Calling all jazzers (or aspiring jazzers)! This awesome video is going to teach you how to walk a bass line on any jazz standard. It is super easy and straight ahead and I will take you step-by-step into how to walk and authentic jazz bass line.
The Walking Bass Line
The walking bass line is a foundation of the jazz rhythm section and a very useful skill to learn. The walking bass line sets up the rhythmic and harmonic framework for the song. The bass player’s job is to connect what the drummer and the pianist are doing in the rhythm section. In this video, I am going to show you several different methods for walking basslines, in addition to showing you how to walk a bass line and sing at the same time. This lesson is great for anyone who plays a little piano and understands the basics of jazz harmony.
The best way that you can really learn this information is to listen. Jazz is an aural tradition, and in order to sound authentic, you must have the sound of the great jazz artists in your ear. Before you dive deep into playing this material, I strongly recommend you have a listen to some jazz recordings and tune your ear into what the bass player is doing.
As you get started walking bass lines, it is helpful to think of three rules:
- You have to play the root of the chord at the beginning of the bar.
- You have to play the root of the chord anytime the chord changes.
- You need to outline the harmony as much as possible in your walking bass line.
**These rules are to help you get started and are not rules that professional jazz bass players abide by. Jazz bass players come up with all kinds of creative ways to walk bass lines!
Here are the bass lines I run through in this video:
- Walking in a 2 Feel – Root to root and root to 5th
- Walking in a 4 feel – 1-3-5-3, 1-5-3-5
- Two Chords in a bar – Root to root, root to 3rd and root to 5th.
As you work through these walking bass lines, it is crucial that you keep a steady pulse. This is the time to get the metronome turned on! As you work on walking the bass lines, keep the sound of the drums in your ears. This will help you simulate the sound of the jazz rhythm section and will give your time feel a boost.
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