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Walk with me In the first part of a new series on walking bass, Mauro Battisti introduces the basics of JALKING BASS IS ONE. OF THE < techni Wher ence this technique peculiar techniques on the double bass in jazz. In this first article we'll uncover some of its distinetive elements and answer frequently asked ‘questions that arise when dealing with the walking bass for the first time First of all, what is the function of the ALL OF ME (6 sts ret) walking bass? With its urgent and regu- Sh ones ;A-B ream WALKING 6486 By MILT HINTON, Jar articulation of ds, the walking bass site underlines the succession of chords that are the foundation of the composition and gives the necessary shythmic- harmonic support to the band. It has a melodie function as well, through the use of counterpoint, that is expressed in the constant interaction of the bass with the other voices of the ensemble (remember that jazz improvisation is instantaneous collective composition). What, then, is the first: step for creating a walking-bass line? Know the chords wel see box on p.2i] and under- stand their function within the harmonie structure of the composition. It is also {important to know the principal melody or theme that gives shape to the whole improvisational structure ofthe piece. How does the bassist decide which ‘notes touse? The most basic way to create ‘astvong line isto move around the notes of the triad ~ the root, third and fifth. Other notes ~ such as the seventh, the extensions (the ninth, eleventh, thir teenth) and non-chordal notes are sel SSS mainly as passing notes or appoggiatnra i 4 (for tension on a strong beat), To make the a aa oo fine dance and give ita propulsive push. it isimportant that it moves forward and the chordsare connected in a fluid way. tot In honour of the late bassist Milt galt a7 ch Hinton, let's analyse one of his walkingt ~ bass lines in the popular standard Alf of ‘Me [see right). Thave indicated.a possibhe He fingering under the stave (notice the use ofthe open string) z ” ” ® & owes ‘Ns AL GREYS ALSOM BET AMO SAUNA = COLOKEA won Lets begin by distinguishing the three main movements ofthe walkingcbass line: 1, Chordal movement that proceeds by skips using the notes ofthe chords, chord degree 2. Scalar movement that proceeds step-wise according to the chord-related scale. a o Leia s Lea sms) using non-chordal tones. 3. Chromatic movement that proceeds in half-steps (chromati es 17 ©@p-5 43 t Chordal movement highlights the harmonic function of the walking bass. With scalar movement, the walking bass gains more melodic liberty, while chromatic movement gives the line direction, increasing the sense of forward motion. We now take a closer look at the important characteristics of Milt Hintor's line that reveal some of the fundamental principles for improvising a good walking bass: 1 Chord changes on the downbeat are emphasised by a note of the triad (root, third or fifth) which produces a clear and solid ‘movement. The root, being the strongest note in the triad, reinforces the chord function, 1 “6 1050 4 o a7 oot 1 © +S 3 2. Tocreate aflowing and continuous line, the chords are connected by ‘directional intervals:half-step (semitone), whole step (tone) and up a fourth (which is the same as down a fifth - the strongest interval in the diatonic system, due to the strength of attraction betwe sn dominant and tonic). o oe Ar og - o var a ee yiteteies 29Se pees eee ~ ws . ws down Sth. 3. Non-chordal notes are mostly use as chromatic approaches ca) tochordal notes. sen Inbar 10, non-chordal notes are used as upper and lower neighbouring notes (double chromatic approach) that lead to the ‘target note’. This is typical of the bebop style. ” Uptow. 1 1 4."To create variety in the rhythmic movement, Hinton makes intelligent and functional use of triplets, which recreate the basic feelingof swing. ” ” th o 9 ‘You can now test these basic techniques in the following way: try to create a purely chordal walking-bass line based on the notes of the triad and connect, where possible, the chords by directional intervals: half-step (semi-tone), whole step (tone), up fourth oF down a fifth, The following example shows a walking bass that follows these criteria on a typical 12-bar blues harmonie structure. (Note that the example isall in the first position.) In the next article, we will discuss these and other fandamental aspects of the walking bass in more depth. In the meantime, ‘experiment with creating your own bass line in the same way on blues and other standard tunes you like. This is a good way of mastering the use of triads, not as separate blocks or isolated arpegsos, but connected toa continvous, uid line, And remember: Iisten to the great masters as much as you can, BS Eine eee In jazz, chords are generally indioated by - symbole. This practice originates in the joy es Soa se < figured bass used in baroque music. The ‘musicians that created the basso continuo ts a for the violone improvised, elaborating eo st tna nec age sd their accompaniments on the basis of ——pinor at ‘a numeric code within the harmonic ‘structure ofthe composition ‘Jazz chords aro usually divided into five cuneate families: major chords (often succeeded Dominant 7th a ‘2 by symbols such as "8 or s of ‘mal minor chords (indicated by ~' or ‘min’ ‘dominant-seventh chords; hall-diminished chords (with the symbol ‘o'); and Here you can observe how different chords belong to the same key and consequently share the same seale, This kind of analysis helps to connect chords and tocreate a more coherent walking-bass line To clarify the harmonie path, itis sometimes easier to think in terms of modes to distinguish the chords’ related scales. Modes, ‘tenerally elated tothe three main scales (major, melodie minor and harmonic mino®), are the different scales starting on each of the seven degrees of the respective main scale (see box on p.22 for the seven modes of a major and a metodic minor scale). The seven odes are the same scale seen from seven different points of view. : ‘The concept of modes led to the establishment of abetter relationship between the chords ofa scale according to thei function in, the harmonic hierarchy. In the first bars of My Romance, the tonal centre is © major and each chord corresponds to a different degree within that same tonal system. To build your own scalar bass line for the opening of My Romance you could think in terms of Cmajorstarting from C (fonian mode); then from F (lydian mode); from E (phrygian mode); from A (aeolian mode): from D (dorian mode); from G (mixolydian mode); and from C (ionian mode). ‘The walking-bass line played by Oscar Pettiford on Ellington's classic It Don’t Mean A Thing (see p.23) shows a beautiful balance Wetween the three melodic movements - chordal, scalar and chromatic, Let's focus on Pettiford’s use of simple but eff&ctive scalar fragments. In this walking-bass line, he often uses the frst degrees ofthe chord-related scale goingback tothe roo, oa Et : bt ImodeofF major sale V mole of B major scale G dorian Fninclyion 24 Pettiford uses the sixthas the last note to connect the chords smoothly, and he also employs the typical and effective melodic pattern Bed-5-4-3-2-(1) & ee te 124 54 m2 Bymajorscale [I mode of E, major scale Gmelodic minor scale F dorian Remember, scalar movement enhances the melodic function of walking bass and allows rmuch more freedom to use notes that don't belong to the triad (as discussed in the previous articles). Within the scalar flow, the dissonances float in a natural way toward thenext consonant note ofthe triad, with an alternate feeling of tension and release. The inal example isa useful exercise for building your own walking-bass line according to the concepts explained up tonow. Itis awalking-bass line on a B, blues structure; built with mixed chordal and scalar movements, Marked above the staves the chord or scale degree, depending on the type of movement (scalar or chordal). Use the chord-scale relationship to discover which scale fragments were used. Where the line moves beyond the first position there isa suggested fingering under the stave. ar eo cy fa gin hE es 8 bts 6 oy s pups 8m Try to build a similar line on a blues or any other harmonic structure (it may help to be accompanied on the piano). Be aware of chordal and scalar choices and connect chords smoothly. Remember that, beyond the theory, itis important that the line sounds good by itself and has a strong melodic sense. Melodic direction is the foundation for a good walking-bass line and will help yout swing better, BB The seven modes of Major Scale The seven modes of © Melodic Minor Scale swede of © mr Sel (© Mar Stee lenin | lied of Hel Mn Sl (Mla Mi) —_ == —| a e = = Tne major Sela or Dvn | iodo He Min, Sao Oran 02 ie “Soe ES = ey 1 maf fC el Mn ae 2 yan gered = j = = = == : vod of Me. Minor yan 87 SS ——= a See ied faa Selo Mean ade of CM Mn, Seo Mody D6 te === = | = a S inode ose Seale (Atal mrer}orA Alan mode oC Mel Ma, Sarin #2 & i iin ns i ed of mi Se. Larn imate of el Ho Sal oS zn plete SESE \f OON'T MéAN A THING (Qvte ELLINgroN) $0 nee WALKING Bas a4 Foe AABA Osene Perriroeo Jesse & % 6 97 G Walk with me In the fourth part of our series, Mauro Battisti turns to the last of the : chromatic movement three main movements of walking bas Consonant or chordal notes provide the central pivot ofthe walking-bass line, establish the melodic and harmonic direction and give support to the soloists, while non-chordal notes create a strong tension in your walking-bass line and therefore have to be handled with care. However, the non-chordal, chromatic movesnent enriches the line and provides colour, as well as that particular and fascinating jazz sound Cc HROMATIC MOVEMENT PROCEEDS BY HALF-STEPS USING NOTES THAT DON'T BELONG TO THE CHORD, OR NON-CHORDAL NOTES, In chromatic movement, non-chordal notes are genefilly used as passing notes (tension on the weak beat) or as appoggiaturs (tension on the strong beat). They move towards the consonant ‘target’ note and give the line a strong sense of direction (remember that forward motion is important) Chromatic movement is generally mixed with scalar movement [see Double Bassist no.20, Spring 2002]. Non-chordal notes are introduced within scalar fragments, creating @ natural alternation between tension and release. The following are some examples of chromaticisms used as passing notes (pn) or appogsiatura (a within scalar movement: Oscar Pettiford, Ray Drummond or c7 cr Fr ba Note that the appoggiaturas Ray Drummond uses place emphasis on the weak beats, which sfilts the accénts of the line. In ‘walking bass itis important not tolose the pulse ofthe music, so you should use appoggiatira with care Non-chordal notes are also commonly used for chromatic approaches (ca). Unlike passing notes, which connect one chordal note “with the next in a step-wise progression, chromatic approaches jump to a non-chordal note. They are one of the most characteristic and peculiar walking-bass building techniques.' Observe how in this extract ofa line by Wilbur Ware the tension on the weak beat pushes towards the following consonant note: "Tis interesting ose that Beethoven used this chromatic solution inthe double bas section ofhis Egmont overture 22 SSS SE Inthe next example, Sam Jones connects the roots ofeach chord by half-step intervals (one ofthe three main directional interval) through chordal and non-chordal notes. Anatural and B natwal are non-chordal notes used as chromatic approaches: Ft bby G7 GT id ges ee ca Paul Chambers uses a mixture of pastingnotes and chromatic approach: Fe abr pa pho Buster Williams exnploys a solution called double-chromatie approach, in which two dissonances lead to the target consonant note. The first note (B}) isthe seventh of the chord on the strong beat (appogiatura) and the second note (B natural) is a non-chordal passing note: 7 ob7 Again, Williams plays a passage with non-chordal passing notes and a double-chromatie approach towards the fifth note of the chord: br pa apn Another type of double-chromatic approach with two non-chordal notes ss upper and lower neighBour tones isshown here: Ron Carter ob7 ‘The following examples use typical chromatic movement which goes up or down before returning to the starting consonant note: i SamJones * Charlie Haden 3 cba q : @ 21 Let's pause fora few words on the concept of dissonance. Our concept of dissonance and consonance hus changed throughout the evolution of musie. Despite this, our perception of dissonance in music is still influenced by three primary aspects * Their position within the measure Anon-chordal note on a weak beat assumes the characteristics of a non-chordal note on a strong beat assumes the ch and can be considered a’strongdissonance’ {ngnote and can be considered a ‘weak dissonance’. The same eristies of an appoxgiatura (see earlier examples by Drummond and Williams) ‘The tompo of the piece Dissonances oceurring in slowpieces tend to he more noticeable because they last longer. In fast picces, dissonances are less obvious because they occur more fleetingly. Be carefull The musical context, Generally dissonances are accepted by our ear more naturally in a modern, sophisticated musical context as opposed to a classical, linear one. Creating the right balance between tension and release in different musical contests requires the ability to listen to the musical dialogue taking place with the other instruments in the ensemble, Italso depends on the flow of the muse and your own taste. Remember that jazzis instantaneous collective opmposition, and at its heart isthe art of variation, The unpredictability of rhythmic, nelodic and harmonic solutions realised simultaneously requires quick thinking and the ability to change the musical path without, losing direction, The transcription ofa bass line by Ron Carter on Gershwin's popular edmposition But Not for Me (ee 7.23), is agood example ofa composition which usesall the chromatic movements explained above. ‘The following is a simple bass line on a By blues structure built with the three main movements explained so far inthe series: chordal, scalar and chromatic. Compare it with the examples of triadic, chordal and chordal/scalar techniques that were illustrated in the previous articles and sample the different flavours’. The asterisks indicate non-chordal notes. Where the line goesbeyond the first position, [have suggested fingering (under the stave) Bh sLuEs 8 er on 7 on Experimentand try to build your own bassline inthe same way; taking cate to introduce the tensions (non-chorclal notes) without losing the rhythmicand melodic direction, Practise as much as you ean, preferably with piano accompaniment, and remember: in order toachieve absolute freedom of expression in improvisation, the ear must be well rained. BA 2 B0f NOT £02 Mé (. Geesnoin) L oaes, WALKING Base o4 oem AB GON CacTer Jeg 7 BY7(5054) 807 eer a7 a sb # tb 4 0 4 ft 4 t boo to hoe 7 Bsa) 87 eer O72 «07 1 ot! oy f BH %susa) 897 on dl Mm] 44 ‘Teunsceinen eam Reo GaeLsna's ALEK: "CEOKGINGE — GALAN Walk with me In the fifth and final part of our series on walking bass, Mauro Bat discusses rhythmic embellishments, slash chords and tritone substitution N WALKING BASS, RHYTHMIC EMBELLISHMENTS ARE GENERALLY BASED ON THPLETS. IMIPLETS ADD INTERESTING VARIATIONS 10 THE I regular rhythm of the .s, while also emphasising the inner pulse of the line. They push towards the target chordal note and, connect toit through directional intervals, according to the concepts explained throughout this series. Here are two examples of broken triplets ¢ £8) = ¢ 7) with chordal movernent: Charlie Haden Milt Hinton, ar 255 Jimny Blanton uses a broken triplet with chromatic movement, while Hinton’ lin features broken triplets with anticipation: Jimmy Blanton Milt Hinton ar o7 Inthe next two examples, Ray Drummond uses a triplet with chordal movement and Ray Brown with chromatic movement: Ray Drummond. Ray Brown, sb7suse we obri11 abr) _ Fr he _ 2 pet: Het fs OE be Se - nmonly used ¢ note is played by the let hand pulling the string; the hammer on isa technique the left hand; and when the tied note is played by sliding the finger from one note to the other, itis ealleda'slide’ bellishments are the pull off(P.0}), the harnmer on (h.o.)and the slide (s1). For the pull off, the tied vhich the tied note is played by ‘hammering’ with Niels-Henning @rsted Pedersen Rufus Reid . Scott La Faro, zx cea ebiaby Aka _ = aa : Oy AF. Be ef oO he a4 Rhythmic embellishments are also made up of ghost notes ~ mufiled notes whose value is mostly percustive, and which are often extrancous to the actual chord (non-chordal ghost notes). Ghost notes, notated with a cross or sometimes in brackets, are produced by theleft-hand mutingtechnique, where the left hand pu Buster Williams eb7 wes down slightly on the string without producing distinct pitch: Ghost notes are frequently played on open strings. In this ease the left hand also lightly stops the vibration of the string, which produces more of percussive effect thana distinct sound: Wilbur Ware In ghost-note apen-string technique you can obtain subtle differences by using either the same string for the ghost note as the target note, or the string above or below the target note, Note also the use of double open strings: Ray Brown _ Ray Drummond Niels-Henning @rsted Pedersen Aba aw o7 G ae ee i ie 2S = ‘The following extract from a line by Saum Jones is a more extensive example of chordal and non thordal ghost notes. All ghost notes are played with open strings: " cry AX AbT Gt Fuh pe G7 tte a Rhythmic embellishment have to be developed with care and should be used in moderation, as an exaggerated use of embellishments can easily make the line unclear and unstable Ruts Reid's walking bass on the song Come Rain or Come Shine (see p.24) features some ofthe various rhythmic embellishments discussed so fi: Try to analyse and play it, taking care to produce a good sound and pitch, and a regular pulse. Make sure you play the rhythmic embellishments correctly. Throughout this series I have emphasised the importance of using open strings in walking bass. Opea strings make some melodic movernents more efficient and easier forthe left hand to play. On top ofthat, they actually sound good oa the double bass. Open strings are particulasly useful forthe octave-change technique. Here, the bass line leaps an octave higher or lower within a melodie movement that proceeds in ‘directional intervals, such as half step (semi-tone), whole step (tone) or up a fourth (down a fifth). Although the direction ofthe line suddenly changes, the ear makes the counection between the two distant notes Bay Brown Ray Drummond Rufus Reid Wilbur Ware FT e7 org sepgii= Alte el abit) 3 aD =a nea yo Inthe nextexample, Eddie Gomez playsan ostave change, followed by apull offand broken triplet with ghost notes Let's now turn to slash chords, examples of which have already appeared in previous parts ofthis series. ‘The stash symbol () usually indicatés an inversion ofthe chord, so thatthe note at the base of the chord isnot the root. This kind of slash chord is often used in chord progressions, such as: C-,C-/B, C-fB,, C-/A; or C, C/B, C7/B, (See also Sam Jones’ line above.) Slash chords in modem compositions are also used to indicate a sia aver a bass note that corresponds toa specific chord (see also chord box in Fart 2, Double Bassist no.19, Winter 2001). In this case, the bass note does net imply an inversion. These are some examples: D/C > C7sus9; D/C 9 CaF] 1; E/C9 Car5; GUC C7549; GIC > Ca9; A/C C139; BYC CTsus; BIC 4 Cam, Less frequentiy stash chords indicate true polychords, meaning two chords played together, for example: D-7/C-7. 23 COME ZAIN 02 COME SHINE Gano WALKING Bass 84 3 sacs Gurus Reto For AB 104 ei on 4 ‘TOANGCeIPTED FeOM Bossy HOrcHEeGON's ALBUM: “QeUisIN’ tHe Bieo" ~ LaNQHAeK Tecurved linebefore thenote -f indicates a short, ascending glissando, whisn should be played by slightly slicing onto thenote rombelow. 26 Finally, Pd like to turn to one of the most common techniques of chord substitution: tritone substitution. The tritone, or flat (diminished) fith substitution, is used frequently in the jazz vocabulary. It involves substituting a dominant-seventh chord with another dominantseventh chord a flat (or diminished) ith apart. The substitution is based on both chords sharing the notes oftheir respective third and the seventh, the important tritone intervals of the dominant-seventh chord: 8 mob Following are some examples of how bass players apply this kind of technique to their walking-bass line. Above the basie change L have written the implied substitute chord. The titone substitution in Wilbur Ware's II-Y-I progeession implies a descending homatic movement of the roots (C7-E7-B, > CT-B7-B). Charlie Haden’s progression shows the same type of substitution that creates achromatic roots moventent. Often, the substitution extends to the use ofthe II-7 associated with the dominant chord, asin Ron Carter's example. Wilbur Ware Charlie Haden onan or FT 8b By Be? ETS) AP Bb.7 eb7 pee tesaee SEs Chord substitution — which is related to harmonic variation —is a common practice in jazz, and tritone substitution is one ofthe simplest examples of how a walking-bass line can highlightalternative chords other than those indicated by the harmonic structure As we conclude this small guide, emember that walking bass is @ form of improvisation that cannot simply be Warned from therules explained throughout this series. Mastering the art of walking bass requires alot of practice, and above all it needs to be developed in a band. Only by playing with other musicians you can really Tear how to listen, react to the musical context and create Your own line. EBS