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Old 2006-12-19, 14:02
JonR JonR is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 67
Originally Posted by Sic_Fitzravia
so its not necessary to follow the scales..ive tried writing the basslines by scales but it doesnt sound really walking if u know what i mean. this walking bass style can also be done on augmented and diminshed chords am i wrong?
trying to add some variety in my songwriting. thanks for the feedback.
The idea of a walking bass is to mark out the chord tones, starting with the root, but to use smooth transitions between chords.

Normally (for notes between chord tones) you'd go with the scale of the key, but chromatic passing notes are very common in jazz lines - esp half-steps up or down to land on the next chord root.

IOW, you look at the start of the chord and the end of it begin with. Root first (almost certainly), and as a final note use one that will move smoothly to the root of the next chord. (Doesn't have to be a half-step move every time - variety is another important consideration in good walking lines.)
Then for the notes in between, just work out a good line to get from the 1st note to the last 1, incorporating chord tones on strong beats if you can. In between chord tones, use diatonic scale notes.
E.g., a typical line is 1-2-3-5 (on a major or minor chord), whereas in rock you're more likely to see 1-3-5-6. (IOW, a 6th as an additional passing note rather than a 2nd.)
But of course, in any style, you can choose whatever you like the sound of!

If you only have 2 beats per chord, root and 5th is usually preferred. If it's 4 beats, go for 3rd or 5th on beat 3 (next strongest beat after 1), leaving beat 4 to provide the link note to the next chord root. Commonly this will be a major 3rd (to rise a half-step to the next root) or a b5 (to descend a half-step). This is regardless of whether the chord is major, minor or diminished.
E.g., a line joining Dm7 to G7 could go D-E-F-F#-G, or D-F-A-Ab-G. Both F# and Ab are chromatic to Dm7, of course, but they each provide good moves to G.

And yes, of course you can (and should) create walking lines for aug and dim chords as much as for other chords.
With aug and dim chords, of course, any note can be the root, so you have more flexibility there...
In jazz you won't get an aug or dim chord lasting more than a bar, and rarely more than 2 beats - so they're not normally a huge challenge!
Usually you can use plain arpeggios for these chords, but if you need passing notes between chord tones:
For aug chords (or 7#5s) use whole tone steps; for dim chords, use passing notes a half-step below any chord tone. (IOW, use the wholetone scale for 7#5s and the whole-half dim scale for dim7 chords.)

Incidentally, walking bass as such is not so much the province of the songwriter, more of the constantly improvising jazz bassist. Even a rock or blues bassist would prefer to make up their own line than have it written.
Perhaps you're more interested in bass voice movement? IOW, creating melodic bass parts than don't necessarily stick to roots?
In a minor key (you mentioned A minor), you have some interesting options because of the variability of the 6th and 7th (thanks to harmonic and melodic minor).
E.g., under an Am chord, the bass can go A-G-F-E, A-G-F#-F-E, A-G#-G-F#-F-E, etc. This will normally suggest other chords on top, but will work with a held Am chord. Commonly they run at 2 beats per note.
These kind of lines are often part of compositions (eg My Funny Valentine, This Masquerade, Stairway to Heaven...), as opposed to the ad lib lines that the term "walking bass" normally refers to.
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