Keep It Groovy: Adding Accents To Your Pulsing Bass Line

Let’s take a look at ways to add variety to eighth note grooves! This time, we’ll add rhythmic and tonal accents to pulsing eighth notes to provide shape and movement to an otherwise “root centric” bass line.

First, be mindful of your note duration and try to “pulse” the eighth notes. Play each note staccato, adding just a bit of space to separate one note from the next.

Next, think about ways you can accent the pulse. Start by accenting on the downbeat (beat 1) and add another accent to coincide with a kick drum hit or with the pulse of the band. Dig in a bit more on the notes you accent and then back off a bit. Dynamics are the name of the game.

Finally, add some tonal variation by using neighboring scale tones or chromatic tones. This is great for voice leading and adding direction.

So, the next time you think you’re “just playing eighth notes,” think again! Try including these subtle variations and get creative moving from chord to chord.

Keep it groovy, everyone!

Ryan Madora is a professional bass player, author, and educator living in Nashville, TN. In addition to touring and session work, she teaches private lessons and masterclasses to students of all levels. Visit her website to learn more!

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