ARPEGGIOS AND BASS OCTAVES

So, you've got yourself a killer chord progression and maybe some lyrics. But what you really want now is to add a driving bass line and maybe some other instrumentation to give your song depth. Let's look at a bass line that's more than just root notes. We'll also take a look at using an arpeggio idea on a second instrument.

Shown in our music score are two instrument parts extracted from one of our original songs that features in our Songwriting online course. You can see the chords outlined C - am - FMaj7 - G. That's a fairly mainstream sequence but with a little creativity you can make it sound fresh. Let's assume your main instrument is already holding out these chords nicely. On a side note we play this at 112 BPM, so it's pacey enough to groove too but not really fast to it's a workout on your instrument. Take a look at the score and then we'll discuss it a little.

Consider the track marked 'Guitar' as your second instrument. In a rock band it would most likely be a second guitar or another keyboard part. But, we mucked about a bit with some samples and listened with violin, trumpet and some effect keyboards and it all worked fine. This track is a series of arpeggios which match the chords being played but travel down your instrument from higher register to lower. Then instead of an arpeggio on the last half of bar two it plays a nice melodic walk through the Major scale of the chord those notes belong to (G Major) starting on the 3rd note of that scale (B Note). It's a comfortable approach that sounds good. You could simply play an arpeggio behind each chord but we went for something extra.

Behind each chord is a bass octave. Notice the approach. Each octave is played with a different approach. You've got half notes, sixteenth notes and sustained notes. It's a naturally flowing bass line but one that was crafted. In other words we sat down and specifically worked out the bass line we wanted rather than just play along with the chords. The issue there could be that we'd fall back into stuff we do all the time so needed to forcefully introduce new ideas. 

Here's two audio versions of those tracks. One version with acoustic guitar, and a version with keyboard. The bass line is identical for both.

So, that's a quick overview of one way to add an extra track to your chord progression. And also, to get your bass playing away from using only root notes. The full version of this lesson is found in our Songwriting Course. As a bonus for reading this post we'll give you access to our course at a super discount! Simply click the image and check it out for yourself. Become a better songwriter today!

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