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Writing Out Bass Parts to Jazz Tunes

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by Rob Hunter, Feb 21, 2005.


  1. On the subject of the Real Book, it makes me wonder how many of us bass players have our own version of it. I mean, I used the chords from various Real (another Fake) books to write simple basslines for my own fake book. I'm assuming others have done this as well, yes?

    Since my chords/lines were done in a notation program, I could probably post them somewhere as PDF files. Would anyone be interested in either viewing them or sharing their lines? I don't think copyright is an issue, since there are no lyrics or melody lines.

    Mind you, I'm talking about more than 100 jazz standards, so I don't want to go to all this trouble if no one's interested....

    Just a thought.
     
  2. fraublugher

    fraublugher

    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You write out all of your bass lines?
     
  4. Do I write out all my bass lines? Well, I guess it depends on what I'm doing! I mean, sometimes I'm given exactly what I'm supposed to play (in notation), sometimes I'm given a chord chart (so I write a basic line, if I have time), sometimes I'm given a tape or CD and told to "lift the line" (which I often type into the notation program, just to archive it).

    Sounds like a lot of work? Hey, I don't have a lot of other hobbies!!!!

    Oh, fraublugher, thanks for the link above. I'll check it out.
     
  5. Farin

    Farin

    Oct 19, 2004
    Akron, Ohio
    I couldnt imagine writing out basslines over chords. With the exception of some of the lines off So What, and some other classic bass lines, I just walk man, I just walk. Maybe I'm lazy, I dont know. Anyone with me on Just walking?
    Oh By the way thanks for the link.
     
  6. Had a drummer once who notated his drum parts for every tune he played. He was an accountant in his day job.
     
  7. I wish I knew more drummers who could read! Perhaps this is for a different thread, but I'd be curious to know if there are more "part timers" out there like me who don't think fast enough to blow through a lead sheet in real time. I mean, sure, I fake it when I have to. But I can't decipher a say, Dbm6, within a second - I have to think about the contents of the chord and know where it's going. So if I have time to review the chart and write a (hopefully) tasteful walking bassline, then I'm happy.

    I often wondered if there'd be any demand for fake books with bass lines. Maybe there isn't and I'm just better off playing with accountantsÂ….
     
  8. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    You'll find a lot of the jazz players around here (and generally) speaking eloquently about how jazz lives in the moment. Some go so far as to characterize reading as a necessary evil which has a tendency to interfere with listening. Those folks would probably say that the effort you put into drawing charts could be spent working on improvising in one way or another.
     
  9. Farin

    Farin

    Oct 19, 2004
    Akron, Ohio
    True True. I do belive reading is important tho. But the abilty to walk bass lines is just as important, as well as improv. in general. I wouldnt go as far as saying reading is a hinderance tho, I wish I could read better in fact.
     
  10. I don't disagree. I wish I could improvise better and create lines in my head a lot faster. But I'm not unhappy with my playing or my approach - I don't play for a living. And I'm certainly not going to apologize for being a good reader! (Not that anyone suggested I should.)

    There are different ways of making music and all should be celebrated and enjoyed.

    Anyway, I'm now starting to get an idea of why there aren't any "real books of basslines" and I'm okay with that. I have my own....
     
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    OK.
    I guess I'm having a hard time understanding how you are enjoying and celebrating an art based on the improvisation over form in constant time by removing all elements of improvisation from it.

    I don't play bass for a living either. But the ability to react in the moment to your musical environment is kind of the industry standard for playing jazz. What happens if the soloist takes more choruses than you've written out? Why would what you played under chorus two still make sense under chorus five? What happens if the soloist (or accompanist) plays harmonic material that follows the logic of their line and not necessarily the changes in the Real Book?

    I think that you would get more enjoyment from coming up with a line, in the moment, that is part of a CONVERSATION between you and the other musicians, rather than an intellectual construct that was put together away from any actual aural input. To me that's kind of like knowing that you and I are going to run into each other tomorrow, so you write out your half of the conversation tonight?
     
  12. Ed, it's not complicated. Not all of us improvise! One of my groups is an 18-piece swing band; I play the chart note for note (the principals in the wind sections often have 8-16 bars to go for it, but I choose to play the notes in front of me).

    Well, usually!

    As for smaller groups, my fake book offers a chorus of A, B, C sections, etc. If the guitarist wants to extend his solo for another chorus, then fine, I play my written part again. If he deviates from the chart, we're in trouble! But I don't play in these situations very often these days, I stick to the bigger bands. (The fake book is most often used for jamming at music camp, when we're not interested in any kind of perfection.) Hope this helps.
     
  13. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I'm not trying to be a smart-ass but: I doubt it.
     
  14. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    The analogy that comes to mind is the difference between baseball and T-ball. Players of T-ball can enjoy a pleasant day at the park running the bases. They enjoy guaranteed results. They use the same gear. But the essence of the game is the strategy and interaction between pitcher and catcher. Without that aspect it's not the same game, no matter how much it looks like the same game from a distance.

    If you don't improvise lines in a small group you can read through your book and enjoy hearing the great standards. You can work toward increased competence in time, sound and intonation. You can hang with the fellas. People in the audience will doubtless enjoy the music. But you miss the essential point of jazz, which is the search for fleeting beauty and unfiltered emotion in unique, momentary interactions. It's weird to even think about it, to be honest, and I can sense that it's giving some of us the creeps (not that we dislike you).

    Rob, improvising is the most fun and the most rewarding part of playing jazz music. If you work at it you will improve. If you don't work at it then it certainly won't come.

    Over & out.
     
  15. That's a great analogy! Put me in the T-ball camp. We all play music for a variety of reasons. I enjoy the camaraderie with friends (and the cold beer) as much as I enjoy the sound.

    There's only so much practice time to go around, so I choose to work on my intonation and arco. I'm also doing some more transcriptions, which is healthy. If I had more time, I'd certainly work on ear training, chord theory and (gasp) improv, but it's not in the cards right now.

    Still, I'm grateful there are bass players out there who know how to do it and give the rest of us something to aspire to....
     
  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I must admit, somebody calling themselves a jazz musician but not improvising is hard for me to understand. It's kind of like you want to sound like you're a jazz musician without really playing any jazz.

    To paraphrase Johnny Griffin, I must be from another planet, cause NONE of this **** makes any sense to me.
     
  17. Well, okay, call it something other than jazz. The swing band plays a lot of Miller, Basie, and favorites from the '30s and '40s. We can call it "swing music" if you don't want to call it jazz. Doesn't matter to me! (I think I'm probably done with this topic - let's hope so.)
     
  18. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Me, I can't see an improv-free jazz either and I'm a-workin' at it. But I think maybe I've got an angle on Rob's position if you'll allow me to haul out the painting analogy for a second time today.

    Paintings are great. People love them, have a long time. Styles come and go, some are popular, some aren't. Landscape is real popular, has been for a long time. Heck, it even seems like something you or I or anyone might have a go at. Enjoy it, lifetime hobby, etc.

    Landscape has its own world within the painting universe; within the landscape world there are all kinds of folks putting down paint and coming up with landscape effects. Within the domain of landscape exists Turner and Van Gogh but also paint-by-number Grand Canyons done on black velvet. Presumably all the creators of that stuff got some kind of satisfaction out of doing it, though. (Well, maybe not Vincent; it's hard to imagine him pleased...)

    You used to see a lot of amateur "Dixieland" bands and guys would have a ball doing it. Some of 'em were damn good. Now you see more swing stuff, amateur big bands. A lot of them work the way Rob describes.
     
  19. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Kinda like 'performance art'?
     
  20. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    SAM'L - suddenly I am reminded of a somewhat older thread of yours...