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Thread: Generic bass line

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  1. #1
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Generic bass line

    Post deals with bass guitar and a generic bass line for the entire song.

    Los Boleros' post (Strickly Clave) http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...ad.php?t=18377 brought up something I've been searching for - THE generic bass line for when I'm jamming. I do a lot of jamming with no sheet music on stage, i.e. everyone is winging it - therefore nailing the chord changes is hit or miss at best.

    Los Boleros talked about using a G-C-D-C or R-4-5-4 generic bass line for each measure. Got me to thinking...... Being based upon the I IV V IV chords I'm hoping this has something that I can expand upon.

    Then in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g35zS1tVO3o my ear picks up what I think is a generic bass line used through out the entire song. So.....

    1. Is that what you guys hear. Jon your ear is much better than mine, what do you hear in this bass line.
    2. Your thoughts on using one generic bass line over all the chords. Is that something I should/could pursue?

    Thanks,

    Malcolm
    Last edited by Malcolm; 09-11-2011 at 01:50 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    Los Boleros' post (Strickly Clave) http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...ad.php?t=18377 brought up something I've been searching for - THE generic bass line for when I'm jamming. I do a lot of jamming with no sheet music on stage, i.e. everyone is winging it - therefore nailing the chord changes is hit or miss at best.

    Los Boleros talked about using a G-C-D-C or R-4-5-4 generic bass line for each measure. Got me to thinking...... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g35zS1tVO3o in this video my ear picks up what I think is a generic bass line through out the entire song.

    1. Is that what you guys hear. Jon your ear is much better than mine, what do you hear.
    That's a great bass line, but I wouldn't call it "generic" in the sense of something that would fit many different scenarios. It's more like a riff designed for that song - adding a bluesy/jazzy vibe to the country original.

    Here's tab (I already worked this out a few years ago ):
    Code:
    A7
    -----------------|----------------
    ------5---0-2-(x)|--------------------
    0-------------(x)|0 (etc)-----------------
    -----------------|----------------
    1 . 2 . 3 . 4 .
    The (x) is a random note that is more percussive than pitched - sometimes it's the open A string, sometimes it's more like a muted D string.
    Generically speaking it contains the root, 5th and 7th of the chord, so is versatile in that respect (might suit any A7), but the use of a D passing note - and especially the distinctive syncopation of the G - won't suit most applications. Play this on any other tune, and people are likely to say "hey I've heard that before - isn't it that line from Cold Cold Heart?"

    In one sense, it's very simple and could have come from anywhere (there may be some old rock'n'roll tune with a very similar line). But IMO it's too distinctive for your average dom7 chord.
    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    2. Your thoughts on using one generic bass line over all the chords. Is that something I should pursue?
    Depends on the style of the music. For blues, the standard walking line is something like this:
    Code:
    A7
    ---------------|---------------|-
    ------------4--|5---4----------|---
    ----4---7------|--------7---4--|---
    5--------------|---------------|--
    You could play the root as the open string of course, but this is a good movable pattern.

    In jazz they're more likely to use a passing 2nd, so the 3rd of the chord (major or minor) falls on beat 3.
    Code:
    A or A7
    ---------------|
    ---------------|
    --------4---7--|
    5---7----------|
    root-2-3-5, instead of root-3-5-6. Jazz is more likely to change chord after one bar, so a second bar is more variable.

    A very common thing done in jazz is to flatten the 5th on the last beat, so as to descend by a half-step to the next root (they'll only do it if that's where it would lead). Half-step moves to roots is normal in jazz bass, from a b5 down or from a major 3 up (even if the chord is minor). Eg, here's a classic line from 40s R&B, for a ii-V-I:
    Code:
    Dm7             G7              C
    ---------------|0--------------|-
    0---2---3---4--|----3---2---0--|---
    ---------------|---------------|3-
    ---------------|---------------|--
               (F#)
    The F# is chromatic, but the logic of the line is irresistible. (The same line might be used on a D7 chord too, with a passing b3.)

    I guess the general rules (which I'm sure you're largely familiar with, if only instinctively ) are:

    1. play root on beat 1 (unless it's a slash chord);
    2. play 5th somewhere else in the bar;
    3. play 3rd somewhere if possible (but not essential);
    4. Use half-step moves to get to next chord root (not essential but makes for smoother, jazzier lines);
    5. for any other passing note, use the diatonic scale. (This almost certainly includes major 2 and major 6, so not a lot of thinking involved there.) NB: passing notes are good, because plain arpeggios can sound stilted. Generally, place chord tones on beats 1 and 3, and any passing notes on beats 2 and 4, or between any pair of beats;
    6. If the chord has a 7th, consider putting that in somewhere, if there's room.

    [Walking bass line course ends.]

  3. #3
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Thanks Jon. I'll digest this after Church. Give me something to work on before the football game. Dallas and Jets in New York.

  4. #4
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    Thanks Jon. I'll digest this after Church. Give me something to work on before the football game. Dallas and Jets in New York.
    Ah, church and football. Now you're talking two subjects totally beyond my realm of interest, comprehension or (much) experience... (I'm just an atheist layabout )

  5. #5
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    Jets 27 Dallas 24.

  6. #6
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel View Post
    Jets 27 Dallas 24.
    Great 3 quarters and then we gave it away.

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