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When you play a walking bass line....


Ross Brown

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When you play a walking bass line what are you thinking? What do you do?

 

The blues band is playing Dont Lose Your Cool. Nice walking line is supposed to drive the song. I am not a bass master like some on this forum so when I play a walking line I am ignant of proper music theory and I just play. This approach works, especially as we play it several times and I get a feel for what the guitarist is likely to do I will take some time to learn more theory here but the train has already left the station. This song is on the set list...

 

When you play a walking bass line are you thinking or playing. Are you careful to think about what should be played (and not played) or do you just parade around the neck of the bass and try to feel it.

 

When I listen to the play backs I like most of what I hear but there are definitely some interesting grace notes

 

Just trying to get into your heads a bit.

 

Thanks.

 

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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I actually play a straight boogie-woogie on "Don't Lose Your Cool," but I take opportunities to walk like a mofo on "Caldonia" during solos. Mostly I do chromatic approach notes or flat-V substitutions. I've been known to walk out a symmetrical scale under a I-IV-IV tune just to freak out the gtr. player, and because walking bores the pi$$ out of me.

 

There was a seminal jazz bassist named "Pops" Somebody who said, "Aw, I just play any old go-to-hell note that swings."

 

 

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I actually play a straight boogie-woogie on "Don't Lose Your Cool,"

 

That's what they described to me when they brought the tune (Guitarist and drummer came from another blues band). I may end up doing that but when I listen to the CD I hear more. Sounds cool. Just wondering in general how folks approach walking. Thanks

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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I try to keep it simple, and at the same time avoid repeating R-3-5s. I try to approach the changes from the 5th or from a step or half-step above or below. I try to give a feeling of structure w/o repetition (which I find pretty hard -- did I just repeat myself?)

I try to have enough feel for the song or the performance that I'm not just chasing the changes around the fretboard (which happens if I play too fast -- I start throwing out notes and unlike the famous quote, those notes do tend to go to hell and not swing).

 

If I can analyze the song a bit ahead of time I do try to say "Oh, I can play an F harmonic minor over those 2 bars" But I can't think fast enough when I play so I have to practice that and then play it.

 

But I see lines transcribed from Paul Chambers and Sam Jones and I realize I need better ears and quicker mind.

 

 

 

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Just wondering in general how folks approach walking. Thanks

 

With great disdain.

Not a fan of walking and I kinda suck at it so that makes it even worse and yep, it bores me too. There is a lot of room for improv and that's cool. Just isn't my thing.

 

My son and I watched The Blues Brothers over the weekend - Duck can really walk and it did inspire me to try harder.

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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A good portion of my playing is in a jazz context so I do a lot of walking. "Thinking" or "playing" depends on the tune. If it's one I know well (Take the A Train for example) I just play. If it's something more complex I need to think.

 

I try to vary my approach. Arpeggios, steps, chromatic, etc. I am an OK walker - not the best around, but I have certainly had my share of nights where I have sounded pretty darn good.

 

Listening to some great players - Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Paul Chambers - helps, as does just getting out there and doing it.

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I'm not much of a walker and tend to bluff my way through. What helps me is to have a an idea of where I'm going to end up at the start of the next bar (and it doesn't have to be the root).

 

As long as I'm thinking a bar or two ahead of the music, and as long as I know what my 'destination' is going to be it leaves room to play around a bit with the intervening notes.

 

If I keep on top of the chords I already know the 'safe' notes to play - and those that need more thought!

 

Once I know a tune better I sometimes put in the odd phrase to shadow the melody or make more of the colour (major, minor, major 7th etc) of the chord, especially if the guitarist is vamping out partial chord fragments.

 

It would be nice to say that it always works...

 

Cheers

 

Graham

 

www.talkingstrawberries.com - for rocking' blues, raw and fresh!
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Is there anything more complex than walking? Is there anything more fun? I take the dog for a walk all the time - sometimes we walk around the block, sometimes we walk across town.

 

I think more when I'm walking than any other time. I need to practice it in a jazz context but I love walking in a 1-4-5 blues.

 

There's just so many options, but the main theory is really not that hard - if you know the notes in the chord you're like 90 percent there. I'm sure other jazzers can explain better than me but that's seems like most of the battle - at least then you know what 'works'.

 

You definitely have to know where you need to go with the root so you can set it up with a proper approach note.

 

It has to swing, so whatever you do...it has to swing.

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The only song I walk in Aeroplane by RHCP the part over the guitar solo, and although I have 75% idea of what's going on sometimes I just improvise, more often than not I get away with it. But it's not correct by any strech of imagination

 

www.myspace.com/davidbassportugal

 

"And then the magical unicorn will come prancing down the rainbow and we'll all join hands for a rousing chorus of Kumbaya." - by davio

 

 

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When you play a walking bass line what are you thinking? What do you do?

Man, that ought to be the first line of a song...The Bassman's Blues...

 

I don't think when I'm walking a bass line. Well, unless I hit a clam, and then I'm thinking furiously. Really, it has become pretty automatic for me. But then, I don't do much walking over comlicated changes, either...

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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I walk, and I walk a lot. alot. or something.

 

I am clearly thinking "tension and release" over and over when walking. Those notes a half step above and below the next chord root are gold. Sometimes I'll just sit on one of those for a whole bar or more. And sometimes I don't resolve this tension until the second beat of the new change; this works great if you can get the drummer to also hit beat #2 really hard. Or play half notes on the upbeat for a couple of measures, then hit the next root of the chord hard on the downbeat when I return to walking. Again, bonus points if the drummer plays along. And I think about how empty my beer is; or if it's later in the set, how bad I have to pee.

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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I just keep to the chord and concentrate on the groove more than the notes I actually play, which means less is more as long as it sustain the beat and propels the song.

Mostly because I am afraid of getting lost and losing the groove.

 

I try to keep the dynamics and see if the guitarist, keys, drummer, are going to do something that maybe just maybe I can adapt to and make it look like it was planned.

"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet

 

Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.

 

 

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The groove is where it's at. It helps if you can find some songs that you can learn the licks from, and learn them well enough that you don't need a drummer to groove with. Once you get a base set of licks, try to expand on it every day.

In a blues band the bass player can have such an influence on the songs if he can be a leader. This means supplying the groove while the drummer lays down the beat, get hot enough to dance all around him. Everyone else falls into place behind them. Walking lines are merely the vehicle to accomplish this end.

It is my personal opinion that the black blues bands play the best blues, and that black bass players lay down some of the best grooves. Not trying to take anything away from my white brethren, it's just my opinion.

Hope this doesn't come off as snobbish, it's not meant to be.

Visit my band's new web site.

 

www.themojoroots.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hmm, what is my approach to walking the bass? I guess most the time it's to keep it fairly simple especially with a slow tune and build off the chords but in a pinch I'll use the ol' standby boogie-woogie pattern. I try not to vary whatever pattern I'm playing too much because to me it sounds kind of cluttered and loses the groove a little. I think you can take a little more liberty with a jumpier tune but still the simpler and cleaner the better, especiaaly if the guitar player is playing all over the place. If there's a lull in the action and there's an opportunity to add something I'll take it but I try not to go crazy.

Lydian mode? The only mode I know has the words "pie ala" in front of it.

http://www.myspace.com/theeldoradosband

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When you play a walking bass line what are you thinking? What do you do?

 

What am I thinking? I'm not particularly thinking, I'm just enjoying the music and reacting to what I hear.

 

To get to that point:

I can look at a chord chart for something I've never seen before and because of years of practice, I know:

what every note in every chord is.

what scales go with what chords.

where all these notes are on my bass.

what keys various sections of the song are in.

what all the possible connection notes are.

what is appropriate for the style I am playing. A walk in a blues band and a walk on a jazz tune are very different.

who am I playing with. Some players really need to hear a root on every chord change, others don't.

and a lot more stuff.

 

We all start somewhere. The question is whether you stay there or whether you move on. If you want to move on, Ed Friedland's walking bass books will give you a good direction, if you practice what you learn over a lot of different songs, not just on the exercises in the books.

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I think Jeremy has given tons of advice on this topic here in the past. Might be in one of the stickies even.

As long as I'm thinking a bar or two ahead of the music, and as long as I know what my 'destination' is going to be it leaves room to play around a bit with the intervening notes.
This is kind of what I do. It's part of the tension/release thing. Walk all over. Meander and almost get lost. Build the tension. Then as the end of the phrase comes up walk straight back to a big fat root, preferably with some chromatics, for the release.

 

A simplified example is the middle section of "Money" by Pink Floyd. The chromatic vamp doesn't really go anywhere until the end of the phrase when everyone dog piles on that descending pentatonic that ends with a chromatic down to the root.

 

Sometimes walking is more reflexive/instinctive, as in an up-tempo jazz piece where you can't stop playing eighths. Sometimes it is more about listening and reacting or leading, like at the blues/rock gig I filled in last Saturday.

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"When in doubt, go chromatic," I forget who said that.

 

I used Ed Friedland's walking books and I found them very helpful. Basically, there are no wrong notes - you just have to know how to resolve them properly. But knowing the chords and the chromatic 'half step' approach (there ya go, half step) is a huge chunk of the theory, I'd say. The theory can't be too complicated - musicians have to be able to learn it. ha ha ha

 

I recommend Ed's books - got me a reliable foundation to get moving in the right direction.

 

Jeremy, do you know where I find what scales go with what chords? I'd sure appreciate some sort of primer were I can learn.

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When you play a walking bass line what are you thinking? What do you do?

 

What am I thinking? I'm not particularly thinking, I'm just enjoying the music and reacting to what I hear.

 

To get to that point:

I can look at a chord chart for something I've never seen before and because of years of practice, I know:

what every note in every chord is.

what scales go with what chords.

where all these notes are on my bass.

what keys various sections of the song are in.

what all the possible connection notes are.

what is appropriate for the style I am playing. A walk in a blues band and a walk on a jazz tune are very different.

who am I playing with. Some players really need to hear a root on every chord change, others don't.

and a lot more stuff.

 

We all start somewhere. The question is whether you stay there or whether you move on. If you want to move on, Ed Friedland's walking bass books will give you a good direction, if you practice what you learn over a lot of different songs, not just on the exercises in the books.

 

I hope to master one of the things on your list...

 

Will get Ed's book... Thanks.

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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Jeremy, do you know where I find what scales go with what chords? I'd sure appreciate some sort of primer were I can learn.

 

There is a sticky "Welcome to the Forum" in it is a link to Jeremys Theory Thread. But to save you doing all that here is a direct link to it:

 

https://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/567498/page/0/fpart/1

Feel the groove internally within your own creativity. - fingertalkin

 

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Ross, when you are walking, you are basically describing the root movement of the chord progression. If you play roots on the downbeat (maybe another chord tone on the downbeat if you want a more melodic sound), then you just have to fill in three more notes that lead to the next chord. Those notes are always either chord tones, scale tones, or chromatic tones.

 

You might try this to experiment with chromatic leading tones:

-Play the root for three beats, then on beat 4 play a half-step above or below the root of the next measure.

-Play the root for two beats, then on beats 3 & 4 play two notes, beginning two half-steps above or below the root of the next measure.

Play the root for one beat, then on beats 2 & 3 & 4 play three notes, beginning three half-steps above or below the root of the next measure.

 

Now try the same thing using chord tones:

 

On beats 1 & 2 & 3, play root and two other chord tones. On beat 4 play a chromatic leading tone into the next root.

 

Now the same thing with scales:

 

On beats 1 & 2 & 3, play root and two other scale tones. On beat 4 play a chromatic leading tone into the next root.

 

Now that you've tried all three different concepts, just try and mix and match the chord tones, scale tones and chromatic leading tones. As long as you are really leading into the root (or maybe sometimes even another chord tone) on the downbeat of each bar, then the line will sound solid.

 

These are the basic options. Since I am a huge fan of great walking bass players, I've checked it out a lot over the last 30 years. When you practice it a lot by yourself, slowly, then you can just forget about it on the bandstand. Chad quoted the early New Orleans bassist Pops Foster above: "I just play any 'ol go-to-hell note that swings!"

 

Seriously, when you have enough of the little tricks under your fingers, then it just flows out. It's like driving all around your neighborhood every which wayyou always know where you are, what street you are on. You know the shortcuts and the scenic routes. You don't even have to think about it because you have done it so much.

 

www.goldsby.de
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When doing the standards with the old band (yeah, it was jazz), I did two things.

 

First, I just tried to simply outline the chords. People didn't go see Billie Holiday to watch the bass player.

 

Second, highlight the movement of the music. On the first verse of "Fly Me to the Moon", I actually walked the oppisite of the lead. When the lead was downscale, I was actually walking upscale. I thought the convergence and divergence was pretty cool, but I didn't want to over-do it.

 

Initially, you think a lot. Sometimes too much. The more you do it, the less you think and the more you feel.

 

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

 

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Not that I am any expert, but the stuff I have played walking lines on, here is how I try to approach it

 

-Who is doing what in the song?

-What is the feel the band is going for (blues, swing, rockabilly, etc)

-Does it complement the song or distract from it?

 

The last one is a biggie for me. Sometimes I want to try too hard because walking lines can get boring. But, groove trumps all else. You could be playing a killer bass line, but you drop the groove (or cause the rest of the band to drop the groove), you just went from a hero to a zero. Personally, I do a lot of the 'standard' walking lines, with some subtle and complimentary changes and flavor thrown in to break up the monotony. But, I play a lot of stuff rooted in blues- I like keeping it simpler for that.

 

Bottom line, go with your instinct and don't over-think it to death.

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind"- George Orwell
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When you play a walking bass line what are you thinking? What do you do?

 

What am I thinking? I'm not particularly thinking, I'm just enjoying the music and reacting to what I hear.

 

To get to that point:

I can look at a chord chart for something I've never seen before and because of years of practice, I know:

what every note in every chord is.

what scales go with what chords.

where all these notes are on my bass.

what keys various sections of the song are in.

what all the possible connection notes are.

what is appropriate for the style I am playing. A walk in a blues band and a walk on a jazz tune are very different.

who am I playing with. Some players really need to hear a root on every chord change, others don't.

and a lot more stuff.

 

We all start somewhere. The question is whether you stay there or whether you move on. If you want to move on, Ed Friedland's walking bass books will give you a good direction, if you practice what you learn over a lot of different songs, not just on the exercises in the books.

 

Yes. That.

 

If you're thinking too much you need to study/practice some more. There's nothing wrong with having to think about it. It just means you have work to do.

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Thanks for reminding me about Albert Collins, and Don't lose your Cool" frikkin' awesome!

"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet

 

Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.

 

 

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LEt me recommend "Cold Cuts" off of AC's Frozen ALive" album.

 

The album "Showdown" with AC, Johnny Copeland, and Robert Cray, also has some fantastic bass work, and yeah, these guys can play some guitar.

"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet

 

Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.

 

 

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YOu've got me walkin' down memory lane now 1983-19844, a brief time when blues made it back into the mainstream and onto rock radio. I also recommend Albert King's, "I'm in a Phone Booth, Baby" for a lot more tasty grooves in a I-IV-V vein.

"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet

 

Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.

 

 

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Wow, Jeremy and John laid it down as they are supposed to.

I just might add that Ron Carter has made a great book on the blues that I studied even if I do not play upright. I think it has changed my playing, even if I still have to go through most of the exercises.

I walk using the chromaticism that are inherent to blues, i.e. using the right places to go up or down one half step to jump between a chord and the next.

If this sound obscure, play a minor seventh arpeggio in G (G-B-D-F#), now a minor seventh in C (C, E, G, B).

Look for the common notes between the two arpeggios (B) and for the notes that are a half step apart (F#-G). I like to go from one arpeggio to the next in those spots and I also get on some ones on the third, but not on the tonic.

s that are between

-- Michele Costabile (http://proxybar.net)
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Jeremy, do you know where I find what scales go with what chords? I'd sure appreciate some sort of primer were I can learn.

 

There is a sticky "Welcome to the Forum" in it is a link to Jeremys Theory Thread. But to save you doing all that here is a direct link to it:

 

https://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/567498/page/0/fpart/1

 

Many thanks to you for the link and Jeremy for the thread. I will definitely check it out.

 

I'm a huge Albert 'The Master of the Telecaster' Collins too - one of the most unique sounds among guitarists and funky as hell. His early stuff blows me away. Lots of swinging walking bass lines all over that stuff.

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