7 Chord Progressions With Rising Bass Lines

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Songwriting - bass guitarI had some ideas for a few progressions to try, ones that result in a rising bass line. Bass lines that move upward can build musical momentum, so you’ll find them useful in all sorts of situations, including:

  • generating excitement in a pre-chorus;
  • generating excitement in the latter half of a verse;
  • working hand-in-hand with a melodic climactic moment, particularly in a chorus;
  • in the latter half of a bridge as it prepares to move back to the chorus.

There are many progressions you can consider that result in rising bass lines. The first four listed below start on non-tonic chords (i.e., not the I-chord of your key), and those are particularly good for pre-chorus, end of verse, or end of bridge.

Most of them include altered chords, and so will give your music a somewhat unique sound. Feel free to experiment with them to suit your needs. I’d recommend the following:

  1. Start off playing each chord for two beats.
  2. Be as creative as possible: try different time signatures and playing styles.
  3. You’ll find they can work at any tempo, and will suit most genres – with the possible exception (for some of them, anyway) of country. 😉
  4. The ones that start on I-chords you’ll find will suit a chorus quite well.
  5. The key for each progression is C major, but are of course transposable to any key. I’ve included the Roman numeral analysis for those who know how to use it, as it can make transposition easier:

The Progressions

  1. Dm  C/E  F  G  Am  Bb  G/B  C (ii  I6  IV  V  vi  bVII  V6  I)
  2. Eb  F  Gsus4  G  Ab  Bb  C (bIII  IV  V4 – 3  bVI  bVII  I)
  3. Dm  E  Bb/F  F  G  G#dim  Am  Bb  C  (ii  III  bVII6-4  IV  V  viio/vi  vi  bVII  I)
  4. Dm  Em  F  G7  F/A  Gb/Bb  G/B  C  (ii  iii  IV  V7  IV6  bV6  V6  I)
  5. C  Bb/D  Eb  C/E  F  D/F#  G  Am (I  bVII6  bIII  I6  IV  V6/V  V  vi)
  6. C  G/B  Em  Fdim  C/G  Am  G/B  C  (I  V6-4  iii  IVdim  I6-4  vi  V6  I)
  7. C  A/C#  Dm  C/E  F  Em/G  Amsus4  Am  Gm/Bb  G/B  C  (I  V6/ii  ii  I6  IV  iii6  vi4 – 3  v6  V6  I)

That last progression is a long one, and won’t likely work easily by playing straight through. It will suit your purposes better to be creative with how long you hold each chord: sit on some chords longer, play through other ones more quickly, etc.

Another idea for these progressions (and for any progressions, actually): try moving back and forth between two adjacent chords a few times, then move on to the rest of the progression. These aren’t a blueprint – they’re meant to help you with your own creative ideas.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.

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