Creative Bass Lines: The Chameleon Variations

In this lesson, I’ve taken a pretty classic and fairly easy to play bass part from Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon” and given you a few examples of how to use that as a springboard for creating other bass lines around that core groove.

This can be really useful when playing under multiple soloists on the same tune. It’s not always enough to keep repeating the same bass groove for different solo instruments. Sometimes a new groove can inspire both your drummer (always a good thing!) and the person taking a solo, too.

I’ve kept these examples relatively simple, and hopefully, you will find them a good inspiration for your own ideas too. I stuck to the basic two-bar groove form, and for most of these, the first bar of the two bar pattern is the busier one. Of course, you can take the opposite approach, and make the second bar more active-see which sounds best to your ears.

Follow along with the transcription and the video below.

Rufus Philpot is a performer and educator living in Los Angeles who has performed and or recorded with everyone from Scott Henderson, Allan Holdsworth, Virgil Donati and Tony MacAlpine to Randy Brecker, Tom Scott, Gary Novak and Marvin "Smitty" Smith. For more, check out his website.

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