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Walking Solo: How To Make It Really Stand Out

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by kwelch28, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. kwelch28


    Aug 31, 2000
    Allegany, NY
    I have to do a walking type solo over rythm changes, but i'm walking the rest of the song and when it comes time to do a solo I want it to stand out. I'm fairly new to this jazz thing, whch is very addictive, and I can use all the help I can get on creating lines and solos. Thanks in advance for any help.
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Make it swing, play in tune, and get a huge sound (which comes, in part, from playing in tune).

    No flippancy, just the facts.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Oh --

    And don't try to play anything 'hip'. The result will invariably be anything but. Just play an honest line that you hear.
  4. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    Listen to some early Nat King Cole Trio recordings, that should give you some ideas,almost all bass solos are "walking" solos, or some George Duvivier when he played with Benny Goodman, some nice walking solos too...and like Ray said, make it Swing with a big sound, i guess thats what they are expecting from you to do. I once had the same problem when playing with a piano trio, i wanted to do something hip and fancy, and i was just overplaying , didnt sound right at all,i start keeping it simple and swingin' and things really worked out fine...i have to tell you , i really like those walking solos, and they are a good test for your
    "overplaying ,showing up" attitude, they really helped me out understanding my role as a soloist, more is not always better...

  5. Perhaps an interesting and valuable execise: while playing ONLY quarter notes, try to make up melodies on rhythm changes (or any other tune). So, do not play waliking bass lines with an emphasis on the root of the chords, but create "real" melodies. This will both help you in creating more meaningful solos without overplaying and in constructing more interesting walking bass lines.

  6. bass_means_LOW


    Apr 12, 2004
    Las Vegas
    great advice:)
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    This is the part where I was talking about trying to 'play hip'.

    Good stuff to practice, but when rubber hits the road, refer to my first two posts. You can play nothing buts the roots and touch God, if that's what's in your ears.
  8. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA

    Sometimes intentionally restricting yourself helps. My teacher has been forcing me to come up with lines under the following restrictions:

    1. Nothin' but quarter notes
    2. Nothin' but roots, thirds, and fifths.

    This is a painful but fantastically fruitful exercise for me. I had started walking scales and chromatic passing tones almost exclusively, and this is breaking me out of that mold. Really forces you to work out your inversions up and down the neck, 'cause you get bored pretty quick if you don't!

    But yeah, feel is everything. And tone -- play slow and *listen* -- that's what he keeps telling me. Also, playing with a bow is helping me get a bigger pizz tone. Very humbling, though!
  9. Yeah - I got told to just work around triads and their inversions - good point - but to stry off topic a little, can you elaborate on why you think the bow is getting you a "bigger" pizz tone and how it sounds different.

  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Cause pizz sound is as much about fingerboard hand as it is about plucking hand. At least that's how my teacher Joe approaches it.
  11. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Yeah I'd definately agree with that bowing helps your sound tons.
    You want sustain?... practice arco! You want to play better in tune?...practice arco!

  12. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Yup -- arco is very revealing of poor left hand technique. It takes some time to get a decent tone out of the bow. Once you can do it (even slowly) you'll notice huge differences based on left hand pressure, etc. And intonation problems will become clear. At first, I started to think of it as a slow-motion listening device for my left hand. Now I'm getting into it more for its own sake, and doing all of my "rote" practicing (scales, arpegios, Simandl etudes, etc.) with the bow 'cause it's so expressive, and so good for the left hand technique as well.

    Even so, it'll be a while before I can work it into any live stuff. *Very* challenging to get a reliably beautiful tone. Even at 90%, there's far too much ugliness!
  13. Hoping not to sound too much like Mr Linseed by posing a question and then agreeing with the answers I am sold on the advantages of practising arco - but never thought of it in terms of a bigger sound. A local pro (Dave Linane) used to tell me every time I met him and ad nauseum and on and on - "it's the left hand that plays the bass". In BG land Chuck Rainey witters on about the 'body amp', the bigger accoustic tone you can get from playing with good posture (somethin' like that - playing BGs unapmed can be very revealing).

    The only arco I do on gigs is the odd half chorus bassline and a figure to close instead of a sustained note. People think its clever coz its unusual. I do know better though.

    One other arco advantage I found that helped all my playing (this is a feeble attempt to link it to thread topic!) is balance - if you and the bass isn't balanced nicely you can't bow it but piz will let you get away with alsorts. Feeling in balance with the bass is so nice and I think it helps sense of time but its just a feeling.

    BTW have you tried any of this stuff out Kwelch - hows it doin'?
  14. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    Check out some recordings with Leroy Vinnegar. Most of his solos were walking solos and they always sound great. He would use a lot of skips to keep the momentum happening but harmonically he stuck to the changes.
  15. Ray Brown used to talk about "matching the hands". In other words, no matter how hard your attack is, it should be matched by the left hand in terms of holding the strings down to produce the notes.
  16. JohnBarr


    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
    Speaking not as one who plays (I'm just learning) but as a long time jazz listener, I can tell you that the solos I enjoy most are the ones that follow the advice given in the early posts of this thread.

    Simple, swinging. Emphasizing what's already there.
    And short (with all due respect).

    But as a novice player I appreciate how difficult the simple things are. I understand your dilemma.

  17. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    By all means, practice EVERYTHING arco. Play your walking basslines arco. Play the melody arco (in three different octaves). Definitely scales.
    You may not ever use your bow outside of your practice room, but it will show every little flaw in intonation and left hand technique and FORCE you to get better.

  18. Yeah, Leory Vinnegar, not a technical giant but one of my favorite bass players. If your foot doesn't tap and you don't smile when listening to Leroy, you're paralysed. The old Leroy Walks and Leroy Walks Again are great albums (with great bass sound), but also check out a live trio gig he did with the pianist Jessica Williams, called Encounters, a few years ago. Leroy does a great walking solo on If I were a Bell, even if his intonation is a bit off. (Well it's usually a bit off, but with Leory it doesn't matter!) This is one of my all time favorite albums.
  19. perytojie


    Dec 2, 2004
    Nancy, FRANCE
    if you really want to make it stand out, you should try to think about substitutions, rythmic variety ( syncopation, 3/4, 5/4 over 4/4) and create an atmosphere rather than trying to chorus... Try to repeat a rythmic/melodic pattern adding small changes to it as you play, it works very well if you want to increase tension...

    Also there's the half chorus, half walk style. Check out Larry Grenadier for instance. But I agree on the fact there's nothing better than walking with swing & melody.

    Everything's possible, be true to yourself... Don't think about what you're playing, just play!

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