In the previous lesson, we were learning a few tips on how to write melodies over chord progressions. The idea is to show how melody and harmony walk together in any piece of music.
Today we will continue to learn about music creation by building a bass line over a chord progression.
Usually, bass and drums are part of the rhythm section of a song. The bass line will also have an important role in the song’s harmony.
The notes of a bass line will also follow the song key and the current chord. It’s the same approach, and the more you’re familiar with music scales and chords, the easier it will be to get creative.
Although the following example uses electronic music, it can be used in any other popular music genre. What generally changes is the overall rhythm pattern. That is a topic for a future lesson.
Let’s start with a simple bass line that is playing along with a drum loop and pads:
It’s a simple bass line that basically consists of chord roots. Can you play it by ear? Most producers can.
The chord progression is the following:
So, it’s a 4-bar progression in D Minor key.
Can you transcribe the bass line?
Here it is:
Notice the octave down indicator in the transcription, meaning that the written notes are played an octave down (actually, it’s 2 octaves down, we just tried to keep the writing as simple as possible…).
It’s been a common practice in today’s electronic music to play the bass line in the upbeat, as a result of side-chaining it with the kick.
Now, we can try to improve the previous simple bass line a little, by adding other notes than the root:
Here’s the bass line transcription:
Notice that we used root and 5th (A) over the Dm chord, root and minor 7th (F) over Gm7 and passing notes (E and D) on F.
Alternating slightly different bass lines in a production will result in a good pattern.
Now, listen to the following bass line:
Notice how it has more variation and rhythm, and how it plays together with the kick on the first beat. It’s another approach to a bass line, and will also result in a great track.
Can you transcribe it? Here it is:
That’s it! The idea is to take a simple bass line and develop it, so that you can make your tracks much more interesting.