Of of the coolest elements of blues harmonica in my opinion is playing backup. However it is not the thing most associated with the harmonica. Most people would probably say that soloing is what drew them to the harmonica in the first place. I have started appreciating playing backup more and more. In this article I will point out benefits of bass line practice.
The purpose of bass lines
A bass line is what the bass player usually plays. It outlines the chords of the song and provides the foundation together with the drums for the song. In smaller setups where there might not be a drummer and/or bass player, the harmonica can fill this roll. In order to fill this roll properly you have to do specific bass line practice. It will however improve your playing in more ways. Actually, by taking the backup role you will instantly become more involved in the song and that will carry over into your solos.
Know the chords
Since the bass line outlines the chords it will be very grounded in the chord tones. Bass lines are basically music theory in practice. When you get to know the chords you are playing you also start understanding how they relate to each other. Step one to this is finding the important notes for each chord. These notes are the root, the third (minor third for minor key songs), the fifth and the minor seventh. Those notes are normally enough to outline each chord.
Basing your solos on the chord tones and spicying things up with some scale tones, outside tones and blues notes is a great way of building solos.
Get the groove
To properly lay the foundation in a song you need to know the groove. With specific bass line practice you will find that the grooves you practice will become second nature to you. This will improve your timing and allow you to make small changes as you play to make the music swing even more. To get to this point the metronome is your friend.
Even though bass lines are usually talked about in a band context they are useful when you play solo (as in unaccompanied) as well. Whenever there is a hole in the melody you play or in between riffs, hinting at a bass line is a great way of keeping the groove alive without a band. To able to do this you need to be really comfortable with bass lines.
Find your own benefits
As you start your bass line practice your will discover even more benefits as you progress. A nice way of practicing is to listen for the bass line of a song you like and play along to a recording. This way you can also work on your dynamics to blend in nicely.
Don’t forget to sign up below to get the Welcome package and exclusive articles!