Bass Display for Hookpad

I would REALLY like to be able to see the bassline in Hookpad.

This would be a significant help in choosing and embellishing chords - I am surprised that this feature is not part of Hookpad. Has this been discussed before? Is this something that you would consider in future?

The absence of it makes me feel like I am composing in a part-blind manner.

What are people’s views on this?

Hey @JWM

Definitely something for us to consider. We currently encode the base scale degree in the color of the chord. That's why, for example, a I chord is red and a I chord in first inversion is yellow. You were hoping for more than that?


Yes - the color doesn’t help you spot missed opportunities for flipping inversions to get nice ascending/descending basslines. Being able to see the actual pattern of the bass part would allow people to spot immediately if something isn’t quite right or perhaps could be improved.

It would - quite literally - help people write better music.

It sounds like you are asking to be able to see the bass part as one of the voices. I agree that this would be useful, especially if you could edit it (and subsequently export). Often the generated bass lines are just an interval tweak or two away from better matching the intended mood. I agree with JMW that being able to see the bass part notes visually might help inform some users about the harmonic and melodic possibilities.

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Ah I see. Actually you can compose your own bass line.

  1. Go into the Band Gui and remove the built in “Bass” instrument. This is what plays the built in bass pattern based on your chord progression. We will be composing our own so don’t need this one.

  2. Then create a second voice using the Polyphony tool use it to write your bass line.

  3. Back in the band tool change the Sound of this melody (Lead 2 or whatever) to be one of the built in bass instruments. There is a whole family of synth and bass guitar sounds you can use see below:

The demo songs in the file menu make good use of custom bass lines and are worth looking at for inspiration (you can access them from the file menu).

Does that help?


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No… :smile:

- because I don’t want to compose a separate bass line that’s independent of the chord notation.

The purpose is aiding the choice of inverted chords that already have the appropriate bass note in them. This leads to (much) better-sounding music. This has actually been my biggest take-away from the two hooktheory books (thanks!)

Being able to clearly see the bass notes of the chords in the display, would greatly help users spot any bass leaps that suggest that a better chord inversion could be found.

In terms of implementation, you could have one main button (next to “Piano” for example) that toggles the display of the bass part (and only the bass part) temporarily replacing the melody. Alternatively it could be a tickbox in the “Voice Management” options for melody. Those are just two suggestions but there are probably a number of simple ways to do this which also do not complicate the UI.



In my opinion Hookpad should have an option to highlight the bass or root notes on the note track’s chord displays, for example by underscoring all bass / root notes. Some advantages:

  • Since the note track always spans the middle octave, at least one highlighted root or bass note will be visible.
  • If limited to one octave, the bass has to wrap from the lowest note to the highest note somewhere (e.g. G to F an octave above for default band settings). Displaying the root / bass pitch on all octaves solves this.
  • When extended chords like 13th chords are used, the “stable notes” option becomes useless on those chords because (almost) all notes are chord tones. Some extra identification for the bass is needed.
  • Displaying the bass on the note track makes Hookpad more accessible towards color-blind people who might not be able to distinguish chord colors.

Agreed - underscoring (or boxing) the bass notes as you describe would be perfect for the task.

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Agreed, i also miss the view of the bass note if we can have the option to display it if we will

@HertzDevil, are you describing something like this? If I’m not quite getting it right, can you upload a pic of what you have in mind?

That would certainly do it for me - preferably if the bass was shown on an extended stave to reflect true pitch rather than wrapping on the octave.

Those are too similar to outlined notes on inactive voices, which is why I suggested underlining:

Making the non-highlighted chord notes thinner might also work. Here I reduced the heights of them by 4, centered them vertically, and then changed their opacity from 0.2 to 0.15:

Good point; and I do like the design you are proposing as it is less obtrusive but still serves the function.

I really would like to see a way to compose the bass lines separate or just only compose bass lines as I got this to aid myself in learning the bass guitar. I know theory applies the same but I’d rather not deal with the complication of confusion with the treble register. There’s never just a version for bass…maybe It’s just not appropriate for me then.

Can you have a choice for composing just bass lines for people learning music theory as a bass guitar player ?