I was looking over some of the "already answered questions" and intend to look through them. However, I thought I might ask one of my own, see if I can get some different viewpoints. I have been studying, or trying to understand, generating a nice harmony with well thought out stepwise movement, while using bassline or Slash chords, ie: Inversions. I came across some article involving inversions and how they are used to create a moving bassline while playing a melody chords and also adding passing notes. Is there a "formula" most composers work with to move the bass notes up or down that is used with harmonic movement? Or, am I way overthinking this? I want to have a nice progression (don't we all), that moves the bass notes nicely while the melody works towards an end, with a sense of order in my composition. I did mention passing notes I believe, in my header. It would be best for me to work out a working progression first then add passing notes where I feel they should or should not be, according to what I am trying to achieve, right?

I do apologize for such a lengthy question with my asking of advice, but I am starting to get overwhelmed into thinking that there should be a type of formula one would use to properly compose a stepwise bassline within my harmony.

1 Answer 1


One formula for harmonizing a step-wise bass is the 'rule of the octave.'

But, look for examples of harmonizing a descending bass. These aren't specific formulas, but they can give you ideas to work with:

These are all "classical" style. Maybe someone will post something for a pop style.

  • Michael, thank you for taking the time to read my question and give me some ideas to work with. Very much appreciated. Doug.
    – Dougpip
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 17:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.