What is the 'bass line'?
Hi guys & gals
I'm acting on bits and pieces of advice from various music websites on how to work out the chords in a song by ear, playing and listening to the melody etc and one guy advises that I work out the 'bass line' of the song as one way of getting to grips with this kind of problem. Unfortunately I dont know what he means. Is it playing the melody on one or more of the 'heavy' strings or something different entirely. And if I could play the 'bass line' how would this help me?
Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to this email.
The 'bass line' are the notes played on the bass. You must listen the bass. It depends on the song, music style and bass player but many, many times (mainly in pop and rock) the bass player plays the root of the chord, so you can know the chord to play. You must also identify if it is major, minor, dominant 7th, etc.
Thank's for taking the time to reply. I sort of get where you're coming from but I havent got a bass-guitar. The advice I've taken doesnt mention anything about a bass-guitar so what's he/she talking about? I thought he/she meant me to 'pick' the melody line of the song from those deep, heavy thicker strings on my standard acoustic guitar. I am still confused?
Bass player here :D . Typically, the bass plays the root of the chord when the chords change. It is easier to hear that single note and match it than it is to hear the full chord and try to match it. When you are trying to learn the chords to a song, if you know the root notes, then you are 90% there. You don't need a bass, just use the bottom (the low E) string of your guitar. Listen to a song and when they change chords, try to match that pitch on that single string.
Take a simple song like Knockin' on Heaven's Door. Play the first bit of the song and hit the open E string. No, that doesn't match. Move the to the 1st fret (an F), nope, that's lower than what the song is playing. Move up to the 2nd fret (F#), nope, that's close but still off. Try the 3rd fret (G). That's it! Now listen to the chord change. Find where it moves to (all the way up to D). Keep going until you've worked out the chords in the song.
Thanks for replying. I think I kinda 'get it'. Correct me if I'm wrong. 'We' are trying to match a single note to, as yet, an unidentified chord. If one of these bass notes 'resonates' (feels it's at home) with a particular chord then identify what the note is, i.e C, D,E, F, etc and that tells me the root note of the chord I want to find. So if it's 'G' then the chord is a 'G' chord of one kind or another. Right so far? So if I continue to 'track' the song's progress while listening out for 'changes in its direction' , I should be able to find notes on my low E string to correspond with those changes. And having identified what they are I ALMOST have the 'names' of the chords for the song BUT?
Give this old Guitar Noise column a try:
It, and the two companion lessons, may answer most of the questions you have. If not, we're all here to help!
Thank You! I'll check it out.
Practice, Practice, Practice. Play every song you can and you will begin to get a feel for certain tones as well as the way certain types of songs progress. Most, Rock, Blues, Bluegrass and Country Songs, use I,IV,V chords. so, theory can come into play in making an educated guess. for ex. you figured out there is a G and maybe a C, well, I will bet the other chord is either a D or F as the I, IV, V for G is G,C,D and C would be C, F, G. also, don't forget about the relative minors, some folks, like to throw those in on you sometimes. This is not hard fast rules, but more guidelines. Sometimes I find it easier to pour on a little distortion just to get my chords ringing out, even if I am trying to figure out a song with a clean sound. Also, one trick to figuring out the key to a song is to identify the last note or chord in a song, as most songs end on that primary note. once, you have the key, it should be cake, to get the rest. .....and if that don't work.....there is always the internet. ;)