#1
There are only four measures of non-repeating bass in the vast majority of Death Cab For Cutie's "I Will Possess Your Heart," yet the bassline never gets old and is in fact arguably the catchiest part of the song.
I'm educated in music theory, but I didn't pay a terribly great amount of attention in class. I'm trying to analyze the song, specifically its iconic bass part in an effort to learn how one can create such a catchy set of bars on the ol' four-string.

Here's the song, in case you haven't heard it. Don't worry about listening to the full nine minutes. Once again, the bassline is only four measures (or eight?) long.



And the tabs, courtesy of UG user creepingdeth428:
|-----------|---------|-----------|-----------|
|-----------|---------|-3p0-0-0-3-|-0-3-5-/7\-|
|-3h5-5-5-3-|-3-5-5-3-|-----------|-----------|
|-----------|---------|-----------|-----------|
  1 & 2 3 4   1 2 3 4   1 & 2 3 4   1 2 3  4


To me, it looks like the initial movement between C and D changes the implied tonic chord, C, from a normal triad to a seventh, moving the tonic section of this phrase along. Then the D to F movements imply a II chord. Finally, the walking up mainly implies walking up chords. II, IV, I (G acts as the fifth of C), V (A acts as fifth of D).

Thoughts on this analysis? I know its rudimentary and probably incorrect, but I thought such a groovy baseline could spark discussion. What makes a bass line more catchy than gratingly repetitive. What chords does this imply, if any, to you?
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#2
The piece is in D minor. The bass line implies only one main chord root: D (although the overall context indicates some quick other chord changes, including G, and D major over the C and D's).

The hammer-on from C to D is basically an appoggiatura of sorts; the emphasis is on the second note, not the first.
#3
It implies a Dm7 chord. The 3rd beat of the 4th bar (G) is just a passing tone. All the other notes in the bassline are chord tones. (BTW, this doesn't mean that the other instruments need to play a Dm7 chord all the time. It just means that if you play that bassline out of context, it will sound like a Dm7 chord.)

Also, notice how the bassline only uses notes in the Dm pentatonic scale.

The first three bars are basically just D note with the hammer-on from C and pull off from F are just there to give it some more color (in the Dm pentatonic scale G is the note below D and F is the note above D). It would be boring if it was just D for three bars. The fourth bar is just four first notes of the ascending Dm pentatonic scale.

Why is the bassline so catchy? Well, it's simple and it kind of has a "melody" that you can sing easily. What I also think is important is the fact that it starts with a hammer-on from the 7th to the tonic. If the first note was tonic, it would have more emphasis. I guess this makes it more interesting. You may want to try comparing the bassline to just playing D D D C. Adding the hammer-on in the beginning just makes it a bit more interesting.

Also, notice the two bar rhythm pattern. The rhythm of the 1st bar = the rhythm of the 3rd bar, and the rhythm of the 2nd bar = the rhythm of the 4th bar.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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