How to write a BasslineDo you want to write great basslines for your music?

Are you tired of only using long root notes for the bass in your music? It’s like using static block chords for your chord progressions. Frankly, it is incredibly boring!

Let’s create some groove, variation and energy into your basslines. Here are my top tips you can use as guidelines when writing your basslines:

How to write a Bassline (7 Tips)

  1. Use The Chord Root Note as the Foundation
  2. Apply Rhythm As The Main Expression
  3. Walk On The Current Chord Notes
  4. Add Scale Notes For More Variation
  5. Interplay With Your Percussion
  6. Add Transition Notes for Voice Leading
  7. Spice It Up With Expressive Articulations

1 – Use The Chord Root Note as the Foundation

The fundamental tonal centre of your music will always follow the root note of each chord in your progression. For example, let’s say you play the chords: D minor, Bb major and A minor. Then the foundation for your bassline should be D, Bb and A. To clarify, by “foundation” I mean the root note of each chord should be the most used note for your bassline. So for the first chord: D minor, D should be the most present note in your bassline over the duration of the D minor chord.

2 – Apply Rhythm As The Main Expression

Let’s say you play a chord progression going from C Major to F Major. The main form of expression in a bassline is most often the rhythm and groove. So even if you only play the D and F notes in your bassline, you can create a groove using rhythm and playing style in your bassline.

3 – Walk On The Current Chord Notes

Your first choice when going outside of the root note of each chord, should be the other chord notes. For triads this means the 3rd and the 5th. For example, if your current chord playing is D minor, the foundation note for your bassline is naturally D. And the F and A notes in that chord, should be your next go to choices for your bassline.

4 – Add Scale Notes For More Variation

If you want to add more variation to your bassline, you can also go outside of the chord notes, and add any of the other scale notes for the key your music is written in. For example: if your song is in D minor, then even if your current chord is D minor, you can use any of the scale notes (D, E, F, G, A, Bb, C) in your bassline. But you should do so sparingly, and more as short interjections for spice, so that you don’t loose the connection with your harmonic progression.



5 – Interplay With Your Percussion

The bassline in music is often an interplay with your drums and percussion. You can create syncopation between your drums and bassline, or even mark certain accents in your groove by layering those notes on both your bassline and your percussion parts.

6 – Add Transition Notes for Voice Leading

In the end of each chord in your chord progression, just before the next chord change, you have a great opportunity to add one or more notes in your bassline as a transition into the next chord.

7 – Spice It Up With Expressive Articulations

How you play an instrument or sound, is always the best way to add expression. It depends on what type of bass you use, but there are so many great techniques to apply in your basslines for added expression and variation. For example: mutes, slides, bends, slaps, staccato, legato etc.


Mikael Baggström - Composer and Sound DesignerMy name is Mikael “Mike” Baggström, and I am a composer, sound designer, artist and educator.

PS. Do you want to LEVEL UP your music? – Learn How here.