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Ostinato Lines And Studies In Dynamics

Kevin Guin

Bass Edu

Ostinato Lines And Studies In Dynamics

Learning to put ostinato lines into your practicing is a very effective way to focus your energies, play great bass lines, and to develop musical skills that will elevate your playing. 

Simply put, ostinato lines are repeated lines. Maybe the most familiar example is when the bassist stays on the one-chord in a blues tune and the guitarist builds tension in the solo untilthe change to the four-chord. In that case the ostinato could be the classic “box” pattern – and a skilled bassist will master every note and nuance of it. That type of bass line gives the band a great foundation to work with and it’s also a heck of a lot of fun. 

The purpose of this lesson is threefold: to introduce you to ostinato bass lines, to give you a solid example, and to encourage you to make these lines a regular part of your practicing. You will want to build your resolve and start making plans to get this extremely effective skill into your bass playing. 

Ostinato bass lines by their very nature give you the opportunity to zero in on the way you are playing and to develop any part of the line that you want to emphasize.

And if you can learn to personalize the line by using dynamics you will be well on your way to the gold standard of musicianship: Individuality. 

Click to download the play along mp3’s – any questions, please visit me online at

Take note that the line in the opening clip is a 12/8 line in G minor. The note choices are familiar and accessible. The meter and the rhythms are a little bit trickier. 

Remember that 12/8 time is a “compound” meter. The easiest way to get it down is to count quarter-notes as standard 4/4 time, and then learn to feela triplet for each quarter note. 

I added a bit of a bonus to the lesson with the addition of a very effective exercise in dynamics. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to nail the dynamics to the wall!!

The exercise is an accent study that I demonstrate in the video lesson and have also notated in the pdf download. If you can pair it up with the ostinato line you will see veryexciting results in just a few short weeks. 

The most important part of accent exercises is to not only punch the accents but to also learn to feather the unaccented notes.

That’s why I sometimes call it “Punch and Feather”. This type of skill will send your dynamic range through the roof and when you start putting it to use in the rhythm section your drummer is going to do a triple take wondering what’s gotten into you! 

Getting ostinato lines into your practice rotation and learning to nail the dynamics will keep you busy for months at a time. The payoff is great bass lines and well deserved authority in the rhythm section for you. 

I truly hope you enjoy this lesson, and please don’t forget to download the play along mp3’s and the notation pdf to help you in your practicing. 

Best of luck to you and thanks for stopping in. 

Thanks for stopping in – Kevin

Remember… if you have any questions, you can always contact me online at

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