Groove Backpack 11 Video Screenshot

Groove Backpack #11 – Disco Funk Bassline over II-V

Posted by

Disco and funk are known for their elaborate groovy basslines. There are few other music styles that so heavily revolve around what the bass player plays. In this already eleventh part of my series Groove Backpack, I’ve written a disco, funk bassline over a II-V. I hope it inspires you to write better basslines.

If you want to read more about my philosophy behind writing these basslines be sure to check out “How to write better basslines: The 4 ingredients“. Also take a look and listen to the other videos in this series via Groove Backpack. Let’s get started!

What is a II-V progression?

In the intro I’ve talked about a II-V progression. But what is it exactly? II-V is pronounced as two, five. The Roman numerals(*) refer to a certain scale degree/chord within a key. In other words, this progression uses the second chord in the scale, and the fifth.

* When we talk about the relationship between chords and the way they relate to a key center, we use Roman numerals. This is called the Nashville Number System.

In this example we are playing over a II-V progression in Bb major. To find the corresponding chords, we can add the Roman numeral to every note that is in the Bb major scale:

Note number in the scaleThe corresponding chord
IBb major 7
IIC minor 7
IIID minor 7
IVEb major 7
VF major dominant 7
VIG minor 7
VIIA minor 7 b5

By looking at this table it becomes clear that a II-V in Bb major, uses the C minor 7 chord and the F major dominant 7 chord.

Some great funky examples of this progression can be found in Donny Hathaway’s “The Ghetto” and Bill Withers’ hit song “Use Me”.

If you want to learn more about major and minor chords and how they are constructed, be sure to check out How do chords work? Major, minor and diminished. If you want to learn more about chords inside a key center and which scales/modes you can use to play over them, check out Better basslines How do you use modes on bass?

The groove

The composition and the harmony

This eleventh groove in the Groove Backpack series consists of two different parts. The first part is the II-V which we talked about earlier. Over the C minor 7 chord, I use a Dorian mode in this example. Over the F dominant 7 chord I use a Mixolydian mode. Some things that are worth mentioning:

  • Notice that in the transcription I have put the chord symbols above the measures so you can see when the chord changes.
  • Be aware of note length on these kind of basslines. When you play the notes a little longer and connect them, (play them legato) the groove gets a totally different feel then if you would play shorter notes.
  • The last bar of every A-part has an octave line in it. Which is something that is used a lot in disco music. While the lower octave note connects with the kick drum, the upper octave note emphasizes the hi hat pattern.

In the second part of the composition, the harmony stays on the V-chord (the F dominant seven chord). I’ve added some bass chords in there to spice things up for you. You can find more about playing chords on bass via Write better basslines: Adding chords to your basslines.

Download the transcription and more grooves

If you want to download the whole transcription as a pdf, you can click here.

Be sure to check out the rest of the free series via:

Download Transcription

Subscribe for new grooves

Do you enjoy Groove Backpack? You can subscribe using the form below to get notifications as soon as new grooves are available.

I hope you found this article helpful! Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are and if you have any questions or suggestions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *