Walking bass lines?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Wes I AM, Apr 23, 2001.

  1. Wes I AM

    Wes I AM

    May 27, 2000
    Tampa, FL
    Walking bass lines: what does this term mean exactly? And what does walking in general mean (sarcasm aside please)?
    Somebody tell me because I really wanna know. It it anything like what Ryknow does on Internal Primates Forever in the verses?
  2. JazznFunk

    JazznFunk Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    In its most basic form, walking refers to playing through a set of chord changes in a tune by outlining each chord using arpeggios and chord tones/nonchord tones, leading smoothly (or sometimes not so smoothly) from chord to chord. In 4/4 time you would generally play quarter notes, one note per beat, and outline the harmony accordingly. Listen to any swing/bebop/modern jazz, etc. and you'll hear this. Some good examples that you might easily find are "All the Things You Are," "So What," "KoKo," and "Donna Lee." The list goes on and on however, but those are some places to start.

    Enjoy! :)
  3. old_skool


    Aug 17, 2000
    Milwaukee, WI
    warning by greenday is a walking bass line if im not mistakin.
  4. Greenday's version of Knowledge also has a walking bassline.
  5. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    jazznfunk expalined it very well. it is not exclusive to jazz, however, most people think of that when they hear the term ' walking bass line". It is sometimes used in bluegrass, and country and rock. if you've hear boogie woogie style piano a la little richard or jerry lee lewis, the piano is "walking" on the left hand.
    the bassline in Stevie Wonder's ' I wish" is an example of a walking style bass line.
    an yes, i believe a few green day tunes have it as well.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well there is a difference between a Jazz walking line and most others in that you introduce the concept of "swing" in the notes - which is basically a triplet "feel". Whereas most other forms play the notes square on the beat.

    Interestingly, this is how Ska started in Jamaica in the 1940s/50s. The musicians were listening to a lotof Jazz records and started applying walking bass lines in their music, but played them as "square" on the beat with off the beat guitar chords. So an original Ska tune like "Lucky 7" has a classic Jazz walking bassline, but withot the swing. This also shows up another difference in that Ska and some other forms are basically diatonic, whereas Jazz lines are very much chromatic and the semi-tone passing note on Jazz lines is something that they have taken from Blues, but has become very much a Jazz sound.