what do these songs have in common?

let's dig deeper into the tracks you've been listening to ------->

I wish we could have had more time to discuss all of the songs you listened to for the class.


I have loved reading all of your responses - below is a word cloud made from the thoughts you all shared from listening in the chat.


You were all right on the money - hearing the connective tissue of the "lament bass" that unites all of these pieces of music!

wordcloud 2.jpg

so what's on the playlist ? 

a little more info about who wrote these pieces of music and when (listen above on YouTube) --->

Feeling Good

Written by: Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse (1964)

Performed by: Nina Simone (1965)

Key: G minor (bass line = G, F, Eb, D)


Written by: Tomaso Vitali (1745)

Performed by: Ensemble Clematis (2011)

Key: G minor (bass line = G, F, Eb, D)

View the manuscript HERE.

Bye Bye Bye

Written by: Kristian Lundin and Jake Schulze (2000)

Performed by: *N'SYNC (2000)

Key: G# minor (bass line = G#, F# E D#)


Written by: Jean-Baptiste Lully (1685)

Performed by: La Petite Bande (2000)

Key: G minor (bass line = G, F, Eb, D)

***but...it sounds like it is in F minor with a bass line of F, Eb, Db, C because it is being played at A=392, French baroque pitch, a whole step lower than what we use today, A=440

View the manuscript HERE (see page 147)

Hit The Road Jack

Written by: Percy Mayfield (1960)

Performed by: Ray Charles (1962)

Key: G# minor (bass line = G#, F# E D#)

Lamento della ninfa

Written by: Claudio Monteverdi (~1614-1638)

Performed by: Montserrat Figueras and Jordi Savall

Key: A minor (bass line = A, G, F, E)

View the manuscript HERE

La Blanche Biche

Written by: Emi Ferguson (2017) 

**based on an anonymous folk melody

Performed by: Emi Ferguson (2017)

Key: B minor (bass line = B, A, G, F#)

***but...it sounds like it is in Bb minor with a bass line of Bb, Ab, Gb, F because it is being played at A=392, French baroque pitch, a whole step lower than what we use today, A=440

View the manuscript HERE (see page 147)

Music to Watch Boys to

Written by: Lana Del Rey and Rick Nowels (2015)

Performed by: Lana Del Rey (2015)

Key: C# minor (bass line = C#, B, A, G#)

Midnight Train to Georgia

Written by: Jim Weatherly (1970)

Performed by: Gladys Knight and the Pips (1973)

Key: Db Major (bass line = Db, C, Bb, Ab)

Just Give Me A Reason

Written by:P!nk, Jeff Bhasker, and Nate Ruess (2011)

Performed by: P!nk and Nate Ruess (2011)

Key: G Major (bass line = G, F#, E, D)

...we could keep going, adding many more songs to this playlist including...

Bach: Chaconne, from Partita no.5 for solo violin

Biber: Passacaglia for solo violin

the lament bass 

a repeating, cyclical, bass line from

one (tonic) descending to five (dominant) ---->

Screen Shot 2020-11-04 at 11.43.30 PM.pn

Musicians took these four descending notes and built (and still build!) harmonies and melodies on top of it.


All of the songs in the playlist use this fundamental structure in someway - thus connecting all of them, from 17th century composer Monteverdi, to 'NSYNC.

the lament bass is usually found in a minor key, but one can also create the same concept in a Major key ---->

Screen Shot 2020-11-04 at 11.43.38 PM.pn

click on the slides below to learn a little more about how all of these songs are connected and why the lament bass has it's power ------->

Musicians often alter the lament bass from the original four notes. One famous version is descending from 1 to 5 chromatically like in Henry Purcell's famous "Dido's Lament" ------->

pourquoi doux rossignol 

Jean-Baptiste de Bousset




played on a Rod Cameron copy of a c. 1700 Hotteterre flute

boxwood and ivory with a silver key


pitch = 392 hz

This is the song we all sang together. It's one of my favourite examples of the "major" version of this bass line. It was written in the court of Louis XIV and would have either been sung or fluted with the accompaniment of a lute (very large guitar). Check out this recording that is a beautiful recreation of what it might have sounded like back then...

view the sheet music HERE

notice how the bass line is notated all the way down in the bottom right corner - this is all the information a keyboard player or guitar player would be given to play with the flute player or singer whose melody is fully written out above.