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How to Walk a bass line?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by notanewbie, Jul 2, 2001.


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  1. Can someone please help explain the theory (or point me somewhere that can) the theory on walking a bass line, such as playing a g major scale then going to a mixolydian or dorian or whatever then walking it up and down the neck while changing modes. If anyone can help I know you guys can.
     
  2. Mr. Letsch had a couple of lessons in past BP's, you should try to dredge a couple up.
     
  3. wynnguitars

    wynnguitars

    Jun 20, 2001
    fl
    hey man was up?First of all in order to walk you have to feel what your playin.A song starts on a certain chord;keep in mind that every chord has a scale that goes with it so in order to walk the modes you have to have the proper chord that goes with the chord the band is playing.You can start with a major(or Ionian mode) then walk to a different mode depending on the chord you progress or change to.Remember chord tones work best but accidentals(notes that dont belong to the key) make it interesting but use sparingly for full effect.emailwynnguitars@aol.com
     
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes there is a lot of free stuff like this availabel on theinternet - here's a link to one of the earlier Letsch lessons:

    http://www.bassplayer.com/z2000/0012/letsch.shtml

    The main thing to bear in mind though is that constructing walking lines is a lifetime of study - there are no quick fixes and no substitute for knowing all the chord arpeggios and scales/modes in all keys - then once you have complete familiarity and a knowledge of functional harmony, you can start constructing lines. As Ed has said before, Jazz really sorts out who knows this stuff and it is very easy to spot those who have "put the time in" - there's just no way round it.
     
  5. cassanova

    cassanova

    Sep 4, 2000
    Florida
    www.bassplayer.com in the woodshed department, has a few walking bass lessons. The July 2001 issue also has a whole article on walking bass. Its titled "Walking Through The Years" this should also be of some help to you..
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I just put the link to the actual page in BassPlayer's website which has these lessons!! :rolleyes:
     
  7. cassanova

    cassanova

    Sep 4, 2000
    Florida
    doh!!
     
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Walking bass lines are most often based around the simple concepts of TARGET notes and APPROACH notes. When you have a set of chord changes that you're trying to cover, pay careful attention to the root of the chord in each measure - for beginning lines, these will be your TARGET notes, and you'll want to be able to land on these on the downbeat of each measure (unless the chords last for more than one measure, but that's a more advanced subject). Your APPROACH notes will most often be - depending on the style of music you're playing - either diatonic (within the key) or chromatic (1/2 step away) notes which lead into your TARGET notes. If we use the letter "R" to designate the chord roots for each measure, and the letter "A" to designate your approach tones, a beginning walking bass texture will look something like this in each measure:

    / R ? ? A / R ? ? A / R ? ? A / etc.....


    The question marks in the above example represent spaces in which you will want to fill in (two) notes which lead from the root note you just played towards the approach note to the next measure. You can use either chord tones or scale tones, and remember that neither is better than the other....it all depends on the sound you're after. Eventually you'll want to be able to do both at will whenever you feel like it.

    Good luck - this subject is the beginning of a lifetime of study if you want it to be.
     
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's what I said in my post - people keep repeating me! I'm being ignored!:(

    Seriously Chris I wanted to ask you two questions on this - firstly probably a pretty obvious answer, but do you really believe it's best to always play the root on the one where there is a different chord in each bar - so like a 32 bar sequence with different chords - maybe two per bar - you already have 32 notes taken care of? Or are you just saying that as a starting point?

    Secondly - I'm beginning to wonder if walking lines are a good idea for electric bass in Jazz - especially the more chromatic tendencies? I have seen quite a few bass "doublers" in UK Jazz groups and when they play double bass, then they play a lot of walking lines, but when they switch to electric, they always play something different - more funk-oriented ideas or Latin type basslines.

    As we have mentioned, the walking thing is a lifetime study and I personally feel I am spending a lot of time and effort on this and if I never intend to play double bass, then I'm beginning to think that while it is undoubtedly an interesting area to study I wonder if I might be better doing other things.

    What sparked this off, was that last week I was playing some 60s acoustic Jazz - Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter tunes, but the Tenor Sax player was saying that we sounded more like Fusion and we got into a debate about this and how really electric bass is never going to sound like an acoustic quintet - but does this matter? I like fusion and the sound of it. I also saw Wayne Shorter on UK TV last week, from a recent festival and he was playing with a group that had electric guitar and bass - and of course the bass player wasn't playing any walking lines, as such.

    So towards the end of last week I'm starting to think - am I wasting my time trying to "perfect" walking lines; when if I stick to electric bass I'll probably play other stuff anyway? Bass guitar has been in mainstream Jazz since the early 70s and I sometimes feel I'm just catching up with then - how long will it take me to get to now! ;)

    I could have started a new thread : "current relevance of walking lines to electric bass in Jazz", but we were almost there anyway!
     
  10. Um, like, what about those other notes, like um, the one that aren't chord tones, but belong to the key and so they're not accidentals, they shouldn't be used?
     
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    One of my pet peeves about jazz is the degree to which the walking bass texture is considered to be an absolute staple for such a large percent of the music. It boggles my mind sometimes when I stop to consider that you have almost an entire genre built upon the same basic groove. Personally I like those bass players who mix it up a bit, but this is a subject way too large to get started in this thread....

    One thing you CAN do to get your BG to sound a bit more like a DB is to pay attention to the timbre being produce when you pluck the string. Most DB players pluck near the end of the fingerboard, which produces a certain kind of tone. When compared to the plucking sound a BG gets, the DB tone often sounds warmer and fatter, but with less transient attack. Part of this is due to the fact that the plucking technique is different, but another part is due to the placement of the plucking fingers on the BG. If you try playing closer to the end of the fingerboard, the tone will be warmer and the attack will be softer, which may get the tone to sound a bit more DB-like. As for the rest, that's a topic for a greater mind than mine.
     
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Thansk for the long and considered replies Chris. I suppose what I'm getting at is that I don't want to just copy what Double Bass players have done for the last 30 or 40 years, but rather develop a style for Jazz using bass guitar, that is suited to the instrument and my own ideas. I don't want to emulate the sound of DB and quite like the sound of fusion.

    So, Jaco did play walking lines, but more often he would play something original and non-repetitive. But after he died, nobody seemed to take up this mantle and most Jazz players continued with walking lines and this has become the "staple" as you say. So if you want to play Jazz you have to invest a lot of time in this and of course it is a good introduction to functional harmony and making smooth lines through changes.......

    BUT do I have to see this as my ultimate goal as a Jazz bassist? I'm still not sure what it is that keeps this going - is it the bassists themselves, other players, composers or the audience? Of course audiences love bands that really swing, but I have been to gigs where there wer no walking lines and nobody has complained or asked for their money back. Joe Zawinul for example, is "revered" over here by audiences, but he uses electric bassists who play funky or "world music" type lines - no walking lines.

    I often wonder if really it's soloists like Sax or Trumpet players who are happier with a walking line beneath them, as it feels safe but gives a fair amount of harmonic freedom. But should we be restricted by what limited players expect and allow ourselves to become sort of like an advanced Karaoke for soloists?
     
  13. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I think I'm with you there, Bruce. On Paticucci's first album, he and Erskine do a great "swing that's not a swing". I've always loved that feel, and am working hard to try to emulate it.
     
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think David was making a valid point and was in no way being rude or "confused". Scale notes are valid as well and any one who is looking for lessons on this subject would need to know about them.

    Whereas the reply copied above is very rude and derisory in tone and hardly what you would expect from someone who professes to be a teacher. Maybe the anger shown comes from being "caught out"? True colours coming through?
     
  15. Don't be so insecure, poser.
    In your post, you said use *chord* tones and accidentals. Well let's see, the last time I checked, "chord tones" were the notes that spell a chord, not all the notes of a key. Accidentals are, by definition, notes not in the key. So I ask, what about the notes belonging to the key, but not the chord? To which you may reply, "all the notes in the key are chord tones if you stack thirds beyond the seventh, ie. 9th, 11th, 13th." However, when it comes to basic (the cat asking the question is obviously a beginner) walking basslines, or even more advanced basslines for that matter, players think more about root, 3rd, 5th, 7th, than extensions. So for this discussion, it's safe to assume chord tones are root, 3rd, 5th, 7th. The 2nd, 4th, and 6th (or 9th, 11th, 13th if you prefer) function more as passing tones and leading tones, than they do harmonically. Who's confused now, *ssh*le?
     
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I've seen a lot of reccomendations for that album but have never seen it in the UK, I have Mistura Fina which I like, but is of course based around Brazilian music and I have the video of the band with Mintzer, Abercrombie etc. JP seem to play a lot of walking lines on Double Bass and is another of those who seem to use BD for "traditional" lines and electric for stretching out. I think I'll have to look on the Web for that first album.
     
  17. wynnguitars

    wynnguitars

    Jun 20, 2001
    fl
    I never said anything about the scale tones I'm well aware of the fact that they also are legitimate choices.I was merely pointing out a fact that chord tones work well thats it but you had to go and try and make yourself look like "The better guy who knows more" by singling me out and criticising what I said.If you've got an opinion state it and leave it at that! If you weren't being rude than I apologize for being rude to you and trying to defend my position.Peace!
     
  18. wynnguitars

    wynnguitars

    Jun 20, 2001
    fl
    This is for Mr. Bruce lost in a field;do me a favor and mind your own business;I happen to be a very good teacher.Bet you wouldn't say that to Pacman he got his boxers in a bunch nobody said his "true colors were showing through" nope just rag on the new guy (Huh Huh we think we're cool Huh Huh.)
     
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well Jon has proved his knowledge many times over whereas all I hear from you is posturing and an attitude that would make me fear for any student who went to you. How about posting some MP3s as other members have suggested many times without reply, so that we can hear you playing?
     
  20. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Well, there are a lot of things that can be added to walking lines, a lot of derivations, but I'm not sure that this thread is the best place to discuss them, since it started out as a newbie instructional thread. One thing is for sure - anyone who CAN'T walk a pretty decent "standard" type of line has no business trying to go "beyond that".
     



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