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Modal Walking

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ameshokostreet, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. ameshokostreet


    Jul 10, 2008
    Hong Kong
    I have been learning how to walk in different modes for awhile and figured that it might be a good way to help me master walking bass as a whole. What do you guys think? Walking in a mode over a whole or a large part of a song means I can use any note in the mode as long as I'm hitting the strong tones of the mode in the strong beats right? So I'm thinking that it might help me get familiarised with the whole chord and it's sound/s. So when walking in a "regular" song with more chord changes I can use whatever i have learnt in modes for the particular chord and just change the mode when the chord changes. Can I just walk anywhere I want in the mode or do I actually have to lead to the next chord/mode? Is it a good idea or am I going the wrong way about learning walking bass?
  2. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    As far as learning how to "walk modally" in a musical way, the best advice I could give is to get "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis and study what Paul Chambers plays.
  3. mad_hungarian


    Sep 1, 2008
    There are some books out there for learning walking bass. While Im not really into instructional DVD's/books (honestly, how much can you possibly compress into 50 or so pages or 2 hours?) there are exceptions. This one is great for learning the ropes:

    Bob Magnusson: The Art of Walking Bass

    Good playalong audio, too (where else could you play with Peter Erskine? :))
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well I think you might be better off trying to walk over ii-V7-Is - as these are a lot more common in walking bass.

    Playing over modes is kind of easy and comforting...:eyebrow:

    It may be a good beginner, kind of thing - but really you need to get into outlining chord changes as soon as possible!
  5. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    I find the Ionian mode especially comforting when walking over ii-V7-I. ;)
  6. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Again, I ask "why?". The point of walking bass is to outline the harmony so the focus UNLESS YOU'RE PLAYING A MODAL SONG is on the chord tones. As others said, learning to handle a bunch of ii V I progressions is a common task, so learn that.

    Sure, one can say that ii V I would be dorian, mixolydian, ionian from the root. But as dougjwray impishly says, it's all ionian of the I. Thing is that ii V I defines a key center, and that means the harmony is based on that key for those measures. Instead of consciously changing from D dorian to G mixolydian to C ionian, and targeting chord tones, I say eliminate the extra step of changing modes. Stay in the key of C major and target the chord tones. When the song changes from ||:Dmin|G7|C :|| to ||:Amin|D7|G:||, then move to the key center of G.

    Now if you're walking over a modal composition, then chord changes aren't the focus but the modal progression is, and you have to change accordingly. But the OP seems to be talking about walking over tonal chord changes rather than a mdoal composition.

  7. ameshokostreet


    Jul 10, 2008
    Hong Kong
    Ok maybe its a stupid idea after all, but what I thought was something like using the chord/scale relations to walk over the whole song.
    Example : Major = Ionian/Lydian/..etc
    : Minor = Aeolian/Dorian/..etc
    : Dominant = Mixolydian
    So if the chords are II-V-I in a 4/4 song I would walk anywhere in the Dorian scale in the first bar and hit the root of the II chord on the 1 of the next bar walking anywhere using the Mixo scale and hitting the root of the Ionian scale in the next bar and so on..
    Kinda like cutting up the whole song into mini modal phrases. I know this may not really relate any of the chords to each other..maybe. I'm wondering if its okay to think of it in this way. This may sound a little absurd to some of you guys but its because I'm not exactly very familiar with the theory and harmony part. I'm still a relatively new learner of Jazz and Music in general. Hey, I'm green but I'm definitely keen!

    ^JTE just confirmed that it was a stupid idea after all:crying:
    TheAwesomeGingerGuy likes this.
  8. marc40a


    Mar 20, 2002
    Boston MA
    I think modal walking can be challenging, the challenge being not to lapse into anything that sounds scalar or stagnant.
  9. rditmars


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    I don't think JTE meant that at all. I'm fairly new at this, too, and I'm working on building lines over such changes.

    Aebersold's Vol III deals with the ii V7 I changes and has some nice practice tracks (with Rufus Reid on bass). The "G Minor Blues" is a fun track to jam to.

    "Autumn Leaves" would be another tune to work with as it covers those progressions over shifting key centers. John Goldby's "The Jazz Bass Book" develops a bass line for "Autumn Leaves" that is challenging and fun.
  10. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Well, I generally find the way modes are taught and supposedy "used" to be stupid. If you're playing tonal music with a key center I find no utility in constantly changing my frame of reference. I'll look for large sections where there's a stable key center and use that key as my frame of referernce. My target notes are chord tones, and I can use any other note there is in passing.

    So, instead of thinking D Dorian, then G Mixolydian for a ii V in C, I'm thinking DFAC and GBDF and that I'm in the key of C so I'm more likely to go for the E instead an Eb. Makes a lot more sense than thinking DEFGABC then GABCDEF. I learned chords very early on as that's what my function is- define the harmony. I'm a big beleiver that bassist need to OWN the chord changes. gui****s can get away with only knowing shapes, but we need to know what a chord is, why it's there, and where it's going.

  11. JtheJazzMan


    Apr 10, 2006
    If youre walking over one chord for a while, like So What, try using different scalic patterns, going up by thirds, arpeggios. try not to get stuck going up and down the scale. boring as hell.

    plus coming down strongly on the root not of the chord every 4 or 8 bars really helps the band and adds to cohesion
  12. manutabora


    Aug 14, 2007
    Iowa City, IA
    Yeah, I'd say leave the modes for modal tunes. I find it much easier to think in terms of tonalities or key centers.
  13. I don't think that's stupid. The method you're describing will work with the chords, so ... why not? If it helps you structure the tune in your mind, and if the lines that result sound good, then who cares how you got there.
  14. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    No offense but a 50 page book can keep you busy for weeks if you use it right. I used to play through bass books in a night or two and learn nothing and then wonder why...Then my instructor set me straight, its all about playing each exercise until you can't take it anymore and want to burn the book and then moving on to the next one.
  15. greenbass5


    Sep 16, 2007
    Oklahoma City
  16. EADG mx

    EADG mx

    Jul 4, 2005
    This has been done to death, but basically the reason that thinking in terms of 'mode change per chord change' is impractical and often useless because:

    a) chances are, the chords are moving so fast you won't be able to outline the mode at all in 2-4 notes.

    b) if we're talking diatonic modes, you can get the exact same sound by thinking Ionian over the whole progression anyway.

    c) thinking this way in tonal music leads to huge problems if you want to study actual modal music.

    In short you're just confusing yourself by adding a bunch of unnecessary information.

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