If music is compared to a spoken or written language, not every word within a sentence is significant to the overall understanding of the message being communicated. For example, nouns and verbs constitute the primary information in an effort to convey ideas whereas adjectives, adverbs, and the like assist in qualifying that information. In music, some tones provide the basic structure while other notes serve to embellish upon that principal content. Think of the chord tones and scale tones as providing the foundation or structure. In other words, chord tones and scale tones will function as the nouns and verbs of music. The way musicians approach playing or ornamenting those chord tones and scale tones will be equivalent to the roles of the adjectives or adverbs of a language. Since Western music consists of only 12 different tones, the essential building blocks used in the construction of bass lines and solos are rather limited. However, through the utilization of embellishing tones, vibrato, dynamics, and different methods of articulation such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, slurs, and grace notes, musicians can add individuality or a degree of uniqueness to the way they interpret music.
Chord tones are identified as the root, third, fifth, and seventh degrees of a scale while scale tones consist of the second, fourth, and sixth scale steps. Non-diatonic notes are tones which are not found within the chord or its diatonically associated scale. Embellishing tones are notes of secondary significance in music, and many times they are not diatonic to the harmony. Often, they create dissonance and resolve by either a half step or a whole step to a more critical pitch.
Approach notes do exactly what their name suggests. They are embellishments that may precede any target tone by either a half step or a whole step from above or below. They may or may not be a member of the chord or one of that chord's most closely associated scales. Some of the most frequently used approaches to target notes are double chromatic approaches. Notes which function as double chromatic approaches are generally a combination of both diatonic and non-diatonic notes because at least one of the approach notes is found within the scale related to the chord. By utilizing non-diatonic tones as chromatic approach notes, the underlying sense of tension and resolution in solos can be heightened. ... Subscribe Today & Read More!
The three fundamental building blocks utilized in the construction of walking bass lines include chord tones, scale tones, and non-diatonic notes. Although standard walking bass lines predominantly consist of quarter notes, rhythmic embellishments have become essential components in the vocabulary of the contemporary jazz bassist to heighten the underlying feeling of tension and release from a rhythmic perspective and increase the rhythmic interest of quarter note walking lines. Rhythmic embellishments help break the often monotonous flow of a straight-ahead bass line that is improvised through a steady stream of quarter notes and played continuously over an extended period of time. In addition to accentuating the overall feel of the music, rhythmic embellishments add a rhythmic dimension and create the feeling of forward motion which will make your walking bass lines sound like they have a continual sense of direction.
In terms of their application, rhythmic embellishments should generate a feeling of anticipation or tension which is then resolved or released on the subsequent quarter note pulse. Rhythmic embellishments are extremely versatile since they can be placed on any beat within the measure. They can help capture the listener's attention, reinforce the quarter note pulse, and enhance the overall forward flow of the music.
To demonstrate the development of walking bass lines featuring slurred skips, I have composed many sample bass lines over several choruses of the 12-bar blues. These examples will supply you with ideas on how to effectively employ slurred skips over the 12-bar blues and these basic chord changes. ... Subscribe Today & Read More!
The IIB Subscriber's Area
Jazz Improvisation For Bass Guitar & Acoustic Bass The Subscriber's Area is an exclusive section of the IIB which includes the 20-lesson online bass course Jazz Improvisation For Bass Guitar & Acoustic Bass, the IIB Bass Samplers, and an extensive collection of lesson material featuring over 300 individual lessons which cover a broad range of subjects.
Jazz Improvisation is a comprehensive 20-lesson course that will help you acquire the essential skills which are necessary to connect your ears to the fingerboard, develop ideas, and communicate more fluently through the language of improvisation. Featuring dozens of fretboard diagrams and play-along tracks with exercises written in standard notation and tablature, topics covered include practice techniques, ear training, scales, modes, chords, passing notes, approach note techniques, and chord tone soloing. After completing this course, you will have expanded your fretboard familiarity, broadened your knowledge of chord/scale theory, increased your technical proficiency on the instrument, and become more productive in your practice sessions. You will possess the fundamental tools that are required to improvise great bass lines and solos on any chord type, chord progression, or song form in the jazz repertoire. ... Subscribe Today & Read More!