8 Chord Progressions With Interesting Bass Lines

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GuitaristOne of the problems with simple I-IV-V types of progressions is that they don’t necessarily lend themselves well to creating interesting bass lines. But by using slightly more interesting chords, combined with chord inversions, you can create bass lines that sound much more like little musical journeys.

What follows is a list of progressions that will require the bass to move in interesting ways. The first four are progressions that result in descending bass lines, while the next four require the bass to move upward, all step-by-step. Some of them end by jumping out of the descending or ascending pattern, ascending or descending for half of an octave.

For any chord with a slash (G/B, for example), the first letter is the chord name, while the note after the slash is the bass note. So G/B means that you should play a G chord, while the lowest sounding note (the bass note) should be a B.

Clicking on [LISTEN] after each progression will open a new tab or window, and the sound file will play. Close that window to return to this one.

Descending Bass Lines

  1. C  G/B  Am  Am/G  F  C/E  Dm  C [LISTEN] (I  V6  vi  vi4-2  IV  I6  ii  I)
  2. C  C7/Bb  Am  C/G  F  Fmaj7/E  Dm  G7  C [LISTEN] (I  I4-2  vi  I6-4  IV  IV4-2  ii  I)
  3. C  Bb  Am  Gm  F  Eb  Dm  C (I  bVII  vi  v  IV  bIII  ii  I) [LISTEN] (This progression is from “All Right“, from Donavon Frankenreiter’s 2010 album “Glow”, transposed from G major)
  4. C  Bbmaj9  Ab  Abmaj7/G  Fm  Eb  Dm7  C [LISTEN] (I  bVIImaj9  bVI  bVImaj74-2  iv  bIII  ii7  I)

Ascending Bass Lines

  1. C  G/D  C/E  F  G  Am  G/B  C [LISTEN] (I  V6-4  I6  IV  V  vi  V6  I)
  2. C  A/C#  Dm  B/D#  Em  F  G  Am [LISTEN] (I  V6-ii  ii  V6-iii  iii  IV  V  vi)
  3. C  Bb/D  Eb  F  Gsus4  G  C [LISTEN] (I  bVII6  bIII  IV  V4- V  I)
  4. C  Dm  Am/E  E  Bb/F  F  G  C [LISTEN] (I  ii  vi6-4  III  bVII6-4  IV  V  I)

In a sense, moving bass lines create a kind of countermelody that works to give the listener another moving line to focus on. Done well, they also strengthen the sense of harmonic drive away from and back toward the tonic chord. Though the sound files provided above are done with acoustic guitar, they’ll work in any genre, at any tempo, and in any performance style or time signature.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.

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  1. happy to fine your site.
    I would like to have your eBook to help me play well as a beginner. looking forewords to hear from you.
    thanks Richard.

  2. Pingback: Interesting Links For Musicians and Songwritiers – May 9, 2014 | Creative Music | Inspiring Musical Creativity

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