Writing Jazz Bass Lines
When it comes to jazz, you're entering some pretty deep terrain. But don't fear, you've already learned so much! Remember that your best tools for jazz lines are arpeggios, scales, and chromatics. If you fully exploit these tools, you'll have many great options for bass lines at your disposal.
In jazz, angular, unpredictable bass lines can be a plus (unlike in pop where bass lines have to sound fairly safe harmonically). Alternate bass notes are much more common in jazz. Breaking up the rhythm in daring ways is also encouraged. Remember though, it's still important to keep impeccable time, and you must always strive to create a great groove.
One of the ways jazz bassists get that daring sound is by employing
In jazz, the leading tone may appear a half step below the tonic of the chord — just like a traditional leading tone — or a half step above the tonic of the chord. Again, the reasons for this will become apparent in later chapters. Nevertheless, using leading tones in jazz as a stepping stone to a chord root creates the same emotional urgency as previously mentioned. Since most jazz walking lines are based on quarter notes, this leading tone will appear mostly on beat four. As for beats two and three, additional chromatics can be used to preface the leading tone and its subsequent root. By studying and playing Figure 14-9, this should become easier to understand.
Using leading tones and chromatics above and below the root
Of course, this idea needs to be fully integrated into what you have already learned about walking bass lines in jazz. In Figure 14-10 you will combine together many of the jazz concepts you've learned so far. In this musical example, you will play a walking bass line comprised of leading tones, scales, arpeggios, chromatics, and alternate bass notes.
Figure 14-10. Putting walking bass lines together with all you've learned