Impressive Easy Bass Lines


The bassist. The glue that gives the drummer a little bit more interest by adding a melody and making sure the guitarist doesn’t decide to go off on one of his many overblown solos and all the while giving depth. And they’ve got to do this standing in the background not usually getting the limelight from the singer, unless of course they are the singer.

Whether they are noticed or not, bass lines are a fundamental part of a rock song, so an impressive melody that manages to catch the attention of the listener is a plus at most times. Surely a bass line like that must be hard to play? Not always. I’m not talking about Geddy Lee typical Rush song; impressive, yes, difficult…yes. I’m talking about a bass line that stands out in a song and doesn’t require the skill of a god to play (theoretically speaking).

Pearl Jam – Jeremy

Musical score for the bass part of "Jeremy"[youtube]

It might be hard to tell from that staff, but it’s a melody that’s haunting and powerful and played slow enough so every note hits you. It’s almost anthemic and introduces the character “Jeremy” before Eddie has even sung anything. As the song progresses there are a few hits and flows to make it seem unpredictable, and when the Guitars are brought into the mix the haunting feeling turns into anger.  It’s not any wonder that it works so well.  It’s a pentatonic scale, the thing that every guitarist uses to write those awesome solos.

No Doubt – Hella Good

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I’m pretty sure Seb has banned me from going on about Dance Central again and again, so I won’t. “Hella Good” starts off as blatant rip off of “Billie Jean”, and it’s probably not helped by a bass-line that has only two notes. But it’s a bass-line that adds grunt to a song made for dancing. It’s almost reminiscent of Thin Lizzy’s swing style songs, which wouldn’t be a step out of the influence of No Doubt.

Santana – Black Magic Woman

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“Black Magic Woman” was originally written by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, and it sits perfectly on the pentatonic scale so it’s bluesy.  Six well placed eighth notes give it a Latin rock groove that’s just asking for people to dance to it. If anything it took the song and made it more ensnaring than it was intended. Your fingers just dance on the strings while playing it. As this line is running the rest of the band are trying to bring the audience under a spell (that was intended), and the bassist is just sitting back and relaxing with something so simple.

Fleetwood Mac – The Chain

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We just mentioned Fleetwood Mac, but this is after Peter Green and into the Lindsay Buckingham era. Look at that piece.  It looks like a simple up and down scale.  Too vanilla to be anything truly resonating, right? Well, that line took the United Kingdom by storm, I know it as the second song from “The Chain”, but until 1997 it was widely known as the F1 theme for the BBC. It then disappeared into the nether regions of history after they lost coverage to ITV, until coverage came back to the BBC only two years ago. It’s not part of pentatonic, it’s part of the first scale/chord you will ever learn if you want to learn music theory, but it’s just bawling with pent-up energy.

Nirvana – Come As You Are

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That thing in the intro of the song? Yeah. That’s a bass. No that’s not a joke. The latter era of grunge has a tendency to be creepy and menacing, Krist Novoselic probably created this by accident, but it completely ties up with the song’s theme of sadness, world-weariness and Mr. Grohl’s beat. How? It should be a pentatonic like everything else, but that little sharp puts it as part of a blues scale.  That clever bastard.

Why all this? Well it sort of ties in with Seb’s GetYourShitTogether programme. If you take a look at what he’s played on the guitar, it would be hard to believe that he was an absolute never-touched-an-actual-guitar beginner only ten weeks ago, and already he’s playing “Just What I Needed”! That is a lot harder than it might seem at first glance, but here almost the opposite is true. These are some of the easiest bass-lines (with the exception of “With or Without You”) ever heard, and you might not have even noticed!

As for me. Well this is my sort of obsessive geekiness. Spending hours taking apart a song just to figure out why I like it. It’s almost compulsive.

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