Write Better Basslines Groove Backpack 2

Writing better basslines: Groove Backpack #2

Posted by

This is the second post in a series that focusses on helping you write better basslines by giving you real life examples of good basslines. This article features a transcription in bass tablature and standard notation as well as a breakdown why the bassline works. If you want to learn more about my philosophy behind writing good bass parts, be sure to check out my article How to write better basslines: The 4 ingredients.

The groove

My good friend Tom Veltien helped me out on this track by adding some wonderful chords and some tasty slide playing. Thanks Tom! You can check out his Instagram by clicking here.

Harmony: the chord progression

Groove Backpack 2-chords_only
Just the chords

There are quite a few chords in this composition. When you see a chart like this, be sure to check out where all your major and minor chords are first. Also try to find out what the key of the song is. If you play along to these changes, you will realize that every time you play the F minor chord, it feels like home. This feeling lets you know that the song is in F minor. Also, at the top-left of the score, you see four flats (b). The key of F minor (or it’s relative major key Ab) has four flats in it, Bb, Db, Eb and of course Ab.

Thirdly it’s a good idea to figure out which mode/what scale you can play over the chords in the composition. In the key of Ab major the chords and it’s corresponding modes are:

Roman NumeralChordsMode

So in other words, on the first F minor chord you can play the Aeolian mode, on the Db chord you can play the Lydian mode, etc. The basslines I played on this example are mostly based around the F minor or Aeolian shape. If you don’t know about modes, be sure to check my article about them by clicking here.

Why the bassline works

Groove Backpack 2 - A section

When creating a bassline I am always aware of what the kick drum is doing. In this example the drumming is pretty square and the kick drum is mostly present on the downbeats of 1 and 3. Also the snare drum hits are all focused on the downbeats of beat 2 and 4. This give the groove a very heavy and (as I like to call) square feeling. I accentuate these downbeats in my bassline.

In my parts I make sure to leave enough room for the music to breath. At the end of the first bar I leave a little bit of room to pick up the rhythm again on the Db chord in the second bar. I then leave room by playing just two quarter notes on the Bbmi and the Cmi chords. In the third bar I play a lot of 16th notes. I take the fourth bar to created some rest after this busy line.

Leaving room and letting music breath is very important. You create room for other instruments and also don’t tire out the listener by giving way too much input.

As I mentioned before, you can see that all notes I play over the F minor chords, are derived from the F minor scale/aeolian mode. On the other chords I only use roots, fifths and octaves

The B section

Groove Backpack 2 - B section

In the B-section of the song you can really hear and feel that I’m just sticking to the kick drum part. This gives heaviness to the bass part. As you can see, roots and fifths are all you need a lot of the times! In the third bar I play a fill that connects into the ascending quarter note line in the fourth bar.

It sounds pretty cool, but as you can see all notes are just simply derived from the F minor scale. Playing the fill legato (connecting all the notes) using slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs, is a great way to make this line sound very smooth. If I would play all the notes short and pluck each note seperately, the sound and feel of the line would be totally different.

Download 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:

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 *