walking repeats

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Aor82, May 6, 2017.

  1. Aor82


    Apr 15, 2017
    I'm pretty new to the Jazz and walking thing.
    In the Jazz style, in a given standard, one should create a different walking line for each cycle of A or B section? Or is it possible to play the same walking line for each section of A or B during the piece?

  2. sean_on_bass

    sean_on_bass Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2005
    Usually, a different walking line for each cycle. In fact, you may never play it the same way twice.

    But don't my word for it. Consult your favorite jazz recordings and take note of what happens. Jazz is best learned through audible example, with text as a supplement.
  3. Common thinking says play it the first time in a standard way that doesn't challenge the listener, and forecasts the chord structure. On subsequent passes you get to delve a little deeper. Experiment with different registers, inversions, pedals, altered notes, etc.

    It shouldn't be the same way every time.
    jthisdell and Aor82 like this.
  4. Aor82


    Apr 15, 2017

    I'm asking it for the walking bass composing sake.
    if I play a spontaneous walking, of course, it will never be the same.
  5. Walking lines generally are improvised, not composed.
    JRA likes this.
  6. The way I see it, and teach it, there are 3 ways to walk: chromatically, like a scale, like a chord (arpeggio). Also combinations of those 3.
    For most movement you can choose to move up or down to the next chord.
    This gives you 6 different choices for a walking line, already.

    The rest is math: "I'm on a D. I need to get to a G. I have four beats to do it."

    It is also imperative to read a full measure ahead. If you don't know the next root till beat 4, it is too late to design your walk.
    Wallower, MalcolmAmos and RickyT like this.
  7. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    Transcribe transcribe transcribe!

    You will find many cases of repetition in the recordings. This is called vocabulary. Learn the particular way your jazz bass hero walks over a blues, rhythm changes, and ii-V's in general. Each master had his or her own way of walking through harmony. They also had common, or "best practice" ways of doing it.

    No need to reinvent the wheel.
    Garagiste, dkziemann and Michael Karn like this.
  8. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
  9. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    not sure what you mean by "composing" a walking line: unless you mean composing while you are playing it = improvise!

    Gio Orfitinho, Seanto , and dreamadream99 have it, IMO.
  10. dkziemann


    Dec 13, 2007
    Vienna, Austria
    Endorsed by D'Addario
    There are plenty of "rules" that most of us walking bassists adhere to, both in practice and also when explaining to other bassists how to do these tasks. And then, of course, we (all of us!) will break these rules while in the moment. Take this advice with a grain of salt!

    You will find numerous explanations of how to walk bass lines, both in books, videos, and even in person with different teachers. Some will favor chromaticism, diatonicism, arpeggios, scales... they're all a similar means to the same end. Much of what we do has to do with how it sounds—not just harmonically, but in terms of tonal quality, range, rhythm, articulation, dynamic, etc. Harmony is just one piece of the pie.

    In terms of repeating harmonic content, sure it's okay. However if you only play the same thing over and over, it's like having one or two phrases that you repeat in a conversation—does this actually contribute meaningfully to the people you're talking with? If not, then don't use them! However, if they are meaningful and do contribute with impact, then yes it's okay. This is all defined in the moment, of course. I like to advocate for composing bass lines as a means of having something to play in the moment that works. Research positively correlates composition and improvisation, however, this again is only one piece of the learning pie.

    If you listen to Sam Jones walk bass lines, you'd be surprised at how many times you'll hear the same walking pattern in the same part of the each chorus. This is okay! It felt GREAT and contributed meaningfully. Of course, Sam Jones's depth of knowledge was immense and he didn't just play the same thing over because that's all he knew. The best answer, as stated above is the following: LISTEN TO THE RECORDS! All the information is in there. It's a long, long, long journey to understand this language... but it will provide you all the answers you could ever want. If you want help understanding how to access a recording aurally (and determining what to listen for... it can be overwhelming), please don't hesitate to reach out.
  11. Aor82


    Apr 15, 2017
    To write it with notes on a sheet of paper and to learn it from the scores
    dkziemann and JRA like this.
  12. sean_on_bass

    sean_on_bass Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2005
    Ok, you'll want to study some big band charts which often times have a written walking bass line. When a line is written, it will usually vary from section to section even if the harmonic progression hasn't changed. Some big band charts don't have a written line though, and it is up to you to compose your line on the spot. Just as if it were written, you will create variations in different sections of the tune.
    Aor82 likes this.
  13. Aor82


    Apr 15, 2017
    So repeats are not accepted?
  14. For me a lot of the written walking lines in big band charts are useless at a certain point, and they're usually in middle school or high school level charts. When I started playing in high school, I started out playing them because I was new to jazz and really did not comprehend how it worked. After a while I got bored and started to mess around with the written lines and then eventually started playing my own. In the end though, listening to and transcribing your favorite bass players will give you far more info than a big band chart could ever think of doing. In regards to repeating figures, if it sounds good and fits well with the music going on around you then by all means do it. Walking over harmony is really about providing a rock solid bottom for the ensemble to grow from, more so than playing what is theoretically correct.
    Aor82 likes this.
  15. Aor82


    Apr 15, 2017
    What do you mean by "rock solid bottom" if it's not the harmonic underline provided by the bass?
  16. sean_on_bass

    sean_on_bass Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2005
    They are not preferred, and variation is encouraged in a walking bass line. While this is the norm, this is not a hard rule either. If a composer's intent requires the repetition of a walking bass sequence, then a repeat may occur. As with all things jazz, it depends.
    Aor82 likes this.
  17. sean_on_bass

    sean_on_bass Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2005
    Like you i don't tend to play the written line, at least when the changes are written. Sometimes they are not, and a written line is all that is provided. I then take one of two approaches, since i am usually sight reading these charts and not working on them at home. I either play the line as written assuming it's at a tempo i can handle. Or i look at the first note of each measure and make an assumption that is the root of the harmony and play off that for the given key. The latter strategy is really to compensate for my lack of ability to sight read notes on the staff well at higher tempos. Ideally i wouldn't have that problem but need more practice.
    Aor82 likes this.
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