Walking over Chords

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bcarll, Mar 23, 2002.

  1. bcarll


    Oct 16, 2001
    Been practicing the scales and the ever so misunderstood MODES and it has finally all come together. With the help of "Band in a Box" I was able to lay down some chords, set the tempo, and played a couple of the modes over the chords. Jazzed up the chords and it really sounded good. I played them so much my hands and fingers are sore tonight. It's great when something finally falls in place and you can apply what you have been trying to learn. Just a few weeks ago modes were just more scales to learn and so intimidating but now I see the light. Really cool!

    Now for the question -- with the modes there are rules, if you will, of what modes to play over certain chords. So when it comes to walking chromatically are there any rules or is it just simply improv and a good ear for what's right?

  2. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Well, I don't know that their are rules, but what comes to mind in approach, would probably be:

    - Listen. What you play will be based upon what others are playing. Acheiving a tight rhythm section will depend upon how the drummer, pianist and any other rhythm player are playing.

    - Remember your role. In many situations, your bass will be supplying the harmonic foundation of the song. If you have a pianist who is laying off the root, you know that you may want to emphasize the root more. You don't have to be crazy and all over the place. Look at what Paul Chambers did. Sometimes it's enough to just stay basic if that helps define the harmony.

    - Movement. I guess this has a lot to do with defining harmony. When I say movement, what I'm thinking is how you propel the song. Do you maintain something melodic that helps move the song along.

    Um, my brain's fried. Can someone come by here and clean this up?
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY


    One common way to begin approaching the concept of walking lines is to think of the chord roots you're trying to connect and plan your approaches to those notes. This is commonly know as the "Target/Approach" concept. For starters, begin with target notes on the downbeats of measures, and try to lead into the root (which will be on the downbeat) from a half step above or below. If you have two chords per bar, this method will create many lines on its own. If you have one chord per bar, then you have to figure out what you want to play on beats 2 and 3 of each measure to lead into the "approach tones". Following this method will produce a solid workable basic walking line. After that, it gets more complicated.

    Good luck.
  4. I love fast walking bebop licks...that's what i'm learning right now...
  5. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I hear some crazy ****.
  6. bcarll


    Oct 16, 2001
    Hey guys

    You pros make it sound so easy -- "if you don't hear it don't play it ". I'm a pro woodworker and carver and when serving my apprenticeship we were asked to carve a small bird for one of our first projects. I asked the master carver how to begin and was told "you just carve away every thing that doesn't look like a bird." Very Similiar Quotes -- maybe learning to carve and learning to play the bass have a lot in common. I'll study on that!

  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    It shall be done. When? Soon...very soon. I'd love to get a theory forum set up, but in lieu of that, there will be links to any and all pertinent theory threads. These are exactly the kind of suggestions I need. Keep 'em coming.
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Well, I tried. Ask a general question, get a general answer. Ask a more specific question....

    Walking's not that hard, but you have to understand that it's an artform unto itself, and a lifetime of material waiting to be discovered. You can start simple by using rules to keep you in the ballpark at first, but after that your ears have to take over.
  9. bcarll


    Oct 16, 2001
    Thanks for your input -- you all have been a great help and saying that walking is an artform and not rule based has answered the question completely. It was a question without specifics and I appreciate you all filling in with detailed answers.

  10. I've heard alot about Band In A Box, where would I get one of these things?
  11. Would you mind detailing a few of these rules or referring me to a resource that has them? This has always been a big question of mine, I want to know the rules at least before I start breaking them. I guess what I'm looking for is something like "don't play an Eb when the guitarist is playing an A and the drummer is on the upbeat and the key of the song is in C." heh. if that makes any sense :)

    Or am I wrong about the concept of "rules" altogether. Meaning they are more along the lines of "Eb ALWAYS works in key of X" or "It's always sunny when the sun is out."
  12. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Well, yea. But then before you carve you do think about what a bird looks like don't you? And you think about the pose (wings out, wings in... turn of the head). Likely after carving 3 or 4 thousand birds you have a fair idea about what it will look like before you start. I'd be willing to guess that after a few years of carving the real mental activity would not be thinking about a bird, but rather choosing from a large number of options of birds.
  13. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    I must respectfully disagree. "Walking is an artform and not rule-based" is inaccurate and nowhere near a complete answer.

    Until you get to a level expert enough to break the rules on purpose, there ARE rules which should be followed. For just one example, the notes in walking directly from I to IV in a major key are different from the notes from IV to I.

    I will agree that, due to the almost infinite variations in walking, the rules may be hard to discern. But they do exist and you need to figure out what they are.
  14. Zebra


    Jun 26, 2005
    This is probably the most important aspect of walking basslines-- the approach note. It's what makes a walking bassline "walk." Without it, you're just playing arpeggios or modes.
    Walking does have rules and structures, but they're really not hard to learn. Try picking up "building walking basslines" (I think that's the title of the book.) It shows you all the different methods and such. After that, it's learning how to use those methods tastefully and appropriately, and that's where the "art" of walking bass comes in.
    Otherwise, I would say that walking basslines are very much about rules and structure.
  15. There's a well-worn concept in interior design/decorating, which says... place objects around the room until they look good, then remove half of them -- and that's good design. The same thing can probably be said about bass playing: cut 25% of your notes out of the groove and you're there. Lean and mean.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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