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Little question about walking over chords with an altered fifth

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by MontzterMash, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. MontzterMash

    MontzterMash Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2010
    Jazz walking bass line neophyte here …

    Sorry for the somewhat disjointed question, guess it's a symptom of my disjointed thinking on this topic ...

    I've noticed that when doing a walking bass line, when I hit a chord that has an altered fifth (say an altered or diminished chord), it generally doesn't sound so good to my ears if I play that altered fifth on a strong beat. This is quite the opposite of what happens when playing a perfect fifth in an ahem normal chord, where outlining the chord usually sounds fine.

    I at first thought that maybe the other players weren't always playing the altered fifth in their chords; but now I'm wondering if it's more that with these chords, a little goes a long way, particularly when used as passing chords; so even if the guitarist/pianist is playing that altered fifth in their chords, for me to emphasize it on a strong beat is just a bit too much. So I'm trying now to see if the chord is there motion to a new chord or key and to emphasize that motion by walking to that new place rather than lingering on that particular chord's chord tones.

  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Well, you are playing the bass function in a group which pretty much turns the altered 5th into a "root of the chord" sound, particularly on beat one of a bar. It works but may create an atypical sound of the chord in the particular tune you are playing. If you don't like it, don't play it!
  3. Chris Symer

    Chris Symer

    Dec 13, 2009

    The best and most to the point advice I have read here in a long time...... It really is that simple.
  4. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    I love the sound of a simple diminished 7th arpeggio on a one bar dim. chord, such as the Bdim7 five bars from the end of All The Things You Are. It creates a very strong melodic bass line with forward momentum.

    Don't forget that Alt and dim sounds are high on the list of tension and work to serve that purpose. If you're using a fake book, there is a good chance Dom chords written as #5 or b5 are WRONG, so consider the source and listen to the original recording. Many times it's actually a Dom7#11, or Dom7b13. Also, there is always the 3rd and 7th to use on beat 3.