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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Get Your Jazz On

This past weekend I had the opportunity to play some bass, something I rarely do. One of the things I have always wondered is how jazz bassists do the funky note walking they do, sort of atonal, but not. I played around with this a bit. One approach that seems to work pretty well is to take notes in pairs, one note being "in" the scale (whatever scale that may be) and the other note a half-step up, down, or sideways. With each pair of notes you either move into or out of the scale. Where you end up on the downbeat sets the tone (as in feeling, not audio tone). Playing in the scale, especially the tonic or 5th, on the downbeat gives the sense of resolution. Playing in the scale on the upbeat and then moving a half step away on the downbeat is more dissonant, off balance.

Of course, I'm not a jazz bassist, so I'm really just playing around with this, and there are lots of other approaches to this. Any jazz dudes or dudettes out there want to shed some light in the comments?

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