Samba Bass Guitar Lessons – Your Survival Guide

samba bass lessonMost musicians of the western world are mainly experienced with the music styles that actually represent the western world: pop music, rock music and sometimes jazz and classical.

There is nothing wrong with that – however, broadening your perspective towards the Latin world will not only enable you to play different styles of this wonderful ecosystem, it will also bring a great surplus to your playing of the styles mentioned previously.

An Overview of the Character And History of Samba

Samba is one of the most popular from the many Latin dances and music styles. It originates from Bahia, one of the states of Brazil, and is probably the most widely spread styles across Brazil – it can even be considered a strong element of the national identity of Brazilians. The idea of samba does not only cover the music and the dance. Samba has a very strong ecosystem that includes food, national customs and a whole range of different entertainment tools.

Apart from its traditional branch, samba had a definite influence over modern jazz. For example, fusion jazz has a lot of Latin influence and the signs of Bossa Nova and Samba are often easily observable.

Even though traditionally samba was only played on folkloric Brazilian instruments, modern musicians have created adaptions to western instruments. Thanks to that, today you can see samba ensembles consisting of a drummer, a guitarist and a bass guitarist – and possibly a percussionist.

Taking a Look at the Basic Groove in This Genre

If we would like to gain a good understanding of how samba should played and what the basic groove of this kind of music is, we should probably take a look at an interesting samba drum beat. The first thing that we can see is that the rhythm can be divided in three parts.

First of all, samba has a bass drum pattern that is very characteristic, the pulsation of the bass is found at the margins of every measure. Also, the accompanying ride cymbal has a very interesting shuffle groove and the snare drum plays a characteristic clave pattern. In order to create an accurate bass line we have to understand this basic pulsation first. We will work towards the mentioned bass line step-by-step.

drums groove

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Creating a Basic Bass Line

The example below showcases the simplest bass line that you can play if you want your music to have a character that resembles samba. However, the simplicity of this groove might lack some of the liveliness that samba usually represents.

As you can see, we have a slightly syncopated pattern where the notes inside a measure belong to the same scale but overall more than one scale can be used.

syncopated pattern

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Working Towards a More Complex Bass Line

The bass line of a samba groove ought to radiate the energy that samba has. The groove presented below does not fail at that challenge: it includes fancy features like 32ths and it also makes use of muffled notes.

As you can see, there is a relationship between this bass line and the drum beat presented above. Every bass drum kick is accompanied by a powerful note and the subtle closings of the hi-hat are also accompanied by almost inaudible muffled notes. The bass line uses a Phrygian scale which has by itself a character that is often specific to Latin music.

phrygian scale bass line

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