Delta blues bass lines

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by dhosek, Nov 28, 2001.

  1. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Oak Park, IL
    I've been asked to audition for a musical production which will have a live delta blues band as part of the performance. Are we talking about anything beyond the basic 1-3-5-6 walking pattern with variations here? Standard 12 bar blues I presume, correct?

  2. Don't forget the Boogie lines.
    Pretty much John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Son House style.

    You will also have the 1-b3-4-5
    the basic walkup i.e. 1-6-b7-7-1

    In a 12 bar blues style? Of course.
    Good Luck and have fun.
  3. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    If it's guitar oriented, you might find yourself playing sharp keys all night
  4. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Oak Park, IL
    It is and I'm not looking forward to it. I'm far more comfortable in Db than in A. All those years playing with horn players, I suppose. Even my own writing tends to be in flat keys (even when I'm writing away from an instrument and just singing into the answering machine, my lines are in flat keys).

  5. When one refers to "Delta" blues I immediately think Robert Johnson who was a solo performer. I don't know what would specifically constitute a bassline for delta blues. Isn't that style based more around hooks or repeated riffs? And I think what most cats think as blues basslines, like the walking pattern you mentioned, are stylistically "Chicago" style blues.

    All of these patterns and names and stuff don't mean sh*t when you get down to it. Use your ear. I subbed on a blues gig at the Showboat in AC a couple of weeks ago, the first blues gig I've done in years. The band leader didn't tell me, "Ok, this one's a delta blues," or, "this one's a New Orleans second-line."
    Instead he might have said, "walk this one, in D, start on the five," or "this one's funky in F." Just go and use your ear.
  6. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Oak Park, IL
    Ya, that's the root of my confusion. How do you play a bassline in a style that didn't use bass. I suppose I could be historically correct by not playing anything, but I don't think that'd win me any auditions.... So I figure that I'll just make a point of practicing 12 bar blues in all keys and a variety of tempos and make the best of bad directions.

    I did a jam yesterday with a guitar player who said, "here's a blues" for "down on the bayou." ok, perhaps it's a blues on mars, but not where I come from.

  7. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    If it's pretty authentic delta-style, you can throw all the rules out the window...especially when it comes to changes at prescribed intervals. Many of those guys would throw changes in when the feeling hit them, or at really odd times usually based on the vocal. Might not change outta the 1 for the entire tune.

    Dave K. has the word here: "listen"
  8. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I'm probably going to have to go with the "listen" idea. If I were in this situation, and I'm not saying this is the thing to do, but this would be my guess, I would really have to pay attention to the rhythm that the guitar player is laying out. That should define the rhythmic ideas that he's looking for. Also, the inversions of the chords that he's playing, or any particular melodies, may help define the note-selection (or scale) you might work from. I would certainly imagine that having huge ears here would be beneficial.

    Although he's from Los Angeles, I hear a bit of Robert Johnson's stuff in Keb Mo. He's a more contemporary example of a delta type blues, (especially his first record), and he often does have a bass player.