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Touching Bass (Part 8)

Article from Music Technology, September 1993

Simon Trask hits the bottom once more

Fusion provides the flavour for part 8 of our series. Text and examples, as ever, by Simon Trask

As with last month's examples, I've added some parts around the basslines. This month the purpose is twofold: to show the bassline interacting rhythmically with other musical parts, and to show how a bassline can be 'interpreted' harmonically in different ways.

Generally speaking in this series I've stuck to a particular style and a particular sub-division of the beat within each instalment; however, this month, Example 1 is in a heavily-syncopated 16th-note style while Example 2 is in a mellower, smoother 8th-note style. Appropriately enough, the former focusses on rhythm while the latter highlights harmonic changes.

Examples 1(a) and 1(b), then, are in a funky offbeat fusion style. At the indicated tempo, the music slides along in a strange slithery, bumpy funk groove; however, if you start notching up the tempo you'll notice that a steadily more frantic and furious fusion groove emerges.

If you feel daunted by the treble clef and all those accidentals, stick to programming the bass and drum parts in Example 1. This is where the main rhythmic interaction takes place, anyway; notice how the kick drum sticks to pretty much the same rhythm as the bass part, while the snare part mostly cuts across it in a rhythmic counterpoint and the open hi-hat selectively, reinforces the syncopated bass notes.

The snare syncopations on the fourth semiquaver of beat 2 and across the fourth beat give the drum rhythm much of its offbeat character; in contrast, the bassline syncopates across the second beat of the bar. The Space Voice solo line on top is the icing on the cake, still with a rhythmic function, while the electric piano part is the 'filling'. Incidentally, you'll notice that the treble clefs for all the piano parts use the 'octave lower' symbol; this was done in order to minimise the need for leger lines in displaying the chords.



Example 1(b) changes the bassline slightly, and the electric piano line changes slightly in response. I haven't included the drum part, because it's meant to be the same as in 1(a); you can use the solo line, too, if you want.

Turning to Example 2, the electric piano part here is essential, as it's the chords which give the music its particular character. Example 2(a) is in the key of F major, with the Bbm9 chord providing a slight 'out of key' experience. The function of the bassline here is to provide the root note of each chord, but in doing so it also acquires a melodic character of its own; the rhythm of the bass and piano parts is also important in this example. Incidentally, it was the bassline, not the chord sequence, which came first - the chord sequence 'grew out of' the bassline.

The bassline in Example 2(b) is similar to that of 2(a), but the rearrangement of the notes suggests a G rather than an F tonality; in fact the piano chords play around with that tonality. The bassline and drum part of 2(b) are common to examples 2(c)-2(e) as well; the idea here is to show how more chords can be introduced over the same set of bass notes to create different musical effects. You can keep 2(a)'s solo line over all these examples if you want, but it's a bit, er, off-the-wall with the different harmonies.



General MIDI/GS Format compatibility

All the examples were created using sounds from Roland's JV30 synth, a GS Format instrument. Consequently, if you have a GM or GS instrument you can play the examples using the 'right' sounds (in the case of a GS instrument, literally the same sounds).

The patches I used were: Fretless Bass (patch 36), Electric Piano 2 (6), Space Voice (92) and the Standard drum kit (kit 1). The electric piano sound can either be the Preset version or a User version (filter cutoff point: -6; resonance amount: +50).

For the drum part, the sounds I used were: Kick Drum 1, Snare Drum 2, Closed Hi-hat (Example 1 only), Pedal Hi-hat (Example 2 only) and Open Hi-hat.

Instrumental parts

Reading from top to bottom of Examples 1 (a) and 2(a), the instrument parts are: pad (Space Voice), electric piano, fretless bass and drums.

Reading from top to bottom of the drums stave in Example 1(a): open hi-hat, closed hi-hat, snare and kick.

Reading from top to bottom of the drums stave in Example 2(a): open hi-hat, pedal hi-hat, snare and kick.

Series - "Touching Bass"

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All parts in this series:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 (Viewing) | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

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Publisher: Music Technology - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

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Music Technology - Sep 1993


Tuition / Technique

Music Theory


Touching Bass

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 (Viewing) | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

Feature by Simon Trask

Previous article in this issue:

> Growing Together

Next article in this issue:

> Competition

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