Jazz: Walking Bass Lines: Four Beats per Chord

Chord Tones

You can get a lot of mileage by using nothing but chord tones in your bass lines. For a chord that lasts for four beats, play the root on the first [strong] beat, then other chord tones on the second, third and fourth beats. Here are some ideas for walking through a ii7-V7-IM7 progression...

Chord Tones: 1-3-5-3 and 1-5-3-5 Pattern

Play the root on the first beat, then either the 3 or 5 on second, third, and fourth beats...

walking bass lines

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Scale Tones

For a chord that lasts for four beats, play the root on the first [strong] beat, then connectors on the next three beats. Here are some ideas for doing so...

Scale Tones, Descending...

walking bass lines

Notice that every connector here is diatonic to C major.

 

Scale Tones, Ascending...

walking bass lines

Notice that, since we "ran out of" diatonic scale tones, we had to "compress" the line by inserting a chromatic tone. As you can see and hear, chromatics work best on weak beats. In this case the weak beats are 2 and 4. Also, chromatics work best when they resolve to scale or chord tones.

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Scale and Chord Tones

Scale and chord tones can be combined in some very simple, but effective patterns: 1-2-3-5 and 1-3-4-5:

Scale and Chord Tones: 1-2-3-5 Pattern

walking bass lines

 

Scale and Chord Tones: 1-3-4-5 Pattern

walking bass lines

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