My goal is to compose songs, though I've not learnt about genres yet. So my first step is to practice creating a bassline for a 4-bar or 8-bar chord progression (including a catchy melody).

---I've already learnt some ways on youtube to build a bassline, but those tips doesn't seem to be enough to create a professional one because I feel like they are very general. They said I should try, for example, avoiding perfect fourth and fifth, creating motifs and syncopation, changing some roots and hoping octave.

---Can you give me some ideas I should learn so that I can write a good basslines for a small melody first and then a whole song?

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    Listening is better than reading. Listen to lots and lots of the kind of music you would like to write, and pick out what the bassman is playing. A lot of it is going to be root and 5th, that's what a lot expect him to play. It's a start. – Tim Apr 21 '19 at 6:09
  • I recommend against asking for books on this website--they count as specific equipment or resources that you ask for recommendations for, which is enough to get your question put on hold. – Dekkadeci Apr 21 '19 at 6:12

I think you're trying to run before you can walk.

In Bass Guitar for Dummies, Patrick Pfeiffer discusses exactly this topic and guides the reader to note choices that work both on important rhythm nodes (I mean points in the bar where the rhythm lies, not necessarily beat 1 or 3 specifically) and less important ones (where no one else is playing). So, for example don't start your bar with the second note of the chord but you can slide down to it later on in the bar and then on to the root, or alternatively don't over-emphasise the sixth but you could mute it and move quickly to the fifth.

Try starting on the appropriate third and walking up to the next chord via important chord tones on the drum beats (eg E, C, d-> G, F). If you're moving from C down to Em, you could finish your C bar on the F above E and then be on E for the start of the E bar. I recommend to you Ed Friedland's "Walking Bass". He does this in spades and in all keys so you really, really get it.

Most importantly, listen to the drums and choose when to match the beats with notes and when to leave them space and play in the spaces left by them. The only way to learn this is to play with a thoughtful drummer, or to listen to a lot of music with your headphones on. The phrase that needs to run through your head as you listen is "that part really worked, so why exactly...." and listen again. You won't gain this kind of tastefulness from watching Youtube.


A good bass line is always in connection with the percussion.

Assuming that you already know the rock and blues riffs and the change to the fourth or fifth and also the triads you might look up the circle of fifths and the tritonus substitution and learning to play this with a chromatic approach and study the walking bass.

  • I do not truly understand why this is down-voted. I do think you could have pitched it lower as OP is still at the youtube stage, but I don't think your content is wrong so I'm pitching you back up. – bigbadmouse May 23 '19 at 7:24
  • thank you! youtube stage is good :) – Albrecht Hügli Jun 4 '19 at 8:08

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