Create Bass Phrases That Always Feel Good

in Bass Groove/Bass Lessons/Bass Technique/Learning Concepts

The quarter-note pulse is the fundamental rhythm in any bass phrase that musicians and non-musicians can still feel.

If your listener’s can feel your quarter-note in all of your bass phrases, I guarantee, they will not get lost when you are taking a bass solo or playing a complicated bass groove.

The Key To Making All Bass Phrases Sound Good

If you want your bass phrases to always sound good, ensure that you are feeling a strong quarter-note pulse with whatever you are playing on the bass.

The quarter-note is a strong and “safe” rhythmic anchor for any bass phrase and should still be felt no matter what bass phrase you are playing.

The following bass concept specifically teaches you how to never lose the feel of your quarter-note pulse, no matter how rhythmic you choose to be.

You will be able to freely explore syncopated rhythms and still feel a strong quarter-note pulse.

You will also be able take a bass solo, using short and long bass phrases and always feel good.

Make Your Bass Phrases Feel Awesome Using The Quarter-Note Concept

The quarter-note is easy to feel and comprehend by most listeners, making it one of the strongest rhythmic anchors for any bass phrase. Rhythmic anchors are similar to resolution points in that your rhythms will emphasize a strong focus and resolution to these points.

Rhythmic tension is created by playing counter-rhythms, polyrhythms, and/or syncopated rhythms. Rhythmic release is created by completing your bass phrase on a rhythmic anchor or resolution point.

You’ll find that this approach even works for playing bass phrases over odd-meter.

To start, simply get used to feeling every single quarter-note within a measure.

A few ways to improve the feel of your quarter-notes is by:

  • Making it a habit to tap your foot on every quarter-note as you play your bass.
  • Practice playing quarter-note bass lines, similar to that of a walking bass line. This will teach you how to hear chord tones resolving on a quarter-note and will allow you to focus on just making your quarter-notes feel good.
  • Make your metronome tap to the “&” of each beat and play quarter-notes on your bass. With the metronome clicking on all the offbeats and your bass on all the downbeats, you will create a sound similar to that of disco music. Gradually increase the speed of the metronome to ensure that you do not drag your quarter-notes even at very fast tempos.

You worked on getting your quarter-notes to feel good, now it’s time to add other notes to start making actual bass phrases.

*You do not have to play every quarter-note to make your bass phrases feel good. You do not have to start or end your phrases on a quarter-note. You just have to make sure that your quarter-notes are still being felt.

To do this, make sure that when you come across a quarter-note within your bass phrase, you emphasize that beat.

Emphasis can be created through:

  • change volume
  • change in timbre
  • change articulation
  • playing a chord instead of a single note
  • reharmonization of a chord or a chord substitute

The best way to hear this concept in action is to simply listen to your favorite bass solos. Tap your foot as you listen to these bass solos and notice how often a quarter-note is actually being emphasized. It’ll happen quite a bit! The more you become aware of your quarter-note pulse, the less your bass phrases will sound rhythmically random and the more your bass phrases will groove!

Quarter-notes tend to be strong and “safe” rhythmic anchors for any bass phrase. However, they are not the only rhythmic anchors found in music. Certain styles of music emphasize other rhythmic anchors within the measure to create rhythmic intensity. I recommend that you become aware of these rhythmic anchors to propel your music.

Remember, whichever rhythmic anchor your music calls for, make sure to always place strong emphasis on those rhythmic anchors and your bass phrases will always feel awesome no matter how complicated you choose to be.

If you want to improve your phrasing, you might want to check this out:

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