How To Write A Simple Bass Line In 5 Minutes
Being in the business of making music or producing tracks as a side project is not always a walk in the park. There are plenty of bumps along the way, such as expensive studio equipment, other responsibilities in life or the lack of musicians at hand who are able to play instruments to realize your creative ideas. The latter issue is a struggle that UJAM aims to take off your shoulders.
With the virtual backing band consisting of versatile drummers, realistic guitarists and studio-quality bassists, UJAM provides the virtual musicians that help you create convincing tracks without the hassle of renting a recording room, booking expensive studio musicians and putting up with mixing everything together.
In this blog post, I’m going to focus on writing a convincing bass line with Virtual Bassist.
Create the first sound
Like any virtual instrument from UJAM, Virtual Bassists come loaded with 40 styles and over 450 phrases each. The phrases can be played using the fail-proof “Player Mode” that recognizes chords, and plays them using both common and style phrases.
If you feel comfortable playing note by note on a keyboard, or if you want more control over the performance, you can access the whole meticulously sampled fretboard with your MIDI controller, complete with dead notes, full stops and real slides by switching to the “Instrument Mode”. The first step is to trigger a note by hitting the keys C3 and upwards. You can control the performance of common phrases by hitting the keys from C#0 and upwards on the left side of the keyboard, or spice up the track by using style phrases available from C2 and upwards. Make use of the latch button on the top-left area of the user interface to loop the musical phrases.
Finding your style
Right on top of the on-screen keyboard, you can find and choose different styles that match your genre. A style is like a collection of particular phrases that you ask your bass player to play. Styles are the “rhythmic vocabulary” of Virtual Bassist, which is why we have included 40 sets per instrument. Every style is a set of seven looping phrases, two intros, and three fills. You can trigger them from the style phrases area of the on-screen keyboard or MIDI keyboard. Let’s start with Indie Pop 16th – 76 bpm (available in Virtual Bassist ROYAL), loop the style by turning on the Latch function and hear what ROYAL has to offer.
Bring in the melody
One of the key features of Virtual Bassist is the Melodic Mode, which defines whether your bass player will play melodic figures or just follows the notes you play on the keyboard. The Player Mode in Virtual Bassist is designed to play realistic, musical bass lines matching the current chords and key of the song, including typical diatonic and pentatonic riffs and figures resulting from the playing technique. Virtual Bassist always works well with the rest of your musical context, if you’ve set the Key in the top left area of the user interface. There is a lot of intelligence behind this that you are not required to understand in order to make full use of it. Switch on the Melodic Mode, trigger your first chord and let Virtual Bassist play melodic figures.
Lay down the bassline
While the Player Mode is perfect to get inspired, I’d recommend switching to Instrument Mode if you want to play your own style. For this one, I started off with a simple pattern shown in the screenshot below: A short sequence of hits on B1, broken up with a dead note played on A0. It’s important to know here that Legato is on, this triggers random slides to bring in some variance. To recreate my sound, set the Pickup of ROYAL to two o’clock and the character to Hard. On the right side of the user interface, you can control the MPsettings. Set the AMPto Rock and pull up Drive to almost 100%.
In the EQ section, you can control the appearance of ROYAL. Set the Compressor to eleven o'clock, the Equalizer to two o’clock (slightly more modern) and the Octaver to two o’clock as well. On the left side of the keyboard, starting from C0, you can play around with the Key Switches. In this area, you can control the Slides, Legato, Full Stop, and Dead Notes. Take my pattern of B1, D2, E2, A1 and find out if you like what you hear. Focus on finding the right rhythm and melodies to create your own style with Virtual Bassist.
Virtual Bassist is a collection of easy to use virtual instrument plug-ins, designed to deliver ultra-realistic sounding and ‘in the pocket’ bass guitar lines for your production. You can use the full version of any Virtual Bassist 30 days for free to see if it fits your workflow, no strings attached. Find more information on ujam.com.