Songwriting Tips—Pairing Chords with Walking-Down Bass Lines

There’s something inherently appealing about a chord progression built around a bass line that “walks down” the major scale. In the previous lesson, I cited the bridge sections to the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and John Lennon’s “Imagine” as classic examples of pop songs that feature this kind of motion while two or more chord tones remain constant, as common tones, above the descending bass notes. I’d now like to pursue this topic further and examine passages from other famous songs that include similar bass drops and are additionally paired with chord inversions, for which a non-root chord tone, such as the third or fifth, is the lowest note, or “in the bass.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Jimmy Brown

Over the past 30 years, Jimmy Brown has built a reputation as one of the world's finest music educators, through his work as a transcriber and Senior Music Editor for Guitar World magazine and Lessons Editor for its sister publication, Guitar Player. In addition to these roles, Jimmy is also a busy working musician, performing regularly in the greater New York City area. Jimmy earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Performance and Music Management from William Paterson University in 1989. He is also an experienced private guitar teacher and an accomplished writer.