Starting A Groove
The foundation of any groove is rhythm. Therefore, your first port of call when creating a bass groove is the kick drum pattern. Locking in with the drums will create a solid foundation for the other instruments to build on. Here is the notation for a simple funky drum beat:
Using this pattern, we can come up with our own bass groove that falls on the same beats.
(1) e (+) a 2 e + a 3 e (+) a 4 (e) + a
The bracketed notes are where the kick falls and by copying this pattern, we can come up with our own bass groove that falls on the same beats.
Adding Chord Tones
Now we can add some notes to our groove to spice it up. Below is the notation for a D7 arpeggio – familiarise yourself with this shape until you feel comfortable with the fingering and sound of it.
To make this into a funky bass groove, we are going to apply this arpeggio to the rhythm we used earlier:
This basic groove simply ascends the D7 arpeggio while locking in with the kick drum rhythm. Notice that the notes aren’t held for their full duration as cutting them off short gives the line its funky feel.
Now you have the basic foundation of a groove, you can start to add in some extra sweeteners to funk it up.
Ghost notes are one way to make your line more funky as they are more percussive and enhance the rhythmic variation. A simple way to include ghost notes in your playing is by putting them in front of the notes in your groove.
Another way we can vary the groove is by changing the notes we use. In the next variation, we are going to return to the 5th (A), instead of ending the groove on D.
We can add this variation to the end of the original riff and use it as a turnaround to return to the beginning:
If we want to make this groove even more funky, we can add in a few extra 16th notes to double up the chord tones:
Notice how this variation still contains the original foundation of the groove we made at the beginning. The trick is to keep the song grooving and not overload it with too many variations – use your original foundation as the main groove and add the extra sweeteners in when it feels right.
The last technique we are going to look at today is changing the octaves of the notes in your groove. This riff contains exactly the same notes as the groove above but it goes below the root instead of above.