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Section 14.7 Distinctive Bass Lines

Sometimes the identity of a song is in its repeated bass line (known as a “riff,” which is a short repeated pattern). Listen to the distinctive bass lines in the following examples.

Figure 14.7.1. Joseph Eastburn Winner, “Little Brown Jug” (1869)
Figure 14.7.2. Lennon-McCartney, “Day Tripper” (1965)
Figure 14.7.3. Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, “Good Times” (1979)
Figure 14.7.4. John Deacon, “Another One Bites the Dust” (1980)
Figure 14.7.5. Rick James, “Superfreak” (1981)
Figure 14.7.6. David Bowie, “Under Pressure” (1981)
Figure 14.7.7. Amethyst Kelly, Charlotte Aitchison, George Astasio, Jason Pebworth, Christopher Shave, Kurtis McKenzie, “Fancy” (2014)
Figure 14.7.8. Ben Haggerty, Ryan Lewis, Jacob Dutton, Eric Nally, Joshua Karp, Joshua Rawlings, Darian Asplund, Evan Flory–Barnes, Tim Haggerty, “Downtown” (2015)

Subsection 14.7.1 Distinctive Guitar Riffs

You will also find distinctive riffs played by guitar in conjunction with bass, as in the following examples.

Figure 14.7.9. Ray Davies, “You Really Got Me” (1964)
Figure 14.7.10. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, “Immigrant Song” (1970)
Figure 14.7.11. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, “Walk This Way” (1975)
Figure 14.7.12. Angus Young, Malcolm Young, and Brian Johnson, “Back in Black” (1980)

This chapter is meant to give you ideas about animating chords and chord progressions with accompanimental textures, including riffs. It is by no means meant to be exhaustive, but rather to encourage you to listen closely to texture and accompaniment.