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what is walking the bass lines??/merged thread

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by billybo, Nov 19, 2002.

  1. billybo


    Jul 18, 2002
    just want to know
  2. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Actually the expression is "walking bass lines". The name comes from the feeling of movement generated by quarter notes in a jazz (and sometimes blues, rock, gospel, etc.) bass line. As the song progresses, one can almost feel the bass "walk" over the chord changes.

    Playing effective walking lines requires that one have an understanding of chords and how best to choose which notes to play to move the song along smoothly. walking lines are uncluttered; therefore a badly chosen note stands out as dissonant. Also the timing of a walking bassline has to be controlled too. If the bassline does not walk, because the bassist is out of time, the bassline will not propel the song forward.
  3. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000
    Im actually having this lesson right now at music school:

    *ahem* let me try to translate this from spanish and lets see if I dont mess up lol :D

    to form a simple walking bass line:

    first, all notes are quarter notes so there are 4 notes to be played on a 4/4 time measure:

    1st - Root note
    2nd - any note within the scale of the chord you are playing on
    3rd - an important note of the scale (the Third, the fifth or the Seventh)
    4th - Cromatism (spelling?? dunno in english), well, just play a half note UP or DOWN of the next root note of the next chord in the progression

    well, this should sound easier with notation and a soundfile but i don't have both :(

    get a book :p

    ps: i have to do a walking line over "Autumn Leaves" for the next friday, wish me luck :D
  4. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Walking basslines as previously stated give the song a forward feeling of movement, they propell the song through the changes.

    To effectivly do these you need to have a knowledge of scales, chord structure, (which goes hand in hand with the scales IMO) and some basic theory.

    Heres a link with some very important information that will help you to create walking basslines.

  5. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    That's one way to make up a bassline when you're new to walking, but every good jazz bassist will mix it up, and play pretty much any note on any beat ( as a result of them playing what they hear).

    It's kinda like making a melodic response to the harmony going on....

  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Someone just did. ;)
  7. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000
    Cassanova just did
  8. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Yeah, I was kind of wondering why nobody else had mentioned Chris' lesson. It's the way to go. Very very nice explanation of the beginning steps to constructing walking basslines.
  9. Looking for any tips anyone can give me about learning to walk. on bass, I've heard all sorts of wisecracks about "one foot in front of the other sillyhead!" from my non-musical friends. but seriously, I'm sure a lot of people out there have different ideas of how they think of walking, if some of you could post with some suggestions it'd be much appreciated.
  10. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks! In Memoriam

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    I'm gonna merge the 2 walking threads here.......

    Chris A.:rolleyes:
  11. bass_man86


    Apr 29, 2002
    Virginia Beach
    When I was studying jazz many years ago, my instructor me a couple of basic formulas for constructing walking bass lines, but generally speking a walking bass line consists of quarter notes, depending on what time signature you are using of course. The most basic formulas are 1, 2, 3, 5 which works well for jazz and 1, 3, 5, 7 which works well for stuff like rockabilly. Other than that I will have to echo the other replies.
  12. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    I have a list I keep of (basic) walking bass tips gathered from here, my bass teacher, and articles (I believe most of this comes from a series of articles in Bass Player a year or so ago):

    1. Try using the 1st 3 notes of the mode (scale degrees 1,2, and 3 or 8, 7, and 6). For the 4th note, play a tone (either the 1,3,5, or 7 of the chord you are on. Make sure the 4th note is also immediately above or below the root of the progressions's very next chord.

    2. Descending or ascending lines. My teacher has told me to try not to ascend/descend for more than 2 bars though.

    3. Roots and 5ths.

    4. Arpeggiate

    5. Descending arpeggio followed by an ascending one.

    6. Chromatic approach tones - try using a note a half-step above or below the next chord's root.

    7. Triplets (8th note/tied triplets) for decoration on the 1st beat. Use chord tones.

    Hope this helps :)
  13. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    In my opinion the best way to understand how a walking line is made up is to transcribe an easy blues line from a recording. Something with a very clear bass where the tones are easy to identfy is of course good. (I assume you already know the changes for a 12-bar blues).

    Analyze note pitch and rhythm and also the "feel" of the line ( is it legato, jumpy.,.smooth, stiff etc.)

    Also, a common way to approach the 4th note of the bar is to lead it to the next chord :

    1. diatonically, like, a scalestep below or above to the new chord root

    2. chromatically, as mentioned above...

    3. and using the dominant that leads to the next chord.

    Anything can work though...the goal is to not think like theory-based but be able to play a meaningful line that you hear in your head, that hopefully propells the song forward harmonically....

  14. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    no i didnt, mine was the one gard started about intervals, i used that one because i feel they are something one must know when using the scale tones to create a functional walking bassline.....i didnt know skitzed fishedgeral had a thread on them or id have actually posted it.

    sorry but i dont really post as much, i just come on, do mod duties and leave ususally.
  15. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000
    oh sorry :p

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