There’s many genres that are all about bass and drums, and many of those genres often don’t even use chords. But, chords are essential in creating musical depth, so in this video you’ll learn a game-changing bass hack that solves this problem. But first… tea!
Hello revolutionaries, we are Kate Harmony and Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to Hack Music Theory. We help you make great music that stands out, so you can enchant and enlarge your audience! If that sounds useful to you, then subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit that bell to get notified every Thursday, when we publish our new video. Alright, let’s jump in...
The Chemical Brothers just dropped their new single “MAH”. And as the Mancunian duo are electronic OGs and big beat pioneers, “MAH” unsurprisingly features a classic electronic bass hack. The Chemical Brothers are fully aware of the importance of harmony, and as a result, they don’t just abandon chords (like many other producers), instead, they cleverly disguise the harmony in their bass line. How? Well, after choosing a chord that conveyed their desired emotion, they then outlined that chord using their bass. And as the vocal hook is: “I’m mad as hell, I ain’t gonna take it no more”, their choice of a diminished triad could not be more appropriate, as its extreme dissonance perfectly conveys the “mad as hell” lyrics.
Alright, now you’re gonna learn how to use this theory to make your own version, and what you see on the screen right now is our version that we made earlier. So, start by setting up one bar of 4/4, with your grid set to 1/16 notes, and your tempo set to 130 BPM. In their bass line, The Chemical Brothers use the Cdim chord, so we’ll use it too.
Step 1 - Chord
Now, ask yourself what emotion you wanna convey with your bass line? If you’re going for posi vibes and smiley faces, then use the Cmaj chord (which is C E and G). If you’re after a more serious mood though, then use the Cm chord (which is C E♭ and G). And finally, if you’re “mad as hell”, then use the Cdim chord (which is C E♭ and G♭). And by the way, if you need help understanding the different types of chords and scales, or if you just wanna brush up on your theory knowledge, then download our free music theory book below.
Step 2 - Bass
Right, now that you’ve got your chord, it’s time to turn it into a bass line. So, start by playing the root note (C), to establish your home. Then, drop down and play through an arpeggio starting on beat 2e, and using 1/16 notes. And by the way, an arpeggio is when you play a chord one note at a time (so for Cdim, we play C, then E♭, then G♭). Next, throw in a couple 1/16 notes (from your chord) on beat 3e and beat 3a, which creates a super dancey syncopation. And syncopation is just when you accent an off-beat. Finally, we’re gonna wrap up with three 1/16 notes (all from your chord), starting on beat 4e. And on that note, well, off-beat note, remember to use some octaves of your three notes as well, which will extend the range of your bass line (for example, like we did with the high G♭). Also, this bass line is playing over a pumping four-on-the-floor drum beat, and we don’t wanna get in the way of those kicks now, do we? So, be sure to avoid playing any bass notes on beat 2, beat 3, and beat 4. This allows maximum space to show off your massive kick drum sample! You’re welcome ;)
Right, now that you’ve got one section down, how do you write more sections for it, and then, how do you transition between those sections, and turn 'em into a song? Great questions, and if this is something you need help with, then check out our cutting-edge online apprenticeship course, where you’ll literally learn every step of the music making process, and most importantly, you’ll learn how to finish your songs! You’ll also gain access to our private network, which is a safe online space (i.e. social media platform) exclusively for our 600+ apprentices from 50+ countries. Our Network is a super supportive place for you to ask theory questions, share your music, get feedback, meet like-minded music makers, and collaborate! If all this sounds useful to you, then head on over to our Online Apprenticeship page now.
Kate & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony)
Music Teachers & Producers in Vancouver BC, Canada
Magic Hack for Better Bass Lines (6:16)
How to Write a Polymetric Bass Line (14:53)
Level 1 - Read our free book (below) & watch our YouTube videos
Level 2 - Read our "Part 1" book & "Songwriting & Producing" PDF
Level 3 - Learn our secret art of songwhispering & finish your music
Hack Music Theory is the pioneering notation-free method for making great music that stands out, so you can enchant and enlarge your audience! Taught by 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, the "Hack Music Theory" YouTube channel teaches relevant and instantly-usable music theory for producers, DAW users, and all other music makers (songwriters, singers, guitarists, bassists, 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 photograph by OneEyeIn.com
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