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Walking Bass Lines (advice/info please)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by CaptainWally, Jun 24, 2004.

  1. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    I'm working through Friedland's "Walking Bass Lines", a jazz primer for creating bass lines. Pretty good, actually!

    So two questions:

    1) Can anyone give me the names of the incognito jazz standards at the back of the book. Names aren't printed to avoid copyright law.

    2) Ok - actually creating lines. I'm still a jazz neophyte, but I'm picking up on the whole idea. Ostensibly, it's pretty easy: 4/4 with quarters notes, first note in measure is generally the root, last note should "lead" to the first note in the next measure, make creative choices for your middle two notes and the overall flow.

    So, here's the problem: I'm having trouble bringing together (a) reading the chart and (b) creating lines that meet the overall criteria, and are also pleasing/creative. Just too much going on at once, e.g. what key was I in again? Bloody Eb? $$#%@ horn players.

    Is the answer to memorize the changes ahead of time so I can focus more on the line? Is it good *not* to memorize changes so I get used to sinking or swimming in creating lines on the fly from the charts?

    Thanks in advance, gurus. :hyper:
  2. chardin


    Sep 18, 2000
    Answer to question 1.
    1. Satin Doll
    2. Out Of Nowhere
    3. All Of Me
    4. Yardbird Suite
    5. 12 bar blues with jazzier changes
    6. There Will Never Be Another You
    7. Like Someone In Love
    8. Autumn Leaves
    9. Donna Lee
    10. Days Of Wine And Roses

    Answer to question 2.
    Keep at it. Walking bass lines won't come over night. Ed's method works but you have to be willing to put in the time and effort. Don't move to the next section of the book until you can consistently nail the section you're working on. It's very tempting to move ahead before you're ready.

    Memorizing the tune will definitely help. Even better, learn the melody. If you have the software or hardware that can do it, slow down the tempo of the play-along CD.

    Good luck and keep practicing. Believe me, there is no better feeling than hearing and playing a walking bass line that really comes together.
  3. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I know what you're going through Cap'n. T'ain't easy.

    Personally, I've found that memorizing the chart helps tremendously. I don't know any players that don't memorize at least some tunes. At the very least, you won't get tied up just staring at a chart.

    Go slow. Rome wasn't built in a day. Slow down the tempo, work through problem areas slowly.

    Transcribe. You'll get a lot of great ideas from the greats. And, if you're like me, you might realize that they're not doing anything that tremendous, but!, they're doing it with conviction, confidence, authority, solid time, great rhythm, great tone, and great feel. Focus on those issues at well, it will make even the most basic melodic line sound better.

    Look at function. Instead of seeing random chords floating by, look for common chord progressions like ii-V7-Is. Finding these will help the harmony "make sense."

    Keep practicing.
  4. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    Cheers, amigos.
  5. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    We should get together and jam sometimes.
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    All the advise given is great. Let me add another piece. Write basslines. A lot. Write them, play them (fix what you don't like) try to memorize them. Take a tune like Satin Doll and write out (on paper - without your bass) 4 or 5 choruses. Try not to repeat yourself as much as possible. Then, play the bassline slowly. Fix the parts that don't work, or you don't like. Then play them untill they're really under your finders.

    This allows you to understand what you like, what works well and what doesn't. Since you're writing, you're bringing in another element of learning (tactile). The main thing is to do this a LOT - it won't seep into your playing without putting in the hours doing this.
  7. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I would suggest getting the arpeggios of chords and their inversions under your fingers i.e. maj7, min7, maj6, min6, min7b5, dom7, minmaj7, sus, sus7, etc. This will go along way to recognizing chords on the fly and at the very least play something appropriate without having to think about it. Also playing r 2nd 3rd 5th ascending or r 7th 6th 5th descending of the chord you see will result in a decent line especially for a ii V progression because the 5th is always a 2nd away from the root of the next chord. Lastly play in as many situations as you can requiring this skill and overtime it will get easier than it is now.
  8. Tnavis


    Feb 25, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    Great ideas listed here so far. To build on what jazzbo said about transcription, something that helped me out quite a bit was to transcribe great basslines from Ray Brown and Paul Chambers, and then try to work out what they were doing in a harmonic sense, and why it works. This has been a great tool for me over the years, and it's something I still do.
  9. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Ain't that the truth?! It's so important to look at what they're doing in a harmonic sense, because you don't just want to randomly repeat licks, they may not make any sense in the case when you're playing.

    I really like what Jon said a lot. This is something my first teacher had me do, and I don't do enough of. I like Finale Notepad, (which is free), for this. I'd probably be better served doing it on paper, away from this infernal machine, but it works well for me, and as I write lines, I explore things I might not as the chords are flying by me in real time. (I've noticed when I write something down, I get much more interesting rhythmically, every now and then throwing in a Ray Brown "hickety-boom", whereas in real life it's rare I'm not at straight quarter notes per bar).

    BLINKY, I really need to download and check out your stuff on the TB listening page. I'm extremely excited to hear it.
  10. maxy


    Jun 24, 2004

    i was doing the same book. In a mnth school has no bassist so i am doing this for jazz band.

    Can you tell what you mean by analyze the harmony?
    Whats the keys i mean in one key you can have only 3 major chords and there are like in odd places?
    Any idea on how i can prepare for the jazz band other than this book?

  11. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    In jazz, the key of the chart has very little to do with what's going on. By analyzing the harmony, you're actually discovering what the "key of the moment" really is. To do this, you've got to understand how chords function - for instance, a dominant chord (x7) usually functions as the V chord, which one expects to be followed by a I chord.

    If you see Dm7 G7 Cmaj7, you can see that those chords all relate to the key of C major. Now let's say the next chord is Cm7 followed by F7. What's the logical next chord? Bbmaj7, right? (it's the I chord of the ii-V sequence). If you see that progression (pretty common), you'll realize that you've moduated into Bb.

    Using your knowledge of chords and their functions, you can analyze tunes and understand more thoroughly how to play them.
  12. maxy


    Jun 24, 2004
    ON the chords thingy.

    Cant i memo like suppose:
    Bbmaj7 G7 C7 F7

    is 6th and 4th, 4th chords reln.

    Is jazz on the spot improv.?
  13. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    Wanted to revive this thread for new perusals and to thank the contributors again for the sage advice.

    I've consulted this thread several times.
  14. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Friedland's "Walking Bass Lines" is a great book. I went through it a few times. Each time I go back to it I have more experience and ideas and I come up with better lines. I will probably always go back to Ed's book to help me create lines.

    Another book that I just picked up that I absolutely love is, "Fingerboard Harmony for Bass" by Gary Willis. His exercises are great and they hurt my brain. He gives you some parameters to work with and a 4 measure example, then it's all you from that point. It really makes you think! It digs deeper into my brain than any other line creating method I have used to date. I spent a couple of weeks on the first 3 line creating exercises. It's hard work but I can see the results.

    I hope this helps you out Captain.