Basslines & Left Hand Patterns
In the previous lessons in this course, we have explored the harmony of the minor blues progression. We then introduced the pentatonic scale, the blues scale, and modal scales that can be used to improvise over the chord changes.
When playing solo piano, sometimes it’s up to you to create your own basslines. In this lesson we will examine and explore a number of different left-hand techniques and basslines to create interest in the lower registers of the piano.
We start by outlining a simple quarter note exercise to condition your right and left hands to play independently.
Intervallic Basslines – Basslines Constructed From Intervals
Intervallic basslines can be constructed by combining triad and 7th chord arpeggios with octaves. We start by playing the root, minor 3rd and 5th of each minor chord and play this underneath rootless voicings in our right hand.
We then expand upon this concept by introducing the 7th and the octave. When starting out with basslines, try to aim for the root when you change chords.
Stepwise Basslines – Basslines Constructures From Scales
We start with a simple exercise where we play up and down each scale from the root to the 5th. This works well when the chord lasts for 2 measures which we see on the first 8 bars of the minor blues form.
The last 4 bars of the form is slightly different. Each chord only lasts for 1 measure. Instead of playing up and down, we can simply take the 1st 4 notes of each scale and then move onto the next chord.
Next, we play up and down a scale for multiple bars. We look at using ghost notes to help us transition smoothly between the chord changes.
This can also be achieved through pure chromatic scale passages in you bassline. This type of bassline is used to target specific tones when you are changing chords. As we demonstrate, chromaticism and enclosures are an effective tool to land on the root of the next chord.
The final step is to combine all of these methods.
Minor Blues Progression PDF File Type: pdf
Try to practice each of the basslines techniques individually.
Start with intervallic basslines, then move onto stepwise basslines, and finally, experiment with chromatic sections, enclosures and approach patterns.
By isolating these different types, you will build up an awareness of how many notes you must play of each pattern before moving onto the next bar.
This is a very instinctual thing, you will build an awareness of where you are in the measure, and the options available to you.
Ensure that you are listening to your favourite recordings.
Whilst these basic concepts can be taught, nothing can replace listening and transcribing from recordings of accomplished bass players.