Minimalism and Modern Pop
A minimalist approach can help the commercial bassist play simple but fresh and interesting bass lines. Minimalism is a form of music that stresses chordal or melodic repetiton and a less-is-more approach. By using very slight variation, minimalist music can evolve but only within very limited parameters. In a modern context, dance/electronica, funk, and hip-hop have been greatly influenced by this reconception of what a melody is. For the bassist, it's important to become comfortable with, and inspired by, the mere simplicity and parsimony of a bass line; this can be a superb complement to technical expertise and virtuosity.
Figure 14-1 gives you a glimpse of what minimalism is all about. Notice the two-note bass line in the verse that uses syncopation to achieve a funky feel. In the chorus, there is only one note used to underpin several different
Verse and chorus using a minimalist approach
chords. This is not an uncommon bass line in modern commercial music. These repetitive figures could also be thought of as ostinatos. Additionally, the chorus bass line employs a pedal effect.
Although Figure 14-1 uses a funk rock example, these minimalist techniques are also used to varying degrees in all forms of modern bass line construction. Another interesting technique that you can use — one that augments the possibilities of pop genres — is the use of alternate bass notes. This was also employed in
Try mixing up these techniques with some of the bass line concepts you learned in previous chapters to see how far you have come in your understanding of modern pop bass styles. First, learn the written line in Figure
Alternate bass notes on a I-IV progression
At this point you should be feeling pretty good about using the tools you've learned throughout this book to compose your own professional sounding bass lines. Dig deep and never give up on trying to do something new and original. As long as it sounds good, and your intuition tells you you're on the right track, you're making progress.