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Exploring Possible Bass Notes

 

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Mary Had A Little Lamb: Learning To Orchestrate

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In this lesson we will add bass notes to the first phrase of the melody. We will create three possible bass lines. We know that the C major chord (I) will be used with each E (3rd) and C (1st). We also know we will use the G major chord (V) with the D (2nd) notes.

The first option is to use the root notes of each chord in turn:

Melody: | 3 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 3 |
Bass: | 1 - 5 - 1 - 5 - 1 |

Written as notes you can see how these option place notes from the same chord together.

Melody: | E - D - C - D - E |
Bass: | C - G - C - G - C |

The second option is to use the B as part of the G chord. This provides a step wise motion instead of leaping motion in the bass.

Melody: | 3 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 3 |
Bass: | 1 - 7 - 1 - 7 - 1 |

Written as notes you can see how these option place notes from the same chord together.

Melody: | E - D - C - D - E |
Bass: | C - B - C - B - C |

The third option is to use a technique known as voice exchange. This means I create contrary motion in the bass and melody in which the scale degrees are "exchanged".

Melody: | 3 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 3 |
Bass: | 1 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 1 |

Written as notes you can see how these option place notes from the same chord together.

Melody: | E - D - C - D - E |
Bass: | C - D - E - D - C |

If you study each option carefully you can see that I chose notes that "belong together" because of their chord/scale degree associations. In the next lessons we will add a bass line and more notes to the rest of the melody!

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