Walking bass

Walking bass

In popular music, a walking bass is a style of bass accompaniment or line, common in jazz, which creates a feeling of regular quarter note movement, akin to the regular alteration of feet while walking (Friedland 1995, p.4). Thus walking basslines generally consisting of unsyncopated notes of equal value, usually quarter notes (known in jazz as a "four feel"). Walking basslines use a mixture of scale tones, arpeggios, and passing tones to outline the chord progression of a song or tune, often with a melodic shape that alternately rises and falls in pitch over several bars.

Walking basslines are usually performed on the double bass or the electric bass, but they can also be performed using the low register of a piano, Hammond organ, or other instruments. While walking bass lines are most commonly associated with jazz and blues, they are also used in rock, rockabilly, ska, R&B, gospel, latin, country, and many other genres (Friedland 1995, p.4).


Walking bass often alternates quarter notes:

:Audio|Walking bass I-V.mid|play

giving rise to the term.

Many boogie-woogie basslines are walking bass lines:

:audio|Twelve bar boogie-woogie blues in C.mid|Play in C major

Walking bass often moves in stepwise (scalar) motion to successive chord roots, such as often in country music:

:audio|Walking bass I-IV.mid|Play

In this example, the last two quarter notes of the second measure, D and E, "walk" up from the first quarter note in that measure, C, to the first note of the third measure, F (C and F are the roots of the chords in the first through second and third through fourth measures, respectively).

In both cases, "walking" refers both to the steady duple rhythm (one step after the other) and to the strong directional motion created (ibid); in the examples above, from C to F and back in the second, and from root to seventh and back in the first.

ee also

* Bass run, a short instrumental break or fill for the bass instrument (or instruments)


*Friedland, Ed (1995). "Building Walking Bass Lines". ISBN 0-7935-4204-9.

External links

*PDFlink| [http://www.music.sc.edu/ea/Jazz/Improv/219/244BassLinesF.pdf Bass Lines] |25.1 KiB - 244 million bass lines in F
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sttpeVdSYTs [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sttpeVdSYTs] An audio/video example of a walking bass line played on electric bass guitar, created specifically to accompany this Wikipedia entry (GFDL/Creative Commons) by Dave Muscato, bassist of Treasure Junkie, for information purposes only.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Walking Bass — Wal|king Bass, der; , Wal|king|bass, der; [ wɔ:kɪŋbeɪs ; engl. walking bass, eigtl. = gehender Bass]: (im Jazz) rhythmisch gleichmäßig fortschreitende Basslinie. * * * Walking Bass   [englisch/amerikanisch, wɔːkɪȖ beɪs; wörtlich »gehender,… …   Universal-Lexikon

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  • walking bass — noun Music a bass part in 4/4 time in which a note is played on each beat of the bar, typically moving up and down the scale in small steps …   English new terms dictionary

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