View Full Version : Jon you play a little bass.........

08-15-2010, 12:44 PM
I play Pop, Rock and Country on my bass. Finding sheet music, for those styles, with the bass cleft shown is next to impossible. So I use fake chord or lead sheet, which as you know, does not have the bass cleft so ---- using the chord name I'm writing the bass lines I feel fits best. The band I'm with is a jamming band, no sheet music on stage.

My bass line will shoot for what ever the chord is. R-3-5-b7, R-b3-5-b7, etc. Then the reality of the beat and groove may dictate how much of that can be used, i.e. root only, R-5's with chromatic runs to the next chord perhaps R-3-5-8 for one measure then 8-7-6-5 on the second measure of the same chord. I have my favorite "things" my question deals with how many favorite things......

In my study of bass lines my latest "how to book" is Ed Friedland's Building Walking Bass Lines. Where I was glad to see Ed embraces chord tone interval numbers (R-3-5-b7) that's the way I think. In the study I've done so far there are a kizillions different bass line "riffs" shown as possible selections for each chord. I'm coming to the conclusion - if it's in scale it'll work.

For example:

How detailed do you get? I know it depends, but, really ......

08-15-2010, 02:10 PM
There's some common jazz and blues conventions I follow, and then mess around within them. (I never write these lines down, btw, I just improvise as I play).

So, a basic jazz convention for a walking line in a 4-beat measure is 1-2-3-5 (or 1-2-b3-5 for a minor chord). That puts the important 3rd of the chord on beat 3, and allows a drop from the 5th to the root of the next chord - or just a return to the root of the current chord, if it lasts.

In rock/blues, the equivalent (in my experience) is 1-3-5-6 - IOW, they favour the 5th on beat 3, not the 3rd. After the 6, the line will either go up to the octave of the root, or (commonly in blues) to the b7. So you get the cliche |1-3-5-6|b7-6-5-3| - which leads neatly back to where you started, or up a half-step to the root of a following chord.

The jazz 1-2-3-5 can be adapted in various ways. You can flatten the 5th to come down a half-step to the next root. And you can alter the line to 1-3-5-b5 to achieve that. Or you can just go up 1-2-b3-3, and on up a half-step to the next root - this works on major and minor chords! IOW, on a minor chord there is no harm in raising the 3rd to major on beat 4 in order to get to the next chord root - just as you would lower the 5th to do the same thing from above.

There's a nice cliche line you get in early R&B, where they use a jazz ii-V instead of the V-IV which is more common in rock: |1-2-b3-3-|-1-b7-6-5-|
In key of C, on Dm7-G7, that amounts to |D-E-F-F#|G-F-E-D| and back to C of course. You'll have heard that countless times!

In essence, the idea is to work your way from the root of one chord to the root of the next - the main rules seemingly being (a) to include some other chord tones on the way if you can (5th or 3rd being obvious favourites), and (b) to approach the next chord root by a half-step. Jazz prefers a half-step down, but a half-step up is also OK. Outside that - which is admittedly pretty prescriptive - anything goes. Notes (outside of chord tones) don't need to be diatonic.
IOW, the main impulse is not to spell out a chord arpeggio - although that often happens - but to get a moving line on to the next root. (By moving I don't mean emotional :) - I mean a sense of forward drive: melodic rather than harmonic thinking, IOW.)

Of course, I'm talking here purely about swing 4 rhythms! When it comes to straight Latin or rock feels - let alone funk - other considerations come into play, to do with WHERE you place the notes in time, not so much on what the notes actually are.

A book I've found invaluable as a source of jazz lines (helpling identify both the rules and how far you can bend them) is not a teaching book, but a transcription of lines played by Rufus Reid (who I was lucky enough to have lessons with once) on the Jamey Aebersold playalongs:

The volumes referred to contain simple generic sequences and blues, so you get lots of examples of how he varies what he does on the same changes.

(It seems you can download this book for free, although I've not had a lot of luck testing it out. But the one on your link above is very simlar in style, with some intriguing choices - eg NOT always beginning on the chord root, at least on the ii chord.)

08-15-2010, 06:27 PM
Thanks, I'll digest this and I'm sure come back for more.

Thanks again.

EDIT -- What you said about placing the intervals on the 3rd beat clears up a lot. I Like what you have about Jazz likes to have the 3rd interval on the 3rd beat, rock likes the 5th on the 3rd beat. I'd add Country lives on the root and the 5th then likes to take a chromatic run to the next chord.

I'm focusing on what you said -- working my way from the root of one chord to the root of the next chord - and then approach the next chord's root by a half step. I do this now with a full measure (4 note) chromatic run - C#, D, D#, E and land on F. I'm messing around with placing the dominant of the next chord - on my 4th beat of the old measure. This seems to be what I'm looking for. Well, what I'm working on right now. That is proving to be hard to weave in on the fly.

When I'm laying down a bass line with no music in front of me I'm thinking in chord tone interval numbers, i.e. R-3-5-8 or whatever. Bound to be a formula, trick, memory peg, something for coming up with the dominant note of the next chord....... suggestions, please Sir.

Thanks. appreciate your help.