Beginner question on keys/scales + basslines
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Old 25-12-2011, 11:05 AM   #1
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Beginner question on keys/scales + basslines

Hey guys,

Still attempting to teach myself music theory but I wanted to clarify a basic aspect of theory regarding writing in key and using scales.

Does writing in Key basically mean you just use the notes from the associated scales? I have been analyzing other dance music tracks through the use of uploaded midi files and figuring out what key/scale they are using from there.

For example one of the melodies tends to resolve to A# consistently, I am almost positive this is the key of the track. I then examined all the notes used and most of the notes ended up being in the "Aeolian" modal scale. I have not come across many songs that tend use either major or minor scales in the type of music i listen to (mainroom house and trance)

I guess what I am asking is do you usually pick a key to write in and then decide on a scale (ie aeolin, mixolydian, major, minor).

I have been attempting to write basslines that fit with the melody (I listen to lots of house music and don't enjoy basslines that simply follow the melody exactly). I have been adding chords and then I will have the bassline follow the chord root but I always only use the notes from the scale chosen (I know this isn't "required" persay).

How else do you guys write basslines? Do you find yourself using the notes from the scale in the bassline as well as the chord progression?

Thank you for your time.

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Old 25-12-2011, 11:16 AM   #2
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Re: Beginner question on keys/scales + basslines

Here's the thing. The key and scales used aren't always related. Using one scale throughout the sound will end up being sort of bland.

The difference in the scales you named is simply shifting the root. Don't think so much like "I'm writing a song in the key of c sharp minor, so I have to stick with a c scale the whole tune. If you have your melodies shift around, it's usually nicer. You don't have to always resolve on a c sharp, and you can always throw in accidentals. Something I usually do is write three parts. The melody, the counter melody, and the bassline. The melody is usually the main focus, while the counter melody fills in the blanks and gives two levels, and the bass for me is usually a mix of the two with it's own groove every now and then. Don't let theory take complete control over your music. Use it to pick a key if needed, then do what sounds good. Theory outside of basic notation is more of an improvisational skill, and an analysis skill more than a composition skill. If you don't throw in accidentals outside of the key signature, your music will end up being pretty bland.

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Old 26-12-2011, 04:01 AM   #3
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Re: Beginner question on keys/scales + basslines

i see...this helps alot. I appreciate the explanation.

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Old 26-12-2011, 11:15 AM   #4
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Re: Beginner question on keys/scales + basslines

it depend on your rhythmical structure and melody/chords progression , some allow you to have a bass line that can move over all the scale wich give a very cool pleasant harmony effect and some need just a bass line that absolutely stick to the root notes of the scale

i usually prefer the first way , i always arrange the melody so that i can have a moving bass line , at the end it depend on you and how you actually build your melody

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