In ensemble passages Gil composes interesting bass lines which entail good melodic sense. I like to think of them as a first species counterpoint – not with all the interval rules necessarily, but the general guidelines that counterpoint contains.
I’ve borrowed this paragraph from Openmusictheory
Counterpoint is the mediation of two or more musical lines into a meaningful and pleasing whole. In first-species counterpoint, we not only write a smooth melody that has its own integrity of shape, variety, and goal-directed motion, but we also write a second melody that contains these traits. Further, and most importantly, we combine these melodies to create a whole texture that is smooth, exhibits variety and goal-oriented motion, and in which these melodies both maintain their independence and fuse together into consonant simultaneities (the general term for two or more notes sounding at the same time).
Audio examples are below.
Boplicity – bars 1-8
Here is the trumpet (melody) and tuba (bass) parts for the first A section of Boplicity.
The chords in this example are from a lead sheet. Notice how much Gil deviates from the original chords. The bass line here creates its own interesting melody that is still “goal-directed”. In the example below I have used arrows to point out the use of contrary motion. Contrary motion is very strong and it is used well here often leading to melodically and harmonically important points.
Gil still uses the original chords of course, and he utilizes the root note in the counterpoint at melodically and harmonically important points.
Gil only breaks the texture twice in the first A section. In bar 6, Gil “un-hinges” the bass line, and in bar 7 the melody and bass line are in unison (I will cover these in a future blog post).
My Ship – bars 7-15 (first A section)
Here is the melody and bass parts for the first A section of My Ship. Again the chords are from a lead sheet. I have highlighted some contrary motion.
Use of the root note at meaningful moments.
Gil uses parallel motion in in this first A section for contrast and drama.
In the second play through in the audio examples I have boosted the bass and cut the high frequencies so its easier to focus on the bass line.
Music and scores can be purchased here: