Playing counter melody, ideas or training

I just learned the term for part of the way my rhythm brain works - and it’s counter melody. Does Josh go into this in any videos, with examples, exercises, or ear training ideas maybe, on how to develop the skill? I’m not sure what exactly it would take to build or work on the concept. If this falls more under general bass talk, theory or technique, I would be happy to delete and re-post in the right area. A counter melody that fits/works (I might have the terms wrong but I think it’s - ) with sharp notes, to further accent the melody, or offset during natural breaks in the tune is such an ear hook to me. It would be interesting to learn more on whether this is considered an inherent talent some people have, or if it can be learned and built on further.
(Hopefully this is kosher as a new topic, I found counter melody mentioned in a few posts but didn’t see it specifically on it’s own.)

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I’m not familiar with the term, can you post an example of what a counter melody is applied to bass?

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A good example of counter melody on bass would be on Yes’ Starship Troopers, the last movement Wurm, where Chris Squire plays a counter melody to the guitar. His bass lines were often counter melodic.

At around 5:55


@robbp I came across it in a video about Paul Mcartney’s playing - post rubber soul. I’m going to check out the Yes video posted by @Wombat-metal right now. I have a friend who is a huge Yes bass fan, though I never got in to them (i was more of a metalhead) and don’t know the first thing about them. Going to check it out rn, thank you wombat!

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@robbp The Paul M. video was by another online bass instructor type. Anyone able to say if it’s kosher to post such a video link here on the forum? I want to abide by the spirit of the rules, not just the ‘letter of the law’ as they say.

If you can’t post it, can you send it me to as a private message, please?

@Wombat-metal First impression; without comparing side by side and at risk of offending ppl, they make me think of a more jazzy version of Rush. Definitely what I would classify as an acquired taste. They do sound like accomplished musicians, of course. For me I think around 7:37 is a good example of counter melody as well? The look on the bassist’ face around 8:33 is just what I would be feeling at the moment I think.
Has anyone seen videos out there focusing on how to develop this as a playing skill? Or does this fall under song crafting, rather than a playing skill? I’m interested in the idea if anyone knows where to go or what to look for. Forgive please if I’m not using the most proper terms, I hope I get the meaning across well enough. I’m extremely new at this.

Sure, what ever we can do on here.

Chris Squire was a major influence on Geddy Lee.


Yes is not for everyone. I dislike most prog rock myself (but weirdly I like prog metal, where I think it works better.) I actually think your take is very similar to mine.

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I think older rush was a little more rock oriented and I really enjoyed it when I was younger. I remember specifically listening to fly by night and 2112. By Hold Your Fire, my younger rocker self just had to give up on Rush fandom.

Just finished reading some background about their touring and influences from Yes. It’s always Interesting to learn more musical history.

I think it’s ok. Who is the instructor? Scott’s Bass Lessons?

The vid is by Luke from become a bassist, and I ended up there after a random list of vids about all different random bands, made by a range of different people. @robbp @Ken_Miller
Here is the link: How Paul McCartney Wrote The PERFECT Bass Line - YouTube

If you want to jump to the part about counter melody it starts at about 4:27, I found the entire video interesting just to hear so many tracks by the beatles broken down with the all different parts exposed and examined. Fascinating for a Beatles fan.

Back to counter melody, this is how my brain has seemed to work from the start - though I didn’t know what it was called. 30 years ago when I was in a choir, I worked with the director and pianist to altar a few key notes at certain points in the choral production for dramaticism. The director was on board, it made an offset between the parts of the choir that I thought were a real ‘ear worm’ kind of thing as the say - and it happened to be counter melody.
I’m looking forward to learning how to do this with a bass.


Not sure how much experience you have playing but if you are new to it don’t rush things.

I see this all the time with my students wanting to jump into the deep end without having the necessary knowledge or techniques they require.

Just have fun and it will all will come with time and above all practice, practice and more practice. :+1: :+1: :+1:

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Almost absolutely zero experience with any instrument, other than that trombone in a case that was as big as me back in 3rd grade. Ended up dragging one end of the case on the ground behind me to get it back and forth to school. :sweat_smile:

I just want to be able to do everything I dream of musically, by tomorrow or so. No big rush.

Ty for the advice, I hope this broken body still has the miles and time left on the meter to get there, before it’s too late. Arthritis in the hands and stenosis with bone spurs of the neck and spine are in a race to see who wins, me and the bass or time and pain.

Back in the day I played in a Canadian Legion (called Posts in the U.S.A.) brass band from the age of 7 till I was 22 or so. Then marriage, children and life in general took over,

Don’t we all :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Rushing things, and pedal boards :rofl:, will only lead to frustration IMHO.

I have been involved with music for 65 years and I still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel - which if I ever do see it will probably be a freight train coming straight at me at about 120 M.P.H. :slightly_smiling_face:

As I said before just have fun and it will come.

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Try to eliminate inflammatory foods like tomatoes, wheat, etc.

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What? No pedals?
You’re no fun! :sweat_smile:

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I’m eating almost a vegan diet now, for health reasons, not political or activist related. The positive impact on my health just can’t be denied. And I’m a huge (true) BBQ and grilling fan, almost completely reformed now having cut out nearly all red meats. I still occasionally have poultry in the mix, and some processed foods for convenience sake in the freezer.
But yes, ty for the advice. I am working on that healthy diet! I haven’t heard of tomatoes being an inflammatory food and curious to hear more about that. In my garden tomatoes are one of the only things I can seem to grow! I already have plans to give away most of the produce to the neighborhood (how could one guy eat tomatoes from a dozen plants eh?!). But if they aren’t that good for you I may rethink things and go with the dreaded zucchini instead. :rofl:

@Celticstar Have to agree with @Ken_Miller on this one!

I only have two pedals, one is kind of a mandatory tuner needed in the mix, and my one little gas pedal is a Kliq distortion. My play along rock out sessions just wouldn’t be the same with out my little gas pedal! Next ofc I need a gas amp like a used rumble 100, and who knows where it will go from there. :joy:

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