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12 Bar Blues Question

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Journey55, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. Hello, today in my school's jazz band we started learning 12 bar blues for learning solos and (im not very good at walking bass) I had a question about how to walk the chord changes

    Bb7 | - | - | - | Eb7 | - | Bb7 | - | F7 | Eb7 | Bb7 | F7 :||

    I was just wondering (as the teacher told us to just use Bb, Db, Eb, E, F, and Ab) if I could only use those notes for walking or use the chords and walk with those (ie adding 7ths and such)

    Sorry if this is obvious for you guys, I'm just starting out with this 12 bar stuff
  2. Are you sure those notes are what he said? I think you had better ask the instructor again what he wants. I would have taken what he said as - to just use roots of the chord that is in play (for right now).

    As all those chords are dominant seven (b7) chords a generic walking bass line for each chord could be R-3-5-b7.
    Major Scale Box. 
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    But I think he is saying to just use roots for right now.
  3. The notes your teacher has given are a minor pentatonic scale. It is the go to scale for soloing over standard 12 bar blues changes.

    With your walking lines, when somebody else is soloing, go with the simple chord tones or even root-5. I assume you are all beginners, so the more room you can give the horn players to solo with the better it is going to sound.

    For your solo, use the notes your teacher has given you, because that is the lesson.
    BassChuck likes this.
  4. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    The great thing about learning walking Blues lines is you can approach the target chord change or note from four frets below or above it.

    This chromatic approach adds a nice colour and feel to the line as well as let it flow.

    So in your example the line could be just those chromatic approach notes alone if the situation allows it

    So the line could go on a simple jazz swing 16 bar blues of I IV V could play, (8 bar, 12 bar, 16 bar it makes no real difference for an example)

    Bb G Ab A / Bb G Ab A / Bb Db C B / Bb C Db D / Eb Gb F E / Eb Db C B / Bb G Ab A / Bb D Eb E / F D Eb E / F Gb F E / Eb C Db D / Eb G Ab A /Bb G Ab A / Bb G Ab A /Bb G Ab A / F

    Now that is just using the root of the chord to form the chromatic movement, not extentions or real definition of the chord but it works as an example.
    So if you incorporate this idea in to you charts and playing then movement and flow will appear and it will help in turnarounds and lets you play with chromatic 4th and 5th interval steps and runs.
    A 4th and 5th chromatic run could be substituted in say bar to play
    Eb Db F C B E Eb Bb, instead of a standard chromatic approach run.

    If you look at the notes used you see that the F C B E Eb Bb are the 4ths and 5ths in relation to each other. But the interval used before them can vary, if indeed you want an interval at all, but as I am talking about approaching from four notes below or above the target note then it's use is relevant to that.
    You could use the chromatic four five walk anywhere, over any distance so long as you arrive at your target correct or pass through the root correct on the way to somewhere......and it all works in reverse order as well, so not just down the neck, but up it as well.

    So just a few ideas about how to tie in your choices of chord tones when you define the chord, so use them a passing notes or use them to define the root and move on.
    BluesOnBass likes this.
  5. Klonk


    Apr 28, 2011

    Good tip for any beginner in blues/swing jazz.
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  6. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    A great explanation of chromatic notes in a blues line:
    Fergie Fulton and BluesOnBass like this.
  7. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    You can also play R-3-5-6 under those dominant 7 chords, as in:

    / R-3-5-6 / 8-6-5-3 / where the first bar is ascending and the second bar is descending, beginning on the octave.

    Or, you can combine them:

    / R-3-5-6 / b7-6-5-3 /
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  8. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    12 bars blues is a great place to start walking and to solo, but you need the right guidance as far as what to play and you have a wrong approach from your teacher about what scale to play, especially for beginners.

    As far as walking bass, don't use the minor blues scale that the teacher showed you because it is a minor scale and the chords are major, so you HAVE to focus on the major third first. The first bass line you should play is the one octave major 6 arpeggio of each chord back and forth over 2 bars: Bb-D-F-G-Bb-G-F-D-Bb. Then you'll figure out more options. There is a lot of infos in books and web sites about that. Even for soloing, I wouldn't suggest the Bb minor blues scale except for the F7, but be careful not to target the Bb on the F7 too much. The best scale is the MAJOR BLUES SCALE to play over the Bb7 and Eb7. It is actually the Gminor blues scale which is the relative minor of Bb major (!). here is the major blues scale of Bb: Bb-C-C#-D-F-G-Bb. Just avoid the D over the Eb7. It is actually a great way to produce the Blues sound by playing the starting phrase with D( the major 3rd) in it for the Bb7 chord and then alter the D for Db (the b7 of Eb7) when playing over the Eb7.

    Learning the voiceleadings based on the linear motion of the 3rd and the 7th of each chord is another great technique for soloing and for walking also.

    It is good also to play the mixolydian mode/scale for each chord: 1-2-3-4-5-6-b7-8.

    Hope this helps.
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  9. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    The note the teacher gave you (Bb, Db, Eb, E, F, and Ab) are the 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, and b7 of the Bb scale. That makes it the minor blues scale, not the pentatonic minor. The pentatonic minor does NOT contain the E natural (or more correctly, the Fb- it's the b5). But the point is that it's the basic structure for soloing over 12 bar blues changes, and there's a world of music created around that combination.

    BUT, walking bass under the solo is a different story. Your job as bass player is to define the harmony, so that means KNOWING the harmony. That's knowing what the chord is (both its construction and its function), and telegraphing to everyone what the next chord will be, and how the chords relate to each other.

    So you have to own where all the notes are of each of the three chords. I assume you do know how to figure out the notes of the chords- they're all 7th chords so it 1, 3, 5, b7 of the diatonic major scale of the root of the chord. e.g. the F7 is F A C Eb. If you don't know how to figure that out (just memorizing the notes isn't enough- you have to know why) then start there. Get that together for all three chords.

    Then you have to know where those notes are on the neck. Not just starting at the root, but be able to know know if your hand is at the first fret, where EVERY note in the Bb7 chord is from the low F to the Bb on the G string.

    Then a basic start to walking is this, looking at each of the four beats. It's like shooting pool, you want to lineup your shots. So, if your chord is F7 and the next chord is Bb7, then...

    Beat 1. Hit the root on one- That's F for this measure and Bb for the next.
    Beat 4. Play a note that leads to the next chord's root-
    a. A half step above or below the next root- B (above) or A (below)
    b. A scale tone above or below the next root- C (above) or A (below)
    c. The fifth of the next root- F if going to Bb for example
    Beat 3. Generally the fifth, but allow the line to flow
    Beat 2. Just about any note that allows the line to flow- doesn't have to be a chord tone, or even a tone from the scale.

    There's a LOT more to walking than that, but this is a simple way to get started. For more in-depth work, get a copy of Ed Freidland's "Building Walking Bass Lines".


    Klonk and Fergie Fulton like this.
  10. BluesOnBass

    BluesOnBass Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2010
    Holland, Michigan

    I know this is an old thread. I just have to comment that the PDF you left a link for is one of the best explanations of music theory and how to apply it that I have come across. It explains the concepts well, defines the vocabulary used for those not familiar with it, and gives examples that actually illustrate the concepts in a manner that is both understandable and useable. Way too often, authors explain new concepts that are difficult for the new learner by using vocabulary or references that are also difficult for the new learner. While I was actually looking for some new ideas for solos, I was happy to come across your pdf, as I know a few new learners that could make use of it. Thanks!
    Klonk and Fergie Fulton like this.
  11. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    you could look up for blues pattern for the bass.

    One that is very common ( with various rythm )
    R - 5 - 7b - 8
    R - 8 - 5 - 7b - 5

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