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Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by jackmurray, Sep 17, 2005.

  1. I know this is a difficult and vague question which is very hard to explain in this forum, but I need help with walking. My brother said that a simple walk over major chords is 1 3 4 5 and 1 2 3 5 over minor chords. This doesn't sound altogether right when I play it (he's a guitarist). Is there any basic pattern or a standard rule for walking?

    Do you have any tips for making up good lines. I read that Marcus Miller said notes don't even matter for walking bass and that it's all about the timing. Is this right?

    Thanks, Jack
  2. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    Lower the 3rd a half step for minor chords.
  3. It can't be explained here. You should look for some good instructional materials, maybe starting (but not necessarily ending) with something like Ed Friedland's book on building walking bass lines. It's cheap and readily available, and it has some good advice.

    I wish I knew who first said notes don't matter in walking bass (I'm sure it can't have been Marcus; he must know better). I'd like, figuratively speaking, to take that person behind the barn and mess him up. It's BS. Notes matter a hell of a lot in walking. That's why you have to know your harmony to do it well.

    With a good walker, you can often hear the harmony in the bass line, even without any chordal instruments. (In some styles of jazz, the harmony may be more amorphous or shifting, so that isn't as true. But for most good players playing tunes with fairly defined harmony, it tends to be.) That's how important the notes are.
  4. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    hey Jack, I'll try to explain my opinion on "walking" as best I can, however, I really suggest asking your instructor (if you have one, if not I would recommend getting one. everyone should always seek to learn from others)

    anyways, here goes...in my opinon, your brother's take on walking is incorrect. what he is telling you to do is more of an arpeggio up a specific scale. "Walking" is a little different. the idea of walking is to resolve dissonant notes, which adds a ton of charactor to the music.

    For Example, lets say you are playing around in a Major scale at C. and lets say that you are playing it straight, nothing fancy. so just a run up the scale would look like this:
    C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C (being your Root,2,3,4,5,6,7,octave)
    so now lets say you're playing up the scale and you get to your 4th note (F) and you want to move up to A with a walk, you could play F, F#,G,G#,A (which would be a chromatic walk), so F,G,and A are in your scale and should work great, however, that F# and G# aren't, but as you climb up the notes, the G, and A will resolve the musical tension (or dissonance) created by playing the notes which happen to not be in the scale. of course this is a VERY simple example of a walk, and there are many many many different aspects of theory and technique that you can use to build a great walking line.

    So whoever said notes don't matter in a walk, was closer to being correct than your brother's information, because you should be able to resolve ANY note played, However, the earlier post that said notes do matter alot, is also correct, because you have to be very careful around your 3rd and 7th notes, as these notes are your functional tones. like in a major, you would play a Major 3rd, but if you played a minor third over a major chord, it would in most situations not work. the same is true with Dominant and Natural 7th's. you don't want to offend your functional tones. however a walk through a minor 3rd over a major chord can be done and sound sweet in the right situation, but it requires finesse and a purpose.

    understanding walking and being able to throw down a good walking line are things that take practice. and as I said earlier, if you don't have a bass instructor, I would highly recommend getting one, as they can help you develop these skills and understandings with a minimal of bad technique or misunderstanding the theory. :bassist:
  5. Thanks heaps for the advice, it actually is starting to make sense. I do have a teacher but I only see him once a week and I always have about 100 ideas and techniques I want to learn and I never get around to it.

    I'm sorry, I did misquote Marcus Miller. He said notes weren't so important in the old days because it was hard to hear them on acoustic basses, and he said he still thinks timing is more important.

    Here's The link. If it doesn't work, go to www.marcusmiller.com, go to FAQ, go to "learning practice technique" and go to "any suggestions for walking bass".

    Walking Bass

    Thanks again for your help, Jack
  6. Marcus is a superb bassist, but he's not the last word on walking bass. If you really want to learn to do that right, you'd be better off listening to people like Ray Brown, Buster Williams, or Red Mitchell, to name a few at random.
  7. Yep, I listen to all them. I've started upright too and I guess thats one of the motives behind this question. My problem is with some of those old jazz records I can't really pick out what they're playing. I often jam along to my dads bitches brew record and make up my own walks, but they don't sound good.

    A walk I'm often using is 1 5 5b 4. This is boring but it works OK I guess.

    Could you guys give me some very standard walks that I could use and build around. Just some of the simple ones, or tell me a good song with a standard walk I could find.

    Thanks again, Jack
  8. Man a previous poster pointed you in the right direction.
    In essence a walking bass line is a continuous solo that just goes on and on. It is a continuous work of art that can sustain harmony and also contrast it. It is an absolutely beautiful thing.
    There are of course standard walks that everyome uses. I am sure everyone has copped a few Chambers lines when using a blues and every one has their system.
    Man, it took me a while to totally be free but once you get there the possibilities are of course endless.
  9. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Think of it in terms of the bassline walking from chord to chord. If you're playing on, say, a Dm chord, what you'll want to play depends on where you're going next.

    The easiest way to do it is to play chord tones with an approach note going into the next chord.

    Good approach notes include notes that are a semitone from the chord you're going into, notes that are a scalar step away from the note you're going to and notes that are a fifth away from the note you're going to (dominant approach tones).

    Take the chord progression from Autumn Leaves...

    |Cm7 |F7 |Bbmaj7 |Ebmaj7 |
    |Am7b5 |D7 |Gm |Gm |

    You might want to play something like this...

     Cm7        F7        Bbmaj7    Ebmaj7
      Am7b5     D7        Gm7
    That's all chord tones with approach notes.

    What's going on is this:

    |1 b3 5 c |1 3 1 f |1 3 5 c |1 3 1 c |
    |1 b3 b5 c|1 5 3 f |1 5 b3 5 |1 b3 5 c |

    ...where "c" is a chromatic approach tone and "f" is dominant approach tone.
  10. ahhh... autumn leaves...sooo good and a classic if you ever play jazz live you'll probably end up playing this at one point in your career....

    anyways.. my personal advice would be don't necesarily start out with dissonant notes like b5. I'd advice first nail your arpeggios down, 1,3,5,7. Know the minor/major/and dominant versions of all these. You'll get to know the colors they add as you play them over the standard chords.

    as you get to know those make sure to practice reading chord charts where you'll change your mode with each new chord. I recommend learning ii-V-i progressions because that's a pretty popular progression and you'll get to know the dorian -> mixo switch which is quite common. Which is a minor to dominant arpeggio.

    That's the basics if IMO....After that start adding in more dissonant notes like your sixths, forths and then your b5 and use these to lead into the next chords etc... =)
  11. oh, and if it wasn't already mention you generally want to start on the root note of the chord. Other than that the third is a strong note as well. "...but then again, you can do whatever the hell you want"
  12. Thanks for the advie, I think I'm starting to get it now.

  13. Pruitt


    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    Excellent topic! I'm currently working on Walking style with my private instructor. The information many of you gave here was good reinforcement of what I've learned so far. Thanks!! :)