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Help! I can't walk...

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Tony Gray, Aug 21, 2007.


  1. Tony Gray

    Tony Gray

    Mar 6, 2006
    i am new to (trying) to play jazz. I'm taking lessons, I can play arpeggios, and their inversions till the cows come home, but when my teacher starts a song on the CD player, I fumble around and fall apart. (This is on EB, which I'm comfortable with). Still waiting on my URB to come in. Is this normal for a newbie? I started in March, my teacher takes the summers off. My next lesson is in 2 hours, I'm starting to twitch.

    The shaking in his boots,

    starting to sweat,
    Sandman
     
  2. dean82

    dean82

    Aug 14, 2007
    I had the exact same problem when I started. In my case I was overly concerned that my improvised line would not sound "right". What I did was learned some "standard" lines in just one key at a time by either transcribing or using a method (Freidlands is good) until I was comfortable. Then I just departed from those set lines by swapping out chord tones, scale tones etc. and connecting chords together differently until new lines were born.
    I think by memorizing several existing lines, I built my confidence in that if all else fails I could use the line I memorized and not drop out of the CD, band etc.
    The warning here is not to rely on simply memorizing lines and moving on. You have to go the rest of the way and create new lines. Hope that helps and good luck.
    Dean
     
  3. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    +1

    I think lots of bass players forget that part of their job is to make the chords in a given song move smoothly and help the soloist/singer in both a rhythmically and harmonically supportive role. This is not at the expense of being 'hip' but I have heard a few bass players that play so 'hip' that people are lost including the listener.

    My teacher in college had a great exercise where he had me lay a piece of tracing paper on a line I had written and see the contour of the line. Pretty interesting to look at.
     
  4. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    It's normal. Tell your teacher about you falling apart while walking your lines. If he's worth his salt, he'll help you get through it.

    My teacher had a great system based on walking chord tones only and then slowly adding accidentals or scale tones to even out the line. At first he had me writing my own lines and helped me analyse it. Transcribing is good but personally I got more out of thinking out my lines and being forced to commit them on paper, then listening to records and comparing what I did to what the greats did. Only then transcribing made more sense.

    Being able to play a chord tone on every beat of a bar is critical. You should be able to walk comfortably playing chord tones only at minimum. If you can't do that then you dont' have your inversions/arps down strong enough.
     
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Come to think of it, I attended a Ron Carter workshop a while back and he had us do this with only chord tones. Even after several years of playing it's still tough sometimes to make a coherent line out of chord tones only. After we playing our lines for Mr. Carter to critique, he proceeded to blow us away with his own lines made purely out of chord tones. No accidentals, no scale tones, just all well placed chord tones. Just WOW!
     
  6. milomo

    milomo

    Aug 5, 2007
    Bloomfield, NJ
    I saw him do that once, except he did all in one position. He played an F blues, all, and only in first position. It was sick!
     
  7. Tony Gray

    Tony Gray

    Mar 6, 2006
    Thanks, I just got back from my lesson. My teacher assures me it's a process, not an event. One thing is, I have a hell of a time hearing the drummer on the Aebersold discs, turns out, it's not just me. I appreciate your comments, I'm gonna keep digging away!
     
  8. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    One more thing, it's along with making smooth transitions as the song progresses from chord to chord, it's also our job to outline the chords for the other instruments as we comp for them.

    Lately, I seem to get more teacher criticism for playing too many leading scale/chromatic tones and not enough chord tones. i.e. I'm not doing my job. :meh: I'm listening more and more to guys like Milt Hinton for the simplicity and beauty of their lines.
     
  9. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    To play it, you've gotta hear it your head first. To hear it in your head first, a lotta times you've got to have played or heard something similar. All this stuff about chord tones and arps is good stuff -- it's how it's done -- but don't forget to start very, very simply. Can you walk a 12-bar, three chord blues? How do you feel about your lines after oh, 137 choruses of 12-bar blues? How about throwing in a little bit of a turnaround in there, make it a "jazz" blues with five chords? I'm a fair ways down the walking lines road and I love to play a simple blues to see if I can do anything new with it. I looove hearing and playing new stuff! But dig it: I've been at this for decades, man.

    Keep listening to music and imagining music in your head. Try and play some of that stuff. Nobody's got a lock on where ideas come from, no magical formula -- we just gotta get in the garden and grow. When Ron Carter (or his equivalent) comes along and blows your mind with what he can do with blues in one position, don't forget that he's a freaking sequoia and you're a sprout. (I think I'm some kind of tuber, but that's a different story.) He's been developing a loooong time, and he's probably got a talent edge on most of us, too.

    If you're still at it in thirty years, you'll probably still be worrying about your playing, just in a different way.
     
  10. Milt Hinton plays some sweet basslines. Its hard to find alot of him on CD but Trio Jeepy has some great basslines and bass solos.
     
  11. Dbassmon

    Dbassmon

    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Transcribing recordings is extremely helpful in building a vocabulary of ideas and approaches.

    A great and inexpensive resource "Modern Walking Bass Technique Volume 1 , A Contemporary Rhythmic Approach" By Mike Richmond. Been around for 30 years but it is a very useful book.
     
  12. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    You mean half position, right?
     
  13. milomo

    milomo

    Aug 5, 2007
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Ugh, I'm usually more attentive to details than that. Well, In my defense, I was genuflecting in front of my lifesize poster of Ron putting Jimmy Garrison in a headlock, exhorting him to play more forcefully when I typed that post (Not sure what I'm talking about? Look HERE, about halfway down). YES, half position.
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well, he could have been doing alla those b9s against the root :) .

    Vis a vis the Ron/Jimmy thang (and not to start a big brou haha) but I was talking with a drummer buddy of mine who's been on the scene for a minnit, and the rap HE got was that when Ron first got to the city his nickname was The Phantom, from the comic series. Ghost Who Walks, apparently most cats didn't think he got a very big sound.


    And I sent you a PM, but I think I found my answer on another thread. My buddy Dan Greenblatt talks about playing with you (in the most glowing of terms) sometimes. I'm gonna seem him soon, I'll tell him we ran into each other here.
     

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