How to Write a Bass Line like Gorillaz "New Gold"
In the new Gorillaz single “New Gold”, there’s a music theory secret that makes their song feel totally different to the other new releases out this week. That’s what you’ll learn in this lesson, as well as how to use it to write a Gorillaz-style bass line. But first... Tea!
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Alright, so what’s the music theory secret behind this song? Well, it’s in 6|4. The time signature of 6|4 contains six 1/4 notes in a bar, instead of the usual four 1/4 notes in a bar that you get in 4|4.
The brilliance of 6|4 is that it doesn’t sound weird, because six is still an even number. Also, you can still nod along to the 1/4 notes, just like you do in 4|4. But, every bar is longer than you’re expecting. And this extended bar makes the music feel more laid back, as it takes longer to loop back around to beat 1.
So, you can think of 6|4 as the scenic route, whereas 4|4 is the direct route.
To balance out this relaxed vibe, though, Gorillaz use a dancey four-on-the-floor drum beat. Well, it’s actually a six-on-the-floor drum beat, because there are six 1/4 notes in a bar, and each one of those 1/4 notes has a kick drum on it.
So that’s their secret: it’s that contrasting combination of the dancey drum beat and the laid-back time signature of 6|4, which creates that unique vibe in this song.
Alright, so now that you know their music theory secret, you’re gonna learn how to use it to make a Gorillaz-style bass line. So, set your time signature to 6|4 and your tempo to 108 BPM, then create a one bar loop on your bass track. Gorillaz use the F♯ natural minor scale in this song, so we’ll use it too: F♯, G♯, A, B, C♯, D, E.
The music theory in this song is all about contrast, so that theme continues in their bass line, where they use a contrasting combination of legato and staccato notes. And if those terms are new to you: legato notes are connected to each other, and staccato notes are disconnected from each other.
So their bass line is divided into two sections, the first section is legato and the second section is staccato. This results in the first section sounding smooth and chill, and the second section sounding more energetic and funky.
For the legato section, use longer notes like 1/8 notes and dotted 1/8 notes. For the staccato section use 1/16 notes with rests in between. Also, their bass has a ton of syncopation (which is an off-beat accent), so be sure to use a bunch of that too.
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