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Moving From Funk to Jazz... How To Do It??

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by slapfunk987, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. slapfunk987


    Feb 8, 2011
    Well I've been playing bass for about 2 years now and for the most part I've been playing 70's, 80's funk music which contains primarily slap bass. After 2 years of playing this genre, I feel its time to move on and develop my chops and fingerstyle and take that to the next level.
    The problem is I really dont know where to begin. R&B bass lines arent really that challenging (unless its Jamerson) and funk is pretty much under my belt. So I figured I go for jazz/bebop music. My bass inspiration (Marcus Miller) said that if you can play bebop, you can play anything.

    SO how do I start playing jazz/bebop?????
    I know you have to know about walking bass and I dont have a clue about scales, theories, or intervals. I have tried sitting down learning scales from Hal Leonard Bass Scale book but I find that learning scales is extremely boring and being that it is extremely boring I am not committing alot of it to memory. I find that there are alot of scales that I might not have a use for as well. So which ones are more important than others???
    Should I just continue learning scales out of Scale books or what???
    Can anyone recommend any books that can give you a pretty complete understanding of jazz walking???
  2. There are books by Ed Friedland and Todd Johnson that are great introductions to building walking bass lines. Also, look up Scott Devine on youtube. He has quite a few videos on scale shapes and exercises that would be a great help. You should also check out Anthony Wellington and maybe take some online lessons with him. It is not that hard of a transition, it is just a different way of approaching the way the bass lines interact with the melody.
  3. gkbass13

    gkbass13 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2006
    Won't be able to have much or any understanding of jazz or walking without at least a decent theory foundation. Those "boring" scales might come in handy...
  4. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Scales are the 'pre calculus' of jazz. Jazz is about harmony much more than it is about scales. Direct your study towards the construction of chords and chord progressions. You'll need to know scales but the aplication is in the chords.
  5. Sloop John D

    Sloop John D

    Jun 29, 2012
    The only scale you need to learn at the moment is the major scale. That's the scale that almost every chord and chord progression you'll be playing along to is derived.

    Once you have the major scale down, learn about stacking 3rds to create chords. Once you have an understanding of how chords are built using 3rds, you should be able to figure out chord tones and arpeggios, which is all you really need to know to play a walking bassline.

    Once you have that down you can move onto other scales if you want.
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Some folks have had nice things to say about this and that.
  7. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Thanks for those links, Ed!

    Some very interesting things in that thread (the second link); got me thinking outside of my personal "walking lines box."
  8. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    The Todd Johnson and Ed Friedland are good introductions.
    I've taken up walking jazz bass without near the playing background you have but a reasonable theory background from a few years of going at piano.

    Those authors will give you a good starting point about the methods of walking bass and especially many of the 'standard' patterns for one bar chord changes.
    Where I find myself after a year at this is the greater challenge of 2 (and greater) bar changes where one actually has to have some musical melodic sense and greater sense of the song being played and that's really where Ed Fuqua's book fills a much needed gap. Probably because of the approach outlined in the 2nd link he provides above.

    So bebop with its rapid chord changes is to my mind actually a little easier than some of the more stretched out walking. Good luck.
  9. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Jazz is fundamentally an oral tradition that doesn't live in books. Listen until your ears bleed.
  10. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    +1 I think people make it sound too complicated at times you can have all the technical knowledge but none of the feel go hang out at some jazz clubs or Jazz concerts talk to the musicians and you should be fine.
  11. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
  12. First off, There's so much more to jazz than walkin a line that it defies belief... Second, you're not gonna find it in a book. People write books to make money. And the reason Marcus says that if you can play bebop you can play anything is that it's a challenge on so many levels that everything else is childs play.

    Even when you think you might have it figured out, you just don't realize how much you don't know. Also, if you find learning scales and theory boring, that's gonna be a real serious problem... Because everyone who you find to play jazz with will know this stuff and if you can't communicate with them, they will send you home. Bummer...

    Having said all that, it can't hurt to try. Your starting point should be to listen to as much bebop and other jazz as possible for a couple of years to get the sound of it in your head then go find a good teacher who plays jazz on a regular basis.

    I started a jazz trio not too long ago because I was sick of playing rock, etc. I thought the area could use something different. I'd worked on it for a good while beforehand with an excellent teacher. One of the best actually. Someone all of you know. Man, I thought I had a good handle on this stuff. I soon realized I need to do what Sonny Rollins and Emily Reimler did and just stop playing, go back in the shed for a year or two and figure out all the stuff I don't know. I may never be able to come out again... The audience on the gigs thought it was great, or so they said. The recordings I made were ok, but I knew it could be a lot better and it was because there were some holes that can only be filled with some intense study. And study is how you get good as jazz. It's not something you just "do" like blues or rock or whatever. I've played all types of music and that stuff was almost mindlessly easy by comparison.

    That's my limited experience with it... YMMV
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    They also write them to communicate concepts to a larger audience than they can interact with personally, ESPECIALLY when they feel no one else is really addressing those concepts.
    You're welcome to your opinion; I would say that I have been doing this for a minute and the concepts that I got in person from my teacher weren't anything that I heard ANYBODY else talking about. I had been playing about 15 years when I started studying with Joe and if "just listening" were enough, then I wouldn't have hit the brick wall I did when I moved here in 87. It's not scales and chords and licks, it's about playing with intent and meaning. And the approach I lay out in my book at least attempts to give a methodology and approach to practice that can get more meaning and intent into your playing. I know that approach certainly helped mine.

    You are more than welcome to think I'm full of ****; I espouse a certain approach and there are plenty of places that you can hear what the results of that are.

    As I have always said and will continue to say, sitting in the same room with someone who has a deeper understanding than you AND who has the ability to tailor the way they communicate HOW to develop the skill sets needed to play this music is the BEST POSSIBLE WAY to do this. Not everyone has that resource available, I know I didn't when I was coming up.
  14. Whoever said "just listening" was enough? Not I. No one thing in and of itself is enough in music. It's always a conglomerate of experiences and influences.

    All due respect, but I know you wrote that book and I'm sure it's one of the best. But in general a book can't tell if a person doesn't get it. And it seems that lately, people are starting to get the idea that all the answers are in some book and that simply isn't true.

    And why would I think you are full of ****? I don't even know you. It's not that important...
  15. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    Learn the cycle, learn chord tones, then leading and connecting tones, learn how to function over ii-V-I changes, listen, learn how to read, and practice, practice, practice. Get a good teacher, find other like minded musicians, play a lot, learn from your mistakes, and work your tail off.

    I think that Ed Fuqua did an excellent post a while back about how to really learn a tune. You should look that up. It was loaded with great advice.
  16. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    As for listening I've really found that the best approach is to start with your favorite players. Read a couple of interviews and look up anything they talk about listening to. Then look up those players and see who they are/were listening to etc.

    Also Ron Carter's book on Jazz Bass Lines is pretty good. I have it but haven't used it in a while. I decided to take a step further back and start learning Afro/Cuban music then work my way forward. The way I see it Jazz, Funk, R and B, Soul, etc. are all offshoots of that Afro/Cuban root.

    Also get a copy of "The Charlie Parker Omnibook" in either bass or treble cleff and work on your reading chops. If you combine that with some type of theory study it will all start to make sense.

    Rev J
  17. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Generally, you'll need to know some basics of the language of music in order to learn how to do this. Some people are blessed with an intuitive understanding of harmony and what sounds good, but most people benefit from building some basic knowledge as they build vocabulary too.

    Those "boring" scales could be very useful. Now my position is that whether you're playing jazz, blues, funk, country, rock, etc. the primary function remains the same- A. Connect the rhythmic aspect (generally percussion) with the harmonic/melodic aspect of the group
    B. Define the harmony.

    That second part is where knowing "scales" comes in. Now just being able to play ten or so different scales in all 12 keys is so far removed from really KNOWING any scales as to be pointless and assuredly boring. Start with the diatonic major scale. Physical execution of the scale is just about the last aspect of knowing it that we need. No, when I say "know the scale" I mean that:
    A. You know what it sounds like- this is the key to all music knowledge, that you know what something sounds like. When you play a scale can you hear the next note in your head, or sing it, BEFORE you play it? Then you know what it sounds like. If not, then you're just wiggling your fingers and not gaining much if anything from your work.
    B. You know the structure and you can derive the correct notes (with correct enharmonics) for any key. That is you not only know that A is A B C# D E F# G# A, but you know WHY it's those notes, and you fully understand why it's C# and not Db. And you can do this without an instrument in your hand- we're talking KNOWING something, not merely seeing shapes on the neck.
    C. You can find those notes anywhere on the neck. You can't know a scale if you can only start it on it root- and I certainly do not mean anything about modes here- Real music doesn't run root to root so you have to be able to find that A scale from the low E up the last fret available.
    D. You know how the thirds stack to create the chords of that scale- you know not only that the IV of E is A, but that you know it's A C# E G# and you know WHY it's those four notes- plus you know how that relates to the vi7 chord.
    E. You can do this stuff in all 12 keys.

    Along with this you need to know about the basic chords- how to figure out how to "spell" the chords, and how to find the notes of them on the neck. You need to at least know that the major chord is 1, 3, 5, a minor 7 is 1, b3, 5, b7, etc. for the major, minor, diminished, and augmented triads, major 7, dominant 7, minor 7, diminished 7, minor 7 b5.

    Then get some fakebooks with the basic chords and the melody line to jazz standards. Look at the chords, see how they relate to the melody, and work out where the notes are on the neck for each chord. Listen to LOTS of recordings of each song, and work on copping the bass line on the record. Then go back and use the theory stuff you've also learned to see WHY the bass line works.

    Study this with a plan- Ed Freidland's "Building Walking Bass Lines" is a great resource for quickly and ACCURATELY applying this kind of knowledge. And as has been said, LISTEN to lots of different performances. All this theory stuff covers the second part of the bass' job (define the harmony) but a lot of the rhythmic aspect comes from concentrated listening.

    Oh, and have fun!

  18. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    I have looked at samples of pages. The book looks like solid gold.
    If only this had a tab version for the rest of us. ;)
  19. Sloop John D

    Sloop John D

    Jun 29, 2012
    Same story here. I played for nearly ten years before I got anywhere, and during that time I even had lessons with a couple different teachers. The problem is that a good player doesn't necessarily make a good teacher. It wasn't until I started picking up music books and relying on the multitude of sources available on the internet that I began to advance as a musician.

    I've learned more about music from books than from any other resource, so I'm not about to tell someone that the written word is a poor tool for communicating musical ideas.
  20. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    So you got past your "brick wall" with a book? By your own account no.
    The OP is new to this, his wall is likely years away. He's better served listening first which will give a book like yours context. It's worthy addition to the library of any student of jazz bass but no book is where someone should start. Listening is.