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How to Learn Reggae Bass
By Carl Hose, eHow Contributor
Reggae is a musical style that began in the 1960s in Jamaica, based on the Ska and rocksteady musical genres of the region. Reggae is characterized and easily identified by a heavy accent on the off beat, which creates an unanticipated stress. This off beat makes reggae a popular form of dance music because of the rhythmic groove it creates. The bass plays an integral part in reggae and provides the foundation for its heavy rhythm.
1 Build bass lines using the first, fifth and octave notes of a major scale. You don’t need a deep knowledge of major scales to understand this. Keep a major key chart handy while practicing. The notes of a C major scale are C-D-E-F-G-A-B and the octave C. If you play a song in this key, practice creating a reggae line using the first note of the scale (C), the fifth note (G) and the C an octave higher than the first C you played. These three notes will help you develop the feel of reggae and often are used in popular reggae bass lines.
2 Practice a reggae rhythm using the three notes specified. Emphasize the third beat of the (bar) music to get the sound and feel characteristic of reggae. Play the root C, then the G, then the octave C with strong emphasis. This rhythm is similar to a choppy waltz. If you have a friend who plays guitar, practice this rhythm against a chord progression in the key of C, with your guitar player playing C, F and G.
3 Palm muting is a technique that can help emphasize the rhythm of your playing and add a reggae tonal feel. Do this by resting the edge of your palm against your bass strings as you pluck them. This creates a percussive sound often heard in reggae. Alternately lift your palm from the strings and rest it again, weaving together a semi-percussive sound to create tonal variation.
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