Two Octave Walking Lines For The Win
By Kevin Guin
The quarter-note occupies a deceptively modest place in the pecking order of musical rhythms. You might even think that since you are getting along rather well rhythmically that you could probably play walking bass lines in your sleep, right?
Well, that was how you thought in the innocent days of yore.
Nowadays if you listen to great walking bass players and then hear your own garage band attempts it is truly amazing how lifeless quarter notes can sound. And I know you know what I mean!
One thing that can be said for sure: it is very easy to kill a quarter note groove if the subtle multi-tasking that is needed for playing walking lines doesn’t become a completely natural state of mind for the bass player.
Every bassist needs to become familiar with both the insistence needed to render the quarter notes and the flexibility needed to listen and respond to the drummer so that the swinging feel of the rhythm section becomes a closely guarded treasure.
The purpose of the lesson today is to give bass players a helpful start to the process of adding range to their walking bass lines through studying and playing two octave bass lines and to also develop skills for quicker, more accurate position changes and ease of execution on their instruments.
Let’s define “range” as how high and how low the musician is playing. When you learn to add range to your playing you will naturally learn to change positions with ease. That in itself will help solve a pervasive problem developing bass players face: having to spend so much concentration for simply getting around on their instruments that bass line development goes down the tubes.
The materials in the video lesson today consist of three two-octave quarter note lines: a minor line, a dominant line, and a major line. In other words they are the iim7 sound, the V7 sound and the I Major sound.
The lines are simple in that they are linear, they generally move in one direction, and they repeat in the second octave and return in a circular way back to the starting point.
In the accompanying pdf chart the lines are written out in standard notation and also in tab. Each line also comes with a variation that should be easy to implement and there is an awesome treasure trove of play-along audio files:
The lines are intended to be academic lines for study and memorization. To start out, simply play each line slowly, identify the note names, and then sing the line along with your instrument.
Identifying note names and singing bass lines is a magic potion for training your ear and learning musical materials.
Once the line is taken apart, sung repeatedly and played often enough then memorization will follow easily. At that point the lines should be practiced with the accompanying play-along mp3 audio. Since each line also has a variation written out in the pdf chart then there is a built in head start on learning to expand bass line vocabulary.
In the lesson I suggest that if you can practice the lines sufficiently every day for approximately 20 or 30 minutes and learn to take them through the cycle then your walking bass skills will take a great leap forward.
Learning to play effective quarter note lines is a very important part of modern bass playing and it is also an incredibly satisfying skill to have.
I hope all of you can deepen your playing skills to include walking bass lines and that you truly enjoy the long process of developing yourself as a musician.
Thanks for stopping in. –K