Create Your Own Bass Lines (Part 2 of Part 2)
A Second Bassline Using The Two Chord Matrix
On the previous lesson in this mini-series, I introduced the concept of a two chord matrix and created a bass line for a 12 bar blues by choosing devices from that two chord matrix for the appropriate two chord movements within that C7 blues progression.
In the second part of Part 2 I'm going to create another two chord matrix, but this time to an 8 bar section from a 60s Style rock tune.
Here's the bar chord progression that we're going to use for this part of the lesson:
And here's what it sounds like when played in Band In A Box:
If you look at the chord progression above, here are the two chord movements throughout the progression:
- Bar 1 - C to C
- Bar 2 - C to F
- Bar 3 - F to F (same as C to C)
- Bar 4 - F to C
- Bar 5 - C to C
- Bar 6 - C to Bb
- Bar 7 - Bb to C
- Bar 8 - C to G (same as F to C)
Note that last chord - the G - is not shown on the chord progression but if you watch and listen to the Band In A Box progression you'll see and hear that.
What I hope you've noticed already is:
All of these chord movements - EXCEPT Bb to C - were present in the C7 blues.
The main difference is that the chord qualities are major rather than b7.
So the first big learning before the Two Chord Matrix for this progression is even presented is this:
You don't have to create a two chord matrix for every section of a song. As you gain experience using devices, you'll learn what two chord movements they work for and be able to use them for different songs.
That's a big learning btw. A big piece of the bass line puzzle. To confirm that, here's the two chord matrix for the C7 blues:
And here's the Two Chord Matrix for this 60s Rock Progression:
Some things to note:
- There's an extra column for the Bb to C chord movement - that movement of an ascending major 2nd isn't present in the C7 blues, hence why there's that extra column.
- There are two devices in both the C to Bb column AND the Bb to C column. The R-3-5-R device works for both chord movements. The R-5-R-Ch device works for both as well - but in each case the chromatic note is different. Remember the 'ch' stands for the chromatic note between the previous note and the intended target note.
- I've left the devices with 'b7' in them in the matrix. Theoretically they don't work because the chords are major - which suggest the major 7 not the b7. But on these kind of songs where the guitars are likely playing simple major voicings, you can get away with using devices that incorporate the b7. If you're not sure about it, then don't use that device OR convert the b7 to a major 7.
So let me reiterate this:
If you knew the devices from the first two chord matrix, you could use them for this chord progression too. So you should be starting to understand exactly HOW having a vocabulary of devices allows you to create authentic sounding bass lines on different chord progressions and how you can reuse that vocabulary in different songs.
So Let's Create A Bass Line For This Progression
One of the reasons I wanted to do a second bass line in this lesson was to show you a different rhythmic application of devices.
It would be really easy to play a bass line using 'pumping' 8th notes, with two 8th notes per device notes. So if we used the R-3-5-3 device on each of the first two bars we'd end up with this:
Note that the R-3-5-3 device isn't listed in the Two Chord Matrix for C to C (or F to F) - it's another example of a device that functions without changing in different two chord movements.
As indicated, I don't want to use a constant 8th note rhythm in the bass line though. Instead I'm going to play a rhythm of a dotted quarter note followed by five 8th notes. One way to use this rhythm would be to change the rhythmic weighting of the first two device notes. Like this:
What I'd prefer to do though is play a two note device on the first two notes of each bar (the dotted quarter note and the 8th note on the 'and' of beat 2) and then play a complete device in 8th notes on beats 3 and 4. Like this:
For now to keep it easy to understand, the two note devices on the front end of the bar are going to be either roots and fifths, or octaves and fifths. So let's build out the first four bars, bar by bar, as before and then I'll do the remaining four bars and play through the example.
For Bar 1, I'm going to play the root and the 5th on the first two beats of the bar, and then play the 8-6-5-3 device on beats 3 and 4. Like this:
For bar 2 I want to use one of those less predictable devices. That's the R-3-5-ch. Remember that 'ch' stands for the chromatic note between the '5' and the next target note. The 5th of C is G and the target note is F, so the chromatic note between them is Gb. That's an unusual note to use in a 60s style rock bass line...but any tension created is immediately resolved when you get to that long F target note:
The chord movement from bar 3 to bar 4 is F to F - which is the same as C to C in terms of root movements. So I'm going to use the 8-6-5-3 again to create a thematic link...the only difference is that I'm going down to the '5' on the 'and' of beat 2 rather than going up to it as I did in bar 1:
To get from F to C in bar 4, I'm going to use the R-3-4-Ch device from Part 1. This device is unusual in rock and pop because it uses the '4.' Again, any tension created from both this note and the chromatic note that follows it is dissolved once we land on the target note (which is the C root note at the start of bar 5). For the note on the 'and' of beat 2 I used the low open string...this creates a further piece of subtle movement in the bass line and I prefer to use rather than repeating the low F. Here's where we're at:
Have a look through the completed 8 bar section and then have a listen to it to see how it stands up as a bass line:
Note that in bar 8 I wanted to create the equivalent of a fill to get to the start of the next section. To do this I simply played a device on the first two beats as well as on the last two beats - and that increased rhythm and increased device frequency functions as a fill.
You Can Do This Too!
This isn't just a theoretical exercise where I show you how I can create a bass line. You can do this too. I've uploaded PDFs of the two blank chord progressiosn (C7 Blues and 60s Style Rock Progression) as well as MP3s with realistic sounding bands that you can download from my WeTransfer.com account by clicking this link:
Go through either (or preferably both) chord progression, work out what the chord movement is for each bar that you start with, go the appropriate two chord matrix and select a device and then add that to your notation/tab. And create your own bass line.
If you follow what I did, and make sure you're selecting a device from the appropriate column of the two chord matrix, you'll create a bass line that works!
The Next Lesson - An Overview Of The Different 'Functions' A Bass Line Has To Do
In the next lesson I'll create an overview formally outlining the different functions that a bass line has to do. Those functions have been alluded to in the previous sections of this mini-series, but we'll get into it more in the next section.
Understanding those functions will help cement your understanding of why choosing the right devices in each chordal situation helps you create a bass line that fulfills these functions.
Click the blue 'CONTINUE' button to check that out.
1. Once you know a device and what two chord movement(s) it works with, you can use that in bass lines for other songs.
2. Just as there is a finite number of devices that make up the bass vocabulary, there is a finite number of chord progressions built of two chord movements. Your device vocabulary can be used on multiple songs.
3. Your device vocabulary can be adapated for different genres simply by executing the device in an authentic genre rhythm. Note how devices used for the blues (with either quarter notes or swing 8th note rhythms) were used for a pumping 60s style rock song simply by changing the rhythmic execution.
4. Notice how a fill - additional melodic and rhythmic energy to mark the end of a section - was created simply by adding an extra device into a bar with some extra rhythm.
5. This isn't an academic exercise - YOU can do this too. There are PDFs of the two chord progressions as well as MP3 practice tracks that you can download so you can create your own bass lines using the two chord matrixes and play those bass lines with realistic sounding practice tracks.