Is there a name for this?

Discussion in 'Ask David Overthrow' started by Breathinstephen, May 1, 2012.

  1. Breathinstephen


    Jan 22, 2012
    Hi, I play electric bass, and am learning to sight read and play the old jazz and swing classics that were originally written for acoustic bass. Ive noticed that that while the bass transcriptions for the walking bass lines of these tunes ( Im using Smart Music) are usually all quarter notes, but when I carefully listen to the actual music being played, the bassist will jazz up a passage and give it more feel by occasionally doubling some notes, or by adding 8th or 16th notes, or adding a note or dropping a note during certain notes and chord changes. In other words their not playing on the click all the time. I don't want to sound stupid, but is there a name for this type of playing? I hear it in almost every swing piece where an acoustic bass is used. Is the term "articulation" or " adornments" or is it just swing bass? A perfect example is the base line for song "Take the A train"

    Thanks very much!
  2. gigslut


    Dec 13, 2011
    St Louis, Mo
  3. Breathinstephen


    Jan 22, 2012
    Thanks, that's probably it.
  4. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Grace note is a pretty good word for it. But when you're playing swing, it's just swingin'!
  5. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Well ... it is just rythm movement because only playing quarter note is ridiculously boring after a while. you should check ou the book "The Jazz Book, Technic and tradition". John Goldsby first talk about the history of jazz by all the different DB player who represent different jazz form ( like bebop ). and he also talk about their phrasing. After that it is more hardcore, he talk about how to understand different form like ABA, ABAB, ABACA etc. The he talks about harmony, rythm movement and how to deal with II,V,I etc. Very complete book, very hard and you need to read music and chord sheet.
  6. John Goldsby

    John Goldsby Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    Bassist @ WDR Big Band Cologne, Discover Double Bass, Conservatorium Maastricht, NL
    Thanks Clef, for plugging the book. Glad you like it.

    @Breathinstephen: I would call those things you are talking about "rhythmic embellishments." They could be a simple 8th-note pickup (usually with a triplet / swing 8th-note feel) before or after a note, or an 8th-note triplet (three 8th-notes in the space of one quarter-note). Those sounds can also be "dead notes," which are in time, but muted so they do not have a pitch. A triplet figure that descends is sometimes called a "drop." Pulling across the strings rhythmically with the right hand is called "raking" or a "rake."

    In a walking bass line, most of the rhythmic embellishments will be eighth notes in a triplet feel (swing 8th notes). Listen to players like Ray Brown and Ron Carter to hear a lot of great, swinging rhythmic embellishments. Jaco used a lot of them when he walked 4/4 swing.

    The most important thing to remember when you play any rhythmic embellishment is that the figure should enhance the groove, not interrupt the groove. Anytime you play a figure, it should make the overall rhythm feel stronger and more swinging.

    Good luck & have fun!
  7. John Goldsby

    John Goldsby Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    Bassist @ WDR Big Band Cologne, Discover Double Bass, Conservatorium Maastricht, NL
    And many thanks to Mr. David Overthrow for letting me put my $.02 worth here in his forum!

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