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Walking Bass

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Georgia Watt, Aug 25, 2002.

  1. Georgia Watt

    Georgia Watt Guest

    Mar 2, 2002
    Is there any easy way to work out a walking bass line? Or is all theory based?
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well it is theory-based and it is also a lifetime's study - I can imagine studying it until I stop playing music and still think I could create a better line!

    But the simple answer is - root or chord tone on the strong beats of the bar - 1 and 3 and then 2 and 4 can have notes "inbetween" other chord or scale tones or passing notes - typically on 4 a semi-tone away from the first note of the next bar.

    But the main thing is to create a "smooth line" - that is, not jumping about all over the place, but typically only playing a tone or semi-tone away from the last note and making smooth transitions between chords - you try to keep this up for as long as possible although there will be "shifts of gear" these shoudl be used to move forward and not hold up the momentum.

    Well - anyway that's just "scratching the surface" - try books like Ed Frieland's or Rufus Reid. There are loads fo them though, I just bought a fairly new one by Bob Magnusson (The Art of Walking Bass) with a CD which has Pete Erskine on Drums!

    But whichever, there is no real easy way and you need to put a lot of work in on theory and getting it consistent, thinking ahead etc etc ..
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
  4. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    Good walking line players play by ear. But everyone must learn and in the beginning our ears are usually not good enough to distinguish the sounds. So yes, theory bassed is a good start.

    Here is a book that is basic, solid and correct.

  5. Hi Georgia,
    I have found some GREAT lines by simply listening to my hero's on DB. I know some will brand that as being a copy cat however, I find that by listening to as many DIFFERENT players as possible will give you an overall varity of GOOD lines to try out!
    Being a BIG fan of NHOP there's a track on a Count Basie CD named "Kansas City Six" and the track is called "NHOP" composed by the master.
    It's just a blues but it's what he does with the runs that makes it sound huge! By the way this CD is available here in Brisbane.
    PS :- The Fishman I purchased off you last month sounds GREAT ! ( remember ?)


    Mick Power
  6. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    It's based mostly on chord-scale theory, but it's supposed to become improvisational/intuitive after a while.

    I haven't played in the genre often enough to do it well, so I just write out a line and practice that. After I've practiced the line and have the changes locked in, I can then start mucking around with note choices with a reasonable degree of comfort.

    A very long-winded process for something that most jazz players can do on the fly.
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
  8. Ray Brown recently told me ...

    "Learn the instrument then trust your ears"

    What he means is, once you know all the notes on the fingerboard and their sounds, listen to the tune you're playing and play what your ear tells you to.


    Listen to Ray's bass lines and you hear very much not theory but beautiful melodic lines.

    Ray also recommended that I sing the melody of a tune and play the bass line in 2 along with my singing. This is invaluable not only to create the bass line, but also to learn the tune, and to build the ears.

    Ray was a genious.

    As indicated by my signature below, I live by Ray's theory.

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