Walking Bass 101
A good guide for creating a basic walking bass line is by using approach tones (also called “passing tones”). Generally, when we look at a chord progression, we want to place the roots/chord tones on beats one and three, and approach tones to the roots/chord tones on beats 2 and 4. For more walking bass lessons, be sure to catch up with me at http://christarrylessons.com.
Check out the progression below. I have a chart that reads 2 chords per bar in the key of C.
It’s Cmaj7 A-7 D-7 G7
An approach tone is by its very definition a note that “approaches” the next note. In the example below we can see that we used notes on beats 2 and 4 that approached the chord change by a half-step below.
Here we can take the same progression but use approach tones from a half-step above.
Now, instead of just half-steps from above and below the roots, we can try whole-steps. In the example below we are using whole-steps that approach the chords from above.
Be sure to also check out approaching from a whole-step below.
Now, to get the full effect of a cool walking bass line we mix em’ all up!
Check out how this sounds over a longer version of the previous examples.
Eventually these approach tones become just like colors on a painting. What color do you want to paint with today? Maybe just half-steps from below, it’s all up to you now!