BassWork

Swinging

by Michael D. Temple
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Jazz walking lines that swing are really played with a triplet "feel". You are playing only quarter notes, but internally you are "feeling" triplets. The following should help you gain a feel for this (as well as listening to great swinging bass lines).
  1. Start with 1/4 note

  2. divide into triplet with the following representing each note of the triplet:
             Bop Ba De
    
  3. With the beat at the front of the imaginary triplet (on the Bop and indicated by the "x") tap your foot on the beat (1,2,3,4) and say the triplet phrase as you play your note along with your tapping foot (and the beat in 4/4/ time) as follows:
             1          2          3           4
            Bop Ba De  Bop Ba De  Bop Ba De   Bop Ba De
             x          x          x           x
    
  4. To add some rhythmic interest you can play on the last (De) and the first (Bop) to "lead into" the next note. If you did this on beat #4 only, while playing on the beat for measures 1-3 it would look as follows. The xs represent where you would play, the 1-4 represent a metronome beating out 4/4 time.
      
              1          2          3           4           1
           | Bop Ba De  Bop Ba De  Bop Ba De   Bop Ba De | Bop Ba De
              x          x          x           x     x     x
    
    I was taught to sing the rhythmic skip from the De to the Bop as Da Bop so it would be: BOP ba de BOP ba de BOP ba de BOP ba DA BOP where the capitalized words represent where you play your note. Da Bop seems to best approximate the true feel of this type of skip. Rhythmic skips like this are often used to emphasize beats 1 and 3 by skipping on the "de" of beats 2 and/or 4.

  5. You can play behind the beat by playing on the De instead of the Bop and using the following: Da Foot (where Da is the last part of the beat formerly known as De), the Foot is the Bop where you should be tapping your foot on each of the four beats of 4/4 time. Again this is really De Bop, but my teacher taught it as Da Foot. The Da is the same word used above, and the foot is where the beat is (also where you should be tapping your foot for this exercise).

  6. Lastly you can use a great Paul Chambers line and play on all three parts (Bop,Ba De), doing one of those descending arpeggios (high root, fifth, third). While you're at it do a couple of them:
    Bop Ba De - Bop Ba De - Bop.
    My current bass teacher knew Paul and told me that he originated this type of line. Many current bassists use it frequently, but I guess Mr. PC was the first (I have 1950s recordings where he plays such lines).
              1          2          3           4              
           | Bop Ba De  Bop Ba De  Bop Ba De   Bop Ba De | 
              x  x  x    x  x  x   x            x       
    Notes:    O  5  3    R  L5 L3  LR
    
    Legend:
       O = Octave
       5 = 5th of chord
       3 = 3rd of chord
       R = Root
       L# = lower chord tone
       LR = Lower root
    
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