Bass the­ory

Is it just a melody, but lower? Sort of, but there’s more to it than that…

Computer Music - - Make Music Now / Music Theory Made Easy -

Rest­ing on the root note

If you’ve loaded our new MIDI parts for the first walk­through, the chords sound nice, but they’re not backed up by the bassline, which con­tin­ues to just play C notes. So what do we do? Since we were stick­ing to sim­ple three-note ma­jor and mi­nor tri­ads when we cre­ated those chords, all we have to do is copy the low­est note of each chord (aka the ‘root note’) for our bassline. So where our chords are Cmaj – Gmaj – Amin – Fmaj, our bassline play­ing un­der­neath them will sim­ply go C–G–A–F. Since, at this point, the chords don’t re­ally change much through­out the track, we can copy the same group of four bass notes through­out the en­tire project. Once you’ve done the Ex­ten­sions and

In­ver­sions walk­throughs, come back here and ex­per­i­ment with the bassline – there may be new low­est notes for each chord later on, but it’s

C# C# still the root ( A in an A ma­jor chord, in a mi­nor chord, F in an F mi­nor chord) that will be the most solid choice for a bassline.

Con­sid­er­a­tions when craft­ing a bassline

The way you pro­gram bass notes will change de­pend­ing on the sound you use. If the char­ac­ter of your bass patch lies in its com­plex mod­u­la­tion, your notes should of­ten be long and low. If it’s a solid, weighty, subby bassline, the length of the notes you use may change. If a ‘punchier’ bass has high­er­fre­quency tran­sients at the starts of notes, use it to pick out a rhythm, as in the screen­shot above.

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