walking lines?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bassdementia, Aug 22, 2001.

  1. bassdementia

    bassdementia Guest

    Jul 14, 2001
    Apache Junction, AZ
    what exactly are walking lines? where are good places on the internet thatr transcribes these so i can learn them?:p
  2. wow, it's a good thing ed isn't here...

    dementia, a walking bassline is almost always improvised, given a set of changes. to create a walking bassline you have to have knowledge of music theory and chord construction. there's no shortcut on this one.

    basically, it's a steady line played over a set of chord changes with a note on the 1, 2, 3 and 4 of every bar (although a little rhythmic variation is common). but the actual notes played are totally dependent on the particular tune and the player's improvisation.
  3. purple_haze

    purple_haze Guest

    Jun 29, 2001
    London Town
    A walking bass line is the basis of ll jazz bass playing. The role of the bass in jazz is, aside form providing the bottom end, to outline the chord changes.

    Good ways to BEGIN building your own walking lines is to play arpeggios in 4/4 time. This, however, does not give the variety most jazz has.

    So, next, try to build your own walking lines by screwing around with scales. JUST FOLLOW THESE RULES:

    in 4/4

    Beat 1: Play the root of the chord
    Beat 2: Play any scale tone
    Beat 3: Play any other scale tone
    Beat 4: Play a passing tone leading to the next chord

    And you'll have a perfectly acceptable knowledge of walking bass.

    When you get really good, practice messing around with different modes of the major scale and try some more adventurous passing tones. Maybe go up an octave.

    When you get really, really good, try going into different rhythms and times, but bear in mind that it is very difficult to improvise in these situtations. And that's the main usage of walking bass: improvisation. I left out one fall-back if you get completely lost while improvising, if you lose your place/ time, just drop to an open E and pound that out for a few bars while you ponder saving face.

    Hope that helped, :). I was kinda all over the place.

    PS: Oh, and if you ask for tabs for jazz again, we will have to castrate you. ;)
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Haze, I want to clarify some points of your example.

    First, there are no RULES, but there are generally accepted guidelines.

    second, should look more like this:

    Beat 1: Play the root
    Beat 2: Play a scale tone
    Beat 3: Play any other chord tone
    Beat 4: Play an approach to the next chord root (I know that's what you meant, but I wanted to clarify that you're trying to lead into the root of the next chord - most often by a scale tone or half step)

    You can see that the study of just these guidelines (not to mention the countless variations) can take years. The goal of all this is to make the line as smooth as possible, using large intervelic leaps to accent important parts of the line.

    One other thing: walking bass is the basis of swing, and the knowledge gained from successfully learning to walk will enable you to play jazz (or any other type of music, for that matter) much better.

    Good luck!
  5. BassDude24

    BassDude24 Guest

    Sep 12, 2000
    K everybody else covered the esential bassics.

    When playing, it is always safe to pull from the triad. Keep in mind that there are stipulations.

    Like if the song calls for an A-7 (A minor 7th chord)

    It will always be safe to play the
    Flatted 3rd
    The 5th
    or the flatted 7th of the A scale

    it is always good to play the root on the downbeat of one.

    And if you know the key signature, it is ok to pull any note from within that key signature, keeping in mind yet again that it is a good idea to play the root on one.
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Sorry, I've got to correct you there. In jazz, the key signature usually has very little to do with the tune. Jazz is about 'key of the moment', where a simple, 32 bar form can change keys 10-15 times (sometimes more!). All this will happen without the key signature changing. This is why it's important to understand functional harmony, and use the chord, and thier corresponding scales, to outline the chord changes, not the key signature.
  7. neptoon


    Jul 25, 2000
    Kings Bay, GA
    Hey, Jon...did they teach you all of that in the Army? :eek: HOOAH!!
  8. BassDude24

    BassDude24 Guest

    Sep 12, 2000
    Sorry, I was talking about blues, I have done very little work with Jazz.

    Nevertheless, it is true that it is always safe to pull from the chord.
  9. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Actually, most of it! :) how to play the electric bass in 23 easy weeks.

    Now that I know how to play, they let me in the Air Force ;)
  10. fat-bottom

    fat-bottom Guest

    Apr 2, 2001
    Portland, Oregon
    Try playing a 12 bar blues line using only the arpeggio of the chord (OK to add 9).
    Then try playing a solo over the same line without touching the root of the chord.
    This is an eye opener!
  11. Hey where can I find the tabs for that man???

    :D :p :confused:
  12. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Posted this before; see if it does you any good.

    First thing to know is you want to use the notes you play not only to
    define the chord you're playing, but to provide forward motion by
    setting up the chord that's COMING UP. So you need to look ahead to the
    next two or three chords to decide how you're going to handle "this

    Lots of jazz progressions move down in fifths, as in iii-vi-ii-V-I.
    I'll confine my comments to these progressions since they are so
    common. Chords last largely either 4 beats or 2 beats.

    If a chord is 4 beats, you can go scalar down one scale degree per beat,
    or you can go scalar up inserting an accidental between the 2nd and 3rd
    scale degree. Also note that the half-step is the most powerful force
    in music. You want to propel the music forward, and you can do that by
    setting up anticipation of where the next note will be. For this you
    can use the tritone substitution.

    Examples of all of the above, using the progression Bb7 - Eb7:

    Scalar down: | Bb Ab G F | Eb.....
    Scalar up: | Bb C C# D | Eb....
    Tritone sub: | Bb Ab F E | Eb....

    Notice in the last two examples how inevitable the Eb is after the two
    half steps right before it. That is the propulsion you want to create.

    You can also add the tritone sub to an arpeggio like so:

    | Bb D F E | Eb.... (try this with the D BELOW the Bb too!)

    Or mix up the arpeggio:

    | Bb F D E | Eb.... (Again, try the F either below or above the Bb.)

    Also consider repeated notes:

    | Bb Bb D D | Eb.....
    If you do this for a whole chorus, it can really "lay down the law" and
    bring everyone "back to earth" if things have been kind of wild for a
    couple of choruses.

    For two beats per chord, the easiest 2nd note choice is either the 3rd
    or the tritone of the chord you're in -- which amounts to approaching
    the next root from either above or below by a half step.

    | Bb D Eb....|

    | Bb E Eb....|

    This will work in either the front half or the back half of any bar.

    Within all of this, you need to keep track primarily of the 3rd and the
    7th. You need to play major chords as major chords and minor as minor.
    Similarly, you need to play maj7 chords with the major 7th, and dominant
    ("plain old 7th") chords with the lowered 7th. The tritone substitution
    does not work well with maj7 chords. To my ear, the tritone sub works
    OK under minor 7th chords. You may not agree -- in which case, it's
    your bass line, play it how you want it!

    NOW: Atmospherics. Feel.

    I've always tried to mix up these approaches within a chorus. But use
    your ears: If the arpeggio thing is sounding kind of sing-songy, go to
    scalar. When the repeated note trick wears out, drop it. And when the
    quarter-note thing gets kind of ploddy, try to anticipate when the
    drummer (or anyone else, for that matter) is going to hit a syncopated
    accent (like the "and" of beat 4 in the last bar of a whole chorus), and
    HIT IT WITH 'EM. You will then be entering the world of really playing
    together, learning each others' styles and tastes and complimenting each
    other. With enough playing time with a particular musician (I discuss
    the drummer fequently because the drum-bass interaction is so
    important), you'll get to know how they set up particular little
    phrases, and you'll be able to communicate what's coming UP through what
    you're playing NOW. (It is also entirely legal to use your face and
    body to communicate as well.) This communication through music is the
    essence of good jazz. It's a lofty goal but entirely achievable.

    This little lesson ought to keep you busy for a rehearsal or two. It's
    kept me busy for the last 25 years. Good luck!

    [email protected]
  13. aaguudis

    aaguudis Guest

    Apr 3, 2001

    AND! AND!

    timekeeper! thats why you play on every beat. in jazz the drummer is not the timekeeper its the bass player so play with a metronome!! seriously you're better off playing wrong notes and keeping the beat than playing all the right notes but losing the beat. everyone else in the band keeps the time from you.
  14. elbass

    elbass Guest

    Aug 6, 2001
    San Antonio TX
    I'm glad to see this discussion switch to the subject of time, because to me, that's what makes walking lines "walk." However, I have to disagree the statement that the drummer is not the timekeeper in jazz; the bass and drums work together to establish the groove. Way back in the dark ages when I was in college, I attended a clinic given by Rufus Ried. He described the concept as "locking up" with the drummer's ride cymbal. In swing, the drummer essentially plays quarter-notes on the ride cymbal with eighth-note embellishments. The bassist needs to listen to the ride and make the bass notes lock up with the ride cymbal, almost with the sense of creating one composite sound. Rufus emphasized the importance of this idea by recommending the bass player set up on the ride cymbal side of the drummer in a jazz setting.

    By the way, I'm one of the guys who let Pacman join the Air Force-and he really DOES know how to play! :D
  15. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I'll get that check to you soon :D
  16. I've heard the same things, most recently at the Indy Convention. And I, along with some cats I highly respect,
    have a slightly different opinion. It's good advice for a beginner or intermediate player who has trouble with his time, provided he's playing with a solid drummer. All the professionals I know, including professional drummers, know the bass leads the group and that, all things being equal, the drummer locks into the bass.

    I do recognize that the advice was directed to a beginner, but I wanted to toss this out anyway.

    One of the funniest things I heard in Indy was at Rufus' masterclass when he told a cat,"your playin' is plain mashed potatoes with no gravy, butter, spices, nothin'." Then he told the cat to get some gravy and butter, and that paprika is a good spice.
  17. eViL cAkE

    eViL cAkE Guest

    Sep 6, 2001
    Just East of Dallas

    I'd just like to tell you that these guidelines and concepts for developing walking basslines, that are be tossed around for you by these guys are also good approaches for composing bass lines in any style of music. The art of melodically moving from one chord root to the next, without obscuring the chord progression is an invaluable asset for a bassist in any type of band, jazz or otherwise. I play in a somewhat "Radiohead meets Pink Floyd meets Stone Temple Pilots" kind of alternative rock band, and a somewhat "Tool meets Dream Theatre meets Nine Inch Nails" kind of progressive metal band, both about as far removed from jazz as many would think you could get. However, the lessons I've had from primarily jazz players and the workshops and clinics I've attended at North Texas State have proved invaluable to me. Now, I don't know if wether or not you care about playing styles of music other than jazz, but I just had to give my proverbial $0.10 on the whole thing.

    eViL cAkE

    P.S. Oh yeah. I also feel that you shouldn't feel like you have to start out "improvising" walking basslines from your head, using these guidelines from the get go. A lot of us are visual learners, and if you can read and write musical notation, there's nothing wrong with using these guidelines to map out basic walking basslines to different chord progressions on manuscript paper. However this should probably only be a "just getting your feet wet" sort of practice, since internalizing the way walking basslines work is the goal.

    Alright, now I'm done. :)
  18. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    In walking swing like bebop, I had always heard that the bass is slightly ahead of the beat, drums are right on it, and everybody else hangs behind. It is this tension with the bass pulling and the horns/piano lagging that creates good jazz.

    That having been said, I have heard of big band rhythm sections that work the other way -- drums pulling and bass kind of applying the brakes to create the tension.
  19. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Well, it's always different, really. (Depending on the section, the style, who the rhythm section is dragging along :D .....) To be perfectly honest, in the groups I've played with, it's not something that's really discussed - you just play it where it's supposed to be. I guess if I thought about it, the bop stuff I like to play a little up front, the swing I like a little on the back edge. I'm working with a drummer who's really good at putting it square on, mostly giving me the option, but sometimes being so solid that nobody has a choice :cool: