Tag Archives: rhythm changes

Joe Pass on Rhythm Changes – 3 Solid Bebop Strategies

I guess there are two things you need to study if you want to learn Jazz Guitar: Rhythm Changes & Joe Pass! So it makes sense to check out a Rhythm Changes Joe Pass Solo! To most people, and certainly if you ask Mike Stern and John Scofield, Joe Pass is where they went to learn Jazz Guitar.

His technique and swinging bebop phrasing is a bible of information for learning to play jazz, both in terms of the notes and melodies but also in terms of phrasing and swing feel. In a similar way Rhythm Changes is where you really start learning many of the things you need to know in order to play Jazz: Improvising over chord changes, playing 8th note lines, turnarounds. In this video

I am taking a look at a few phrases from Joe Pass’ solo on Oleo off the Duo album “Chops” where he plays with Danish bass-player: Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen.

Hope you like it!

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Rhythm Changes Chords – Hidden in the Easy Chords

Rhythm Changes Chords are essential to check out. If you want to explore jazz and bebob guitar then the rhythm changes progression is a must. The progression is often used and parts of it are common in countless other songs.

In this lesson I will first go over a basic set of chord voicings to play the progression. I will then expand on these voicings by first turning them into rootless voicings. Then I will show you how you can start making variations of the top notes to create more interesting comping ideas like that. Finally I will go over how you can even add notes and create another set of 4-note voicings.

The Basic Rhythm Changes chord set

We don’t need a lot of different voicings to play a Rhythm Changes A part. In fact it is mostly the same turnaround: I [V] II V and then a short trip to the IV and back.

The chords are shown here below:

If you want to read them using chord diagrams or chord boxes you can do so here:

In the above progression I use a #IVdim (Edim) chord to go from Eb back to Bb in bar 6. Another common way to do this is to play a IV minor chord. In most cases this is a backdoor dominant. In Bb major that would be Ab7. This variation of those bars is shown here below:

Introduction to Jazz Chords

The way I play these chords is coming out of some the lessons in this study guide:

How to Play Jazz Chords

Making the voicings rootless and adding melody

An easy way to create some more flexible 3-note voicings is to just leave out the root.

This is shown here below in example 3:These are more flexible and it is fairly easy to change the top note so that we can play several  melodies using these voicings. 

One way of adding these options is shown in example 4:

Creating 4-note voicings (and recognizing them)

Another way to vary the melody is to add an extra note on top of the voicing. This can be done quite easily since we are only playing 3 notes.

An example of how this works is shown in example 5:

As you can probably see these voicings are mostly drop2 voicings.

The most important Lesson of this Process

This way of coming up with different chord voicings is of course a way of giving yourself options, but is is also a way of associating different voicings together so that we don’t have to remember unconnected sets of notes. 

This is a very practical way to think about chords and a great way to help you learn a lot of chords by just really remembering one.

What do you think?

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Rhythm Changes Chords

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Rhythm Changes – How You Use Chord Substitution for New Lines

It can be difficult to have a large vocabulary of lines when improvising over fast moving chord progressions like Rhythm Changes. One way to access some more ideas is to solo over substitute changes and then get some more options by thinking the substituted chords on top of the normal turnaround.

In this video I will go over 5 variations and show how you can use those to generate new ideas for your solos.

The Basic Turnaround in Rhythm Changes

The basic turnaround in Rhythm Changes is usually a I VI II V. In the key of Bb major that would be something like this: Bbmaj7 G7 Cm7 F7

A line on this turnaround could be:

The line is using a Bb6 (or Gm7) arpeggio on the Bb chord and continues with a G7 arpeggio. The melodic idea is using that the Bb can be moved to B and for the rest stay the same. On the Cm7 it’s a descending scale run targetting the A on the F7. The F7 line is using the F7 arpeggio that resolves to D.

A few Dom7th Substitutions – Tritones and Diminished Chords

Two common devices are substitution are using tritone substitutes and diminished chords.

In this example a Bdim replaces the G7 which is the chord on the 3rd of a G7(b9). The F7 is repalced with a B7.

The line is first a descending Bbmaj7 arpeggio. On the Bdim it is an Abdim triad.The Cm7 the melody is a Cm cliche melody built around a Cm minor triad with an added 9. The final B7 line is a B major triad.

Tritone substitutes and altered dominants

On the Bbmaj7 it is also possible to use the arpeggio from the 3rd which is a Dm7 arpeggio. In this example the first part of the line is a descending Dm7 arpeggio. A tritone substitution  replaces the G7 with a Db7. The melody is a descending 1st inversion Db7 arpeggio. On the Cm7 the arpeggio used is a descending Ebmaj7 arpeggio. In this way the first part of this line is an ascending series of descending arpeggios. The F7alt line is a scale run in the F altered scale.

Reharmonizing beyond the original chords

Of course with a fast moving progression like the Rhythm changes it is possible to also use some chromatic passing chords. In this case the idea is to use a chromatic passing chord between the 1st and 3rd chord. It seems obvious that a Dbm7 would work well as a passing chord between Dm7 and Cm7. 

In the line I am connecting the chords across octaves to disguise the way that the arpeggios are actually moving down in half steps.

Making the tonic a secondary dominant

A great variation is to get a feel of suspension in the turnaround is to replace the tonic chord with a dom7th chord. This takes a way the feeling of starting home and replacing it with an altered dominant. The dominant is making sure that the line is moving. 

The melody here is first a stack of 4ths on the D7 altered. This is followed by a Bdim arpeggio on the G7. On the Cm7 the line is based around a Cm triad. It is in fact an inversion of the Cm line in the first example. The F7 line is a familiar F7alt/Gbm cliché

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Rhythm Changes – Substitution for New Lines

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3 types of Rhythm Changes licks you NEED to know – Bebop Guitar Lesson

Rhythm Changes and The Blues are probably the two most important chord progressions that you need to master if you want to play jazz guitar and especially bebop.

This lesson is going to go over 3 different approaches to play over the rhythm changes. Each one demostrated with a 4 bar lick and some exercises.

Rhythm changes in Bebop

Since Bebop the chord progression from I got Rhythm has been used countless times for great bebop themes such as Anthropology, Oleo, Dexterity, Moose the Mooche etc. In fact about 30 percent of all Charlie Parker compositions are on Rhythm Changes

Most of the time when you are soloing over a rhythm changes form you find yourself improvising over this turnaround in the key of Bb major.

Of course there are many variations available on this turnaround, but the essence of it will probably always be this progression.

Using several approaches to a solo

In most good solos you will find that during the solo different things are being emphasized, so the approach in the solo changes. In fact I think that most (good) solos on Rhythm Changes will probably contain parts that use each of the ideas that I go over in this lesson.

Room for rhythm – The Simplified Chord Progression

The first concept is to reduce the amount of chords that are played in the solo. This means that instead of playing all 4 chords of the turnaround in example 1 above. The focus is now on the two main chords in that progression: Bb and F7, the tonic and the dominant.

Both of these chords are diatonic to the Bb major scale as shown in example 3.

One good exercise to get used to hearing these two chords and the scale over the changes is to do the Barry Harris scale exercise shown here below:

Another very important exercise is to play the chords in time over the progression as shown in example 6:

The example line that I played using this approach is shown here:

The first line on the Bbmaj7 is a line consisiting only of Bb maj7 arpeggio notes. On the F7 the line is first a descending scale run from Eb to Bb and then a small melody with the notes of an A dim triad.

The 2nd Bbmaj bar is using a Bb6 or Bb major pentatonic melody that with a string skip moves to an Eb major triad over the F7. The line concludes with inserting a chromatic passing note between D and C.

Advantages to this type of thinking

For this type of  playing you get a lot more freedom to think about the rhythm since you don’t have to catch as many changes. In fact this approach is also very close to what you will hear in older swing recordings on Rhythm Changes.

Nailing all the changes

This way of playing over the chords actually makes the progression as difficult to play as Giant Steps from a technical perspective.

Very often if you analyze Charlie Parker solos on rhythm changes you will hear him play simpler phrases in the first two bars and really spell out the changes in the next two bars.

Finding the scales

In order to play over the chords we can use the Bb major scale on the Bbmaj7 and the Cm7 chord.

On the G7 the scale that is most appropriate is a C minor harmonic or G mixolydianb9,b13

We can do the same thing with the F7 as shown in example 9:

Setting the target notes and connecting the dots

The concept behind the lines in this example is to use target notes, and then make lines that move towards that line. Something I have also worked on i other lessons.

An example of a set of target notes that you can fill in with short melodies.

The line example that I am playing is using this technique to connect the lines. To build a vocabulary for this type of playing you need to work on having simple 4 note phrases that you can use to aim for the target notes in the next chord. 

You can always use the Blues

Of course since the Rhythm Changes is such an important part of jazz it also is connected to the Blues, and using blues phrases on a rhythm changes progression is very common.

The approach that I am using in the line below is mixing some blues phrases with more some F7 phrases. The blues phrases are using  a more mixolydian sound than an actual minor pentatonic sound. You can use the Bbm pentatonic as well of course, but the more major sounding blues phrases are a little more common, which is of course also the case for jazz in general.

The phrase on the first Bb chord is a D dim arpeggio. The line on the Cm7 F7 bar could be seen as both a F7 line or a Bb major line. 

The 2nd Bb bar has a clear Bb7 line with a leading note to the 3rd. This also really evokes the blues sound.

The last bar has a Cm7 line to take us back to the chords before the progression would go to the 4th degree.

Conclusions

As I already mentioned it is important to realize that you should vary your approach during the solo. This is by the way true for all solos. I hope you can use the examples as inspiration to widen your vocabulary and the array of sounds you have available over Rhythm Changes.

Take your Rhythm Changes skills to the next level

Rhythm Changes – Target Note Strategies


 

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Get the PDF!

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3 types of Rhythm Changes licks you NEED to know

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can improve the lessons  then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround

The I VI II V is one of the most common progessions in jazz. In this lesson I am going to go over 10 variations of it and discuss how some of the different substitutions work and how you put them together.

The Turnaround

As I mention in my first lesson on turnarounds and the one on Rhythm changes a I VI II V is in fact an embellished version of a I V progression. It’s very good to keep this in mind, not only for high tempo solos but also just to understand what the basic structure and the point of the turnaround is.

All the examples in this lesson are made on a turnaround in C major.

The basic I VI II V is shown in example 1:

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 1

The first chord that we use a substitution for is the Am7. Since Am7 to Dm7 is a sort of dominant root movement we can change the Am7 into an A7.  The A7 to Dm7 is then an auxiliary dominant resolving to a minor chord so the  scale that works for that is D minor harmonic. The modal name for that type of dominant sound is A7(b9,b13).

A few variations on the VI chord

This is shown in example 2:

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 2

Since we need to move from C to Dm7 we can also choose to substitue the Am7 with a dim passing chord. In this case it will be a C#dim that will function the same as the A7 in example 2, and you should use the same scale to play over it or add extensions to it. The reason for using the C# dim is to get a nice chromatic stepwise bass line.

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 3

Changing the tonic chord

Now that we have a few options for the VI we can start using a substitute for the I chord. The most common version of this is to use the III chord instead of the I chord. For soloing there is very little difference between the two, but in a progression the III chord is not nearl as much of a resting point as the I chord. Furthermore it moves to the VI resolving a 5th down so it adds more forward motion in the bass as well.

You’ll notice that the III does not have a natural 9th in the chord. This is because that is a note that is not in the scale so it will sound a little out of place. In some situations it is ok to use it and in others it may clash with the melody or the soloist.

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 4

Altered dominants

To make the pull back to the I chord at the end of the progression we can alter the V. There are two options for this, you can borrow the dominant from C harmonic minor which gives us a G7(b9,b13) or simply use the altered scale (Ab melodic minor).

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 5

The Em7 is pulling the progression forward where the I is making it rest, making the Em7 a dominant chord is away to make that pull stronger. A dominant is always more unstable sounding and especially since it is not in the key it will give us the feeling that we want to move forward.

You should notice that you need an E7alt or E7(b9,b13) to not clash with the melody that you’d expect on a turnaround in C.

In example 6 I am using the E7, and I also changed the Dm7 to a D7 to get a complete chain of dominants that is pulling to the tonic.
Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 6

Tritone substitution

Since we can use an E7alt we can also use the tritone substitution of that chord. This gives us a bass note that is not even in the key which makes it even more unstable than the E7 and gives it much more forward direction. This is a personal favourite of mine, it isn’t used that often as a turnaround in an AABA form, but it does happen quite often in places where there is an extension at some point.

Bb7 is a tritone substitution so we would consider it a lydian dominant

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 7

Now we have a few variations of dominant chains. First we can add a tritone substitution for the G7: Db7.

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 8

And if we don’t use the Bb7 but use the E7 and a tritone substitue for A7: Eb7. Then we get this chromatically descending line in example 9

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 9

Ladybird Turnaround and the gateway to Giant Steps

The final example is a little left by itself. You can look at this turnaround as a gateway to Giant Steps. In the lady bird turnaround usually you use the I chord, and the tritone subs for A7 and G7. The Dm7 is replaced with an Abmaj7, and the way this works is that we let the Eb7 resolve as a normal dominant to Abmaj7 instead of as a tritone resolving to Dm7. Abmaj7 is related to C major as a bVI borrowed from C minor. You’ll find that in some standards as well.

To shortly connect this to Giant steps you should notice that we are in C and that we modulate down to Ab. If you continue that cycle you get a Giant Steps progression in the key of C:

Cmaj7 Eb7 Abmaj7 B7 Emaj7 G7 Cmaj7

I don’t know if this is where Coltrane got the idea, but it is certainly a possibility.

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 10

That was 10 variations of the turnaround. As you can see you can easily make more different variation, but they will start to resemble each other a bit more.

I think it is important to be able to recognise that something is just a turnaround and to know the different versions so that you can easily sum up pieces that are mostly turnarounds and that you already reading the piece have a sense of how it works.

If you want to see some examples of lines on these turnarounds then leave a comment on YouTube or social media and let me know!

You can also check out my WebStore lesson on comping on How High The moon:

Comping Etude – How High The Moon

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you want to hear.

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Rhythm Changes – Part 1

In this series I am going to start working on some approaches for improvising over Rhythm Changes. In this first lesson we are going to keep it very basic and lay a foundation that can be expanded in later lessons and also help you deal with this many chords in a high tempo.

Rhythm Changes

The rhythm changes progression is infact the chords of the Gerschwin standard “I got rhythm”. SInce the late swing era it has been used as a chord progression that a lot of new melodies have been written on. It has almost the same status as the 12 bar blues as a form and language that one has to master as a Jazz Player.

Rhythm changes is a 32 bar AABA form where each part is 8 bars. The bridge is a chain of dominants leading back to the tonic, and the A part is a series of turnarounds and a short visit to the 4th degree. In this lesson I am only going to work on the A part, and especially show how to deal with the many chords while soloing and still be able to make some music.

You probably know the A part as this progression.

Rhythm Changes - part 1 - ex 1

The Trick

The key to negotiating this many chords in a high tempo is to simplify the progression so that only the essential chord movements remain. In this case that means that I VI becomes just I and II V becomes just V. If you think this you are still playing the basic harmonic movement of the song and you have a bit more space to breathe while doing so.

The reduced progression would look like this.

Rhythm Changes - part 1 - ex 2

As you can see I already added the arpeggios in the example. All arpeggios are in the 6th position which is a good place to start for a Bb rhythm change in terms of having fairly simple arpeggio and scale fingerings.

The idea of simplifying the progression is not new, I have heard this from several teacher one of them being Barry Harris, and if you check out descriptions of Parker you will find examples of him doing exactly that while playing on this type of progression.

To practice the arpeggios and make sure that you really know them in and out, I suggest you try to play them over the progression as I’ve written out in example 2 above here, but also that you work on connecting them in the way I’ve written out in Example 3. The idea is that you startthe 1st arpeggio and when you played a bar of 8th notes you change to the note in the next arpeggio that is the closest to the one you are one now. This way you not only practice the arpeggios, but also how to think ahead and have an overview of how the next arpeggio looks before you play it.

Rhythm Changes - part 1 - ex 3

Adding the rest of the scale

Since the Bbmaj7 and the F7 arpeggios have two common notes (F and A) it is a bit difficult more difficult to improvise clearly through the progression only using the arpeggios, because it is harder to pick a note to play that makes it easy to hear the chord change. In my lesson on soloing over a blues the difference between the chords is bigger and this is a lot easier.

That said it is still worth while to do this and work on it since it is going to develop you ability to make clear melodies in situations like that with diatonic harmony, and most tunes are tonal so this applies to most songs. I give an example of a solo only using arpeggios in the video.

To make this a bit simpler I chose to here alos add the rest of the scale, so that we have seven notes to use instead of just the four notes of the arpeggios.

Since this lesson is on rhythm changes which is a bit more complex progression than a 12 bar blues I assume that you already know the scales and the basic arpeggios, otherwise you can check out and download charts here: Arpeggios and Scale charts

One way to practice the scales on the progression is to play them from root to seventh for each chord, that fits nicely in the bar and makes it easy to turn our simplified progression into a scale exercise. This is by the way an approach that I learned from American Jazz Pianist Barry Harris, you should check him out! His workshops are very good and he is the real deal when it comes to bebop!

Rhythm Changes - part 1 - ex 4

So now that we have some scales and arpeggios to use on our progression we can start looking at some of the lines you can make with that.

A Rhythm changes solo

In the video I play the solo that is written out in example 5. This is an improvistaion on the first 2 A’s in a rhythm changes form. As I explain in the video I had first written an example, but later decided that it would be better and more realistic if I improvised one and transcribed it, which is what I then did, and what you see under this.

Rhythm Changes - part 1 - ex 5

The lines are for the most part using the arpeggios and a few times also using some of the scale notes as diatonic passing notes. For the first 2 bar phrase I am using the motif of a third, on the Bb, the major 3rd and the root and on developing this on the F7 using first the 5th and 3rd and then later the root. The line then continues to use the root and 7th to create some tension that is resolved to the 3rd(D) of Bb on the 4 and.

The same idea of introducing a motif on the Bb and resolving it on the F7 is used in the next two bars, again using Bb and D over the Bb chord and then using the root and 3rd on the F7. The character of the melodies that I make has more of an emphasis on rhythm, which is natural since we don’t have too many extensions or alterations to use.

In bar 5 and 6 the introduction of the Ab on the Bb7 makes it easy to hear that chord, and just making lines with the arpeggio of this chord in this context gives it a nice bluesy flavour. The line on the Ebmaj7 is simply the arpeggio played descending from the root to the 3rd.

The last two bars for the first A are first a Bbmaj7 arpeggio played as a triplet, and on the F7 the line is more C minor like, since we use a G and D along with the C and Eb.

The second A has a melody for the first two bars which is almost a sort of cascading arpeggio idea. First on the Bb from the 5th to the root via the 7th and then on the F from the 5th to the root before it resolves to the low 3rd on the Bb on the 4 and.

I leave out the any further melodies on the Bb and have a syncopated melody on the F7 which also uses a D as a diatonic passing note. The melodic idea here is to se syncopation to develop tension before this is resolved on the Bb7.

THe Bb7 line is a straight arpeggio idea that emphasizes the 3rd(D) and the 7th(Ab), which signals that we are moving to the 4th degree.

The line on the Ebmaj7 is much more scale based and consists of two encircling movements, of first the F and then on the D, delaying the resolution to the D so that it is used to mark the transition to the Bb.

The final line is a riff like melodic idea just thinking Bb, In a real improvisation on a complete chorus I might add more here to lead into the Bridge, but since I don’t have a bridge in this example I mad a sort of ending phrase. If you check out especially Parker themes on rhythm changes they often have a phrase like this at the end of the 2nd and 3rd A part.

I hope that you can use the ideas and exercises from this lesson to get better at playing rhythm changes solos and feel less stressed out by the tempo.

You can of course also download a PDF of the examples and the solo here:

Rhythm Changes – part 1

You can also check out the rhythm changes lesson I made what includes 2 full choruses, 1 using this approach and one chorus using more chords. It’s available here: http://jenslarsen.nl/product/rhythm-changes-solo-etude-1/ 

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make thme fit what you want to hear.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

 

 

Chords and Walking Bass – part 2

In my previous lesson on playing this sort of accompaniment: Chords and Walking Bass – part 1 I mostly talked about how to combine the two and how to practice getting both layers to work together. In this lesson I am more focusing on how to write the basslines for faster moving chord progressions like a rhythm change A part.

The main part of this lesson is based on the two examples that I play in the video which should demonstrate a simple and a more advanced approach to creating a strong bass line.

The Examples

In the first example I am mainly using a 1 – 5 movement to construct a logical sounding bass line on the Rhythm changes. Just to clarify what I mean: 1 – 5 on the Bb would be Bb(1) and the next note would be F(5).

Chords and Walking Bass lines - part 2 - ex 1

In the first two bars the bassline is only constructed of a 1 – 5 movement on all chords. On all of them I can resolve that down wards to the next root except for the Bb (Bb – F) that is resolved up to G. For the next two bars I play a Dm instead of the Bb chord. A very common thing to do, since the two are almost identical. The bass line is again moving 1 – 5 all the time except for on the Dm where it is 1 b5, yielding a chromatic leading note to the G7. This is also a very common way to move from one chord to the next.

On the Fm7 I use the 1 – 5 bass line again to get to Bb. On the Bb I go from the root to the 3rd because it is leading into a chromatic ascending movement (Eb to E resolving to F). The Eb and the E are played with repeating notes because that emphasizes that sort of movement. The resolution to F (on Bb/F) is chromatically moving up to the G, which then via its fifth(D) moves to C. The bassline on C is a b5 leading down to F, and on the F I play the 3rd to go to the Bb on beat one of the next A part.

Chords and Walking Bass lines - part 2 - ex 2

The second example employs a few other approaches too. The first turnaround uses a chromatic leading note Ab to lead to G. In a slower tempo you can even harmonize it as an Ab7. Form the G it moves via the 3rd(B) to C minor where the bassline on the Cm7 F7 is purely chord tones. The 2nd Bb Major moves via it’s 3rd(D) to G. This is in a way using that the D is a chord note on the Bb and the fifth of G so it makes sense harmonically and is a nice way to get a bigger interval in the bass line at that point. The Cm7 F 7 is again using thirds and fifths as leading notes. The solution for the Fm7 Bb7 EbMaj7 Edim is identical to example one. Mostly because the chromatic ascending line is so strong at that point. On the last two bars I uses the F and the C under both the Bb/F and the F7. On the Bbmaj7 the bassline is the triad ending on an Eb to lead to the D7 in the bridge.

Putting this to use

I hope you can use these examples as models to make your own bass lines. For me the process with this was always based on finding some solutions for the different progressions in a piece and then practice to play them and hopefully have a few different ones so you can start varying. Over time the ability to get more variation in both chords and bass lines should grow.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here:

Chords and Walking Bass lines – part 2

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.