How To Write A Bass Line That Grooves With The Drums

There’s nothing worse than a bass track and a drum track that don’t groove well together. Yet clashing bass and drum rhythms are all too common, particularly for beginners. That’s why learning how to write a bass line that locks in with the drums, is oh so crucial.

The bass and drum relationship is an essential element of any song, as it creates the foundational rhythm upon which the rest of the tracks are built. Writing a bassline that fits with and enhances the drum rhythm can be tricky, so it’s important to understand how their rhythms relate and how they should interact with each other.

While writing a bassline always boils down to a “sense” of where the notes should go, this intuition doesn’t often come naturally and can take time to build. 

So, to begin writing a bassline, start with a rhythm that’s identical to the drum track’s kick rhythm. In other words, wherever there’s a kick note, put a bass note. In terms of pitch, both the bass and kick drum are considered “low,” and so share a low-end responsibility. Therefore when their rhythms are matched, it usually feels good.

If you love the way it sounds, you can stop right there. There are some great songs out there that intentionally stick to a matching kick and bass rhythm, as it creates a very “tight” groove. However, having a bass rhythm that contrasts with the kick can be more interesting. 

So for the next step, try changing up the bass, note-by-note. Move some notes around. Extend the duration of some notes. Just make sure that with every change, the overall groove doesn’t feel weaker. The most important thing is that the drums and bass feel great together.

Thanks for reading! Try a fully interactive version of this lesson, that includes a video and interactive ear training challenge in our online DAW, as part of Building Blocks. Building Blocks is an online music production and composition training course that will teach you how to write music in a DAW.