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Walking Bassline Theory Question

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Rob Hunter, Dec 10, 2001.

  1. Rob Hunter

    Rob Hunter

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    Hi there,

    I have several "walking bass" instruction books, but I'm fuzzy on one key point. I understand there are various ways to construct a line (approach notes, target notes, etc.). My fuzziness is with the "scale" approach.

    My question is: Does scale refer to the song's KEY or the CHORD I'm playing?

    Example: If I'm in the key of F and I'm playing a C chord, would a "scale approach" include a natural B (as in a C scale) or a flattened B (as in an F scale)?

    I'd be grateful for any thoughts on this!
    Thanks,
    Rob
  2. Christopher

    Christopher

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  3. dhosek

    dhosek

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    Ya, I wrote a psalm setting for a friend last year (or was it the year before? I can never remember) which was in F, but it was an F lydian, so the V was a M7 rather than dominant. There's something really nice about just moving from IM7 to VM7 and back that sounds so nice.

    I should dig that piece up some time...

    -dh
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

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    To simplify; All chords have a scale from which they are dervied. This is the scale that you want. There may be other scales that can be superimposed as well, such as a dimished scale superimposed over a mixolydian chord (dominant), i.e., C# diminshed scale over a C7, which would hint at a minor V7, resolving to a major F chord (Ionian).

    If you're reaching for a piece of pita at this point, I can slow down a bit.
  5. Rob Hunter

    Rob Hunter

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    Thanks for all the comments. As suspected, this is more complicated than I thought! (It sure was easier just reading notes on a page.)

    Modes and functions aside, I think my question was basically answered: (1) The song is in a specific key (2) the chords in the song relate to that key (3) so regardless of the chord's name, use the key to "scale" between chords (unless there's a conflict with the notes in a chord, which I presume should take priority).

    Well, it's a tad convoluted, but it'll work - for now. I must say I'm enjoying writing walking basslines. Jazz is relatively new to me and man, it's a hoot to play!

    Thanks again,
    Rob
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

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    A song is in a key, but the changes are not likely all from that key. Tunes frequently jump from key to key within the form. So, what we're saying is that you have to learn to analyze changes so that you know in what key a certain progression is.

    If you'll care to post a tune that you're working on I'll give you an analyzation of it as an example.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Supporting Member

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    I'm with Ray and I think the consensus is NO in this case - you can't just take notes from the key. You have to know what a chord is doing there and only then can you associate a scale with it.

    Of course you could just stick to basslines built from the notes in the chord itself and throw in a few chromatic passing tones - especially on the 4 before a chord change - and most people won't notice! ;)
  8. Rob Hunter

    Rob Hunter

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    Wow - as I thought, this is going to take more study on my part! Thanks for all the responses.
  9. Jflack

    Jflack Guest

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    Wow - I get the feeling this has been made to look a lot more complicated that it needs to be. For a walking bass line, the scale you use should be based on the chord, not the key of the tune. Simple as that.

    The key signature is only useful for reading a written melody, and has nothing to do with walking a bass line or improvising over chord changes.

    For example, a C7 chord will always have the same notes and the same chord scale associated with it, no matter what key the tune is written in.

    Functional analysis will certainly help, but the short answer is: ignore the key signature when you're soloing or walking a bass line. Follow the chords.
  10. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones

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    ummm...

    I gotta disagree with jflack on this one if you see a Magor7th cord annd you dont know if its the 1 or the 4 cord (or....?)you will have a hard time representing the harmony.wich is your role when walkin
    Analysis is good:cool:
    AJ
  11. Jflack

    Jflack Guest

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    True, but where are you going to look to figure out if your Maj7 chord is functioning as a I or a IV? You're going to look at the chord changes, not the key signature. Like I said, analysis will help, but the question that started this thread was simple: do you follow the chords or the key signature? The answer is just as simple: follow the chords.
  12. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones

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    I just feel this could be a little oversimplyfing it even though I mostly agree with this when your talking about a dominant 7th chord I feel you choose the one chord that approach works the best with. If you play one four in a minor key your gonna use the same scale for each ?
    Isnt "looking at the chords " annalysis? and if your not that expierienced comparing the chords to the key signature will give you the first steps.
    I have a bunch of thinking about chord games that simplify my brain when needed but I just didnt like the particular example you chose

    Sorry about the spelling
    AJ
  13. Jflack

    Jflack Guest

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    AJ - I don't think we're in disagreement here - analysis can only help.
    Just out of curiosity, what would you do differently on an Fmaj7 chord if it was acting as a IV chord instead of a I chord? Would you be more likely to play B-natural on an Fmaj7 if the key sig. dictated it?
    Also I'm curious about your chord games...
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

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    A C7 has at least two chord-scales that come to mind, a keyless scale, and three pentatonics, ..., depending on its function. I won't tell ya, though -- you either know the answer or will have to do some homework.
  15. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones

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    Just talking diatonic harmony the C7 would have one mode scale mixolydian but a C-7 chord could be Aeolian Phygian or dorian and the C mag 7 could be lydian or Ionian this is what I ment by the one chord I mostly agree with.
    Jflack if you were gonna play autumn leaves in c youd have somethin like

    D-7/g7/cmaj7/fmaj /b-7flat 5/E7/a-7/a-7....

    try playin the 1,3,4,5 in each chord as a line

    play a b flat as the 4 on the fmaj7 chord then try a b natural
    how does it sound?
    as far as ways of thinkin to try to make things easier I do things like... if you d-7 g7/cmaj7 you could think g7/cmaj7 or...If you think play a e-7 cord over a c major chord you are play the 3,5,7,9 of a c chord so you just hang on the shapes patterns that you might allready have under your fingers but they sound different in this context they are a million of these types of things you can do to tray to think your self into learnin new sounds that hopefully youll become able to hear.

    AJ
  16. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

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    C7 could be mixolydian, phrygian, or melodic minor ( F mm in the case of C7).

    The point that I am trying to get across is that it's best to (drum roll, please) get a good teacher to show you the path through all of this.
  17. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon

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    And you can get C7 out of the 8-note diminshed scale.
  18. lonnieplaxico

    lonnieplaxico

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    Hello:)I might get in trouble for saying this.Check out Paul Chambers ,giant steps lay bird almost every thing he did .write his bass lines out note for note, and study his choice of note's in the chords.He really mix it up better then any one in my opinion. Oscar Pettiford,Mingus,Ray Brown,isreal crosby also.Ron Carter ,Jimmy Garrison.There so many more Grats bass players.Just transcribe and study what they are doing .
    Good luck:)
  19. TJC

    TJC

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    Would you mind expanding on the 4 part chords bit?
  20. TJC

    TJC

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    Ed Fu Yung -

    I thought that you might be talking about chord tones, but since I'd never heard them referred to as parts before, I assumed that there must be something else to that. (Although I'm guessing there probably still is...)

    Granted that this is all relatively new to me, I have been learning to walk from a 'which scale might work superimposed over which chord' approach. If you're willing to go into it, I'd love to hear more about the approach that you seemed to be hinting at in your reply to Lonnie.

    Yeah I'd definitely like to hear more about this as well, although I'm not sure that I can splain you more on what about exactly.


    P.S. Yes - I know - I am looking for a teacher... I swear.

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