Large One

Before the lockdown, there used to be these places you could go, didn’t there? Big gatherings of people. In the dark. Loud music was playing. Yes, I remember… there were “gigs”, where they would have people playing music, right in front of you. Oh, and there was also this thing called a “club”. That would be open at night time, and people would go there and dance. That’s right, isn’t it? It was all such a long time ago.

And there would always be that one guy, wouldn’t there? The one who was letting it all go, the one who had boundless energy, all sweaty, always bumping into you, somehow taking up way more space than everybody else.

This one is dedicated that guy. The large one.

This was created for this week’s Music Composition homework for the course I’m doing at Point Blank. We were looking at bass lines this week, and I chose “Phat Planet” by Leftfield as an example of a killer bass line. I think most people in the UK over the age of about 30 will remember it as the one from that Guinness advert with the horses in the sea.

The homework was to create something with a bass line adapted from the one I’d chosen in class, and also with another non-bass part adapted from the same thing.

Luckily, Phat Planet has a simple two-note bass line – I was glad I hadn’t chosen anything too complicated. I was able to easily recreate its syncopated rhythm using the notes E and G. I made a couple of variations – one where the notes are simply inverted, and another where I improvised a new bass line using the same two notes and a similar-feeling but different rhythm.

I added a few other parts, using various presets from Massive X. Mostly I improvised using notes E and G, in contrasting patterns, so that everything sounded good together.

I added another couple of parts to carry a bit more of a melody. I took a while over these, as I wanted to figure out a chord progression to go with them that would fit the bass. I had a bit of help from a chord progression diagram, and ended up with Em C Am B. The notes E and G fit everything apart from the B chord, where they can be transposed down a semitone to D# and F#.

I created a sequence which built up the various parts. I had a drum build-up which didn’t quite fit in though, as it didn’t lead anywhere. So I played around with the two-note bass variations in my other instruments, offsetting them, moving and adding notes, so I ended up with some nice variations for those, which I went a little bit nuts with. I moved parts through octaves and found I’d come up with something very dancey.

Now I felt like a cat who had climbed on to a high shelf – how am I going to get down from here? I had a load of high-pitched bleepy melodies going nuts and wasn’t sure how I could calm it all down and get to an ending.

Eventually I found my way there, by taking parts in and out, keeping the dancey bits going for a good long time but alternating back to the calmer earlier part of the track, this time with those parts transposed up one octave. Then back into the nutty bleeps again, and finally exit via the melancholy melody, which gives a feeling that the party is over.

What I found interesting this week was that my nutty bleepy bit doesn’t have a chord progression in it – that’s always on notes E and G. Feels like this gives it a relentlessness which is what I want for this track. I tried making it stick to the same chord progression as the rest of the track, by transposing E and G down to D# and F# for the fourth bar, but it just felt completely wrong. So, there’s contrast between the nutty bleep “chorus” (which is always in Em) and the less nutty “verses” which have the Em C Am B progression.

This is my favourite of the exercises I’ve done so far, and I’ve found myself listening back to it a lot. There are a few little changes I’d like to make to it, and it will definitely need some proper production, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be coming back to this to properly it finish it off at some point.

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