How to Create Great Basslines | Mikael Baggström | Skillshare
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9 Lessons (38m)
    • 1. How to write Amazing Basslines

    • 2. 1 – Use The Chord Root Note as the Foundation

    • 3. 2 – Apply Rhythm As The Main Expression

    • 4. 3 – Walk On The Current Chord Notes

    • 5. 4 – Add Scale Notes For More Variation

    • 6. 5 – Interplay With Your Percussion

    • 7. 6 – Add Transition Notes for Voice Leading

    • 8. 7 – Spice It Up With Expressive Articulations

    • 9. Congratulations

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About This Class

Do you want to write great basslines for your music?

Are you tired of only using long root notes for the bass in your music? It’s like using static block chords for your chord progressions. Frankly, it is incredibly boring!

Let’s create some groove, variation, emotion and energy into your basslines. Let’s learn how to express your music with much more interesting basslines! =)

Meet Your Teacher

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Mikael Baggström

Music Composer | Sound Designer | Video Producer


Hey Friends and Creative People!

My name is Mike, and I am a Music Composer, Sound Designer and Artist. I Share my Story, Journey, Experience and Knowledge, to Inspire and Empower Creative People like you. =)


I believe that learning should be fun. I love to bring my personality into my teaching style. I also try to make my courses dynamic, to be more interesting to you. =)

You are more than welcome to visit my website to learn more about who I am.

Friendly regards,
Mike from Sweden
Founder of

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1. How to write Amazing Basslines: How to write amazing baselines. So do you want to write great baselines for your music? Are you tired of only using long root notes for the base in your music compositions? It's like using static block codes for your chord progressions. Frankly, It's incredibly boring. So let's create some grew variation, emotion and energy into your baselines. Let's learn how to express your music with much more interesting baselines. In this class, my name is Mike, and I invite you to join these claws on writing amazing baselines for your music right now. 2. 1 – Use The Chord Root Note as the Foundation: Use the chord root node as the foundation. The fundamental tonal center of your music will always follow the root node of each chord in your core progressions. For example, let's say you play the chords, D minor, B-flat major, and then a mine, then the foundation for your baseline should be D, B-flat. And to clarify, by Foundation, I mean the root node of each chord should be the most used note in your baseline during that chord. So for the first chord, D minor, D should be the most present note in the bass line over the duration of how long you play that D minor chord. So let's say you play CFG as your core progression, C major, and then you go to F-major, but in an inversion like this, so this is the F-Major chord, but the top note is moved an octave down. So this is still the root node. It's an F major chord. So use the root node as the foundation for the baseline. So starting with C, So C in the bass going to F, and F in the bass into g, also played in an inversion like this. So G is still the root note of the chord, go to G. So something like this. And even if you start using other nodes except the root note of the chord for the base line. Use the root note as the foundation, meaning in most cases, this starting node for each chord change. So, so you're starting using other nodes going away from the root node or the first node for each course there when he go from C to, let's say airfare provides that harmonic and anchor for the baseline for the cord. And then you can start, use other notes. But make sure that is the most used and especially the starting out in most cases, for the bass note for your chord progression. So I have actually created several examples here in this clause with different techniques you can use for your baseline. And I'm using the exact same chord progression for each. So we just focused on what the baseline can contribute to your music story. Here I'm playing it on an electric bass, and you can see the chord progression up here, a minor to G, C for two bars and D minor, E minor, and then back to a minor for two bars here. So it sounds like this without the baseline right? Now. So the foundation for your baseline is the root node. So what I did here is simply if you check the piano chords here with the base, same time we can see the base here, a for one full bar, which is a minor route to note a minor. Then we go to G, which is the root note of G major here for the next quarter. So the baseline extends for the entire duration of each chord. That is the simplest way you can do this. So I recommend that you start to practice this first. It sounds like this. Now with a base. You see the baseline down here, dark red. And this way it doesn't add any real interests. It doesn't have any rhythm, it doesn't have any other nodes. So transitions between the courts. It just adds that depth in the low range to make your music sound deeper and fuller. So that is the first aspect of baselines used a chord root node as the foundation. 3. 2 – Apply Rhythm As The Main Expression: Apply rhythm as the main expression. Let's say you play a chord progression going from C major to F major. The main form of expression in any baseline is most often the rhythm and grew. So even if you only play the D and F notes in your baseline, you can create a groove using rhythm and a playing style in your baseline. Now, rhythm is actually an amazing way to add expression and emotion to your baseline and make it more interesting, even if you only use the root node of each chord. So let's take C, F, G, and back to C. Simple Corp. Well, you can start practicing by creating a simple straight Paul's meaning the same note value for each note of the baseline. So something like this. 1, 2, 3 4, 1, 2, 3 4, 1, 2 3, 4 or 8 notes. One end-to-end, 4123412341. Or you can create a group with your baseline, even often if you all use the same rootNode again here of each chord, by changing, adding air and gaps between the notes and making a more interesting rhythm, changing the note values of one long note and then several short notes. You have complete creative freedom here in fact, so I will only use the root node again and try a couple of areas in something like this. You can also start comping with your actual chords to make it even more interesting together with the baseline. And I will actually use OK. tapes for the base to make it even more interesting because then it can go like this. You can go like this pulse on the upper note. But I will only focus on the monophonic baseline for now. So something like this for example. So let's go into the DAW and I will show you what I did here for the next example, which is here. And you can see it's the same chord progression as the previous. Now with the baseline here we can see if you go in, you can see I'm using a groove. If I zoom in, you can see it's not straight notes here. It's actually here, 123, a four and so on. So without a baseline, stay long records. But now with the baseline and with some rhythmic groove, it sounds like this. And in this example, I actually went with this same group for each chord, for the baseline here. So Bao, Bao, Bao, Bao, Bao, a little bit of a bounce with this syncopation since it force on the off between, on the Add between here. But you can of course go and change it. So the first bar might be a specific group like this. And then you might want to change this one to different grew there. Something like that perhaps. And put that there. And make a short note here. So there's complete creative freedom here. The sounds like this now with variation between these two bars for the baseline, bam, bam, bam, and back again, and so on. So that is the second aspect of creating more interesting baseline. Apply rhythm as your main source of expression for your base. 4. 3 – Walk On The Current Chord Notes: Walk on the current quarter notes. Your first choice when going outside of the root node of each chord for your baseline should be the other coordinates. For triad chords, this means the third and the fifth. For example, if your current chord playing inside your music production is D minor, the foundation node for your baseline is naturally d, and the f and a notes in that chord should be your next. Go to choices for your baseline. Now let's take another simple chord progression, G to G minor, to C major, and then back to G. Okay? So the foundation, the easiest and safest is to just use the root nodes in the base like this, G, D, a, and back to J. You can also start to add rhythm in the base, even playing it in octaves. If you use piano like this. Okay? Bus, when you want to add other nodes, except the root note of the chord for your baseline, your safest bet, bet is to start walking on the current coordinates. So if you start with a G major chord, you have G, B, and D. So in the base, we can start with D and then use any of these nodes B or G. You can walk up and down. Or you can just use two of them. Or the fifth. Or you can create rhythm using any of these three nodes. But remember, you should still use the root node as the foundation. Make it more prominent so that the harmonic anchor, the foundation of each chord is clearly heard. Something like this, for example. So you don't have to use all of them. You can intersperse, interject. Any of these other two notes of each chord. If you use a seventh chord, you have another node of course to add. But make sure that the root node is always most prominent. Now let's go into the DAW and let me show you the example. I created the same chord progression, a minor, G, C, D minor, E minor, and a minor. Without a base, I just added a bit more variation by creating a comping pattern here, rhythmic pattern on the piano performance instead of just block chords as before. So it sounds like this. Ok, and for the base, I decided to use a bit more rhythm here, but as you can see here, I start on the a minor than I used to see, but not the e from the a minor chord. So it goes like this. Root rot, root node. So you can see the root note is long here and you see the root node several times they are. So if you check each bar here, the root note, in this case G here, takes up probably. So at least 50 percent or more of the current chord of the current bar here for the baseline, for every bar. Doesn't have to, like here, for example, I'm using C for two bars. So here I start to refer around with the fifth and the third. But it seems this is the entire bar. And I always, almost always, that's a rule of thumb is to start the first note. For each course change on the baseline. The safest bet is always to go with the root note of the chord. And then you can start to writhe around with the other coordinates. Okay? And it sounds like this in context, and let's watch it in the piano roll editor the same time. So now it's starting to sound a lot more interesting. You have the group from the rhythm. Also some tonal variation and harmonic variation by using the other cool notes for each bore or for the baseline. So that is the third aspect for creating amazing and interesting baselines with variation. Try walking and bouncing around on the different cool notes for each chord, for your baseline. 5. 4 – Add Scale Notes For More Variation: Add scale notes for more variation. So if you want to add more variation into your baseline, you can also go outside of the coordinates and add any of the other scale notes for the key your music is written in. For example, if your song is in D minor, then if your current chord is D minor, you can use any of the scale nodes, D, E, F, G, a, B flat, or C in your baseline. But when you go outside of the core notes for your baseline, you should do so sparingly and more as short interjections for Spice so that you don't lose the connection with your harmonic progression. So let's take another chord progression and another scale and key D minor. So you have D, E, F, G, a, B flat, and C, and then to D, that is the scale of D minor. Now if you play a chord progression, go from D minor to E flat major to G minor, and back to D. Well, you can use the root note that it's foundation, D and E-flat. G. Back to David. It can start to add rhythm like this. Gas claim the baseline in octaves, you can hear it more clearly here. It's the same concept. You can start so that you can create a written and groove. You can start to walk or reef around on the chord note, so d. Okay, so that is walking or writhing around the coordinates for each chord for your baseline. But now the fourth concept, adding scaling loads go beyond the actual core notes. So you can do this On, use any node from within the scale just as a short spices inside your baseline like this. So g, Let's say we are going to G, B flat major. Lets you start on the core notes. So D to F and N to C. Then you can go, for example, on this C naught, which is not part of this chord or the next, It's basically a trans, transition is spice, going from a D here to the B flat for the base lines like this. Again, AF, around the core nodes, detail on the core notes. But here, C, going beyond the corn out and then the B flat major, B flat. And then you can continue. We are going to go to day snowed here in the baseline next for the G minor chord. But before we can go to, for example, a, GIS back to C, back to a, to G. So we get g of n, something like that. When you are going to this D minor asked at the end. But in tragic play that live now, right? So let's go into the DAW and let me show you the example I created for this here. So you're already heard it. It's the same chord progression. But now the baseline is doing a lot more. Is going on the corners. It has, it has a rhythm. It almost, I think every core change starts on the root note here to mark the foundation, the anchor for the harmonic story that your core progression provides. But I'm using other nodes here. So you can see going from a up to E, that is the faith of the a. So it's still the core node. But here, using the d, that's not part of the a minor chord, then to see which is part of a minor chord and so on. Like this. Okay? And in context, it sounds like this now, so let's watch. You can see the baseline down here below. So that is the fourth aspect of creating amazing and interesting baseline for your music. Add scale loads into your baselines that goes beyond the chord notes. For each bar, each, each chord change to get more variation and spice for your baselines. 6. 5 – Interplay With Your Percussion: Interplay with your percussion. So the baseline in music is often an interplay with your drums and percussion. You can create syncopation between your drums and baseline, or even mark certain accents in your groove by layering those nodes on both your baseline and your percussion parts. Now let me demonstrate this on the piano first. So let's compare the chords with your baseline. And let's think of the course here as your precautions. What you can do is either comping, interplaying, making a group together like like that, or you can play them together synchronized. So which of course makes it more accented and focused for each chain share. Regardless if I'm on the same core or if I change score. Whenever you synchronize the core. Rhythm with the baseline. And the same goes, of course, for your baseline with your percussion. You can also make a groove, I like. And let your baseline play a different rhythm so you can create syncopation and groove between them. So if we go into the DAW, I will show you what I mean here. So this is the example. I created the same chord progression as before. And I added the drum here, drums here on top, and the baseline you can see here. So let's just focus on these two together when you will hear it all together like this. Okay? So what makes this interesting is that I combine and you should do this to combine grooving, meaning playing different rhythms with synchronizing. So for example, here I have rhythmic common pattern. Will the piano, where the baseline just holds the root node a for a long time until these two nodes which are synchronized with this high head here, Let's increase the losses. You can actually hear more clearly. Let's use open high hat. Or let's say, let's use open high hat on both of those so it starts to sound synchronized. More clarity here. And then you can see the drums here by this, while this baseline just holds the note. And it becomes even more prominent if you want to go beyond the standard rhythms into triplets as I do here. Let's see, in fact increase the balls as you can hear it more clearly. And also here with the baseline. So it's, it's a triplet rhythm. And there I chosen to play them synchronized to make them more pronounced. So listen from here and really listen carefully. These three nausea and these three are triplets. And here I even layer them with close hi-hat and the kick layer and the base. And also here you can see the high hat sehr or playing synchronized. And then these three nodes triplet notes about that here. So making it interesting your baseline by interplaying with the percussion, both creating different groups. So playing different rhythms here on the precaution and the baseline. And playing synchronized when you really want to focus rhythm and acts and specific beat or a specific reef rhythmic riff. So that is the fifth aspect of creating amazing and interesting baselines. Interplay with your baseline, together with your percussion parts. 7. 6 – Add Transition Notes for Voice Leading: Add Transition nodes for voice leading in the end of each chord in your chord progression. Just before the next chord change, you have a great opportunity to add one or more nodes in your baseline as the transition into the next chord. So let's take a simple chord progression like a minor to D minor to G major, back to a minor. Well, when you create your baseline, foundation might be simple root node here and then the d by dt. Now we can round on the core notes. You can use scale loads and so on. But a great place to add extra notes. Short nose hair is in the transition between the core. So if you go from a minor to D minor, we're going from here to here. So you can, and then you can go through these notes as transition notes into the D. This will serve two purposes. One, the voice leading, it becomes smoother and smoother than going here all the way from here to here. And two, it basically creates a better transition by leading the listener towards the next root note for the base like this. Then to g. So we are going to this chord from this base to this. So instead of this big leap, you can use all these nodes scale close to go down, or you can just go like that or like that or whatever you choose to. So something like this. Now even though these techniques, transition nodes is most often used for voice leading, making it the base smoother between each root note for the cord. You don't have to do it like that. You can in fact use bigger leaps and just use a short transition note in-between for the next core. So let's say you go from a minor to D minor. Instead of using all this, you may want to go with a bigger leap just to add some transitions spice for the next chord, like a jump all the way up to E, which is still part of the a minor chord. So we're briefing with a core nausea, but it's very close. D. So you can use dude like this. Okay, So I went from a root node then to D minor. I went with this E, f, this recession node. So it is smooth voice-leading from here to here, but you get these big weep here. And then from D We're going to go down to G for the final chord. So instead of going running down my thoughts on the scale, you may want to go all the way down to there, or perhaps going all the way down to F, which is still part of the D minor chord. And then to do something like this. So you can see your creative choices or unlimited here. But the main technique is to transition in your chord, in your baseline for each chord change. So I've created an example here, still some percussion, by the way. And if we go in and have a look, you can see that I've chosen to make it more clear to keep the root node for a long time and just use these final nodes as the transition. Here I went with quarter notes, but it sounds like this. In fact, let's just new to the RAM, so it's more, so it's more clear. So we just listen to the pitched instruments and look at what the baseline dossier transition here. So here I could in fact extend this. And they asked make this something like a short. And you don't have to do it. You have to smooth transition. You can jump around here, basically using this final time here before the corn change as a transition on the base. That is a great place to add is some spice in your baseline by changing the notes away from the root note of the chord. This final part creates that transition. It can be a smooth transition like this. Can be big, jumpy here, jumping audience to short extra note like here. So that is the sixth aspect of creating amazing, interesting baselines. Try adding transition notes in the end before the core change for your baseline. 8. 7 – Spice It Up With Expressive Articulations: Spices up with expressive articulations. How you play an instrument or sound is always the best way to add expression and emotion. It depends on what type of base you use. But there are so many great techniques to apply in your baseline for Added expression and variation. For example, mutes, slides, bends, slaps, staccato, legato, et cetera. Now, expressive articulations is a bit tricky to demonstrate on piano, but I will try to explain. So if you start with a D minor coordinator D in the base and then go to, let's say, F-major C, and then back to d. Now, let's say you go here. Like that. You want to go to war with today as well. You can, for example, depending on what instrument you used to lie between the notes or use hammer roles and pull offs on bass guitar. You can mute paul mu to own a bass guitar. You can use, for example, bowed string is you can use, makes this a more CO2 accented articulation, and then add this one as is softer sustain. Perhaps adding a tremolo on this one to make it more interesting. In fact, I will just jump straight into the dw because it will make more sense. So here a credit to different baselines. First on electric bass, then on double base, you can use a safe space to add some automation or anything to spice up basically the sound of each node to make them different. So in this case I'm actually using, these are key switches here. So this is the actual baseline. And if we check the plugin here, so these are just creating other playing styles. I also use, if you check this here, the automation here, and this is how much Paul mute I apply to basically make these notes paul muted. So if I just play them, Let's see if I can find it. So this has a D G naught. Okay? So if I increase the mod wheel here, you will hear that it's a more muted sound. Here is a more sustained sound. So all of these create a lot of variation. The new notes here, especially on the shorter notes. And the here I actually sliding between here, here and here. I think this is a hammer home, so let's listen to how it sounds. Sliding. Okay? So that's just a few techniques you can use on electric bass or acoustic bass that the plaque like this. Context, it sounds like this. Okay? And of course it all depends on what instrument you use, what kind of articulations you can add. So here I'm using double basis, so string basis. And I'm using marcato, staccato, and Oracle, which is the sustain patch sound. I'm using the mod wheel here to ride the dynamic curve, meaning how loud the sustain nodes or over time. So here I'm also using, you can see more CTO here, lungs stuck at those marcato lungs and so on. And you can create variation like this. Right? Okay, I just added this for demonstration purposes. I wouldn't have done it exactly like this in a real track, but I want to show you that he can spice up your baselines using different expressive articulation types. This in context towns like this. And on other instruments, let's say a low base brass instruments like low bass, trombone, tuba, or something like that. You can use other techniques because that is an increments you blow air into. So you can make an acceptance for the sun door or x and that node, for example, use triple tonguing techniques and a lot more. You need to find out what your specific bass instrument is capable of. So you don't only use straight standard notes, but actually add some variation in how you play each note, how you transition between them. For example, we'll slides, glides, and so on. How you change dynamics over time. If you mute the strings of a sound in whatever way. And that is the seventh aspects of creating amazing and interesting baselines in your music. Spice it up with expressive articulations depending on the instrument. And also a bonus tip is use to low bass instruments as layered together to create complete sound. You can actually use different types of articulations on those instruments. So let's say I have a base based tuba and double basses. Those can perform, of course, different articulations over time to create an even more complex final baseline for your music composition. So all of these is the seventh aspect of creating amazing and interesting baselines. Use their use articulations and playing styles to make your baselines more interesting and add variation, expression and emulsion into them. 9. Congratulations: Congratulations my friend, you have now learned the core foundations plus several advanced techniques and guidelines on writing, shaping, and expressing amazing baselines for your music. I recommend that you take action right now and practice everything you have learned in this class. Go back and re-watch lessons if you like. But the most important thing is that you practice every single aspect and concepts you have learned that you truly want to master. Because nothing beats learning from doing. My name is Mike, and I wish you great success on your journey in music.