Sometimes a section in your song will want a simple bass line, in fact, sometimes it’ll want nothing more than one note. But, almost all one-note bass lines sound like they were made by a complete beginner. So, how on earth do you make a one-note bass line that is intelligent? Keep watching to find out. But first… tea!
Hello revolutionaries, we are Kate Harmony and Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to Hack Music Theory. We help you make great music that stands out, so you can get discovered! If that sounds useful to you, then subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit that bell to get notified every Saturday, when we publish our new video.
Right, so in this video we’ll be revealing the second (and final) release on our “Most Artistic Music of the Year” list. And if you missed last week’s video, then watch that to discover the other release, as well as the criteria for making our list. Also, we’ll be announcing the winner of our Apprenticeship giveaway at the end of this video, so stay tuned. Now, without further ado, the second artist on our very short list, is: THE ARUSHA ACCORD.
This band is seriously the most underrated band on the planet, and their “Juracán” EP is the most unbelievable (and underrated) release of 2018. Their new EP is overflowing with breathtaking vocal melodies, goosebump-inducing harmonies, mind-expanding riffs, a revitalizing rhythm section that awakens your body, and the most creative song structures you’ll ever hear in Popular Music. Just a warning though, The Arusha Accord makes music only for the most open-minded music lovers. But that’s you, innit? So as soon as this video ends, go listen to them and hit repeat, cos it’ll take many many listens to explore their musical depths. And start with “The Road (Amor Vincit Omnia - Part 1)”, which is the song we’ll be covering in this video. Alright, now it’s time to open your DAW to hack music theory.
A monumentally important element in intelligent bass lines, is obviously: melody. So when you remove the melodic element (by staying on one note), you have to compensate with your rhythm. And ideally, you want your one-note bass line to be thrillingly unpredictable, which will draw your listeners in with its intrigue. So, let’s talk about rhythm then. Most humans love symmetry. That’s why 99.9% of Popular Music uses time signatures that are symmetrical. This means the music has a regular and predictable pulse, like the continuous 1/4 notes in 4/4, or the continuous dotted 1/4 notes in 12/8. However, there are a few brave artists out there who are freethinking “black sheep”, going against the current, and The Arusha Accord is the black sheep’s black sheep. They celebrate the unorthodox beauty of asymmetry, by creating irregular and unpredictable pulses in their music. The results are mesmerizing, and help extend the longevity of their music into the timeless realm! And that is how you make an intelligent one-note bass line.
Alright, now you’re gonna learn how to use this theory to make your own version, and what you see on the screen right now is our version that we made earlier. So, start by setting up four bars of alternating 10/8 and 12/8, with your grid set to 1/8 notes, and your tempo set to 115 BPM. In the intro of this song, The Arusha Accord chose D for their one note, so we’ll use it too. And before we jump into the steps, if you need help with the basics, or if you just wanna brush up on your scales and chords, then download our free music theory book below.
Step 1 - Long Cycle
Now, one note ain’t much to play with, right? Well, it’s plenty for The Arusha Accord. The first thing they do, is create a long cycle for their bass line. In fact, the bassist plays through forty four 1/8 notes in one cycle of the rhythm. So, step one is to choose a root note, then draw in forty four 1/8 notes on that one pitch.
Step 2 - Assymetrical Time
The Arusha Accord’s intro bass line hints at a dotted 1/4 note pulse, as all the bars start with a couple groups of three 1/8 notes. This gives the bass line a more laid-back vibe, as there’s more distance between the accents, creating a slower pulse. So, purely to demonstrate a different feel, we went with a bass line that hints at a 1/4 note pulse. And we created this by starting each bar with a couple groups of two 1/8 notes. This gives our bass line a more urgent vibe, as there’s less distance between the accents, creating a faster pulse. So, step two is to choose between either of these hinted at pulses, then to use the remainder of each bar to add the asymmetry. To do this, create an irregular pulse by grouping your remaining 1/8 notes into a mixture of twos and threes. But, at the end of your third bar (or at the end of your fourth bar), throw your listeners a curveball to keep ‘em on their toes, by using a single 1/8 note. So, here’s the grouping we went with: In our first bar, we grouped 10/8 into 2+2+3+3. In our second bar, we grouped 12/8 into 2+2+2+3+3. In our third bar, we grouped 10/8 into 2+2+2+3+1. And in our fourth bar, we grouped 12/8 into 2+2+2+3+3. And the way you’re gonna make your grouping stand out, which in turn creates that irregular pulse, is by keeping the first note of each group as an 1/8 note, and then shortening the other notes of each group to 1/32 notes. Like this. And here’s a little bonus hack. In the original song when the drums come in, the cycle of time signatures changes yet again, that’s so Arusha Accord!
Right, now that you’ve got one section down, how do you write more sections for it, and then, how do you transition between those sections, and turn 'em into a song? Great questions, and if this is something you need help with, then check out our cutting-edge online apprenticeship course, where you’ll literally learn every step of the music making process, and most importantly, you’ll learn how to finish your songs! You’ll also gain access to our Private Network, which is a safe online space (i.e. social media platform) exclusively for our 600+ apprentices from 50+ countries. Our Network is a super supportive place for you to ask theory questions, share your music, get feedback, meet like-minded music makers, and collaborate! If all this sounds useful to you, then head on over to our Online Apprenticeship page now.
Kate & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony)
Music Teachers & Producers in Vancouver BC, Canada
Level 1: Read our free book (below) & watch our YouTube videos
Level 2: Read our "Part 1" book & "Songwriting & Producing" PDF
Level 3: Learn our secret art of songwhispering & finish your music
Hack Music Theory is the pioneering notation-free method for making great music that stands out, so you can get discovered! Taught by award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé (and wife) Kate Harmony, from their studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Ray is the author of critically-acclaimed book series "Hack Music Theory", and has made music with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), Madchild (Swollen Members), and many more! Kate has the highest grade distinction in Popular Music Theory from the London College of Music, and is the only person on the planet who's been trained by Ray to teach his method. On that note, the "Hack Music Theory" YouTube channel teaches relevant and instantly-usable music theory for producers, DAW users, and all other music makers (songwriters, singers, guitarists, bassists, drummers, etc.) in all genres, from EDM to R&B, pop to hip-hop, reggae to rock, electronic to metal (and yes, we djefinitely djent!).
© 2018 Revolution Harmony
Revolution Harmony is Ray Harmony & Kate Harmony
All content (script & music) in video by Revolution Harmony
Arusha Accord art by https://www.instagram.com/tomgilmourart
Arusha Accord photo by https://www.instagram.com/scumjordmillionaire
Black Sheep (Out of Step) art by http://www.cynthiaconnolly.com
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