule that says that the bass line must hit the root note when the chord changes at the beginning of a measure? Does anyone know about this or am I way off base? (off bass?)

1) The first rule of bass lines (or anything else in music) is that THERE ARE NO RULES. If it sounds good, play it.

2) The second rule of bass lines is that if thou are being paid as a session man,go forth and do as the leader commandeth, lest thou be dopped from the call back list.

3) Roots give a very strong definition to a chord change (assuming the root changes)and are safe bet for the one beat. But if you are going from F Maj7 to F min 7, perhaps the minor third would be a stronger choice. Going to a sus4 - the fourth resolving to the third works.

4) Fifths are consonant to the root, so they work in most cases. Other chord tones 6,7,9 are less likely to fit, nonchordal tones (ie passing tones) are "outside".

5) Certain styles like country and thrash metal like root motion on the one. Walking lines in Jazz are much less so, and non-root tones add spice if used judiciously.

6) If you displace the root or five to the second beat, it sounds like you stumbled.

7) Base lines don't exist in a vacuum and they don't just hang to outlining the chord changes. What's happening in the melody and other parts is equally important to listen to when choosing the right notes.

8) Try to hear the other parts when writing out the bass line (a cassette recording of the band less bass is a big help).

Good Luck!

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