The Only 4 TYPES Of Bass Lines You’ll Ever Need To Create
YouTube presented me with a video from “Become a Bassist” earlier tonight. As a beginner, it was insightful to watch. It breaks down basslines into 4 types, detailed below.
- Type I, or “mono-rhythmic chord followers” are basslines in which one rhythm repeats and follows the chords being played by the lead or melodic instrument. Its basically a pattern or riff that gets played using the root of the given, active chord. Pedal tones seem to fit here. Altering the “weight and strength” of the notes is recommended to alter the feel. With some types of music, it can have a hypnotic effect on the listener (like “With or Without You” from U2).
- Type II mostly uses root notes (roots & octaves), but follows the bass drum instead of repeating a fixed rhythm. So, it essentially mimics the notes in the song’s progression when it comes to note choice, but refers to the drum for rhythmic pattern. Its especially fitting for dance music. This type bridges the melody and rhythm.
- Type III basically doubles parts played by another instrument, so its essentially unison playing. The instrument being doubled doesn’t necessarily have to be a guitar – any lead instrument, including voice, is fair game. They’re very often used in rock/metal/punk songs because they make the part being doubled sound more powerful. (This might be anathema to the bassists who never want to be thought of as “following the guitar.)
- Type IV are unique melodic lines that are not played by other instruments. These are the iconic basslines that are remembered as signature sounds for a song. The line has to be functional as well as sound good. It needs to outline the harmony (or chord) as well as be memorable. They sometimes contrast with the other instruments, being busy when the others are sparse, and being more minimal if the other instruments are busy.
Most basslines are combinations of 2 or more of the above. Type I and Type III combos are apparently common. I like that the video gives simple classifications of bassline types. It makes it somewhat easier to classify them, or at least their parts, as the basslines might change types throughout. This might help with learning songs, from a functional perspective.