How to turn a bass riff into a chord progression?

beans

Member
Messages
154
Sometimes I jam with my friend, I'm on bass he's on guitar.
I will create a riff & he then says to me what are the chords?

As an example.
g——————————————————|
d——————5—33——320———-----|
a——————————————————|
e——3———————————————-|

I think that would be Gmajor Fmajor Eminor Dminor.
Is that right?
The other thing is he says that the chord changes like in this riff are too hard for him to play that fast, a chord change every note, so it doesn't really ever work out & it sounds confused/sloppy.

Can anyone enlighten me to what we're doing wrong?
 

sprag

Member
Messages
962
dumb it down. I would say thats G and F or G and D and leave the rest to the guitarist
 
Last edited:

TheClev

As seen on TV
Messages
5,149
That seems like entirely too many chords for so short a riff. Like Sprag said, dumb it down. The bass can get away with moving a little bit while the guitar stays simple. You could also bone up on some keys and scales theory, if you really want to tackle this kind of thing in the future.
 

Floyd Eye

Senior Member
Messages
13,864
Record the riff and then write a melody to go with it. Once you have the melody the chords are easy. I say that because with 90% of riffs, the notes that comprise it have very little to do with chord progressions. Key signature, sure.
 

mc5nrg

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,047
Riff or line works for a gminor chord or a dorian progression since you don' t play a third to determine the chord type. Or the whole line is a expansion of a common blues box pattern bass line for G , major, minor whatever. So you don't have to pare down the line, but can stick to G til bass makes the next change obvious. Check out the Albert Collins tune "You Talk Too Much" for a bass line similar to what you tabbed.
 

beans

Member
Messages
154
Thanks, some good ideas.

Simplify.!
I know a fair bit about keys and chords and am probably overthinking it.
The guitar player always looks at me to provide the chords ... I think from now on it will be the way to go to reduce it to fewer chords.
 

2HBStrat

Member
Messages
41,272
Sometimes I jam with my friend, I'm on bass he's on guitar.
I will create a riff & he then says to me what are the chords?

As an example.
g——————————————————|
d——————5—33——320———-----|
a——————————————————|
e——3———————————————-|

I think that would be Gmajor Fmajor Eminor Dminor.
Is that right?
The other thing is he says that the chord changes like in this riff are too hard for him to play that fast, a chord change every note, so it doesn't really ever work out & it sounds confused/sloppy.

Can anyone enlighten me to what we're doing wrong?
It seems to me that your guitar player should be able to come up with a chord (I'm thinking funky?) part in Gish (G, G7, Gm, Gmaj7, etc.) that would fit well with your riff, maybe going up to a C on your walk down. Seems fairly fundamental....
 

RustyAxe

Member
Messages
3,012
Once again, tab fails to communicate. Key? Tonic? Is that one measure, two? Rhythm? Tempo? Where did it come from? Where's it going next? The whole riff can be played over a Gmajor, Gm, Gm7 ... the last note/chord depends on where to next, IMO.
 

BloopBloop

Member
Messages
85
Idea 1:
Play your riff so it fits in 4 beats. Then, play the same riff 4 measures.
Have your guitarist play these chords, without playing the bass note: | G • • • | C • • • | G • • • | F • • • |

Idea 2:
Play your riff so it fits in 4 beats. Play the same riff for G and C. Play your riff pattern starting on D for the last measure.
Have your guitarist play these chords, without playing the bass note: | G • • • | C • • • | G • • • | D • • • |

Idea 3:
Play your riff so it fits in 4 beats. Then, play the same riff 4 measures.
Have your guitarist play these chords, without playing the bass note: | G • • • | Gsus4 • • • | G • • • | Gsus2 • • • |

Idea 4 (your original idea):
Play your riff so it fits in 4 beats. Then, play the same riff 4 measures.
Have your guitarist play these chords, without playing the bass note: | G • • • | F • • • | Em • • • | Dm • • • |

Whatever you guys choose, leave space for each other, and let the music breathe. Have some fun!
 

beans

Member
Messages
154
Once again, tab fails to communicate. Key? Tonic? Is that one measure, two? Rhythm? Tempo? Where did it come from? Where's it going next? The whole riff can be played over a Gmajor, Gm, Gm7 ... the last note/chord depends on where to next, IMO.
There is more to the tab but I kept it simpler, because it would only confuse the issue further.
 

olejason

Member
Messages
4,182
It all depends on context, it is impossible to say what the guitar should play over it. I wouldn't associate a different chord with every single note the bass is playing though. That will most likely sound incredibly sloppy.
 

Sam Sherry

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,112
Sometimes I jam with my friend, I'm on bass he's on guitar. I will create a riff & he then says to me what are the chords? . . . Can anyone enlighten me to what we're doing wrong?
You're asking a question which is almost as complex as, "Can you tell me how to compose music?" So I say, 'What a great question!'

My advice is, 'Work on it slow. Move things around.' For example, your post seems to assume that because you are playing an E your partner should play E minor. What if you're playing the third and it's C major? What if you're playing the fifth and it's A minor? What if you're playing the seventh and it's F#? The major seventh and its F/E? Etc.

Take some time with your partner playing different chords over different roots. See how things sound . . . how they feel . . . where they lead you. You are about to open some amazing, mind-boggling musical doors. Have at it!
 

beans

Member
Messages
154
You're asking a question which is almost as complex as, "Can you tell me how to compose music?" So I say, 'What a great question!'

My advice is, 'Work on it slow. Move things around.' For example, your post seems to assume that because you are What if you're playing the third and it's C major? What if you're playing the fifth and it's A minor? What if you're playing the seventh and it's F#? The major seventh and its F/E? Etc.

Take some time with your partner playing different chords over different roots. See how things sound . . . how they feel . . . where they lead you. You are about to open some amazing, mind-boggling musical doors. Have at it!


You haven't met the guitar player... :D
Thanks though.
I only say to him " I'm playing E you should play E minor." because of lazy guitarist syndrome, he doesn't want to do much except strum easy open chords.

I could really do with meeting other musicians, at my age (47) there aren't so many about & the younger ones want to play metal noise, whereas I'm more of an acoustic music thing.

I do play a little bit of 6string myself so I will take the idea of chords over roots and try it myself.
 

202dy

Member
Messages
440
Find a piano. Sit down. Play bass line. Find chords.

Or

Sit bass in lap. Play bass line with left hand hammer-ons. Play potential chords with right hand tapping. Try R-5 or 3-7 intervals to represent the chords.

Or

Sit guitar in lap. Play chords with left hand on first three or four strings. Tap out bass line with right hand crossing over.

Or

Purchase looper for a hundred bucks. Play bass line. Find chords.

Or

Go to thrift shop. Buy old fashioned portable cassette deck for two dollars. Record bass line. Find chords.

You don't need a guitar player. Why would you when you are the composer?
 

beans

Member
Messages
154
Find a piano. Sit down. Play bass line. Find chords.

Purchase looper for a hundred bucks. Play bass line. Find chords.

You don't need a guitar player. Why would you when you are the composer?
I can't play piano except for the key of C major.. :D and even then it is a torture to try.
Slow and clumsy I'm afraid.

A looper does sound a very intriguing idea though.
 

202dy

Member
Messages
440
Then transpose the lick to C. If you want it to be minor, flat the third. Everybody needs some keyboard chops.

Sounds like a looper is the ticket. TC Ditto has a relatively short learning curve.
 

beans

Member
Messages
154
Then transpose the lick to C. If you want it to be minor, flat the third. Everybody needs some keyboard chops.

Sounds like a looper is the ticket. TC Ditto has a relatively short learning curve.
I bought a looper.. its an interesting device to say the least.!

I would post up a sample I made but I don't know how.?
 

202dy

Member
Messages
440
Attaboy. Now the learning can begin.

In addition to laying down bass lines and figuring chords, you might consider taking a few theory lessons with a qualified teacher. It will remove a lot of "hunt and peck" from the process.
 




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