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Thread: Another bass line thread!

  1. #1
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    Another bass line thread!

    Hey guys, I read one topic that was somewhat about this already but I still feel like I have some questions. For me, whenever I come up with a line or riff, it sounds major. It seems no matter what I do everything that comes out is major, I don't understand.

    I've read so many articles about "emphasizing" particular notes and which modes work over certain chords. I understand this on paper but when I go to apply it, it doesn't work out. Here's an example, say I'm playin in C maj and its a I, ii, V, I progression. According to these articles, I could play Ionian over I, Dorian over ii, Mixolydian over V and Ionian again over the I. But how would one go about this? If I'm in C major, no sharps and no flats, what would it matter if I played Dorian insteadof Mixolydian if it's all the same notes? I understand they start on different degrees of the Ionian scale, but how does playing one mode over a chord instead of another make any difference?

    Now I took AP Music Theory this year in high school and like to think I know some about theory but when it comes to actually applying it to my instrument, I lose it. I don't like anything I play and don't think it's ever good enough.

    I guess what I'm trying to find out is how I can improve my bass lines when sitting down and writing with my guitarist or just jamming? Does this music theory stuff pay off or is it more of a hinderance?

    I really hope I didn't annoy anyone posting this topic cuz I'm sure it's way over done but I always feel like there's something missing after reading other user's posts. Thanks for any advice or help!

  2. #2
    Mode Rator Zatz's Avatar
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    Welcome, thebrainp0lice!

    Quote Originally Posted by thebrainp0lice
    I understand they start on different degrees of the Ionian scale, but how does playing one mode over a chord instead of another make any difference?
    It's been said a lot of times in our forums indeed It's rather the background chord from your progression than the note sequence from your major scale that defines the mode flavour of the moment.

    If you want to go diatonic all the way you don't have too many choices - Ionian over I, Dorian over ii and so on. Still you may want to tweak the sound a bit by adding variations that don't clash with the chord progression - say, try playing Dorian over iii instead of Phrygian or wherever your imagination floats you.

    But whatever the combination, the underlying chord is a primary source of modality.

    And remember that modes only exist in our minds. Extremely unhealthy concept

    Quote Originally Posted by thebrainp0lice
    I guess what I'm trying to find out is how I can improve my bass lines when sitting down and writing with my guitarist or just jamming? Does this music theory stuff pay off or is it more of a hinderance?
    Sure it does. Extra knowledge can do no harm
    Zadd9 -> A6 -> T#9b5 -> Zmaj7

  3. #3
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    With bass lines I'm not to concerned about the modes. The bass lines have different logic to it in many ways. I would think more about the chord tones and passing tones to approach the next chord. I've added a simple example of a ii V I playing with bass lines following my typical thinking.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebrainp0lice
    Hey guys, I read one topic that was somewhat about this already but I still feel like I have some questions. For me, whenever I come up with a line or riff, it sounds major. It seems no matter what I do everything that comes out is major, I don't understand.
    Give me an example; a song or three which have non-major sounding bass lines. It'd make it easier to help. Also, you might want to examine those songs, which don't sound major, and try to identify why they sound minor. To me, the minor 7 below the root, as well as the minor 3rd sound great in minor based rock. Quite easy to come up with phrases.

    Quote Originally Posted by thebrainp0lice
    I've read so many articles about "emphasizing" particular notes and which modes work over certain chords. I understand this on paper but when I go to apply it, it doesn't work out. Here's an example, say I'm playin in C maj and its a I, ii, V, I progression. According to these articles, I could play Ionian over I, Dorian over ii, Mixolydian over V and Ionian again over the I. But how would one go about this? If I'm in C major, no sharps and no flats, what would it matter if I played Dorian insteadof Mixolydian if it's all the same notes? I understand they start on different degrees of the Ionian scale, but how does playing one mode over a chord instead of another make any difference?
    You may very well play relative Dorian or Ionian over the V chord in a major key, but it'll sound strange if played for a longer period of time. When playing modes, you want to back up the modes with the most suitable chord backing, right, so it sounds mystical if you first decide for a mode, and then throw in a more or less random chord.

    Quote Originally Posted by thebrainp0lice
    Now I took AP Music Theory this year in high school and like to think I know some about theory but when it comes to actually applying it to my instrument, I lose it. I don't like anything I play and don't think it's ever good enough.

    I guess what I'm trying to find out is how I can improve my bass lines when sitting down and writing with my guitarist or just jamming? Does this music theory stuff pay off or is it more of a hinderance?
    At least, now you know which notes that most probably will sound good in given contexts. And yes, it does pay off, even though it might limit you to a certain degree if you ALWAYS stick to the theoretical solutions. Remember to have an open mind, and that a note might work, even if it's out of key. I got to remind myself about this from time to time.

    Also, you'd make it even easier to help out if you tell a little more about your wonderings. Ie. what sounds minor to you? What do you mean by improving; what's your current problem?

  5. #5
    I like music.
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    Rhythmic placement determines the sound you are putting across.
    Hard luck and trouble...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zatz

    It's been said a lot of times in our forums indeed It's rather the background chord from your progression than the note sequence from your major scale that defines the mode flavour of the moment.

    If you want to go diatonic all the way you don't have too many choices - Ionian over I, Dorian over ii and so on. Still you may want to tweak the sound a bit by adding variations that don't clash with the chord progression - say, try playing Dorian over iii instead of Phrygian or wherever your imagination floats you.
    Okay I can kinda see that but I guess what I'm trying to get to is that if you have a quick chord progression, how is playing a different "mode" over that chord going to make it sound different? For example, if one were to play an Fmaj chord, in Cmaj again, for lets say 2 beats in a 4/4 measure, how would someone imply a Lydian scale over that in such a quick amount of time? From that Fmaj, F A C, you could play F A C or whatever, but how is that different from playing Lydian? I don't know if I'm describing it correctly or not. I just don't see what the difference is if you play Lydian over Fmaj or if you play Ionian over Fmaj since it's the same exact notes( C D E F G A B) How is playing Lydian going to make a difference? Ugh..I'm almost starting to confuse myself.

  7. #7
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    It can work the other way though.

    Do a search and find a thread called Stricto Mixo in the Improv forum.

    I provided a backing track which to me is very obviously mixolydian in nature and I acheived this by simply playing a dom7 chord and then building the bass line on the mixolydian scale to emphasise it. It may be that the 7th chord is what gives it the modal flavour but I have to say, I think the bass line assists heavily in the aim.

    See what you think.

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