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Prime_BASS

How to actually write Basslines.....??

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IMO It's where a lot of young originals bands go very wrong when they say they're an originals band and "We don't do covers."

Music is a language like any other and you need to learn the basic words (musical phrases), study the language and know whole sentences and how to use them before you try to make up your own new words.

If everybody is speaking at the same time in different languages you get chaos. When you know someone well and understand what they are saying then you can get to a point where you are finishing their sentences.

Sorry. All a bit esoteric for a Friday afternoon.

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A lot of what has been said is what I expected to be said, and on a whole I'd agree.
As simple as 'feel' sounds it's rather difficult.

My feel to begin with seems fine, but on one song in particular the new rythm guitar section's feel is totally different and has made me hate the song and hate playing it, don't get me wrong it's a nice tune, and the line is fairly simple, but the whole rythmic pattern of the song's verse's has had to change, and IMO for the worse. I don't knwo what to do to make it better, playing simply (just roots with an odd trill or 5th) makes the song sound boring, while playing more sounds out of place. I think I have a decent middle ground, but I still don't enjoy the song or think I have any 'feel' for it. It's like I'm trying to fit in too much.

While on another song took use a whole 3 goes to get the song solid and the 2nd play through I had a decent idea of what the bassline would be, and it's sticking so far.
Another has taken me a whole year to get it sounding right to me, and to be in place with the song. This maybe due to the fact that I have progressed a lot since the song was first written.

[quote name='BassTractor' timestamp='1339144490' post='1684199']
From my outlook, the first rather impromptu questions would be:
Can you hear the music, or parts of it, in your head? [b]YES[/b]
Can you just repeat bits, like one line, "eternally" and get a feel for a bass line's character? [b]DEPENDS ON HOW MUCH I LIKE THE SONG[/b]
Can you experiment in your head with different types of bass lines on those bits? I don't mean this as in litteral tones, but more like a conveyed atmosphere? [b]I DON'T THINK SO[/b]
Can you translate that atmosphere into (some) specific tones? [b]NO[/b]
[/quote]

I cvan imagine different kinds of lines no problem, but only to songs that wouldn't yet have a bassline that is solid and ingrained in my mind.

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[quote name='TimR' timestamp='1339161753' post='1684641']
IMO It's where a lot of young originals bands go very wrong when they say they're an originals band and "We don't do covers."

Music is a language like any other and you need to learn the basic words (musical phrases), study the language and know whole sentences and how to use them before you try to make up your own new words.

If everybody is speaking at the same time in different languages you get chaos. When you know someone well and understand what they are saying then you can get to a point where you are finishing their sentences.
[/quote]
I have to say I don't agree with you. I agree that getting to know existing tunes and developing your theory knowledge etc. can be helpful but it can also be a limiting factor. I once had a fascinating conversation with a guitarist friend of mine who said he sometimes wished he could write with as much freedom as one of his bandmates (who was totally self-taught), but he couldn't [i]not[/i] think in terms of theory.
As with everything, each to their own. There's rarely a 'best' way to do anything, just a way that works best for you.

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Easy. Ask the guitarist what chords (a guitar thing) he/she is playing, if it's E which it usually is, just play the thickest wire without putting your hands on the long wooden section. If it's A or some other obscure letter, just play all of the strings at the same time. the thick wire usually works best though.

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[quote name='lettsguitars' timestamp='1339170987' post='1684879']
Easy. Ask the guitarist what chords (a guitar thing) he/she is playing, if it's E which it usually is, just play the thickest wire without putting your hands on the long wooden section. If it's A or some other obscure letter, just play all of the strings at the same time. the thick wire usually works best though.
[/quote]

If it's A, play the second thickest wire. That's what the pros do.

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[quote name='Jack Cahalane' timestamp='1339171560' post='1684893']
If it's A, play the second thickest wire. That's what the pros do.
[/quote]
Unless it's a 5 string

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[quote name='Jack Cahalane' timestamp='1339171903' post='1684900']
Don't be silly, basses only have four strings.
[/quote] huh? mine definately has wires.

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[quote name='lettsguitars' timestamp='1339172678' post='1684920']
huh? mine definately has wires.
[/quote]

Erm, well yeah so does mine, that's what I mean. The strings are what hold my wires on at either end.

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If it works it works - plain and simple. Writing a great simple line that doesn't sound "done to death" is pretty hard though. Sometimes one note says more than a thousand. Its all subjective anyway. Most of the basslines that i have had recorded and really liked have been shelved for lines that i didn't particularly like but apparently suit the song better :( Its someone elses song so its up to them. In retrospect, they were right :rolleyes:

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[quote name='EmmettC' timestamp='1339144817' post='1684204']
+1

This also stops you just playing the same patterns over every song.
[/quote]

+1
What he said.

And also listen to the bass in music you like. What's it doing? Does it complement the song? Is it bringing out the melody? Or pushing the rhythm? Or just filling out the low end? If you like what it's doing try to mirror it in your own music.

And whatever you do...........don't overplay.

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[quote name='BottomE' timestamp='1339173312' post='1684940']
Most of the basslines that i have had recorded and really liked have been shelved for lines that i didn't particularly like but apparently suit the song better :( Its someone elses song so its up to them. In retrospect, they were right :rolleyes:
[/quote]

You get around this problem by being the songwriter (not just the bassist). That way you get to tell the guitarist(s) what to play.

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+1 on playing root notes to start off with.

After a few plays I generally have an idea what I want to do rythmically and melodically and can work it out with a better idea of whether or not it will work with the rest of the song. I guess whatever you hear in your head when you write parts is a subconcious product of your musical influences so I tend not to go in thinking "What would <insert favourite players name> do here?". Likewise, I try and write a part that will work with no effects at all in case of massive equipment failure.

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Sometimes I just a rhythm pop in to my head and as soon as I can I try to play around with it until I get something that sounds decent.

Just last night i was in the shower and something just entered my head, as soon as i got out I tried to play it chorally, then trying to improvise around the scales.

What i do generally is show these ideas to the band and jam them and see what happens, however none of these have actual made our set list yet lol

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[quote name='BigRedX' timestamp='1339174290' post='1684965']
You get around this problem by being the songwriter (not just the bassist). That way you get to tell the guitarist(s) what to play.
[/quote]
I like the cut of your Jib young man

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[quote name='BigRedX' timestamp='1339142056' post='1684160']
Put your bass down. Listen to what the rest of the instruments are doing paying particular attention to the drums and vocals. Sing the bass line (in your head if your actual singing's not very good). Now pick up your bass and play what you've been singing.
[/quote]
I think this is a great way of coming up with a bassline. I try it when I can. Sometimes nothing stirs in my head though!

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It comes with practice. If you're adding basslines to written songs (where the chords & vocals are all in place), then listen to the song several times without playing any bass or even thinking of a bassline, then you'll start to hear a pattern from the music & the vocals that you can adapt on (usually the notes aren't there yet, if you know what I mean). You'll hear where can be synchronised & where parts could be changed for all the band & so forth.
A lot of the stuff I do works with the vocal line, either harmonising a melody or just reinforcing what is sung.
The more you write stuff the better you get at it, just like playing bass.

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we usually put drums, guitar and bass down before vocals, I quite often have to change my bass line after the vocals are done so I don't clash with the vocal melody. Guitars usually keep strumming away in D (he loosens up his fattest wire a bit and it changes it to D).

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[quote name='Prime_BASS' timestamp='1339139215' post='1684125']
I can see a load of responses saying 'feel' and all that, but even with 'feel' how do I really know what is right for a song, and what isn't?
[/quote]

There is only Feel & Theory, and varying degrees of mixing both,

Perhaps de construct some basslines you like to see what they have done over each chord/bar, changes, repeats, variations etc

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Now I've done some thinking, and sadly I have a hard time really understanding where you're coming from. Already being a guitarist and being able to play some rather demanding stuff, whilst being fairly lost at making bass parts (if I understood you correctly) to me seems like a possible case of demanding too much of yourself and of the formal correctness of your bass parts.

But I'll give it a go, at the risk of condescendence, and of hitting

If I'm correct though, I think a theoretical approach is counterproductive here. In that case, I think you rather need experience in hearing that things can work without a load of formal demands being answered.

As to a pedagogical approach in this, here's what I propose:
As others have said, start with listening to songs in the same style and how bass parts are done.
When playing yourself, go through a quick process if needed (as per your question):
- Use root tones to begin with.
- Make rhythmic patterns with the root, and then also with its octave.
- Exchange tones for other tones, trying to avoid the fifth (a fifth is no statement - a sixth is)
- Soon you should have nice snippets that you can just use as they are.
- Echo small elements from other parts: a rhytmic element, some intervals (also diminish or augment them - play with this), a melody snippet, etc.
- You have ears. So if it sounds good, it is good, at least for the time being.

Just tell me if I have been an idiot. I'm very open to the idea that I hit the wrong ball in the wrong court, and sent it the wrong way to boot.

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[quote name='BassTractor' timestamp='1339363636' post='1687586']
But I'll give it a go, at the risk of condescendence, and of hitting
Just tell me if I have been an idiot. I'm very open to the idea that I hit the wrong ball in the wrong court, and sent it the wrong way to boot.
[/quote]

Not at all. Being very helpful.

It's I find it very easy writing lines to songs that need a bass line, rather than writing a song myself and starting with the bass.

Edited by Prime_BASS

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Lots of good ideas here. Me, I tend to think in terms of phrases that have a balance to them (as in speech) and also about what the other instruments are doing and think about this in terms of monologue versus conversation/counterpoint. Conversation can be really quickfire or slow and measured but you need to be able to follow it which you can't if everyone's all talking at once. The exception is if everyone's saying the same thing (monologue), and that can be really effective too.

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[quote name='BassTractor' timestamp='1339363636' post='1687586']
Now I've done some thinking, and sadly I have a hard time really understanding where you're coming from. Already being a guitarist and being able to play some rather demanding stuff, whilst being fairly lost at making bass parts (if I understood you correctly) to me seems like a possible case of demanding too much of yourself and of the formal correctness of your bass parts.

But I'll give it a go, at the risk of condescendence, and of hitting

If I'm correct though, I think a theoretical approach is counterproductive here. In that case, I think you rather need experience in hearing that things can work without a load of formal demands being answered.

As to a pedagogical approach in this, here's what I propose:
As others have said, start with listening to songs in the same style and how bass parts are done.
When playing yourself, go through a quick process if needed (as per your question):
- Use root tones to begin with.
- Make rhythmic patterns with the root, and then also with its octave.
- Exchange tones for other tones, trying to avoid the fifth (a fifth is no statement - a sixth is)
- Soon you should have nice snippets that you can just use as they are.
- Echo small elements from other parts: a rhytmic element, some intervals (also diminish or augment them - play with this), a melody snippet, etc.
- You have ears. So if it sounds good, it is good, at least for the time being.

Just tell me if I have been an idiot. I'm very open to the idea that I hit the wrong ball in the wrong court, and sent it the wrong way to boot.
[/quote]

I think you've done a brilliant job of getting all the vital bits of what everyone has said & making them logical. :)

Now you know what to do, have fun. That's the important bit!

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[quote name='mrdirtyrob' timestamp='1339170670' post='1684868']

I have to say I don't agree with you. I agree that getting to know existing tunes and developing your theory knowledge etc. can be helpful but it can also be a limiting factor. I once had a fascinating conversation with a guitarist friend of mine who said he sometimes wished he could write with as much freedom as one of his bandmates (who was totally self-taught), but he couldn't [i]not[/i] think in terms of theory.
As with everything, each to their own. There's rarely a 'best' way to do anything, just a way that works best for you.
[/quote]

I think you missed what I was saying. I'm saying that making up lines is one thing, but making up lines that don't fit with what others are playing because you don't understand how the bass fits with everything else is another. It's not just bass players that do this. Keys play over bass lines, drums fill over vocal lines, guitars add root bass notes etc.

There are lots of fundamental bass line approaches.
Root.
Root with passing notes to next root.
Third or Fifth note of chord depending on Inversion.
Stay on Bass note while chords ascend or descend and change quality.
Double melody.
Counterpoint.
Play main riff.
+others...

Once you understand the various roles of the bass then you become more free to mix and match and usually you get more understanding for gaining more experience of playing other types of music (ie don't stick to one genre or only play originals)

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[quote name='TimR' timestamp='1339161753' post='1684641']
IMO It's where a lot of young originals bands go very wrong when they say they're an originals band and "We don't do covers."

Music is a language like any other and you need to learn the basic words (musical phrases), study the language and know whole sentences and how to use them before you try to make up your own new words.

If everybody is speaking at the same time in different languages you get chaos. When you know someone well and understand what they are saying then you can get to a point where you are finishing their sentences.

Sorry. All a bit esoteric for a Friday afternoon.
[/quote]

I like this analagy....

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