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Van Halen "Runnin With the Devil" Bass Line

Is the bass player's job always glamorous? Music isn't all about playing flashy parts. Sometimes a simple part is important to the overall feel of a song. Playing any more than that part would take away from the song, not add to it. So this is why we are looking at this groove from Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony.

This is the intro, and the chorus to the song "Running With The Devil".

 

                                                               C/E D/E                            Em7 A/E E
|---------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|---------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|---------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|--0--0--0--0---|-0--0--0--12\|-0--0--0--0--|-0--0--0--0--|

      C/E D/E                             Em7 A/E E                   C/E D/E                            Em7 A/E E
|---------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|---------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|---------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|--0--0--0--0---|-0--0--0--12\|-0--0--0--0--|-0--0--0--0--|

      C/E D/E                               Em7 A/E E                          A5 
|---------------|--------------||------
|---------------|--------------||------
|---------------|--------------||------
|--0--0--0--0---|-0--0--0--2-3-||-5----

This bass part uses a very important concept that can be used in writing a bass part to a song. It is called a pedal point. The name comes from organ music, where foot pedals are used to play bass notes. For this particular technique, the organist would hold down a single bass pedal while playing chords and melodies above that one note. In the intro and chorus of this song, Eddie is playing some different guitar chords while Michael keeps a consistent E pedal note going. He does throw in a quick slide down from the 4th string 12th fret, which is also E.

The guitar chords are written above the tablature. You see C/E first. This is a C chord, with an E in the bass. All of the chord that you see have E as the bass note. C/E.... D/E... Em7... A/E... E. The only time in this whole section that you have a note other that E, is the last 2 notes before the verse. And those 2 notes just lead you into an A. Most of the verse of this song is just an A pedal note.




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