1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

The coolest way to descend II-V-I chromatically?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by dexter3d, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. dexter3d


    Jul 4, 2005
    Currently drilling II-V-Is and was wondering if more knowledgeable cats could share some cool ways to go down a II-V-I with a chromatic flavour, with a lot of tension? I usually go 8-b7-5-b5-4(I) - repeat for IIm - I. What's your fav stuff?
  2. Affraid I don't understand the question much, but that won't stop me.

    My ii-V-Is typically are short, ii-V fit into one bar, so I got two notes per chord in walking bass.

    In C, I would play something like [Dmi7] D C [G7] B G [C] C.
    Or the most happy [Dmi7] D A [G7] G D [C].

    Something more chromatic:
    [Dmi7] D G [G7] Bb B [C] or [Dmi7] D A [G7] Bb B [C]. Or [Dmi7] D F [G7] E B [C].

    You can forget the ii-V-I and make it more simple (chromatic friendly) by substituting G7 for Dm7:
    [G7] G A Bb B [C]. The bass can usually do it regardless of the other instruments.

    I always try to use more than one approach method in a song. Even the most badass chromaticism gets heavy-footed when repeated too often. We want our music to be light, rising our minds to the skies, right? I feel that variety is the key to lightness.

    As for myself, I feel ii-V-I is most strong in "half of bar", when there's only one note: D - G - C, clear usage of the layered dominant resolutions. When ii-V-I is longer, chord per bar, it still works and you have dozens of options how to walk it. When ii-V-I is too long, let's say 8 bars per chord, I think that the feel of dominant resolution will get so mild that it might be better to shape the bass line without ii-V-I resolution in mind.
    J_Bass, AGCurry and unbrokenchain like this.
  3. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Asheville, NC
    Had to pull that out to highlight it, well said!
  4. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    You can do a tritone substitution for the V7 as:

    Dmin7-C#7-C to replace Dmin7-G7-C.

    I wouldn't do it very often on bass, though. Horn players (I am one) and pianists generally like to do the substitutions themselves, so the clash between the soloist making a chord substitution and the rhythm playing the vanilla chords gives the desired dissonance. If you as the bass player are going all over the place, the soloists don't have any room to play around with the harmony.

    So, to recap, you can do various different things but most of the time you shouldn't.
    J_Bass and AGCurry like this.
  5. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    isn't chromatically a definition unto itself?
    aesopslyre and AGCurry like this.
  6. ZachWWW


    Feb 25, 2019
    Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 8.04.10 AM.
    try this one on for size!
    AGCurry likes this.
  7. knirirr


    May 28, 2018
    Oxford, England
    Thanks for the various ii-V in one bar suggestions - very useful.
    At present, in addition to taking lessons, I'm working from Monk Montgomery's book, unfortunately long out of print. This has many ii-V-I exercises; no-one would mind me posting one here (Cm7/F7/Bb).

    Attached Files:

  8. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    You know what might be the coolest of all?

    For the situation where you have | dmin7 G7 | C

    (in other words the 251 movement within a single bar);

    Play a D whole note on 1, then a C whole note on the next 1.

    If the movement takes two bars:

    Play a D whole note on the first 1, then nothing at all for the G7, then a big fat C on the next 1.
  9. dexter3d


    Jul 4, 2005
    Sorry I wasn't clear enough - I meant 4 notes per bar, all descending, downward motion.
  10. b5 4 3 b3 | 2 b2 1 _ |

    Many variations of chord qualities (maj, min, °, etc).
  11. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Oh, I understood what you meant, I was just stirring the pot a bit by suggesting an entire alternative approach.

    But truthfully, as a horn player I often (not always) prefer the rhythm section to get on with the basic chords, so that in my solo I can use note choices and chord substitutions to create a slight dissonance that gets resolved. If the rhythm section are doing all that, then I have less to work with and I can feel overconstrained.
  12. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Would you rather work with a bass player who understands how to play chromatically and shows taste and restraint or one who simply doesn’t know how to play chromatically very well? In the improvised chord based music people call Jazz the chromatic scale is arguably the most important scale to understand.
  13. ZachWWW


    Feb 25, 2019
    Obviously an experienced player can do what you described, play mostly vanilla, supportive lines, and then tastefully use chromaticism, but I think it's much more common for intermediate players to use chromaticism as a crutch than playing only diatonically (Ray Brown talked about this a lot - playing good, creative lines that only use diatonic notes can be much more challenging than playing chromatically). I think getting away from all the chromaticism that our ears maybe tolerate, but don't gravitate as easily towards, is the mark of someone who well-learned at their craft.
    J_Bass likes this.
  14. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Needed to be said.
    Thank You.
    J_Bass and SteveCS like this.
  15. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    What also needs to be said is that hearing chromaticism is important to many different kinds of music. The old chestnut that Ray Brown could play great lines using only chord tones is true but he could also play chromatically.

    Intermediate players may overuse things they’re exploring but they have some license to. It’s a natural part of learning taste and restraint moving towards musical adulthood.
    Fredrik E. Nilsen and BassPilot like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.