#1
I am in a jam group with a guitarist who has written a tonne of stellar original material. He has performed some of this material as a soloist in the past and now wants to rework his material with a drummer and a bass player.

Its been a fun experience to write bass lines to other's original material, albeit not without some musical arguments, lol. What I am wondering is how other people have approached this situation in building bass lines for someone else's music, esp when its not a cover tune. I have my own approach (whcih mainly works from the root notes up and then build musically from there based on chord progressions, feel and the author's feedback), but I'm interested in others opinion to give me some fresh ideas.

Thanks!
#2
1.Play what sounds good to you.

2. Stop and listen to what others in the group think of it.

3. Hear what they say.

4. Decide whether or not to listen.


That's pretty much it.

Me personally I usually drop in with some pop/slap playin just cause it's most natural for me, then go from there. I hate root note thumping and Major/Minor runs. No fun there.
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#3
well i am in a jam style band i.e. phish, grateful dead etc. adn when i write up orginal bass lines i normally just start off with the root and expand from there. for my bass lines they tend to be kinda of like a walknig jazz line but using more eighths notes and mixing in quarter notes here and there. but using a little more funky flare thrown in there. and some of the times i dont using all the standard rules for walking bass lines. but for quick on they fly stuff i just use the major, blues and pentatonic scales. you need to jsut get in a groove and come up with patterns for your bass lines and you will come up with some line you like. i dont know if this helps but good luck.
#4
I tend to think of the music as a whole rather than listening to a guitar part and constructing it from there.

Okay, let me explain better. When writing music to complete other people's ideas, I try to write parts that compliment the compositional aim and create the correct texture to carry the song in the manner intended.

So if it wan'ts melody dominated homophony, I'll create the homophony under the melody, if a contrapuntal texture is required, then so be it - I'll help create that. The overall melody I find important. References to it, sequential playing, imitation, all of these help with my compositional technique. Doing lots of classical theory like I have been has really helped composition in this way, and I thoroughly recommend it.
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#5
i usually write my own music, so i can do whatever the hell i want to with the bass.
but when writing for other music, i tend to do one of the following:
if its a riff dominated song, follow the riff. if its a slow jam or other such nonsense, i improvise melodically until i come across a pattern i like, and think fits. if its a chord dominated hard rock thing, i tend to use syncopated rhythms and shit like that. for blues, walking patterns.
anything else, i just figure out something nice
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#6
I do a similar thing to you anarkee. I build up the line from roots until i get something that isnt boring but isn't overplaying. I try to find a happy medium between the two.

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#7
I pretty much get given free reign over what I play when my band mates present songs and ideas to the band- I'm quite happy that they trust my ear, lol. I'll tend to jam over the progression or the riff, throw in the odd fill idea, maybe a lead line. Once I have a set of ideas in mind, I'll then get to arrangement. Often the first ideas are the best in that jam sessions- with my current band I don't think I've ever changed a bassline drastically (the odd vamp up live, but that's it) after the first proper full play through.

I do this all with what Chris said about keeping the music as a whole in mind.
#8
It depends on what the song calls for, I change it depending on how complete the song when I get to see it. If its completely done before I hear it, I just keep it simple mostly chord progression based with some runs to provide flow. If the song is structurally done by not arranged yet, I'll do just about anything.
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#9
Ask the guitarist what he wants, then ignore him and do that opposite. He'll love it. I know this because I used to be a guitarist. Guitarists don't know what the hell they're talknig about when it comes to bass.
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#10
Quote by Cody_Grey102
Ask the guitarist what he wants, then ignore him and do that opposite. He'll love it. I know this because I used to be a guitarist. Guitarists don't know what the hell they're talknig about when it comes to bass.


Lol, he's also a bass player, so that doesn't quite fly with him.

Thanks to all the advise so far; its given me some new insight on the process and some new things to try next week.
#11
Quote by anarkee
Lol, he's also a bass player, so that doesn't quite fly with him.

Thanks to all the advise so far; its given me some new insight on the process and some new things to try next week.

as a bit of specialized focus, I always like to do this when a song has a hook:
1) play root notes of hook
2) pick out certain notes and mark them on the music with a highlighter.
3) take unmarked notes and change them to something else.

for best effect, try to keep at least half the original notes.

I bet you've done this before though...
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#12
You never mentioned what kind of bass line HE wanted. That's the one you should play. How are you supposed to play the line he wants if you don't know what he wants?

If he says he doesn't care, go wild, why not?

Also, if he's a bass player as well, why can't HE write the lines?

And if you're really in a bind, you can do the Chuck Rainey and come in as the last person on the track, listen to the kick drum, and play what goes with it. And let's not forget the beauty of simply playing pentatonic licks in the key of the song.
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#13
Like others have said, I just work from the roots up. As long as nobody else is bothered by what I play, I'll play whatever and evolve a bassline from there. In fact, there's one song a friend wrote that, originally, I played a fairly busy line on the verse and kept it simple on the chorus, but as I played the song more, I switched that around: I do a straight forward 16th note root pattern for the verses and have a walking line for the choruses.

So, really, it's what fits that I go with. As long as nobody complains, I'll write it how I feel and hear it.
#14
Depends on the situation. if my guitarist presents a song to the band, sometimes he will have an idea of how he would like the bassline to go... so i play that, then embellish it. Sometimes i completely rewrite it, others i never touch it. Sometimes he has no idea, and its simply a guitar lick, so i get him to play it a few times, and then i kind of play around with lines in my head until i think up a good lick. then i work out how to play it on the bass itself. What i find completely changes things is whether my drummer joins the guitar first or not. It can completely change the dynamic of the song, because you are writing your line around the drum pattern, as opposed to him writing his drums around your bassline. I see the bass as the glue between the guitar and the drums as we only have on guitar player now.
#15
heres my advice: turn on the recording and just start playing..like just improvise for the first few bars. Then go back and see what you liked from that, and build off of it. I do the same thing. I play along to songs from bands i like and just improv the bass. when i write original material, its probably about 40% improv, and 60% composition. i use that initial improvisation to get a feel of what I think works. but if you do like a part that you just improvised, make sure you memorize how to play it before recording..
#16
I just go with what feels right, and what needs to be done. Basslines and drum beat should be made to accentuate to the music. If the spotlight is on the guitar in particular then it'd make sense to just play roots and octaves or fifths, or follow the drum beat. If it's supposed to sound like a big riff then it should follow the guitar riff. If the emphasis is on the drum beat then it should be something funky and percussive like slapping. Etc, etc.
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#17
Generally I'll start pretty basic to get used to the chord progression and drum beat etc. then I'll build it up from there, tweaking the rhythm and adding bits to the basic line until I'm happy. Sometimes I repeat the tweaking and adding and I'll take the bits I like best from each of the repeats.
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#18
Quote by anarkee
Lol, he's also a bass player, so that doesn't quite fly with him.

Thanks to all the advise so far; its given me some new insight on the process and some new things to try next week.


Anarkee talked to me *Melt.*


Just follow the roots and groove, then. I don't have this problem, being one of the only bass players in my county, let alone the good ones. People can't afford to lose me :p

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Last edited by Cody_Grey102 at Oct 23, 2008,
#19
Like most people are saying, I just start with the roots and from there I go into one of three "modes": groove, melodic, or driving line... whatever the type of music is. Then I try to branch out as much as possible from that.
I tend to bring in ideas Ive been tinkering with at the time as well. Like lately Ive been working with an "acoustic style" way to play melodic lines, letting different notes ring out over each other and applied to metal track the guitarist brought in. Fit with it rather nicely.
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#20
Typically, I play a lot of arpeggios, with descending scalar runs, when it seems appropriate.
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#21
i look at what im allowed to play then i hit notes i think that would sound cool in their ranging from triplets to long whole notes to slapping. you can always hear me if were playing an original.
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