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Now I Remember Why I Stopped Trying To Walk...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Matthew_84, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. ... It’s hard as hell.

    It’s so much more fun for me to groove along to a funk tune, then fumble through a jazz tune and realizing I don’t know the fingerboard or theory anywhere close to a proficient level.

    But, I’m at the point in my bass journey where I need to change things up. I’ve faked my way on this instrument for too long.

    I have Ed Fuqua’s “Walking Bassics” on the way (should be here Tuesday), and already have Friedland’s “Building Walking Basslines”, a handful of jazz backing tracks, some Jazz workshop courses from Scott Devine, a Ray Brown songbook, and the big, Jazz Theory Book.

    I figure I’m going to start with Walking Bassics, then use Ed’s advice (and maybe Friedland’s if there’s anything to add) to improvise over Ed’s tracks. Then go through Scott Devine’s workshop to introduce me to a few standards. Then split my time improvising over the backing tracks of standards, and transcribing Ray Brown’s basslines in the book (using the book to compare notes when I’m done) and then walking over Ray’s tunes. And finally, going through The Jazz Theory Book as I transcribe other walking basslines, and walking over them. At that point, I’m going to start working on playing melodically and soloing as well.

    If anyone sees any faults in this plan, or has any additional tips, I’d welcome it. Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2019
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    I'm at a similar point in my playing. What I find helpful in constructing walking bass lines is to be aware of the voice leading cliches, and to actively use them on new tunes. I think Friedland somewhat touches on that point, but you'll find it in the Mark Levine theory book. (Most of the time it's half step motion via sevenths or thirds).

    The next thing I like to do is to keep a note book and write down all the variations of a walking line over a specific progression (or maybe just over one chord over multiple measures) I can think of - and then try to incorporate those in my playing. The idea behind that is to build a kind of vocabulary you can fall back to if all else fails or you're just not hit by inspiration.
    retslock, Randy Ward, eJake and 6 others like this.
  3. That’s interesting. Thanks for pointing that out! I’ll keep an eye out for that. To be clear, are you saying avoiding doing things such as a chromatic walk up from a third in a minor chord, or a chromatic walk down from a seventh in a Major chord?

    Yes, I didn’t mention it (didn’t remember it to be honest), but making notes like these are things I want to do as I transcribe various basslines, and then shuffling them around (as well as trying to improvise my own) over a tune, played in at least three different keys, is part of the plan.
  4. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Great goals, a clear path, and a way to get where you want to go.
    BUT..... don't wait to go swimming until the ducks are lined up. Get with real musicians playing music. Yea, it can be a little humiliating at first, but do it. See if there are open jams in your area, hold your own jam sessions if you know the people and have a space to do that. You've spent some money on books and recordings, but don't ignore the value in a couple of phone calls and a few 6 packs of beer. A friendly handshake and a evening well spent can yield as much progress as a full week of private practicing.
    A well played walking bass line is a thing of beauty, but the togetherness of live music, and the communication between musicians is worth it for a lifetime.
    FRoss6788, greykatz, Metman and 6 others like this.
  5. I certainly agree with this point of view, but I’m not ready.

    Last time I tried walking in a group with others, the pianist (jam leader) stopped playing, told everyone else to stop, and told me to leave if I don’t know what I’m doing. I stayed and just played roots/octaves on the 1, to avoid any musical clashes and mistakes. Thankfully that was one of the last songs anyway, but it was cut short unexpectedly - presumably by my playing.

    It was humiliating of course, but I realized that I wasn’t making the experience good for him, or others. They went there to have fun, as much as I did, and my poor playing was wrecking that for them.
    btmpancake and EddiePlaysBass like this.
  6. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    1.) Remember how old you are.
    2.) Remember that you have lived that long without their love, and will continue to live.
    3.) Remember your goals.
    4.) Keep in mind that you don't have to be around or deal with people who are negative, toxic, or in other ways are not helpful. (people who have given up on their dreams will work to destroy yours)
    5.) Keep in mind there are two kinds of learning: a.) Facts (like what's the capital of Utah etc. b.) attaining a sklll. One is an event the other a process. There is an important difference there.
    6.) Keep working. Confidence comes from 'Self Image', not 'Their Image'. (don't listen to opinions from people you would not ask for advice).
  7. I’m bookmarking that because in general, and for my whole life, I’ve struggled with a severe lack of confidence (and relying on others to build my self-esteem). I’ve gotten a lot of pep talks on it, but some of your words seemed to ring the loudest. Thank you.
  8. Another great resource for learning to walk is . . .

    Walking Bass Lessons – More Than Jazz Lessons

    . . . and best of all, it's free. Tomasz has very structured lessons and provides you with PDF lesson materials, backing tracks and, of course, the videos. There's also additional material not included in the videos for you work through on your own applying what you learn from the lessons. If you complete this course you'll be ready to attend some jam sessions! Highly recommended.
  9. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    I went through the same thing several years ago. I had Freidland’s book but I must have a learning disability when it comes to musical notes on a page - just doesn’t sink in. I think rote exercises is not my learning style...need real world challenges and an understanding of how it all fits together.

    I stumbled onto working with a teacher who introduced me to chord theory and the Fake Book.

    Within a couple of months I was walking like a fiend - and improvising silos - good enough to hang in an intermediate level jazz band workshop environment anyways.
  10. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    To construct has lines, you walk backwards from the ends. What is the note you are leaving and ending up on, then work to close the gap to get to the middle.
  11. A really good way to perfect walking bass lines and your playing in general is to attend an open mic/jam. Especially a blues jam. It will be a great experience for you as it was for me. You will improve your chops and your ear and in short time, you will be able to follow along with just about anything. Good luck. :thumbsup:
    TomB and Matthew_84 like this.
  12. Find a real pianist to work with. Start digesting the Real Books. Listen to jazz.
  13. That's a rough one, but it's reality checks like those that drive us to improve, which you are seeking to do so just don't get discouraged along the way. Enjoy!
  14. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks!
  15. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Meant “solos” and “Real Books”
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  16. TideSwing


    Oct 31, 2014
    Listen to as much jazz as possible, develop your ear and start playing standards as soon as you can. If you’re not ready to seek out others, backing track apps like iReal Pro are great. Also agree about playing with piano players or a piano playing bass teacher when you’re ready.

    Everyone’s different and learns their own way. The above worked best for me and that was when things started to click but having books and online resources over the years did contribute to theory, knowledge, reading and hearing.
  17. Are Real Books really even real though? Lol

    I had the big bound one (I think version 6, which had like 300+ tunes in it), and honestly, I used it for about 3 songs before realizing all 3 had some sort of error in them and I didn’t really bother using one since.
    DirtDog likes this.
  18. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    So in this scenario @buldog5151bass, are you landing on the root of each chord on each change and then adding passing notes in between?
  19. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Good question. Didn’t really matter in my scenario I guess. My workshop all followed the same thing laid out in the Real Book, regardless of who might have recorded or published what. The purpose of these workshops seemed to be aimed at getting people to be able to play in an ensemble, follow chord charts and become more jazz literate on their instruments.

    For practice, I programmed a bunch of Real Book tunes into BIAB and used that as a my practice tool (this was before iRealBooks and before I found the treasure trove RB-based BIAB files online. Going though that exercise of transcribing RB into BIAB really got me understanding jazz song structures in a deeper way.

    Then I played in a gigging country band for the last 10 years!

    Writing this makes me want to get back into jazz!!!
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  20. Hmm, you know, that’s a great exercise. I just learn the chord structures but don’t really focus on why the song was written that way. Reconstructing them may help with that.

    I may not get a RB for this, but recreating the progressions that I learn (maybe with melodies as well) in a DAW may help me with my fundamental knowledge.

    DirtDog likes this.

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