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Rhythmic & Chordal Playing
30 Day Challenge
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Cello Lessons: Walking Bass Line Fundamentals

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As a cellist playing jazz, we're probably
gonna find ourselves in situations
where we're comping bass,
where we're playing the bass lines for
other musicians.
So, the fundamental way to start doing
this is to, well I'm gonna first
want you to go back, and watch a guide
tone exercise where you're improvising
connections to the roots, because
that's what walking a bass line is.
The bass players goal is to
establish the roots of each chord so
that all the other musicians can play
interesting harmonies on top of it.
But without the root, in the bass note.
All of the upper harmonies are not
gonna necessarily sound right.
So, the goal of the bass
player is to play the root
on the down beat of every chord change.
You're gonna wanna pizz it
with a strong sideways stroke,
so you get like a thuddy sound.
I covered this in one of the non
classical pizzacato lessons.
Once you can identify the roots,
it's really just about connecting these
roots with scales and
the scales can be diatonic or chromatic.
But rhythmically what
you're gonna want to do
when you're playing bass is just
play straight quarter notes.
Just continuous quarter notes
until the cows come home,
because that is how you lay down the
foundational rhythm for the piece as well.
This will sound familiar, and let me
show you what is sounds like when I'm
improvising connections to the roots of
the chords in straight quarter notes.
You can
do a little
chromatic walk
down there.
The scales can be chromatic or diatonic
when you're connecting these roots.
The really important things is that
you're hitting the roots on the downbeat,
and that you're playing
continuous quarter notes.
From that foundation, there's two more
things I want to tell you at this point.
You can accent two and
four a little bit so that you go in
line with the snare in the drums.
Let me show you how that might sound like,
it's a subtle accent on the second and
fourth beats.
So that's
gonna help you
line up with what
the drummer is doing.
And the last stylistic thing
that's really gonna change
the way this feels is to do what
are often called pull offs.
What I can do is as I'm pizzing
the quarter notes with my right hand,
I can sort of left hand pizz,
pull off my finger,
sort of in that swing subdivision.
It lets us access these subdivisions of
the swing so
we can really clue in to the swing feel.
Otherwise, the quarter notes,
you're not playing subdivision so
it's hard to show swing.
So in order to swing with our bass line,
we wanna do some pull offs
in that triplet place.
Let me go through the A section just so
you hear where you might wanna do that and
what it would sound like.
Yeah, totally gives
the baseline whole
nice texture, and
it's really just
left hand pizzing.
Pulling off the finger in
that swing subdivision, and
that will help you sound more stylistic
when you walk your baselines.
And remember just the fundamental
principles, you always gotta aim for
the root and
you gotta keep the rhythm steady.
Never stop playing quarter notes
when you're walking your base lines.