10 Latin Songs For Bass Players

This is part of my Bass Guitar Syllabus post where I recommend songs in different genres to listen to (and then ultimately try and figure out by ear). Listening to good music is a form of practice and there is a lifetime of great bass playing to be learnt from these songs!

Make sure to check out the other genres.

You might have guessed that Latin music comes from South America and surrounding areas. It's a very generic term for a wide variety of sub genres and styles. Regardless, Latin music uses unique rhythms and often employs the root and the fifth. Perfect for ear training and developing your sense of time, feel, and groove.

These songs are all easy to play and many have one main section that goes round and round. Start with these simple songs and use them to strengthen your ear whilst aiming to play from beginning to end without stopping.

1.Samba de Orfeu

The intro perfectly outline the root to five movement very common in Latin bass playing. Memorise that sound and the pattern the interval makes. You'll play that a lot in loads of different styles! Also, listen out for the modulating ii V I chord progression...

2. Con Alma

Latin music inspired many a jazz great. You should learn double bass parts on electric bass. Use palm muting to get closer to that tone.

3. The Girl From Ipanema

Quarter note rhythms spelling out the chord changes with wonderfully simple roots and fifths.

4. Recorda Me

More Latin Jazz. Notice the consistent rhythms and outlining of the chord progression with simple notes from the arpeggio.

5. Periódico De Ayer

Here's a brilliant example of the syncopated, lilting rhythms common in Latin bass playing. Notice how much that rhythm is involved in completely defining a style (even if the same chord tones are being used as in other styles).

6. How Insensitive

Beautiful and hypnotic bass groove.

7. Blue Bossa

This is a nice and easy jazz standard to learn. There's no bass on this version but listen to and transcribe Michel's rhythmic left hand!

8. Cuando Cuando

More simple notes with (quite) difficult rhythms. 

9. Afro Mambo

After the intricate intro, things settle down into root-five harmonic familiarity.

10. El Noa Noa

Latin doesn't have to mean jazz. Listen to this Latin/Country/Pop banger. It's the rhythm that characterises it as unmistakably Latin though. Notice how the root-five movement common in both Country and Latin styles ties this together. It's interesting and helpful to note the connections between seemingly different genres.

To learn more about what to learn and why head to Bass Guitar Syllabus

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