How Can I Play Bass to This (Miles Davis)

Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by Ryan0594, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. Ryan0594

    Ryan0594 Tele-Holic

    Jun 15, 2010
    Liverpool, England
  2. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Poster Extraordinaire

    Oct 22, 2006
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    I don't think there is a trick. Never was for me. First time takes a while. Experience sharpens up your ear, so it will get easier if you keep after it.
  3. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA
    The trick is to know what notes are in every chord. Most of the time, like nearly all the time, you want the root note to be on the "one" of each measure, and then you want to articulate the harmony, so if the chord is a Gmaj7 you want to get a Gb in there and maybe an F; a B and maybe a D. The simplest way to play lines is to arpeggiate the chords (play the notes in the chord), but it's not very groovy. The art is in constructing lines that swing and flow, so I'm always thinking about the chord that's coming next and how to get to that root note effectively. A simple trick is to half-step into the root, so if the movement is say Dm7b5 to G7, I might play D, F, G#, Gb, G: the Gb isn't in either chord but it adds "suspense" and tension which is released when you hit the G. A fair amount of the time you can get away with root/five/octave with half steps into the next root: just watch out for those pesky #5s..

    Another basic trick is to listen to what the melody does, or where the soloist is heading, and do the opposite. Like if the melody or the solo is going up, have your bass line head down. It adds contrast and highlights the melody or the solo while still providing harmonic support.

    It does take practice. I've played thousands of gigs just walking bass lines and it never gets old for me. I'm always finding new ways to make the changes flow. I usually forget them right after I find them though, sadly!

    But you do have to know what notes are in every chord.
  4. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

    Aug 30, 2011
    Well, the first step is knowing the chords of the songs (i.e. "knowing the songs").

    Then you need to hear what is going on in the song, modally and harmonically.

    Then you improvise things that will work well within that framework. You have to use your ear and your judgment – no "tricks."

    Luckily that album is pretty straight ahead, so it's not the most challenging Miles album to play along with. The chord changes and harmonies are not that far out there.
  5. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

    May 20, 2017
    Long Island, NY
    I played bass back in college, jazz for two semesters and country mostly as a substitute. Country was easy with songs usually in major keys with the occasional minor key. I realize that some of the uptempo country tunes used flat 7ths a lot. Be careful with the bass line not to play a b7 outside a chord using it. Jazz was a struggle. Sometimes I could get a written bass line or use the left hand piano part as a guide. I found arpeggios were boring to play. I didn’t know much theory back then, but the pianist would tell me the notes in the scale. Playing scales helped a lot. Knowing more theory now I realize that I was playing scales with chord changes either from the root or from an inversion of the chord. I’m thinking that nothing replaces knowing your scales and knowing which mode the song uses. I’m trying to add jazz to my playing country on guitar and I’m doing it one mode at a time. I finally understand what the pianist was driving at with his insistence that I learn the scale for each piece.
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