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Music Fundamentals: Five great bassline styles

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    Music Fundamentals
  1. Style 1: Steady basslines

    There are many styles of basslines. Here are five to get your juices flowing!


    Steady, driving basslines keep the pulse of the song going. The same short riff repeats over and over. Here are a couple examples of this type of bassline:




    Let’s try playing a steady bassline on the Seaboard Block:
    And let’s try it on the Lightpad Block M:
  2. Style 2: Pad basslines

    Another style is to fill all of the space in the song with long notes, sometimes called pads. Kendrick Lamar and SZA do that in this song - notice how each bass note fills up a measure and they change every 4 beats.



    Let’s try playing a pad bassline on the Seaboard Block:
    And let’s try it on the Lightpad Block M:
  3. Style 3: Sparse basslines

    Or you can leave a lot of space! In this song, each measure is marked by a little bass movement, but otherwise there is a lot of room for the vocals to shine through.



    Let’s try playing a sparse bassline on the Seaboard Block:
    And let’s try it on the Lightpad Block M:
  4. Style 4: Outlining basslines

    Another style is to outline the chords of the song. The bassline would play the notes that make up the chord that the other instruments are using, one at a time. So if the chord at that moment is C Major, the bass might play C, E, and G in sequence, one right after another.


    Let’s hear this technique in a song - notice that the lower part of the piano is playing the bassline along with the bass itself:



    Let’s try playing an outline bassline on the Seaboard Block:
    And let’s try it on the Lightpad Block M:
    Outlining a chord like this, one note at a time, is also called arpeggiating the chord. In the NOISE app, you can use Arp mode to start playing around with some other options in this area too!
  5. Style 5: Melodic basslines

    A more unusual move is to give the melody to the bass! Here’s an example of this from the band Vulfpeck:



    Let’s try playing a melodic bassline on the Seaboard Block:
    And let’s try it on the Lightpad Block M:
    Try coming up with more styles! There are many more than we’ve mentioned here. Listen to lots of different music and try to pick out the bassline from the other parts to help spark your own ideas.

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