Tag Archives: walking bass jazz guitar

How To Play A Harmonized Bass Line On A Blues

A Harmonized Bass Line is a great way to create a groove moving comp that clearly reflects the harmony and has a lot of movement. In this video I am going to show you how I play a harmonized bass line on a Bb Blues, and also go over the shell voicings and spread triads that you need to create your own.

Playing Harmonized bass lines is often associated with Jim Hall, especially from his comping of Bill Evans, and it is a great way of comping to have in your vocabulary. It works especially well if you are comping in a duo setting since it is really full and also lays down a solid groove.

Building a chord vocabulary

Before I start breaking down the harmonized bassline example I think it makes sense to just do a few exercises to build a chord vocabulart.

When you play harmonized bass lines then most of the time it is going to be with 3 note voicings and most of those are either Shell voicings or open voiced triads.

Shell voicings with the chord on the D and G strings are found in two variations. One with the root on the 6th string and one with the root on the 5th string.

Since this is a Bb blues I have chosen to use the scale that goes with a Bb7, namely Eb major for these exercises.

This first example is with the root on the 6th string

And the same exercise with the root on the 5th string.

Spread Triads

Another common voicing is the open-voiced or spread triad. This way of playing triads adds larger intervals to the structure. In this case it makes them sit well in the voice-leading when they are mixed with shell-voicings.

Harmonized Bass Line on a Blues

In this part of the lesson I will analyze the Harmonized bass line example.

The first bar is a very simple and common way to walk up on a dominant. The first chord is a Bb7 shell-voicing which is followed by a series of 1st inversion spread triads. This takes us up to the IV chord Eb7.

The second bar is another standard solution. I play Eb7 on beats 1 and 3 and a leading chord for Eb7 on beat 2, in this case a D7. On beat 4 I have a B7 as a leading chord to the Bb7 in the next bar. This happens again in bar 5, 6 and 10.

Having a leading chord on beat 4 is very common and nice way to create a natural flow.

Bar 3 is a bassline that is in fact harmonizing the Bb major triad and adding a leading chord on beat 4. This also happens in bar 7.

Bar 4 is also a very common solution to a quic II V progression. The basic chords, Fm7 and Bb7 are found on beats 1 and 3. On beat 2 I use a B7 to lead to Bb7 and beat 4 is an E7 to lead to Eb7. This same solution is used in bar 8 and bar 12. The progression in bar 11 is not a II V but the approach with leading chords is the same.

The Cm7 bar is using a diatonic walk up, so the Cm7 is part of a II V I in Bb major and the bass line walks up the scale with Cm7, Dm7 and Ebmaj7 shell voicings. The E7 on beat 4 is there as a leading chord for F7.

How to get Harmonized Bass lines into your playing

Working with this approach you should check out some of the ways I move between chords. Maybe make some variations on the Bb blues and then try to construct your own harmonized bass lines on a song or standard that you already know well.

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Harmonized Bass Line on a Blues

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Walking Bass Jazz Guitar Lesson on All The Things You Are

Playing Walking Bass Jazz Guitar Comping is really a great full way to comp in a duo setting. The walking bass really helps you lay down the groove and you can add the chords to make the harmony clear but also as accents in the rhythm. All The Things You Are is a great jazz standard to check this out on and you probably are already familiar with the song.

Playing these two layers at the same time is challenging in this lesson I am going to discuss some of the things that you want to check out like playing bass lines over several bars of one chord. Adding variation in the bass line rhythms and dealing with higher tempos.

All The Things You Are – Walking Bass Jazz Guitar

This example is a little faster than what I usually do. It demonstrates how I reuse bigger parts of lines on similar progressions very well. It also shows how I use changing positions when playing on the same chord for several bars. 

The First A part – Arpeggio basslines and sliding leading notes

The bassline and chords are clearly displaying that I mostly add the chords on the 1& except on the strong parts of the form like in the first bar. Having the chord on the 1& is technically quite easy and just adds a little extra color and an accent.

The basslines in the first 6 bars are really all constructed from arpeggio notes adding a chromatic leading notes on beat 4 when necessary. This makes the lines very clear and easy to relate to the chords.

On the G7 in bar 6 I have an extra leading note that I slide into the resolution on the Cmaj7. This a great way to embellish the basslines and it will work even at higher tempos where for example 8th note triplets might not be that practical.

On the Cmaj7 the first bar is in the position around the 3rd fret and then moves up to the 8th fret for the second bar. This is one way to deal with several bars of Cmaj7.

Second A – Shifting position and keeping the groove going

The 2nd A also has basslines consisting of arpeggio notes and the occoasional leading tone. Except for the first chord Cm7, which has a more scalar bass melody.

The Transition from Bb7 to Ebmaj7 is aided with an extra sliding leading note from D to Eb.

On the Gmaj7 the bass line is again shifting from 3rd to 10th position and in this case I don’t include a chord on the 2nd bar of the Gmaj7.  To me the most important part of playing like this is to keep the bass moving and therefore it is not always essential to have a chord in there.

The Bridge – Walk yourself out of a tight spot

The first part of the bridge is a II V I in G major. The bass and chords are actually playing the exact same movement as in Bars 2-4 This is a good example of a large chunk being “re-cycled” in another key.

This time the Gmaj7 bassline does not shift position in the second bar. this is because I want to stay in the same region for the II V I in E that follows.

In the II V I to E major the F#m is again an arpeggio but this time the arpeggio is shifting up along the 6th string.  This makes the B7 in the 7th fret is easy to reach. Playing bass lines like this can be very useful to not “walk yourself into a corner”. Having the B7 up there makes it possible to avoid the Emaj7 which is not so easy to have in there with the low open E string.

The C7 is approached with an slide extra and the bassline is a straight C major triad. 

The Last A part

I have an extra leading note on the C7 at the end of the bridge, but in this case the transition to the Fm7 is using a hammer-on instead of a slide to move from E to F.

The Bbm7, Eb7 and Abmaj7 are very similar to the first A.

The descending IV IVm progression

The final 8 bars of the song is IV IVm, III, bIIIdim to a II V I.

The First Dbmaj7 is played in the 4th position but then moves up to play Dbm6 in the 9th position. From here it descends to th 8th for Cm7 and the 7th for the Bdim chord.

The final II V I cadence is again using the same bass line as bars 2-3. This time the final Ab chord is placed on the beat mark the ending of the song. The last bars are a II V back to F incase you want to loop the chorus.

Walking bass etudes and making your own

I hope you can use the exercises and the example to get started making your own Walking bass and chords comping examples. Of course my example can serve as a good etude. You should also used it as a source of inspiration for your own walking bass ideas.

Get Started Soloing on All The Things You Are

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Walking Bass – All The Things You Are

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.

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.