Learn how to write a bass line for an epic chorus, by using a music theory hack from Leprous “Alleviate” (off their new album “Pitfalls”).
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Over the last couple of lessons you’ve learned how to write an epic chord progression and melody (links below), so now you’re gonna learn how to write an epic bass line underneath. And this theory hack is inspired by the chorus of recent single “Alleviate” by the awesome Norwegian band Leprous. But, the example in this lesson is actually our music, which we wrote using their theory. Right, so start by setting up four bars of 4/4, with your grid set to 1/8 notes, and your tempo set to 116 BPM. Leprous use D natural minor for their chorus, and the natural minor scale is a common choice for epic music, so we’ll use it too.
STEP 1. THE PATH
Your bass line needs to be the path upon which all your other instruments will walk, so it’s essential to build a solid path that can take the weight of everything above it. And the best way to do that is to play the root of every chord, as the root is by far the most stable note. Our chords are: Dm → Fmaj → B♭maj → Csus4, so we started writing our bass line by using D→F→B♭→C. And another thing to keep in mind is that as soon as you play a note on your bass guitar, it starts to fade, which weakens the path. So to counter that, simply play 1/8 notes, which has the added advantage of giving your bass line a driving momentum.
STEP 2. STRAY
Now, there’s a huge difference between your bass being a path, and it being a doormat. If your bass only plays root notes, it’ll blend into the background and your other instruments will walk all over it. That’s not cool, so don’t let your bass be a doormat. The best way to avoid that fate (and to ensure your bass line becomes a path) is actually rather counterintuitive. To be the path, your bass needs to stray from the path. Think about it: Your listeners won’t notice your bass line when it’s only playing root notes, so as soon as it strays from those roots, it attracts attention to itself. Then, as soon as it has that attention, it can return to the path, but now that it’s been noticed, the next root note it plays won’t blend into the background. We strayed with one or two 1/8 notes at the end of each bar. And this straying also creates the opportunity to inject motifs, which are short musical ideas that are repeated to make your music memorable, like these ascending 1/8 notes at the end of bars 1 and 2, and these descending 1/8 notes at the end of bars 3 and 4.
So, now that you’ve got one section down, how do you write the other sections? Then, how do you transition between them (especially when they’re in different keys)? And then, how do you structure and arrange your song? These are issues many songwriters and producers struggle with, and that’s exactly why we made our online apprenticeship course, which guides you through every step of the music making process, from blank screen to finished song. So, if you wanna learn our secret method for writing (and finishing) great songs, which we don’t teach in these free lessons, then check out our Apprenticeship #1 online course.
SALE • 40% OFF
This bass line is not the only epic thing going down this week, our epic Black Friday sale starts today, so get involved now for 40% off everything, including our bestsellers: the Songwriting & Producing PDF (click & scroll down) and the Apprenticeship #1 Online Course - sale ends 2 Dec 2019. Thanks for reading/watching/listening, and we’ll see you next time!
Kate & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony)
Music Teachers & Producers in Vancouver BC, Canada
Take Your Music to the Next Level
LEVEL 1 – FREE BOOK
"12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords" will give you a super solid music theory foundation in 30 minutes!
LEVEL 2 – SONGWRITING & PRODUCING PDF (click & scroll down)
This is our best-selling PDF, which includes MIDI file examples. Learn the essential hacks for songwriting & producing, like our Melody Checklist (the ultimate list of do's and don'ts for writing great melodies). You'll also learn how to write chord progressions, bass lines, riffs, counterpoint harmonies, and more!
LEVEL 3 – LESSON PACKS
After learning our essential hacks, it's time to put them to practical use and start writing some new songs. Lesson packs include step-by-step PDF guides to making music for different instruments and in different genres (electronic, metal, soundtrack, etc.), as well as multitrack MIDI files of the examples.
LEVEL 4 – ONLINE APPRENTICESHIP
Go from a blank screen to a finished song, in this online video course. Learn how to write new sections for an existing section, how to transition between sections in different keys, how to structure and arrange, and much more! This course has been called "life-changing" many times, so join 800+ music makers now (from all genres), who are learning Ray's secret hack: Song Whispering.
Hack Music Theory is a pioneering DAW method for making great music that stands out, so you can move and grow your audience! Taught by multi-award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé wife Kate Harmony, from their studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Ray is the author of critically-acclaimed book series "Hack Music Theory", and has made music with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), Madchild (Swollen Members), and many more! Kate has the highest grade distinction in Popular Music Theory from the London College of Music, and is the only person on the planet who's been trained by Ray to teach his method. On that note, Hack Music Theory teaches relevant and instantly-usable music theory for producers, songwriters, DAW users, and all other music makers (guitarists, bassists, singers, drummers, etc.) in all genres, from EDM to R&B, pop to hip-hop, reggae to rock, electronic to metal (and yes, we djefinitely djent!).
© 2019 Revolution Harmony
Revolution Harmony is Ray Harmony & Kate Harmony
All content (script & music) in video by Revolution Harmony
Thumbnail photo of Simen Børven by Irene Serrano