Is a bass solo a melody?

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of henjay henjay 4 years ago.

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    Profile photo of henjay

    Lately I’ve been practicing playing bass lines by ear and this made me wonder if a bass solo is a type of melody?

    I ask because I’m trying to learn to play by ear and sometimes the stuff is talking about melodies. I skip it because the bass is not a melody instrument. But when the bassist plays a solo, it seems like his bass line is the melody for a while? Does this mean I should be doing melody ear training?

    My ultimate goal is to play anything I hear on the bass. Not too ambitious hahah!


    Great question!

    It’s a bit open to interpretation. If you define “melody” as the most prominent tune at any given moment, then a bass solo certainly counts. Other people might say that a solo is improvised whereas a melody is a fixed part of a song.

    Fortunately for the sake of ear training these distinctions don’t matter! You should be doing melody ear training. When it comes to playing by ear I would categorise basslines and bass solos as particular types of melody, and all the same skills you use for playing melodies by ear will also help you play a bassline or solo. There are some more specific aspects to each (for example you can use chord progressions ear training to help you play basslines which follow the chord roots) but essentially you’ll want to develop the same relative pitch skills as anybody who wants to play melodies by ear.

    If you haven’t already, I’d suggest checking out the Bass Ear Training How-To and this FAQ which both cover this subject in more detail.

    Does that help?

    Profile photo of henjay

    Okay, I’ve got my work cut out then! It makes sense that if the bass is leading in a solo then that’s the melody. Even if the rest of the band don’t want to admit it hah!

    Thanks for the links will check them out.

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