best method to walking bass lines

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bassbrother666, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. bassbrother666


    Feb 13, 2013
    hey there fellows, i am starting into jazz and i am thinking about transcribing cousin mary by Coltrane and Moanin' by Charles Migus, do i transcribe the walking...i should i do it, should i transcribe the complete line of the song?
    Help me ouut!
  2. jbass65


    Sep 8, 2002
    Denver, Co
    Start with a bar or two a day...try to analyze those bars as far as how the notes compare to the chords (chord tones). Really try to get them under your fingers, many of the classic walking lines are universal in every key. You should take those few bars and transpose them to the "famous" jazz keys...F, B-flat, E-flat, A-flat, C, and then F again, cuz you going to be F'ing a lot! :D
  3. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    yes, transcribe note for note. It will take a while though but it
    is a great way to learn form, melody & solos all in one song.
    My first Jazz transcription was The Theme. It took me 40 hours.
    At my lesson my teacher picked it apart. It was full of mistakes.It took another
    20 hours of work to get it right. I still know this tune 25 years later.
    Go for it!
  4. bassbrother666


    Feb 13, 2013
    i'm new to jazz so this might be a noob question but, is it common to play classic tunes in different keys?
  5. jbass65


    Sep 8, 2002
    Denver, Co
    Yes, especially with vocalists, but typically certain have their standard keys that they have been played in forever. Jazz vocalists on a gigging level are a rare find anymore so key transposing has also become rare.
    The short answer to your post for me would be to just listen to Ray Brown. He was the man...I believe his influence also spawned R&B and funk bass styles through James Jameson and others. Listen to " how high the moon" on the Oscar Peterson trio album " live at the Stratford Shakespearean festival." he starts off in a "2" feel bass line that is funky as hell, he then goes on into a traditional walking bass line over the standard changes that is definitely worth transcribing... then there is an impeccable two chorus solo. this song alone is a lifetime of work that embodies Jazz Bass performance.
  6. anonymous111813

    anonymous111813 Guest

    Mar 1, 2011
  7. bassbrother666


    Feb 13, 2013
    another question hehehe...i found it very helpful to put the track that i am working on into audacity and power up the bass...does somebody have this very helpful little tricks?
  8. jbass65


    Sep 8, 2002
    Denver, Co
    That will work, whatever gets you there. I use transcribe software occasionally. I think nowadays the real way to do it is to go back to the old school method. Play, pause, play, pause..get into it with your ears. so much is available online and through YouTube, but you have to
    find your own connection with it, not someone else showing you they can. when you start playing jazz with others and as a bass player, it is all about ears and confidence. get the basics and avoid the flashy stuff, people will not hire you otherwise.
  9. AMp'D.2play


    Feb 12, 2010
    When I'm using software (mostly Transcribe!, but sometimes Audacity), instead of adding bass, I find it's easier to pick out the bass line by adjusting the EQ up an octave (+12) ... usually in combination w/ slowing it down. I'll keep looping a section 'til I get it figured out.
  10. I cheat and look for the sheet music. Fake chord or lead sheet would give me the chords. I would need the chords to use for my bass line. Then armed with the sheet music I ask Google to pull up a video of the song and I use that as a play-a-long to practice with. Having the sheet music to start from saves me a lot of time.

    It's during the time I'm using the play-a-long that I decide what bass line is needed, i.e. just roots, root-five or a complete R-3-5-7 chord tone. Have the sheet music in front of you and then listen to the video and make notations in the margins, over the chord, etc. as to what bass line goes best at this specific point in the song. Rewind works, however one of the slow down software packages makes the job easier. I find the lyrics are a help with this - one beat per lyric syllable does dictate how many melody notes are needed and then this enters into what bass line is needed.

    Chords per measure will dictate how many beats (notes) the chord gets. Two chords per measure, each can have only two beats (in 4/4 time). That is one reason I try and get some sheet music to work from. Makes it so much easier to come up with my bass line if I know how many chords per measure. I'm not a stickler about hitting it exactly, this is MY bass line and root one usually works, what else is needed depends on the song.

    Then for the copy I play from I move to Nashville numbers. Nashville numbers over the lyrics. Why Nashville numbers? I just find it easier to get a groove going if I play from Nashville numbers, and if the fat lady wants it in Bb, no sweat, I just move my box over the Bb note and keep going. My Nashville number sheet music is in the key of 1.

    For what ever that is worth..... that is the method I use.

    Good luck
  11. If you have a good pair of headphones, that can work wonders with hearing the bassline.

    Here's the method my teacher taught me for beginners when I was studying at UNT - make sure you have a good version of the chord changes for whatever tune you're working on. Go through and mark off all the measures - usually 4 to a staff line. Write the changes over every measure. Go through, and start with notating the downbeat/first pitch of each measure - a lot of the time, that note is going to be a root note of the harmony (not all the time certainly, but you've got a better chance of it being correct). A lot of times, just having that first note will help you see the direction the line is going in, and if you're uncertain about a few notes, you can narrow down the list of possibilities to a few likely chord tones or passing tones. To check your work, just play over the line.

    One thing that makes the process easier is having a working understanding of basic harmony and chord construction.
  12. It depends on the context. Gigs with singers are usually the main time that you'll play tunes in different keys to accommodate their range. Some standards have "alternate" keys that people like to call - "Just Friends" is sometimes in F, sometimes in G. "My Romance" is usually played in Bb, but some guys like to play it in C, and "Green Dolphin Street" will get called in either C or Eb.

    And some guys just like to play tunes in random keys for a challenge. I was on a gig once where the leader was a local college professor on saxophone. He called "Stella By Starlight" in Gb just for the heck of it. It was actually fun to play that tune in a different key.
  13. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    The excellent Comet audio player that comes with the (also excellent) MPC Star video player has a bass boost feature in the equalizer section that is amazing for pumping up the bass lines. It seems to be far more than an EQ.

    Both players are free and very good.
  14. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    A very good advice.

    "So what exactly is harmony?
    Well, basically, harmony is anything that accompanies the melody."

    What is the bass doing? Accompanying the melody?

    Any bass player should learn basic harmony, harmonic progressions, inversions, etc...
    Get any cheap keyboard (an old Yamaha PSR) to help you with harmony.
    (Let's go further - with your future compositions. Don't say no.)

    And suddenly, you, as a Musician, discover that all those "fancy walking basslines" are very familiar to you, because of your knowledge about harmony (chords), about melody movements.
    Suddenly, you know how/why those harmonic notes (including the bass notes) are interacting with one another and with the melody?

    Without some knowledge about harmony, melody notes, etc..., it's not a good idea just simply follow even very interesting "walking basslines" that were created for some other songs.

    But, its a bass player forum; therefore, don't listen to my advice.
  15. This is somewhat incorrect - harmony can (and often does) exist independently from melody. Instead of thinking of harmony, melody, and rhythm as things that can only be defined in relation to one another, think of them as parts of music that can exist together or separately and that all have their role in shaping what we hear.
  16. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Another important and interesting point.

    Just two things.
    1. I clearly wrote, "Any bass player should learn basic harmony"

    2. It's very important to learn the basics and then, if someone likes/needs, jump to something more advanced.

    "A harmony is independent of the melody if it is often doing something different from the melody. Even if it is not independent enough to be counterpoint, such harmony adds more depth and interest to the music than drones, parallel harmonies, or simple chordal accompaniments. So this type of harmony is extremely popular for hymns and other choral arrangements, and it is also very common in instrumental music and in instrumental accompaniments.
    What makes a harmony or accompaniment part independent?
    If it often has different rhythms than the melody, it is independent.
    Even if it has the same rhythms as the melody, it is independent if it is often moving in a different direction from the melody; for example, the harmony part is going down when the melody is going up.
    If a harmony is truly independent, then even when it is moving in the same direction as the melody, it is usually moving by a different interval. For example, if the melody is going up by perfect fourth, it might go up by a single half step.
    Independent harmonies are not quite counterpoint. In order to be considered true counterpoint or polyphony, the different parts must be not only independent, they must also sound like equally important melodies. Is there always a very clear line between independent harmony and counterpoint? No! Remember that all of the rules and definitions in music theory ("counterpoint", "harmony", "minor keys") were all made up to describe what good composers were already doing; they do not define what a composer is allowed to do. If the composer - or performer - likes, an independent line can easily drift back and forth between being a background, harmony part, and being so important that it becomes a countermelody.


    But in much classical and popular music, there is one line that is clearly the melody. The harmonies or accompaniment parts are all clearly "background", but they still follow most of the important rules of counterpoint. The most important rule of counterpoint is that two lines should not move in parallel. In other words, when the melody goes down one step, the harmony should do something other than going down one step; it can go down by a different interval, or stay the same, but it is best if it goes up. When the melody goes up a perfect fourth, the harmony should do anything other than go up a perfect fourth. Independent harmonies also follow this rule.
    For much homophonic music, following this basic rule about contrasting intervals is enough. In particular, there is a great deal of choral music (most traditional Western hymns, for example) in which all the parts have different intervals but use the same rhythms, so that everybody is singing the same word at the same time. This type of texture is sometimes called homorhythmic.
    Other harmony or accompaniment parts are even more independent, and have a different rhythm from the melody also. Good examples of this are the bass line in most pop songs or the instrumental parts accompanying an opera aria. In these types of music, as well as in much jazz and symphonic music, there is one line that is clearly the melody, but the other parts aren't simply following along with the melody. They are "doing their own thing".
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I don't really agree that this is any kind of "incorrect". When you think of harmony as anything that accompanies the melody, you suddenly open a world of creativity. And to a great extent, we can, as bassists, control the harmony by what we choose to put below whatever the chordal instrument is playing (and ESPECIALLY if there is NO chordal instrument). By way of example, here's a link to the tune INDIAN SUMMER that uses the composer's original harmony (and some great playing by Art Farmer and Jim Hall). Now here's a version in which the tenor player reharmonized the melody (you may have to click on the title).

    The other thing that treating harmony as divorced from melody does that thing of making different songs sound the same. If all you are doing is playing over a progression, then you've removed the "soul" of the song; its melody.
  18. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Speaking of Ed Fuqua - he has a nifty book out on this very subject called "Walking Bassics"
    A dandy spiral book that will give you an excellent foundation on how to create good, strong, leading walking bass lines.
    Very affordable - about the same the price as a music lesson!
  19. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Thank you for a very good suggestion.

    I've already posted my opinion about this
    "street smart", short but very informative ("Cheat sheet") guide for the beginner bass players.

    If the lack of TAB notation stops you from using this book and learning the quarter notes on your instrument is too scary, you are, probably, not ready for jazz walking bass lines. Use your time somewhere else.

    I've just have a few questions.

    Ed Fuqua said the following on the web-site:

    "My recent stint with (singer) Dakota Staton really made me concentrate on the pocket and defining the (harmonic) direction of a piece."

    Does the walking bassline, somehow, depend on the melody notes?
    If the melody goes up the registry, should the walking bass go down and vice-versa?
    Any interaction between the soloing instrument and the bassline? I know it's JAZZ but...
    Does the walking bassline depends on the quantity of the musicians/instruments in the band/ensemble?
    Any interaction (planned or spontaneous) with the drummer/piano player?

    Another line from the same web-site:
    "JON RANEY TRIO - Jon has written and arranged some great material for this group."

    How does the arrangement influenced/revised the bassline?