Tip #196 – Lament Bass

I popular classical music trope that found its way into modern pop music is the lament bass. Before, the lament bass was used in what we regard as Classical and Romantic era music for sorrowful passages. Now, it appears in many different variations in today’s music/

The “original” lament bass is a diatonic walk-down from the root of the minor chord to the fifth in a span of a P4:

Each note in the bass is harmonized, and the descending motion gives the music a grieving feeling. You can hear by the minor tonality the need to resolve down.

Pop music does a similar thing, but with a “major” lament bass:

Compare how these two different, not only in pitch but as well in intervals.

Also, there can be a “chromatic” version of the lament bass, still spaning a P4 in distance travelled:

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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