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need advice on walking bass lines

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by kik4adog, May 25, 2002.

  1. kik4adog


    Jan 3, 2002
    I'm fairly new to the upright bass.I was inspired largely by Barenaked Ladies bassist, Jim Creegan, to play upright.

    Now one thing I'm desperately wanting to get a grasp on is some more creative and active (meaning moving) bass lines.

    One thing I've noticed by listening to Jim is he tends to play one bass line on one verse and then for the second verse play something similar but in a higher octave.

    But there are also alot of moving around that he does in between chord changes.Like his fingers are just constantly moving.And much of it is very melodic.
    Yet, much of what he does sound very improvisational as well.

    So what I want to know is....Is there any particular walk or pattern that is followed for the basics of this style?Or is this something that just comes from being creative and taking the time to map out a nice sounding bass walk?

    And also...Are there any sites on the web with patterns or walks that could help me out with this?
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The first step of a long journey.

    Walking bass lines seem tougher to me than soloing. When soloing you have so many more choices and fewer constraints. 4/4 bass lines locks you into saying something with a steady stream of 1/4 notes. Bach would've been a bitch of a bass player. In the Misc. threads you'll find conversation on 'Blanket Scales'. A good place to start.
  3. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    As Ray stated "saying something with a steady stream of 1/4 notes" is not an easy task. (I am just about finished with a new book: The Quarter Note Melody)

    Yes there are particular guidlines (patterns) you need to learn to base your walking lines on. To most of us it does not just come from being creative. I teach many students who have tried this method for years and after enough frustration finally decide to learn how to walk.

    Mapping out a nice sounding walking line is a good way to start. This process leads to transcription of a good lines by great players.

    The sounds of "jazz" are so unique and varied to most of our ears that it takes detailed study to internalize these sounds. By internalizing the basics elements of good walking lines, one bite at a time, you will develop a concept which will allow you to then imporvise a good and creative line.

    Understand, their are different points of view in the world. All notes are legal and one can just "get creative" and play anything you want. Remember, Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder. That said, I have found it far more productive to "learn the theme before the variations".

    Try this book:

  4. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Creegan's a melodic player, but I wouldn't necessarily describe what he's doing as walking bass. The traditional walking bass line is a swung quarter note line using mostly chord tones; it's more harmonic than melodic. Of course, there are plenty of ways to stretch the concept.
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Bass lines can be non-melodic, but they shouldn't be!
  6. kik4adog


    Jan 3, 2002
    Ok...First I'd like to thank everyone for their input.

    It seems as though I may have used the wrong terminology in describing what style of bass lines it was that I am looking for information on.

    I am looking for advice on more melodic bass lines.Not necessarily walking bass lines as in jazz but just very creative and melodic bass lines for rock music.

    This may very well be something that just takes creativity but if anyone knows of any resources online (or has any advice) on patterns or any kind of guide line for playing a more melodic bass I would definitely appreciate the input.

    Thank you all
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Well, maybe look at it like this: Being melodic would come from the study of melody.

    'Nuff of a hint?
  8. bassbloke


    Feb 26, 2002
    Jim do you know if any supplier in the UK stocks your books? I have a copy of your PC transcriptions (wonderful - the most useful book of solo transcriptions I've seen) but I just stumbled accross it in a store in London. I can't recall seeing any of your other books and wonder if they're available without paying transport etc from US which of course can make them very expensive.

  9. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    I am not aware of any retailers that handle my books in the UK. Sorry. I am open for suggestions.

    If you go to my site and pick a product to "add to cart" then hit the button to "Pay & Finish" (at this point you will not be charged) you will see that the shipping charge added is quite minimal. I eat the majority of the cost of shipping because of exactly the situation you identified. I am interested in getting my products out there.

    Hope this helps.
  10. bassbloke


    Feb 26, 2002
    Thanks Jim I'll certainly take a look at how prices work out with shipping. My prevous experience is with Aebersold where you pretty much have to bulk buy if shipping costs to the UK are not going to cost more than the materials you've ordered.
  11. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    Hey kik.

    I know what you are saying about Jim Creeggan. Although, I tend to stay more on the classical side of DB playing, I truly enjoy listening to Jim's lines.

    He is obviously a very trained, and talented musician. Fortunately for him, he is not laying down those great lines under any substantially ethereal chord progressions.

    So, to me, he bases his lines on his great sense of rhythm, and comfort with being able to move fluidly across his entire fingerboard. Combined, of course with his scalar and modal familiarity, which for the context in which he is playing does not need to be all that extensive.

    I think that he kind of stands out from a lot of the "rock/pop" bassists, because he is not content with just laying down root, 5, and an occasional run, or to the contrary, being a dominant instrument. He tends to follow a "jazz" philosophy, by building a substantial foundation for the other musicians/singers to work from, but not playing in walking quarters.

    I know that I didn't answer any of your questions, but I am trying to differentiate what Jim Creeggan does for BNL, versus what Ray Parker is doing on his gigs. I am sure that Jim has the ability to lay down some fantastic walking lines, but he would probably be the first to tell you that what he is doing with BNL is pretty simple stuff, compared to what the really good jazz bassists have to do.

    Anyway, if you want to learn it, transcribe it. See how Jim's notes fit into the chord progression. If you can do this with just one or two songs, it will probably open up, to you, a lot about Jim's approach and technique.

    Good luck.
  12. Another great resource for melodic bass lines in the rock idiom is Doctor Licks' James Jamerson book "Standing in the Shadows of Motown."

    Meant for the slab, but hey, a melodic bass line is a melodic bass line. I steal, er, adapt a lot of Jamerson's ideas even if I happen to find myself playing a funk or R&B line on upright.

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