Nanoversity of Jazz/Manouche arrangement of “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer. Chart available at leahpogwizd.com. Model recording created using Band-in-a-Box® and Finale software.
Earlier this year, a friend of mine asked me to arrange Gypsy jazz versions of LGBT classics (think, “It’s Raining Men” and “I Will Survive”) for his wedding. To top off the awesomeness, I got to play the wedding with an amazing group of Seattle-based female musicians. Now that I’m in Birmingham, I wanted to create model recordings for my West Coast crew. Enter Band-in-a-Box® (with an assist from Finale)!
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting model recordings and charts for various arrangements. I started with “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer because it seemed fitting for the hottest part of summer…
See below for model recording and chart. I changed the feel from disco to slow Gypsy swing and made some of the chords a little more “jazzy.”
I’m hoping to eventually create written basslines, solos, and melodies specifically for bassists. In the meantime, feel free to share any questions, comments, or suggestions. Thanks for listening!
Last week, we applied Decks 1, 2, and 3 for a simple bassline over the changes of “Autumn Leaves.” This week, we’ll learn another set of basslines. Once you practice everything, you’re ready to play a full chorus of bassline (see below)!
Jazz Bass Practice Deck 5
These four cards break down two basslines in G Minor (the relative minor of Bb Major). Together, they’ll allow you to play a full chorus of basslines over “Autumn Leaves.”
For a tune like “Autumn Leaves,” you can build a full chorus of bassline by stringing together different four-bar “chunks.” The illustration below shows a full chorus of bassline using the music from Cards 4.1, 5.1, and 5.3. Note the circle at the end of measure 16. Here, there’s a slight variation in the bassline from Card 5.1.
Now that we’ve gone over basic right- & left-hand technique, as well as a Bb Major Scale, we can start playing actual basslines! For the fourth and final (for now) category, we’re focusing on bassline construction.
Jazz Bass Practice Deck 4
These four cards break down a basic, 4-bar progression in Bb Major (which you may recognize as “Autumn Leaves”). It stays in the same position as the Bb Major Scale – which we covered in the previous deck.
Notice that there are Roman Numerals listed on Card 4.1. This is a common way of describing chord progressions in jazz. In Bb, the ii (“two”) chord is Cmin7, the V (“five”) chord is F7, etc. Remember with the Bb Major Scale that C is the second scale degree, F is the fifth scale degree, etc. In jazz, ii-V progressions are incredibly common.
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 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.
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…)
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).
This week’s deck introduces left-hand technique using upright fingering patterns. Once you have this and basic right-hand technique down (see Deck 1), you’ll be able to start playing basic scales and basslines – which will be the topic of the next few weeks’ decks!
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!