Writing Music Off Of A Bass Line in 5 Styles [SONGWRITING – ARRANGEMENT – MUSIC THEORY]]



hey I'm Jake Lizzio and in this video what I want to do is show you how you can write music when the only thing you have to go off of is a bass line one point that I've really tried to get across to my students and songwriters is that it's not necessarily about what you write it's about what you do with what you wrote a lot of bass lines are pretty boring in isolation but if you put the rest of the band around it it really stands out as something else it's it's more than just the sum of its parts so what I'm gonna do is take a very simple bass line and then show you how we can transform that into five different genres of music and we're going to do this using some of the music theory that I've taught on this channel and a few new concepts that I haven't taught before but if you ever get lost or confused just check the description because most of these things I'm mentioning I have done videos on so let's take a look at the bassline that we're gonna use to turn into five different genres it's extremely simple it only uses three notes the notes G and a and on the examples I'll be doing it on the bass for sit out for right now I'll just do it on my guitar but the riff sounds like this a G 1 & 3 & 1 & & & 1 2 & 3 4 & 1 & so it's just a simple riff in 4/4 it takes up two measures and like I said it only uses three notes the notes eg na and when I see okay we're only using three notes I think of all the scales that are out there that use just the three notes eg na e minor uses those three notes a pentatonic minor ie Phrygian a Dorian there's lots of different choices here for us and that's why I like simple bass lines because imagine if I had like you know seven different notes going on in my bass line well that's gonna spell out a whole scale and it's gonna kind of lock me into a key right now with this just only having three notes EG and a I kind of can go anywhere there's a lot of different choices to just use those three notes but without getting too exotic I think the good scale candidates that I'm gonna be thinking of here our E minor that uses an eg an a a pentatonic minor uses those three notes and also a dorian so as I go through this video those are kind of be the three areas that I'm focusing on the most when I am thinking about scales but we don't always have to think about scales so let's get started into actually using this bass line and turning it into a genre and I'm gonna start by using some of the simpler genres the one that require a little less music theory and then we'll add more theory as we go on what I want to do is start off by turning this riff into a metal song or some metal riffs all I have to do is play my riff on my bass guitar and now just add a basic rock drumbeat next I played the exact same bass riff except on a distorted guitar it's done I could also try turning each node into a power cord and then I filled in the gaps in between my power cords with some Balkans you can also try just chugging away underneath power and then maybe bringing it a little bit of that room and lastly we could add a little bit of any pentatonic minor scale to create a variation of our real and hopefully you agree those riffs all sounded good on their own so you could easily mix and match them to turn it into a full song next let's go into the EDM realm and take the same idea and just put it onto a synthesizer instead we'll add a kick drum to every quarter note and a snare to the two and four beat and then a hi-hat on the offbeat I added an extra layer of profession and I always like the energy that a tambourine can add next I added some quick power chords on the synthesizer and then another synth layer this one just playing lots of sixteenth notes on our tonic II so this gives us a nice groove plenty of space to put in a lead-lined I wrote this line using the notes of pentatonic minor on a plucky sounding synth and then added a liberal amount of delay now let's forget about scales altogether and let's just freak out on an e note while pitch bending up and down and now let's harmonize that a minor third above okay now we'll talk about the Blues part of working off of a bass line means giving yourself the opportunity to make some judicious changes to that bass line a lot of blues is done with a swing feel or a shuffle feel and my rhythm is done with straight eighth notes so right now I'm doing one and three and one and and an and-one but if I just add a swing to that or a shuffle it would sound like this one two three four one two three four one two three four one and you can hear that sounds bluesier blues is often shuffled not always but I figured hey you know this is such a small change to our baseline hopefully you'll let me get away with it where it's not the exact bass line we started with it's just the small variation where instead of playing it's with straight eighth notes we play it with a shuffle but everything else will be the same now in my rock slash metal version you can see I started replacing all those notes with power chords but in this case what we can do is replace all those notes with seventh chords so instead of just an emote on the bass I'll have the guitar play an e7 chord for G note I'll play a g7 chord and for a and a seven so just sliding around this movable seventh shape this is something I had in hinted at in my last video on writing with seventh chords I said that if you take dominant seventh chords and to slide them around you can get some really nice bluesy sounds and here's a good example of it so to build the track I just started with my bass line and then I replaced every note with the seventh chord then I programmed an organ to play those same chords [Applause] and then finally I was able to add a lead on top just using the e blue scale [Applause] [Applause] next we're gonna transform this bassline into a funk riff and to do that I'm thinking Dorian Dorian to me has always got like a funky flavor to it and these notes are already in a Dorian so to kind of beef up that Dorian flavor all you have to do is start adding in some actual chords the chords of a Dorian would have an E minor in it and a G major in it and also an a major and if I want to extend those into seventh chords what I get is an E minor seven I get AG major 7 and I get an a dominant seven so I think that chord progression right there sounds kind of nice even all on its own and it should fit up nice and well with my bass line because my bass is playing an e note so I could play an E minor seven over that you know when the blade bass plays a G note I can play a G major 7 and when the bass plays an eight-oh I can play an a7 and all of those chords are diatonic to e Dorian which is the same thing as d major but we don't want to think about that we want to think of a Dorian so keeping those chords in mind here's how I was able to develop that into a full funk section I once again started with the bass and then I found this old-school hip-hop drum loop that filtered out the low end then I introduced a new stair and new kick job then I added my guitar chords and once again a tambourine loop because they're awesome next I added another guitar layer consisting of some percussive Oaxaca strumming max that program that order to play the same chord to my guitar and now we've got a juicy groove section that's right for Leeds I called up my good friend Roger Rupert and had him play me some funky trumpet lines which are mostly derived from the even scale so for this last section I want to introduce a concept that I haven't taught before on this channel and that's the idea of changing chords over a steady consistent static bass note so that's called pedaling over a bass tone and to do this what I want to do is to show you three simple chords we're having a minor a minor C major and E minor so that's what it sounds like all four of them in a row and that sounds nice but we can get a different sound out of them by pedaling them over the note e so every single chord has an e on the bass so for example like here's an E minor with me on the bass here's an entail minor with peace still on the bitts and now here's a C major hopefully you can hear that sounds pretty different and has a different effect than just playing the chords in root position when you have that steady bass note so that concept is what I want to apply to what we've got writing here I'm gonna have the bass just continue to plow ahead it's gonna be doing eega just like before nothing different but these chords are gonna have these long stretches of just an E minor with e on the bass then a long stretch of a minor with you on the bass and a long stretch of C now the reason I picked those chords is because they should match up with the notes in my bass line my bass line is just e G and a well what are the notes of an E minor chord EMG so I got two of those three notes right there what are the notes of an a minor chord a and E well that's two notes of my bass line and C major has an e energy those are two notes in my bass line so I believed that those chords would work pretty well on top of that bass line and I figured as long as we just keep the baseline steady we can soar through different chords and it might sound pretty cool so to get started what I did is once again start with just my bass line and then I added drums again except this time I added a little delay to the snare to add a spacey texture then I added in those synth chords keeping everything paddled over [Applause] and as you can hear this really dark insulting group [Applause] I played around with different voicings on my guitar until I found some that I liked and then added them on top with slow strong [Applause] then I wanted to add some slightly dreamy delayed goofiness but I couldn't find a slide so I ended up using a battery instead but it worked just fine lashley I coated the entire thing and the E minor guitar leads with lots and lots of delay so like I said before it's not about what you write it's about what you do with what you write and a lot of times you might write a little piece or a riff or a chord progression and then the first thought that pops into your mind is well that's lame that's dumb what am I supposed to do with that next and you throw away that and you you know you go on to something else but my point here is hold on to that stuff and try to play with it try to make it work by surrounding it with the right players with the right actors and the right instruments and you know you might be surprised at how many of your bad ideas were actually good ideas that just needed to be seen in the right light so I hope you enjoyed this video and I hope you learned something if you did like this video you can thank my wonderful patreon subscribers for making it possible they've been sponsoring these videos for the last year and I wouldn't've been able to do without them so if you'd like to join them you can there's links below in the description but if you can't do that that's fine just like subscribe comment and that's good enough for me thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time you

29 thoughts on “Writing Music Off Of A Bass Line in 5 Styles [SONGWRITING – ARRANGEMENT – MUSIC THEORY]]

  1. Hey Jake, could you do a video on how to incorporate more space or "room to breathe" into your songwriting for guitar?

    I always feel like when I'm writing guitar parts, I get caught up in carrying the melody and rhythm of the song entirely with the guitar. I'm having a hard time viewing my parts in the context of a full band.

  2. My take away?Start anywhere…just start.If you are waiting to be a EXPERT,you'll never accomplish anything! Great video sir.

  3. Music education is strong with this one. I'm always very impressed by your versatility and clarity. However, your counting while playing is still one of my favorite things. 🙂

  4. Nice. You should have done a 6th version. Rock, techno, blues, funk, space rock, and than go full technically complex with Technical Death metal (yes yes metal is not that basic)….
    Just joking! Great lesson.
    Hint you should start listening modern metal…necrophagist, Archspire, Beyond Creation, Obscura, and one of the pionner of modern dissonant metal Gorguts (who actually wrote their innovative album "Obscura" more than 20 years ago and their premise for this album was no tremolo picking and no power chord that used to define metal)

    Seriously you are one of the best teacher out there and your lesson were very useful to me. I wrote a nice prog riff using dim7 chord mixed with chords from diatonic scale (E minor) like you have teached in a previous video.

  5. All your videos are really helpful Jake but I have a question
    Do you have a video explaining modulation? It's quite a tricky subject

  6. 0:45 Don't know why but "Another One Bites the Dust" immediately comes to my mind as soon as I hear these notes.. 😌

  7. Can anyone tell me a good keyboard "placer" (a software that allows you to set up keyboard presses for piano like 2:33) (free is preferable but a reasonable price is one I will not pass up)

  8. That was the whitest, geekiest blues I've ever heard. But you're still the best music teacher on youtube.

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