Transcribing Bass Lines ( Popular Music ) Part 1

Transcribing Bass Lines

Now that I’ve completed my listening of popular tunes in C major, I am transcribing bass lines of my favourite tunes.

Learning Outcomes

  • Parse together the harmonic progression of the tunes
  • Reflect on how the rhythm of the bass line affects the mood and direction
  • Reflect on the usage of chords outside of C major

This is difficult for me, as I have never done this before! I will be relying solely on my ears, so I expect to be repeating the song many times over before I finish.

Like I’m Gonna to Lose You – Meghan Trainor Ft. John Legend


After listening a couple of times, I find that the harmonic progression is on a loop throughout the entire song.

The Bass Line:

I am not super confident about the accuracy of the rhythm! The bass line is difficult to hear with so much focus on the singers’ voices.

The Chord Progression:

Cmaj       IEmi     IAmi     IFmaj Cmaj/E Dmin G

There are no chords outside of C major here. I enjoy the last bit of this progression, where the bass line descends by step until it drops down to the low G before returning to the C as it loops. This gives me a fulfilled feeling of knowing where the beginning and the end of the loop is. However, I noticed that although the harmonic progression doesn’t change, the rhythm and the octave of the bass line varied throughout the song.

More interesting, is the rhythm in the first two bars of the loop. The hoppy rhythm pushes the song forward; although it is lyrically a low energy song, the rhythm gives it a slow-dance like vibe.  In addition, the last half beat of the first two bars, offer a chromatic or step-wise transition into the next bar, making the progression seem natural and smooth.

This was lots of fun! More bass lines to come.

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