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Advanced Jazz Theory

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BassWizard55, Feb 24, 2003.

  1. BassWizard55

    BassWizard55 Guest

    Dec 21, 2002
    Rome, Ga
    I will be filling an upright bass position in my school jazz band next year. The person presently playing it (a yamaha silent electric) is very talented. He can pretty much make a good bassline with just a chord sheet put in front of him.

    What I need is a source (website or book) that will help me understand chords more in-depth and make a better bassline out of them. I know now the bassics of chord symbals and can make a bassline after quite a bit of work, but like I said, I need something to help me understand chord theory better, and something to practice.

    I would also like to learn all the bassics of jazz theory before I come in next year. These are very big shoes I will be filling and I want to be prepared.

    thanks , Jake
  2. JazZ-A-LoT


    Jan 5, 2003
    U say this guy can make improv walking basslines, after just being presented with a chord chart. Well you're gonna' need lots of practice and a bit more than the basics to get that down, but dont get discouraged. First of all check out Jazzbo's excellent introduction to scale and chord theory here: Scale Chord Theory

    Then pick up a copy of Ed Friedland's "Building Walking bass lines" and "The Jazz Theory Book".

    Then listen listen listen listen (I cant stress this enough). Check out sonny rollin's saxophone colossus, some great playing all around and not too overwhelming.
    I'm no pro myself so that's all i can offer for now.

    Good luck ;)
  3. Jason Carota

    Jason Carota

    Mar 1, 2002
    Lowell, MA
    Good advice from Jazz-a-lot -- but just to clarify, The Jazz Theory Book was written by Mark Levine.
  4. JazZ-A-LoT


    Jan 5, 2003
    Sorry my bad
  5. Jason Carota

    Jason Carota

    Mar 1, 2002
    Lowell, MA
    Its all good. :)
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I agree about not getting discouraged - it is really just down to practice and a few basic rules which something like Ed Friedland's books or our own Chris Fitzgeralds' lesson on this very site, will tell you - search for walking bass lines etc.

    But - I would say, that creating basslines from a chord chart, is not "Advanced Jazz Theory - this is the basic requirement!
  7. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I remember when I first was learning about walking a bassline, and I tried to jump right in with some ron carter stuff, but an old jazz cat caught me and said "whoa there, you ain't ron carter yet, you gotta work your fundamentals, you sound good, but you need to know WHY you do"

    helped me a lot to get motivated
  8. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I'm at a less advanced stage than you are from the sounds of it.
    ...been playing BG for years, started learning theory a year ago and am starting to really grasp and use the basics now. I just bought DB on hire purchase and am starting to get my head/body round how to play it.

    I've started on the Norah Jones album to get to grips with the DB.. It's all seriously simple stuff, root, 5th and the odd scale tone. If you can already play DB this obvioulsy isn't relevant?

    Ed Friedlands books are good, they do start off a bit slow though I think, with almost half of "building..." dedicated to roots and 5ths and such like.
    ...but this book also has ten 'standard progressions' at the back - which are obviously standards, but without the melodies removed to help get to grip with standard progressions, II-V-I and blues.

    Also, Aebersold books are good too. They usually have about 12 tracks or so of drum, bass & piano... you then re-record the left channel (so minus bass) as mono so you can play your own lines to them.
    There are loads of these books, I have two 'Maiden Voyage' and 'Killer Joe' - they include standards, such as Impressions, Song For My Father, and some blues like Watermelon Man etc.

    One I thing I find though is that playing along with a CD is relativley easy - the drummer plays consistant time, and you can remember the piano parts and 'follow' the other instruments, but if you played with a jazz band everyone else would be following your time as bassist, there's a huge difference!

    It's some tough stuff!

    I made a new years resoution to be able to play basic walking lines on DB to simple standards by the end of the year. I dont think I'll be anywhere near ready for a live jazz band by then, but I'll certainly have fun trying :)
  9. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    This is the key right here to playing walking lines. Learning other players' lines verbatim won't cut it here, unless you understand how they are put together.

    The most fun to be had in playing Jazz, IMO, is to get up there with a bunch of musicians you've never seen before in your life and make good music with them.

    You just can't do that if all you know is stock lines - you need to be able to play with THEM.
  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    In most cases I don't think it's rocket science understanding how many lines work once you know basic chord theory.
    The difficulty I think is being able to understand and use all this theory yet still play freely... to be able to hear and feel what to play without analysing first. So the complex theory is used as though it were second nature.

    I've been playing bass in rock-type bands for 12 years, so the majority of basic western melodies, basslines, progressions etc I can hear and play with in almost an instant - I can sit with my bass and play along with jingles as they come on the TV, type thing.
    Most of these melodies are diatonic ...in fact most are just pentatonic minor!! :meh:

    So I think the key is to be able to do the same with jazz progressions and jazz melodies...
  11. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002

    oh you misinterpreted me...I didn't mean I was playing ron carter like lines, just that I was walking as though I knew what I as doing...the ron carter reference came from that jazzer.
  12. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I'm confused? You mean you faked walking lines?

    How fake, I mean what level of theory knowledge were you at the time?

    I just find it impossible to fake a walking line, I HAVE to know the progression inside out to make it sound intentional.
    Otherwise it just sounds 'guesstimated' - and I hate me playing like that!! :bawl:
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    When I was playing rock music - years (decades!) ago, one of my prejudices against Jazz, was that I coudln't "hear" the walking lines, outlining chords.

    It sounded to me like the DBers were just playing chromatic lines in a kind of random way. So - in most of the old recordings I heard, the DB was just "felt" as a rhythmic thing rather than as actual pitches.

    So - I much preferred Weather Report and other fusion bands as you could actually hear what the bass guitar players were doing - transcribe the actual pitches and get an idea of the harmonic concepts etc. So - Jaco sounded so ground-breaking in part I think, as some of us "Rock guys" were actualy hearing what Jazz DBers had been doing for years . ;)

    Since buying several hundred Jazz CDs, playing them on a good Hi-Fi system and knowing the theory behind what they are doing I can now actually hear all the amazing things those guys were doing on DB in the late 50s early 60s!!

    But I can imagine, if you don't know the theory and only listen to low quality recordings on computer speakers, then you would just think the DB is going randomly dum,dum,dum,dum-dedum,dum,dum,dum etc.
  14. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Yeah, you do have to sit right back in the stereo field to get the full sound of the DB on an old jazz recording - and sometimes crank the level fo bass a little too. Otherwise, like you said, it's just quarter & 8th note thumps!

    A reasonable pair of headphones are fantastic for ye olde jazz too.
  15. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    an afterthought.. I find sometimes I can hear the bass outlining the chords and sometimes I can't - depends on the complexity of the progression/line.

    I often find simple DB lines more appealing - the instrument has such a fantastic tone, really peaceful, I dig the slow lines with little steps in and out of the chords...