A solid pulse is so important to almost all styles of music. And, often this includes the role of bass (and drums) as the rhythm section. Together these instruments can lay the foundation for the rest of the band and have a say in nudging the groove in the right direction.
Whilst some may think electronic music has diluted the influence of these instruments somewhat, there are definitely artists and composers that have further emphasised the need for interesting bass parts. And this can be both harmonically and tonally. Note choice and rhythm are paramount but also is the sound and way the line is phrased and articulated. Check out Daft Punk, Louis Cole, Phoenix, Deadmau5, Kneebody, Sia plus so many more to get some ideas.
Figure A works over a mid-tempo static Em groove. If the drums are playing a straight four on the floor pattern it can really work to make your line more syncopated. This contrast creates some energy and allows you to play with your tone – moving towards the bridge and digging in or getting rounder and warmer with less attack near the neck. You could also try a pick and remember to experiment with effects (Fuzz? Distortion? Filter?) to add to the overall vibe.
Figure B might be more of an electro-house type sound. Combining low notes and octaves this line is more static rhythmically locking down the crotchet kick drum feel (as opposed to the more syncopated Figure A). You might hear this on a P bass with some gnarly drive or get a little wild and try it with chorus and an octave pedal to add some sub lows.
Now – a quick word about taking your bass tones to the next level with electronic sounds. The advent of more electronic artists and indeed live electronic music and bands has seen the role of the bass player often expand further than just playing bass guitar. Enter the synth bass…..Roland SH01A, Minimoog, Taurus, Sequential Circuits Pro One, Roland TB-303, Micro Korg, Novation Bass Station and the list goes on. The ability to fill the low end with sounds that bass guitar can’t quite manage has made the bass player/keys bass player a valuable commodity. This doesn’t mean your role as a bass player is in jeopardy or that you have to rush out and buy a synth! But, maybe you should try brushing up on your keyboard chops (even if they are minimal or even no existent!) to experiment with some extra tonal options.
The two earlier examples could easily be transferred to synth, then try incorporating some pitch and mod wheel expressiveness and boom you’re away. The beauty of a lot of synth bass lines is that they’re typically single notes, and within a fairly small range. So, why not get your head around the notes on keyboard and see if you can incorporate some synth bass along with your bass guitar electro lines to really maximise your potential?
Missed last month's bass lesson? You silly goose! Catch up here.