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Berklee audition / Walking bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by melodiaopus, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. melodiaopus

    melodiaopus Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Hey all,

    I have been struggling with getting walking bass lines solid. I have bought several books on the subject and have downloaded Scott Devine's play along series, plus have worked through some of his free walking lessons. But, I'm having trouble getting these down to where they are interesting. I have been contemplating on getting Todd Johnson's walking bass modules, but fear that I'll end up with the same results. Any one have any experience with these modules?

    Also, my Berklee audition is coming up August 19th!!! and I feel like I'm no where near as ready for the walking over blues progression. Possibly there is an approach some of you take that will get me by with a good rating with this section. I'm seriously stressing out here. I need help.

    One more thing, is there any one out there who have auditioned for Berklee and what tunes they will ask me to construct walking lines to?

    I hope someone can help.

  2. bass_study


    Apr 17, 2012
    As time is tight, I think it is better to play safe. If you intend to do blues walking bass, transcribe one or two chorus from a famous player and just practice what you transcribe.

    There is no short cut..... Especially for walking bass and you have to really able to hear it and sing it to play it. Plus you have to have a great swing feel. From today you should transcribe a blues that you already know so you have the walking bass line in your head. It is impossible to improvise a decent walking bassline within 20 days with authentic jazz language and nice voice leading and all that. All jazz players spend years and years and years to learn to how to improvise on a good walking bass with nice voice leading as well as outlining the changes.

    If you don't have confident to walk a bassline, will it be better to play something that you are more familiar with? Nervous in audition and all that may make you cannot play ur normal standard...just a suggestion
    eJake and craigie like this.
  3. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Nothing worse than a test. Hey, just keep it simple. Don't "try" to make it anything else. Just "let" it happen. Hit the root when the changes come, use aprgeggios some and scale-steps some to help lead you to the changes when necessary. Frankly, it's subjective as to what is "good". Just someone's opinion, but I understand that their opinion counts in this case. Try to relax, pal. You'll do fine, I'm sure.
  4. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Bruce Gertz (Berklee) has a great book on walking bass lines.
    I like Bass Study & Russell L's advise though.
  5. melodiaopus

    melodiaopus Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Thanks everyone. I'm sure that I'll just have to take what I know and construct walking lines from chord tones with passing notes in between to connect chords. I a Paul Chambers book that I could go through and find a blues in that and just sort memorize the bass line. Transpose it to all 12 keys and see if that works out for me. But eventually I would like to get to a point where I don't have to think about walking bass lines I just do them.

  6. bass_study


    Apr 17, 2012
    You are always welcome. Good luck for the audition !
  7. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    Definitely a blues and a rhythm changes number. If you get past that & they want to hear more, possibly a modal number (like "So What") and a standard like "Autumn Leaves" or "How High The Moon".
  8. Part of the audition process is to let them know if you can function at the university level. What you do not know they'll teach you. Be yourself do your best and I'm sure it'll go fine.

    Good luck, have fun.
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  9. AndreBas


    Mar 11, 2012

    A simple line, well played, is always better than trying to play something which still is beyond your skills.

    I haven't been to Berklee. But what I can tell you from the auditions I played back when I was a student and from the auditions my students play today, in these kind of situations they are generally looking for good time and how you deal with a lead sheet.

    Look at Paul Chambers's bass line on Autumn Leaves – it's really simple, a lot of roots, lots of chord tones, and some chromaticism, not even thinking scale notes.

    At most student auditions they aren't looking for a professional bass player, but for a talented student whom they can teach stuff. So don't worry, just play what you know will work!
  10. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Time is short and walking bass is really a life long learning experience. Todd Johnson's method would get you started. He has little patterns (he calls them modules) that you plug in to the chord changes. So you'd learn one module for a minor seventh chord and another for a dominant and then you can put them together for a ii - V pattern. If you learn a bunch of them, then it can be fine but if you only learn one or two different patterns, the instructors will easily hear it b/c you'll be repetitious.

    Two books that I always recommend are Ed Friedland's "Building Walking Basslines" and Bob Magnusson's book "The Art of Walking Bass". Start with Ed's book and then Bob's book adds to it (IMHO).

    Remember, if you see a chord that you're unsure of what to play, you can't go wrong with the root and fifth. Try to play a semitone above or below the root of the next chord tone to lead into it.
  11. I did just that myself I took some of the chords to Autumn Leaves and work out my own bass line over same chords It sounds nothing like Autumn Leaves because the timing and other parts I changed but I still worked over the chords Am7,D7,Gmaj7,Cmaj7,Gb/F#mb5,B7,Em
  12. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    yeah its called "walking" this is the one and only book I needed to start up my walking... everything after this book was spent transcribing walking lines.

    I have done the audition and I am currently studying here. For the audition they asked me to walk over some changes (i forgot what it was but it wasn't complicated, ii-V's ..etc nothing more). And then they asked to walk over a blues so you have to know your blues changes. I suggest you learn the different types of blues.

    Then you gotta know basic bossa, basic latin, basic funk..etc.
  13. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    so they won't tell you "play a walking bassline over autumn leaves or solar...etc" They will either give you the changes with no title... so they are just changes not a tune. And then they might also make you walk using your ear (depending on how far you go).

    So get your chord reading up there, don't prepare yourself to walk over just one tune, most likely it won't be that tune.
  14. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I appreciate that, pal.

    I never officially "studied" walking bass, but rather figured it out in application. I do have a theory degree, but not from Berklee (U. of SC 1976). Theory helps. From there I just listen to lines that others play. I have tried to emulate those lines, not copy, mind you, but just get the same general feel. Theory shows me where the extra notes are to help lead to changes, beyond the arpeggios. Much of it I find to be rather logical, actually.

    Just last night while playing some blues with the guys I was listening to my own lines. After awhile we all got experimental. I could tell when I was out of the box and what it takes to get there. Inversely, that fact shows me that I know what is also "in" the box---that is, what will sound normal and good for a tune. I am pleased when I play a good walking line. But, you have to be careful, too, for it can be easy to stumble sometimes. I find that when it's important to sound right the best policy is to relax and stay where it's all familiar. There comes a time to venture forward, but only with care. It's nice, though, when you can just let your mind go and ride the ride. Simplicity works wonders. That doesn't necessarily mean it is always easy, though (playing basic country root/fifth is so simple as to be an actual challenge). But, the point is, do what you know best and add to it as you learn.

    To the OP, glad is wasn't rough for ya, pal. Good luck in the future.
  15. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    id consider not auditioning for an expensive school in 3 weeks if youre not comfortable walking over a blues yet.
    inanimate_carb and eJake like this.
  16. Manubass


    Apr 28, 2015
    Gospel, Jazz, Rock, Blues, Slow, Zouk, african music and more...

    Me playing bass at AMI Gabon with Berklee's educators.
    Thanks to professors Alain Mallet (piano) and Schwarz-Bart (Saxophone).
    Whousedtoplay and Dr. Cheese like this.
  17. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    So that is a branch of Berklee in Gabon? I wonder if they have similar programs in other African nations?
  18. eJake


    May 22, 2011
    New Orleans
    I'm not always sure why people turn to books to learn walking lines. Unless Ray Brown wrote it I'll just stick to transcription.
  19. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    I think you are a little bit too strict.
  20. eJake


    May 22, 2011
    New Orleans
    I feel u....

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