Connect with us

Latest

Creating Bass Lines – Part 2 by Rhayn Jooste

Published

on

Creating Bass Lines – Part 2 by Rhayn Jooste (View Part 1)

Connecting the Dots

Now comes the fun part, connecting the changes. Once you have formulated the main rhythmic pulses and nailed the changes, connecting them smoothly is the next step. This is where knowing your scales and arpeggios along with knowing your fretboard comes in to play. The axiom – Knowledge is power comes into full effect. There are two approaches to this: First, position playing and second, converting the fretboard into the key signature. I use both but generally tend towards conversion, its safer and you will generally never hit a bum note (most of the time).

Position playing is exactly what it says: staying in one position and playing the changes. It relies on you remembering box shapes. However that’s about as far as most players get. You should also get to know the names of the notes within them as well. How else will you know which notes to target? So I would suggest getting to know your CAGED system shapes, all of them!

The conversion method is where you manipulate the natural notes along strings and hopefully the entire fretboard into a key. This does involve more brainpower but once you have learnt your fretboard you never struggle for finding the right notes. e.g. G major = 1 sharp which is F# – so all F’s get sharpened (move 1 fret to the right). The best way to get used to this system is to run 1 and 2 string scales, up and down the fretboard. Then try arpeggios across 1 string. See if your brain can keep up with your hands.

A good test for both systems is the ability to playing one-string scales or box shapes in a cycle of four or five, across key centers.

Timbre and tone: This step is where you make the decision to go low or high in the arrangement of your song. Style, tempo and instrumentation will guide your choice here. One thing to keep in mind is sonic scope; the bass range is large (a standing low E wave is actually 27 feet or 8.33 meters while a low B has a wave that’s 36 feet plus). So don’t just sit on the bottom two strings, use the other notes as well. Listen to the other instruments: Are you in a band with a seven-string guitar? What about the keyboard player; what bass line is he playing? Sometimes the music calls for low bass, a lot of hard rock and metal styles do. However some styles just do not. Keep in mind fretted notes are easier to control and in, say a funk line, allow you the option of staccato notes or even percussive beats. So you would not tend to use open strings as much or would need to control them a lot more.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

So you have done all the hard work, got an awesome bass line and you roll up to the next rehearsal to dazzle the band only to be told: “Um… could you play root notes please!” or “Something simpler would be better!” What the…!

The bassist’s role in any band is a difficult tight rope between playing the harmony and keeping the groove going. Added to which you have to fit in with the other harmonic instruments, such as guitars and more importantly the vocals. Sometimes keeping it simple is key. So where do you get to be creative? Generally moments of creativity exist in certain sections or (more commonly) the end of sections or phrases where a run is needed. Possibly even when the drums finally come to a stop. However these moments are few and far between in most songs, so savor them. That’s not too mean you can’t be creative, it just means you have to channel and focus the ideas and creativity a lot more than say the guitarist, who will probably get away with long meandering solos, with wrong notes or rhythms misplaced; as its almost expected of them. This is not expected of the bass player. The bass is the foundation of most songs and needs to be steady, as all other instruments sit on top of it and rely on it for their road maps. Most vocalists pitch their note off your line through each chord. Yeah, that dratted the root note is actually quite important. So when you go wrong, so do they!

Rhythm is King

So what do you do when all you have facing you is, 16 bars of I IV V (or worse). You utilize rhythm. Changing the placement of notes with in a song structure is the difference between a song that sounds like its been manufactured and one that has groove. Find creative ways of approaching root note (that’s your walking bass line), Find ways to hold off on certain beats (that’s your funk line). Maybe the song calls for the notes to be punchy and percussive (that’s your pop and slap line). There are a myriad of ways to approach the musical situation you are in, you just need to be aware of them.

Always record your parts; that way you can step back and listen objectively when and evaluate how the bass lines sit in the arrangement. If you can, get the drummer to make a rough demo of his part so that you can formulate your ideas around what is actually being played and not a drum machine copy. Remember that your parts are important and it sometimes has to be kept simple. Bass is the foundation for modern music. The style and mood of the piece will dictate the part more than anything else but so will the knowledge you have under your fingers and in your muscle memory.

Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants.

A final thought: It’s your knowledge of other players lines that will pay off the most when it comes to creating lines of your own. Bass players have been playing root notes for years, so why not use their ideas on how to approach getting it right. Find a Chuck Rainey line to crow bar into a metal song. Or maybe there is a Stanley Clarke harmonic idea that will work great as in intro. I am not advocating out right theft, as that is too obvious. What I suggest is you have a toolbox of ideas you can call on. So that when you do its a case of massaging the notes into your musical situation or key. The bottom line is by studying those that have gone before you; you will have a greater palette of how to choose the correct notes, what rhythms work best or even what tone to use. Eventually you will start to craft your own lines with little or no effort.

Example two: Enigma.

I have utilized a Sankara ballad, called Enigma, to highlight all that I have gone over in the last 2 months articles. The key is D major however the harmony is B aeolian for the most part, except the bridges, which are D, major proper.

It was originally written by the singer Gareth Jones and is primarily a piano based piece. The demo I was given had a simple bass line that always hit all the root notes and had semi quavers running through the bridges, with the B to C# slur. The bare bones of the verse part was in place I added one substitution, because the chorus chord progression is exactly the same as the verse, the arpeggio walking, the slurs and along with syncopating the bass part through out the song. I allowed the bridge part to breathe with some rhythmic spacing of the notes and added 6 string idiosyncratic ideas (2 part harmony, hammer ons and some chordal diads). The fills were added to give more interest to section changes.

The bass part syncs in heavily with the bass drum beats in the verse and is almost a feature of that section (there is very little going on around it or in its frequency) and so has to be rock steady. Arpeggios are used to distinguish the verse from the chorus where a root to fifth approach to texture was used. The chorus is a simple root note bass line that locks into the bass drum beats as tightly as is humanly possible.

I used a 6 string bass guitar on this piece as it gave me more range to my note choices from a low B to a high D as well as giving me the option for chords. Each section (and its variations) has changes in language, range, rhythms or texture to create interest and move the song along. See notes in the music for details.

Latest

This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

Published

on

TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @meridian_guitars @mgbassguitars @utreraguitars @adamovicbasses @marleaux_bassguitars @str_guitars @foderaguitars @mauriziouberbasses @officialspector @normstockton

View More Bass Gear News

Continue Reading

Latest

This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

Published

on

TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @zonguitars @shukerbassguitars @bite.guitars @adamovicbasses @mayonesguitars @bassbros.uk @capursoguitars @overwaterbasses @saitiasguitars @ramabass.ok

View More Bass Gear News

Continue Reading

Gear News

New Gear: Elrick Bass Guitars Headless Series

Published

on

New Gear: Elrick Bass Guitars Headless Series

New from Elrick Bass Guitars, Headless Series added to Custom Lineup…

Elrick Bass Guitars is excited to announce the addition of a headless option on hand-carved series bass guitars. Initially previewed on the 2023 Gold Series SLC MkII bass of prolific solo bass practitioner and educator Steve Lawson, a headless bass option is now available to all. According the Elrick, “The excitement surrounding Steve’s MkII SLC bass at 2024 NAMM confirmed that the time is right to add a headless option to our extensive range of custom options.” To date, Elrick instruments have only been offered with traditional headstock construction but, in response to market demand, custom features will now include a headless option in 4-, 5- and 6-string models.

Headless bass guitars share these features with the traditional headstock series:

24 frets + zero fret
exotic wood top
hand-rubbed oil finish
2-way adjustable truss rod
custom Bartolini pickups
custom Bartolini 3-band preamp
fully shielded control cavity
Hipshot bridge
Dunlop Straploks
Elrick Fundamental strings

The headless option can now be selected when submitting custom order requests via the form on elrick.com, contacting the Elrick Sales Office directly, or working with your favorite Elrick dealer.

Continue Reading

Gear News

Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)

Published

on

Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)

Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)…

Flemish Master Pieter Bruegel the Elder probably had many things in mind when painting his Hunters in the Snow in oil on oak wood in 1565. This masterpiece tells plenty of little stories about winterly pastimes and precarious livelihoods in the Early Modern Age. What Bruegel presumably did not have in mind was that this painting would, several centuries later, become one of the most popular ones in fine arts globally, displayed in a permanent exhibition at Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) Vienna. The painting’s popularity was lately taken to a different level as it was replicated by hand to design an exclusive BITE bass.

An international art collector and bass player who regularly visits Vienna to immerse himself in the wonderworld of Kunsthistorisches’ Bruegel Hall asked BITE to replicate the painting on a bass body. BITE Guitars, an Austrian premium manufacturer exporting most of their basses to the US, has become renowned for colorful artwork basses, offering a range of manual and digital techniques. The firm’s art director Peter, a trained scenic painter of Oscar and Palme d’Or rank, specializes in photo-realistic reproductions. He also painted the bass for Robbie Williams’ 2023 world tour by faithfully replicating Robbie’s own stage design onto the tour bass.

Peter copied the Bruegel motif onto the bass body in minute detail, little twigs even by one-hair-brush. Positioning the rectangular image section on the body shape proved to be a special challege that he met by repositioning little elements, a bird here, a horse and cart there.

It all came together in a memorable video shooting in front of the original painting in the Museum’s Bruegel Hall: venerable fine arts, premium handicraft and groovy jazz tunes.

View video at the museum: www.youtube.com/shorts/2evdqfR6gUE

What’s the conclusion of BITE’s client, our Vienna, art and bass lover? “It’s a magical bass! When I touch the strings, I feel warm inside.”

Specs highlights:
Bass model: BITE Evening Star, the proprietary BITE premium model with inward curved horns
Pickups: 2 x BITE 1000 millivolt passive split-coils (PP)
Neck: roasted maple neck and roasted flamed maple fretboard

Price tag incl. insured door-to-door express shipping:
New York: 4726 USD
London: 3645 GBP
Berlin: 4965 EUR

Full specs available at bite.guitars/old-master-bass/

Bruegel Hall at Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna: 
khm.at/en/visit/collections/picture-gallery/the-best-of-bruegel-only-in-vienna/

Continue Reading

Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

Published

on

Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

Bassist Ciara Moser…

Ciara and I sat down for this interview a few months after the launch of her debut album, “Blind. So what?”

Blind since birth, she is a powerhouse of talent; she is not only a professional bassist, but also composes music, and is a producer and educator. I am just blown away by her talent and perseverance.

Join me as we hear about Ciara’s musical journey, the details of her album, how she gets her sound, and her plans for the future.

Visit online:

www.ciara-moser.com 
IG @ moserciara
FB @ ciara.moser

Photos by Manuela Haeussler

Continue Reading

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Facebook

Trending