figuring out the walk

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Davygravy3, Nov 4, 2004.

  1. Davygravy3


    Sep 21, 2000
    Alright, I've been playing bass now for about 5 years, and have a decent grasp at theory. I have been playing mainly in school jazz bands and a couple rock bands. Thing is, the school music I get almost always has the line written out so I know how to read music. My problem comes in walking when just given the chords...I don't know what all the chords mean, etc. I know you generally start the measure off on the route, got two notes from that chord to play then come a half step up or down to the next chord. Thing is I'm not all that great at this, kinda crappy actually and next Thursday when I have to audition for the select jazz band (which I didnt have to do last year....but was in and did fine) I will have to walk on this song Birds of a Feather or something like that. Any tips on how to increase my walking skills asap? thanks
  2. Dynna


    Oct 23, 2004
    The best thing I ever did for my jazz playing was to get Gary Willis' book "Fingerboard Harmony for Bass".

    The gist of it goes as such(but get the book too, if you can)....

    First, I'll assume you play a 4 string so the examples I give will be numbered/noted that way.

    1. Starting on the low F note (1st fret low E), play a Dmin7 arpeggio(D-F-A-C) all the way across the neck using only fretted notes and no open strings, and then back down. STAY IN ONE POSITION(don't move up the neck). The highest note you will play is C (5th fret G string).
    2. MEMORIZE the SHAPE. Do this however you need to. Take it in sections, and memorize triangles or squares, whatever you need to REMEMBER the shape.
    3. Then play a G7(G-B-D-C) arpeggio starting on the same low F, across the neck(only fretted notes) and then back down. The highest note you will play here is the B(4th fret G string). MEMORIZE the SHAPE.
    Once you are comfortable with the shapes, and can play them at a good speed....
    4. Play a Dmin7 arp(off of the low F) to the high C note. SWITCH chords, and play a G7 going back down(starting on the high C) to the low F.
    5. Once that's comfy, switch the order and play the G7 UP, and Dmin7 DOWN.

    Here's where things get cool...

    6. Start on the low F note. Play FOUR notes of the Dmin7 arp going up. Then SWITCH to the G7 arp, and continue going UP. You will hit the high B note on the 3rd note. Start going back down by hitting the G note. Then switch back to 4 notes of the Dmin7. Continue to alternate the Dmin7 & G7 arpeggios, 4 notes at a time, going as high AND low as you can before changing directions.
    You will notice that certain LOOPS start to show up, where you will repeat the same shape patterns. In that case, start the exercise on the A note(5th fret low E) and go up, followed by the C(3rd fr A), and then the D(5th fr A).
    7. Once THAT is feeling pretty good, then you will substitute every 4th chord tone(Dm7 OR G7), with a PASSING tone. This will be a note that is NOT part of the Dmin7 OR G7, but LEADS YOU into the NEXT chord tone of the chord that you are changing to.

    Chord: Dmin7 pass G7 pass Dm7 pass G7 .....
    Notes: F - A - C - C# - D - F - G - Ab - A - C - A - G# - G - F - D...

    Three things to note here...

    ONE- When you play these chords "in position" you should ALWAYS play the low G note with your middle finger, which also means anything on the 5th fret is played by your pinky. ust play ONE FINGER PER FRET.
    TWO- When you play the Ab or the G# you should always PULL any notes outside of the "one finger per fret" rule back into the 4 fret area. When you play the Ab note going UP, reach with your first finger to the 1st fret on the G string and then PULL it back onto the A note. Like wise, when you go down to the G note from the G#, reach with your 4 finger to the 6th fret on the D string, and pull the G# back to the G note on the 5th fret.
    THREE- Anytime that run into a situation where the next chord's chord tone is more than a whole tone away (G7's D going UP to Dm7's F) then your note choice HAS to come from the key of C. Dm7 and G7 are derived from the key of C. You passing tone in this case would be E.

    8. Now that running passing tones on the fourth chord tone is comfortable, start inserting passing tones on the second AND fourth chord tones. Continue to go up and down across the neck as far as you can before changing directions. Here's an example of the notes(and sounds) that you are looking for when you substitute passing tones on the 2nd and 4th chord tones.

    Chord: D p D p G p G p D p D p G p G p D.....
    Notes: F - G - A - Bb - B - C - D - E - F - G - A - A# - B - A - G - F# - F.....

    If there is any way that you can play along with the Dmin7 & G7 chords while you do this, it will make for a substantially shorter assimilation time. Get someone with a piano or sequencer to record 5 minutes of four counts of Dm7 then G7 then Dm7, and so on. Get them to do it at a speed that you will be comfortable with.

    If there was ONE thing that doing this series of exercises did for me, it opened my ears to note choices that I had never considered. I found myself instinctively throwing passing tones into places that I previously never would have imagined. And I didn't even have to think about it. They just came out. I also got to see the fretboard in a way I never had before. I understood it, and struggled WAY less with finding different note choices when I started repeating what I'd done before.

    I hope this helps, and please let me know if you have any questions. Make sure you understand all the steps previous before you move on to the next.

    This will get you used to walking, and NOT always playing off of the root as well.

    Good luck.
  3. Dynna


    Oct 23, 2004
    The other thing to look at is what chord you are going to next.

    You can analyze tunes easily by giving the chords numbers.

    Cmaj7 Am7 Dm7 G7 is a basic turnaround. That would be 1 6 2 5 in a numbered system. The next step is to go through the tune and figure out where those turnarounds are. Then you can memorize the the keys that they are in. Once you know where the basic turnarounds are, and also what key they're in, then you can treat ALL of those changes the same way.

    Example: Have You Met Ms. Jones? is basically
    1 b2 2 5 3 6 2 5 (key of F)
    1 b2 2 5 3 6 (key of F)
    2 5 1 (key of Bb)
    2 5 1 (F#)
    2 5 1 (E)
    2 5 1 (F#)
    2 5 1 (F)
    and then the first line.

    As you can see the hard part about this tune is remembering the key changes. But that's only 6 notes. There's a truckload of 251's that you do all the time. You just need to remember the keys.

    Thinking of tunes in this way allows you to play what you already know, and in tunes that are now easier to remember.
  4. MichaelScott


    Jul 27, 2004
    Moorpark CA
    Every Key you play in is divided into 7 chords. And once you learn the notes (and finger patterns) of each chord you can understand the progression of the music and how to create a walking line (this is music theory)

    Lets take the Key of C Maj

    Like I said earlier there are 7 chords- and the intervials between them determins what Type of chord they are.
    if you are in a major key the I chord is made up of the notes C, E, G, B. the "1" is an upper case roman numeral to notate that it is the first chord of the key and the interval is Major.

    the ii chord is D, F, A, C and is considered minor
    the iii chord is E, G, B, D and is considered minor
    the IV chord is F, A, C, E and is major
    the Vdom7 chord is G, B, D, F and is almost fingered like a major chord- except you'll notice that the F half a step lower then if you fingered it as the key of G I chord.
    the vi chord is A, C, E, G and is minor
    the viib5 chord is B, D, F, A and is fingered almost like a minor chord- except that the 5th note (the F) is half a step lower then if you would have fingered it normally.

    Once you learn the finger paterns and understand the theory behind each chord you can really start to play around with some bass lines.

    Lets say you are playing a piece in CMaj and the chord progression is I, iii, IV, iii, V, vi, iii, IV (repeat)

    All you have to do is remember how to finger which chord in the key and you can play one of the notes in said scale and walk your 8th note progression across the chord changes- playing notes that match each each chord in the key. YAY!

    I am really happy you asked this question- This chord theory/walking bass line stuff is what I have been working on with my teacher over the last month.

    When you get pro you can show up to a gig, ask what key it is in, ask the chord progression, and then play it like you wrote it with no sheet music required.
  5. Dynna


    Oct 23, 2004
    Don't forget to look if it changes keys though. And you'll want to play more than JUST the 7 notes of the key that you're playing in.

    If you want to take what I've said further....

    You can play the Dm7 off of your first finger at the 5th fret on the low E and play all the same exercises in THAT position. Then off of the C note in 8th position,and finally off of the D in 10th.

    That way, you know how to function with ALL of the arpeggios in ANY key.
  6. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Check out Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller, that's how I got my walk down
  7. Heh, the first thing I taught myself on bass was how to play walking bass over jazz standards and stuff. Remember, you don't just have to use notes in the scale -- sometimes you can use chromatic steps to get from note to note: what is called 'passing notes.'

    Just listening to good bassists walk is a good way to learn or get better. I find about 50% of walking bass is about rhythm. It's gotta swing.
  8. chardin


    Sep 18, 2000
  9. JohnBarr


    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
    the Ed Friedland book is good.
    So is Jay Hungerford's Walking Jazz Lines for Bass.

    For a quick review, try Wheat's Bass Book,
    look under the section "Walking bass"

    Dynna's post was a nice summary (Thanks D, I can use that too. Think I'll add that Willis book to my list.)

  10. Dynna


    Oct 23, 2004
    You're welcome.

    I think it's a brilliant book. It teaches you how to fish, instead of giving you a bunch of different ideas on how to prepare them.
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
  12. great stuff ya'll. Thanks