#1
What sort of role do most of you guys like in a song? Do you enjoy playing simple bass lines or playing something a little more complex?

I ask because I need to think of interesting things that the bass can play for a composition for school - my teacher said that a simple bass line ostinato won't cut it for this kind of work. I figured that, since I don't play bass, the best people to ask about what to do for this would be the bass players.
#2
it depends, im happy to do both, but generally i enjoy more complex stuff
#3
I like playing complex stuff that isnt too showy or noticeable tbh, i like to improv my bass lines alot
#4
I usually throw in lots of leady like fills overtop of simple 4 note stuf... depends on the song
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#5
The complex stuff is more fun to do by far in my opinion. But in a band where the Bass is not the main instrument, simple bass-lines tend to be better as they direct the attention to and support the main instrument.
#6
I prefer simple basslines with a few fills here and there
I kinda like guitars better for leads
#7
Quote by Bandit Eagle
The complex stuff is more fun to do by far in my opinion. But in a band where the Bass is not the main instrument, simple bass-lines tend to be better as they direct the attention to and support the main instrument.

I'll be writing for a rock chamber group, meaning that all the instruments will have equal roles and there won't be any emphasis on a particular instrument.

What sort of stuff do you guys reckon I should employ - although I've tried, I've never really been able to effectively make the bass do more than a simple bass line. Should I do harmonies between the bass and the other instruments, or should it have it's own thing that it's doing
#8
It depends so much on the song. During heavy choruses and the like, I'll knock it down a bit and just follow the guitar riffs (my co-bassist/guitarist writes shit that I can't make imaginative basslines for). We have one song where the verses are like really jazzy and shit, so for that, I do something sort of like this:
(It's on a 5-string)

-----------------------------------------7-9----------------
---------------------------------9-----9--------9-----------
---7----7---------7----7---------9--------------9---9-----
----7-----7-5------7----3-5-7----7--------7-----7---9-7-
5----5---------5----5--------------------------------------


It looks a lot more complicated than it is
Conversely, in the chorus I just go straight up with the chords
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#9
Normally I play along with the guitars and throw in some fills here and there. It's not that I can't play complex stuff, because I can, but it just seems better for the music I play.
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#10
I can't really play too complex stuff, but that's because I'm a theory noob (hoping to be getting a teacher in the very near future!!). I play in an extreme metal band, the rest of the guys encourage me to play intricate original lines that differ from the guitars (we still play technical riffs and such), but the sad truth is that I can't really do that

I would TOTALLY do that if (or rather, WHEN) I can.
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#11
Complex when I'm feeling a groove, and simple when I feel like I want to tear something to pieces with pure energy (usually at a live show). Generally I play more complex things during practice, but get more simple when I want to put on a better show.
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#12
Paul McCartney is a good example to look at. He has alot of melodic lines that go around, but just like all good bassists, knows when to tone it down, he's someone good to look into for medians on those things IMO.
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#13
I generally play simple bass lines nothing too flashy but if i get a feeling that a fill is in order ill go nuts. I do whats needed for the song not what makes me look better and flashy. I can do flashy but only when its called for. Plus if its simple I can rock out more.
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#14
Even tho I am metaldude, groove is everything. Doesn't matter for me how complex things are as long as i enjoy groove.
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#15
I prefer complex stuff, love a challenge (learning The Awakening atm) but I do enjoy simple stuff too (my band are playing Hardest Button To Button atm, drummers just started playing)
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#16
Thanks a lot for your input guys. I recognise that the bass has a certain role in the band, but I'll try to make it that their part isn't massively boring for both them and for the audience.
#18
If it isn't too late then have a look at this series of articles which show how to develop a bass line. This is the link to the first lesson though you will have to get to three to get what you want.

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/bass_lessons/bass_lesson_part_1_-_preliminaries.html

Bass has two roles remember in most music, it establishes the key and chord changes and it sets up the rhythm. The bass will almost always play the root note as the first note in any chord change and usually as the first note of every bar. Most of the rest of the bass line will be in the pentatonic with minor and mixolydian being common. Chord changes are often flagged up by short chromatic movements but don't forget the rhythm. In fact listen to Don't Forget the Rhythm by the Noisettes to hear how a simple bassline almost all on the root can make a song with rhytmic variation.

Cheers
Last edited by Phil Starr at Nov 28, 2009,
#19
I'm going to go ahead and flat out disagree with your teacher- if a repeated root note motif is what works for the piece, it's what works for the piece. Writing a composition is not about making everything sound interesting- it's about making everything sound interesting together. If he doesn't agree with that, he's failed as a teacher of music, harsh as that sounds.

You need to look at what everything else is doing and decide whether there's sonic space and breathing room for the bass to do anything outside of the 4/8/16 to a bar root notes or simple walking line. If not, then trying to force something will ruin the piece.
#20
^that, exactly that^
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#21
Quote by Deliriumbassist
I'm going to go ahead and flat out disagree with your teacher- if a repeated root note motif is what works for the piece, it's what works for the piece. Writing a composition is not about making everything sound interesting- it's about making everything sound interesting together. If he doesn't agree with that, he's failed as a teacher of music, harsh as that sounds.

You need to look at what everything else is doing and decide whether there's sonic space and breathing room for the bass to do anything outside of the 4/8/16 to a bar root notes or simple walking line. If not, then trying to force something will ruin the piece.


I agree, that a lot of times the song calls for simple basslines, that much is true. But a well written composition will take advantage of every instrument it can. Guilty, when I'm playing in my god awful Christian rock band (pun SOOOOO intended) there is no room to do anything. But when I write for whatever I'm happening to be writing for, a couple of cellos to keys, bass and drums, there is an opportunity to write a song that utilizes everything to it's full potential. That's not to say you sacrifice the intent of the song, but you take all of the parts to the full capabilities within that intent. To me, that's the beauty of composition vs. playing. It's not about making the bass shine, but it's writing with the ability to use these instruments as tools. Using more tools effectively can only make it better.
#22
a good bass player to look at for good solid bass lines is flea on newer chili peppers albums. (anything pre-80s). it has a solid groove, not overly flashy (most of the time), and transitions well with the chord changes.
#23
what it sounds like is it's a song that could benefit from a little messing around. so, learn to ebb and flow. you know how a wave is? it peaks and troughs.


see that? the easiest way to write a bassline by having it peak at the point's you want to emphasize. for example,



if you can't tell, that's Sunshine of Your Love.

the most gripping note in that song?



note how it is the highest note in the song. with that in mind, think about what you want the drummer to do and arrange the notes so what he/she should do is obvious based on the bassline.
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#24
Quote by Deliriumbassist
I'm going to go ahead and flat out disagree with your teacher- if a repeated root note motif is what works for the piece, it's what works for the piece. Writing a composition is not about making everything sound interesting- it's about making everything sound interesting together. If he doesn't agree with that, he's failed as a teacher of music, harsh as that sounds.

You need to look at what everything else is doing and decide whether there's sonic space and breathing room for the bass to do anything outside of the 4/8/16 to a bar root notes or simple walking line. If not, then trying to force something will ruin the piece.

There probably wasn't enough info in the first post, so I'll explain here:

I basically think the same thing you do, but in the end, I'm doing this for marks - this piece won't be my magnum opus and I probably won't do much with it after it's been marked and all. The thing is I'm doing Music Extension at school, and for me to write a rock piece with a standard bassline just wouldn't cut it - it might for Music 1, which focuses on contemporary music like rock and pop, but not the extension course. In fact, even writing a rock piece is pretty iffy in this case, but he even made the point that I might as well go with what I know, which is rock.

Since we're talking about extension, in which we study very...ahem...*modern* music (modern classical, which is an acquired taste that I haven't quite gotten used to if you know what I mean), I'll have to disagree with your second statement: the point of the piece I'm going to write is to make the composition interesting overall, as well as the individual parts and the ways that the different parts interact with each other.

If it makes any difference, I'll be writing something more progressive, rather than straight, balls-out rock n' roll.

Quote by loudog93
a good bass player to look at for good solid bass lines is flea on newer chili peppers albums. (anything pre-80s). it has a solid groove, not overly flashy (most of the time), and transitions well with the chord changes.

I didn't think of him, thanks

Quote by the humanity
what it sounds like is it's a song that could benefit from a little messing around. so, learn to ebb and flow. you know how a wave is? it peaks and troughs.


see that? the easiest way to write a bassline by having it peak at the point's you want to emphasize. for example,



if you can't tell, that's Sunshine of Your Love.

the most gripping note in that song?



note how it is the highest note in the song. with that in mind, think about what you want the drummer to do and arrange the notes so what he/she should do is obvious based on the bassline.

Thanks for that, I'll try to experiment with that idea In fact, I probably add that little line to my portfolio that I have to write (basically the process that I took to get to the final composition), so cheers.