Bass AI

Songzap’s AI-powered Bass instrument introduces a novel and intuitive way to add expressive basslines to your music. As part of the Groove Designer feature in Songzap Premium, it intelligently responds to your recorded performances, interpreting your rhythm, chords and dynamics (even your song structure) in order to provide automatic accompaniments for your music. When used in combination with ‘Autozap’ (our automatic music accompaniment algorithm) the Bass instrument does most of the work for you, a bit like a session pro, responding to the nuances of your performance (say, on guitar or piano) and spitting out perfectly harmonious and tight basslines.

But you can also modify these patterns to your liking, or ‘program’ your bassist from scratch, by giving this session buddy your very own chord chart (see how here)! There are a ton of intuitive user controls available (literally) at your fingertips to help you shape and personalise the basslines you require for your music, and in the following sections (and the video below) we’ll explore them one-by-one.

Detailed walk-through of Songzap’s AI-powered Bass Instrument

The Bass AI interface

Let’s begin by familiarising ourselves with the Bass instrument’s interface:

The eye-catching bass amp and cabinet area at the bottom half of your screen is where you’ll have most of your pattern-shaping fun. Similar to how the other Groove instruments operate (the Beat and Pad), drag the control dot within the cabinet (the Bass Pattern Slider) in any direction within its enclosure to generate a plethora of viable and musical bass patterns. After a little experimentation, you’ll notice that you are generating patterns of higher rhythmical complexity as you drag the dot toward the right (indicated by the sixteenth note icon at the bottom-right of the cabinet), and patterns of richer tonal complexity as you drag upwards (indicated by the bass clef at the top-left of the cabinet). Single-tapping the control dot locks the direction of travel to vertical-only and tapping a second time locks the direction of travel to horizontal-only. Above the cabinet and within the amp-head enclosure, you’ll find the Note Duration Slider, which you can drag toward the right to sustain your bass notes (legato accompaniment) or towards the left to shorten them (staccato accompaniment).

You’ll notice that there is a button to the left of the Note Duration Slider with the letter ‘P’ on it. This indicates that the Bass interface is currently showing the Patterns controls. Tapping it will switch the view to the Transitions controls (indicated by the letter ‘T’ on the button switch) and we’ll deal with the Transitions feature in a separate section below.

Groove Lock

To the right of the cabinet three drum icons are located (for Kick, Snare and Hi-Hat), offering combinations of Groovelock Options that, you guessed it, let you ‘lock’ your basslines to the Beat instrument’s Kick, Snare and Hi-Hat patterns. As with any bass player worth their salt, locking to the drummer is essential and, here, this feature doubles as a neat way to ‘filter’ the busyness of your initial bassline to fewer notes (imagine asking your session bassist to play just like Lee Sklar – minimally and focused on the Kick – for an Americana session; or to thunderously follow the Hi-Hat sixteenths for a Funk part, just like Rocco Prestia).

Sample Pack Select

Above and to the left of the amp/cabinet area is where you can select from a range of sample packs, from a lovingly curated library of electric, acoustic and synth bass options. Pick the library that best suits your genre, and you can later have more fun shaping the bass sound using Songzap’s Mixer.

All the bass sounds have been captured using bonafide P and J electric basses (fingered, picked and palm-muted), a 3/4-size acoustic double bass, retro analogue synths and an analogue drum machine, through a 2×10 bass amp, with high-end mics via top-end interfaces. The sounds have been mixed in a hybrid scenario, benefitting from plug-ins, but routed through some of today’s best analogue summing mixers, A/D converters and boutique hardware compressors/limiters. This is why you”ll enjoy a fantastic blend from the basses’ tones as you incorporate them into your recordings!

Performance Settings

The Bass Settings Menu at the bottom-left of your screen is where you can specify two important Performance Settings for your Bass AI: managing the range that your basslines should occupy, and choosing the shape of your pattern permutations with regard to the root position of your chord tones. The Range setting is a great way to create congruent arrangements both in relation to other instruments (helping you avoid frequency clashes), but also structurally (limiting or expanding the bassline’s range for different sections of a song). The Root Position setting (BottomMiddle or Top) is a useful tool (which many bass players secretly deploy) that lets you determine the shape of your bassline permutations. For example, playing chord tones in the octave below your root note is often regarded as ‘discreet’ in the world of bassline construction, perceived as staying out of the way of lead instruments or vocalists. Conversely, playing chord tones above the root note creates basslines that are more ‘attention-grabbing’ and that, too, can be used to good effect. The middle scenario sits – you guessed it – more in the middle of the two extremes. Selecting one of these pattern shapes for a song section or the whole song will have a profound musical effect on your basslines, also affecting the kind of pattern permutations made available via the Bass Pattern Slider.

Bass Pattern Display

The display above the bass amp/cabinet provides two types of Bass Pattern Indicators. The first is a keyboard display of the notes being played in real time (note that the range selected in the Performance Settings is also represented here by the greyed-out parts of the keyboard). The second, below it, is an area occupied by a series of red waveform ‘events’ or triangles corresponding to the relative pitch, position and length of the bassline’s notes within a bar of the current song section. Toward the right of the display, you may also see a Transition indicator replacing the last beat of the bar (that is, if you have selected a type of transition in the Transitions view of the bass amp/cabinet – again, more on this below). Finally, at the very top of the display (just above the keyboard), you’ll see the current Chord and section/song Key being displayed, including the Roman Numeral representation of the chord, if in key and when in playback mode. (Click here for a short tutorial on the harmonic reasoning behind this feature.)

Transitions

Transitions are worth a separate mention as they add significantly to the musicality of the Bass AI engine. As mentioned above, tapping on the P/T (Select Patterns/Transitions) switch flips the amp/cabinet from the frontal (Patterns) view to the rear (Transitions) view. Within the Transitions view, you can tap on the back of one of the four cabinet’s ‘speakers’, numbered 357 and 12. The numbers correspond to the type of transition you are selecting for the final beat in a bar of bassline. If you select 3, the transition will use tones (notes) from the triad; should you select 5, the bassline will use a pentatonic scale corresponding to your current chord to transition to the next bar; select 7 and the bassline is allowed to use any of the tones from the (full) scale corresponding to the current chord before transitioning to the next bar; and if you select 12, the approach will be chromatic! The transition type you select is reflected by the chosen number highlighted in red, while the respective valve at the top-right of the amp will also go ‘hotter’ to indicate your selection. The busyness of the transition is intelligent and founded upon thousands of bassline patterns and transitions (fills) studied, while one of our team is an avid bassist, so rest assured there’s been a fair wrestle here between humans and machine learning!

Final word and controls

The Bass AI interface is surrounded by all the typical Groove engine menus and buttons, such as the Segment Type Select (e.g. Verse, Chorus, etc.) menu, the Groove Type Select (Loops, Beat, Bass, Pad) menu and the Enable Playback button. These are positioned right above the Bass Pattern Indicators display, allowing you to quickly shift between song sections and Groove instruments, and easily turn the building blocks of your song on and off.

Furthermore, you can cycle a section by tapping on the Loop Song Segment button (right above the Enable Playback button), which is particularly useful if you want to continue refining a bass part without the song playback moving beyond your current song segment. And you can Copy Segment DataOpen (and modify the) Chord Chart and access the Autozap Menu from the remainder three buttons on the same row (to the left of the Loop Song Segment button). At the bottom of your screen, the Playback Bar completes the navigational controls, and if you have Education Mode on, don’t forget to tap on the EDU icon at the bottom left of your screen to open up a feature map for the Bass instrument and access all relevant web and video tutorials, too!

Have fun exploring the Bass instrument, the bass sample packs and the millions of bassline permutations produced by the Bass AI engine, as you enjoy it ‘jamming’ with your riffs and recordings. It is also valuable to experiment with chord progressions, manually inputting them on the chord chart and working in reverse; letting your virtual bassist come up with grooves that inspire new performative and songwriting ideas whether you play guitar, keyboards, rap or sing!

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