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Digital Subscriptions > The Strad > August 2019 > Walking bass

Walking bass

Essenial foundaions for producing a jazz bass-line with good sound, rhythm and harmony

TECHNIQUE

DANNY ZIEMANN

Professor of double bass, Eastman School of Music Community Programme and

SUNY Oswego, New York

Understanding how to play walking bass is one of the core responsibilities of a bass player in any jazz setting. In its simplest form, it means playing one note on each beat of the bar in a way that outlines the harmony and rhythm of a tune. his does not mean simply playing the chord root at the beginning of each bar and itting in a few chromatic notes around it: a good walking bass-line is a counter-melody in the bass register, written to support the main melody, just as the lower voice supports the upper voice in traditional counterpoint. hinking about this line not in terms of function and pattern, but instead in terms of shape, rhythm, chromaticism and melody, can be intimidating but it also gives you the freedom to be as melodic as you want to be. Learning to play walking bass will set you up for success in whatever type of jazz music interests you.

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About The Strad

Double bassist Leon Bosch discusses his career, and we investigate the bass makers of Manchester. There’s an interview with early music pioneer Eduard Melkus and cellist Johannes Moser gives a Mendelssohn Masterclass. Plus Leonidas Kavakos’s teaching tips