Dear Nano: Basslines for 2+ Bars of the Same Chord?

After a long hiatus, Dear Nano is back and better than ever! I’ve had a couple students ask me this question. Feel free to ask your own!

(Note: Jazz Bass Practice Deck cards will resume next week!)

Dear Nano,

How do you do a walking bass line for a tune with two or more measures of the same chord?

When you have two bars of the same chord, you have two options to get from the first to second measure: 1) root-root and 2) root-fifth. I’ll demonstrate each with two bars of a BbMaj7 chord (note that you’ll need to adjust the key and chord tones to fit your particular tune).

Option 1: Root-Root

The graphic below shows two ways to get from a root to the same root in the next bar (note that the top line is fingering numbers using 1st-3rd fret position and the bottom line is the scale degrees):

  • Option 1a: Encircle the root by going down to the seventh, then up to second
  • Option 1b: Play the up and back down the first three notes of the scale

Once you’ve landed on the root again, walk a bassline as you normally would to get to the next bar’s chord change. Or, if there’s still a third bar of the same chord, you can repeat this process using Option 1 or 2 (see below).

Option 1.png

Option 2: Root-Fifth

The graphic below shows two ways to get from a root to the fifth of the chord in the next bar (the fifth helps add some variety without losing the quality of the chord):

  • Option 2a: Walk up to the fifth using the first four notes of the scale
  • Option 2b: Walk down to the fifth, being sure to repeat the top note (or add chromaticism between two notes)

Once you’ve landed on the fifth, walk a bassline as you normally would to get to the next bar’s chord change (if possible, play the root on beat 2 or 3). Or, if there’s still a third bar of the same chord, you can walk back down or up to the root.

Option 2

Jazz Bass Practice Deck 3

Here’s a little secret about bassline construction: it’s mostly scales (with some chromaticism thrown in for good measure…) For this reason, the third category of the Jazz Bass Practice Deck series focuses on scales.

Jazz Bass Practice Deck 3

These four cards break down a 1-octave Bb Major scale. Spoiler alert: you’ll use this scale to construct simple basslines for “Autumn Leaves” in the next few decks. Bb Major is a good key to start with because 1) it’s super-common in jazz and 2) it lies in the 1st-3rd fret/position covered in Deck 2 (you may want to review Deck 1 while you’re at it…)

Jazz Bass Practice Deck 3 (PDF)

Bonus Tip

Don’t despair if you’re not used to practicing scales the way they’re written in this deck (repeating the octave at the top and root at the bottom). This is to get you used to putting the root on beat ‘1’ of each bar (a common tendency in basslines).

Jazz Bass Practice Deck 1

For several years, I toyed with the idea of creating a “fitness deck for practicing jazz bass.” I took a long hiatus to make a career transition that’s finally paying off and I’m finally able to get back to making cards. Once I get settled into my new life, I’ll get back to filming episodes of the Pogcast – elaborating on the cards.

Jazz Bass Practice Deck 1

These four cards cover the basics of 2-finger pizzicato and are a good warm-up for players of all levels. I’ll be designing the cards for beginner players with some theory knowledge (particularly educators who want to walk basslines in ensembles). See below for photo and PDF versions of the cards. Feel free to ask any questions or post any comments!

Jazz Bass Practice Deck 1 (PDF)

Bonus Tip

Before you start practicing, tune your bass using a tuner or reference pitch (I’ll review tuning in a later card set and/or video).

Episode 7: C Blues, Bassline II

Summary: Learn roots and thirds for a simple 12-Bar C Blues Progression; plus – why you should document your practice in a journal or other medium!

Transcript: Welcome back to Nanoversity of Jazz Pogcast at leahpogwizd.com! Each week, you’ll get a micro-lesson in bassline construction.

In our last episode, we learned a roots-only bassline for a simple 12-Bar C Blues Progression. This week, we’re going to add chord tones – specifically, major thirds – for Bassline II.

Last week’s key concept was that basslines (usually) use the root of a chord on beat 1 of each bar to provide rhythmic drive and harmonic definition. This episode’s main point is that basslines often use chord tones – such as thirds, fifths, and sevenths – on beats 2 and 3 of each bar. This helps further outline the chord changes.

Each of the three chords in the C Blues Progression is a dominant seventh chord – meaning it contains a major third, perfect fifth, and minor seventh. This blend of major and minor intervals is what gives the blues its unique sound.

Bassline II uses the major third of each chord. E is a major third above C, A is a major third above F, and B is a major third above G. Notice that some of the thirds are written a major third above the root, while others are written a minor sixth below it. They both have the same effect of outlining the chord.

To practice Bassline II, sing and/or play along with the MuseScore tracks – linked in the video description. As always, I’ve included tracks in bass and treble clefs.

This week’s tip is to document your practice in a journal or other medium. Write down dates, practice activities, and other information (such as tempos). Over time, you’ll organize your practice sessions and track your progress!

That’s it for this week! Be sure to check out the blog at leahpogwizd.com and subscribe to the YouTube channel. Feel free to ask any questions or offer any feedback. Thanks for watching!

Episode 6: C Blues, Bassline I

Summary: Learn the roots to a simple 12-Bar C Blues Bassline

Transcript: Welcome back to Nanoversity of Jazz Pogcast at leahpogwizd.com! Each week, you’ll get a micro-lesson in bassline construction.

It’s been a while since the last episode, but I’m happy to be back with a new format. I took the last few months to move across the country, recover from an injury, and train for a second career. I’m also sad to report that I lost Lola – the poster-cat for the Pogcast.

For March 2019, we’re going to learn a series of basslines for a simple 12-Bar C Blues progression. This week, for Bassline I, we’ll learn the roots to this progression.

The two main goals of a bassline are to provide rhythmic drive and outline the chord changes. One of the ways we do this is by (usually) playing the root of a chord on beat 1 of each bar. Bassline I outlines three chords – the I Chord (or “do” in Solfege), the IV Chord (or “fa”), and the V Chord (or “sol”).

Before I talk about how to practice Bassline I, I want to show you how these roots fit into the circle-of-fourths. You can see here that the chords represent the top arc of the circle. G is a perfect fourth below C, while F is a perfect fourth above.

To practice Bassline I, sing and/or play along with the MuseScore tracks – linked in the video description. I’ve included tracks in bass and treble clefs to accommodate various instruments.

Each episode, I’ll end with a brief tip. This week’s tip is to practice basslines – even if you’re not a bassist. It will help your time-feel and harmonic understanding. If you’re a drummer or vocalist, you can use a piano, guitar, electric bass, etc.

That’s it for this week! Be sure to check out the blog at leahpogwizd.com and subscribe to the YouTube channel. Feel free to ask any questions or offer any feedback. Thanks for watching!

Pogcast Episode 5: Summer Bytes 1

We’ve got a new look and format here at the Nanoversity of Jazz Pogcast! Each episode, I’ll be reviewing 4, “byte-size” practice exercises. Episode 5 introduces the “Summer Bytes” series (we’ve still got a few weeks of summer left…), with exercises based on bars 12-13 of a common jazz standard.

“Summer Bytes” iRealPro track available on Google Drive here (requires app to be installed on device).

To download “Summer Bytes 1” cards (samples below), support NOJP on Patreon ($12/month suggested donation, but cards are available to supporters at any level).

Feel free to ask questions, request material, and share your own practice exercises. Thanks for watching!