#1
Alright so I was given an assignment from my bass teacher to be able to improvise a bassline to the song Autumn Leaves by using the chords on the sheet music. Problem is, we kind of ran out of time for me to get it clear as to what i really have to do to make this possible..

I know all my modes, the notes on the fretboard etc so that's not a problem. What i don't understand is exactly what modes to play when it says a specific chord. Example, the first chord is Am7. Then i know i have to play any 4 notes in that chord to get to the next chord, D7. And then comes the Gmaj7 chord. And so on and so on..

First of all, how do I tell what key the song is in? I thought it was always the first note played - he said no not always because there are key changes all the time in jazz. So how do i know when there is a key change?


K if that was confusing to read i'll question it in point form..

-How do i know what mode to play with the corresponding chord? AND also where to play it on the bass..
-How do i tell when key changes are?

we went over intervals (not like 3rds in a scale and stuff.. modal intervals with chords) but it was very briefly explained and kinda went over my head lol. So any input on this as well would be great.

Thanks a bunch, Gods of Theory
Gear:

Basses:
2008 American Standard Fender Jazz
Ibanez SRX300
Amp(s):
Ashdown MAG 300 C410T + 1x15
Effects:
SansAmp 3-Channel Bass Driver D.I.
#2
Just apparpegio into the next chord. Or mix it up, I was given the same excersise last year.

Out of interest. Where do you live?
#3
if you find yourself the sheet music, then that will obviously have the corresponding key signature on it for you.

Also you don't want to just play a different mode for each chord, you can mix it up with (almost) anything you want, as far as my limited knowledge goes I believe many walking jazz basslines use chromaticism to get to the next note.

However, if you're interested in learning modes relative to chords then check out this article on pitch axis theory.

I'll leave someone like jazz_rock_feel to explain better as his knowledge of jazz playing is vast and mighty compared to mine.
Gear

Fender Geddy Lee Jazz
Fender MIA Precision
Musicman Bongo
Boss TU-2
EBS TD650
EBS ProLine 2x10 x 2
#4
I literally twitched when I saw the title of your thread--I spent two months working various bass lines and techniques on that song with a teacher. I think its the one jazz standard I could stand not hearing again in my lifetime.

But to be more helpful here, and while you waiting for either Jazzy or Sinan to respond, you may want to read this thread:

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=607576

Sinan includes references to other helpful threads as well as Jazzy's walking bassline construction lesson. It may make the whole process a little more clearer. If not, come back and post again to the thread and we'll try to clear up a few things.
#5
What your teacher asked you to do is called walking.
You've said the chords are: Am7 - D7 - Gmaj7
Lets look at the notes of each of them:
Am7 - A C E G
D7 - D F# A C
Gmaj7 - G B D F#

Your goal is to "walk" on the chords, you should aim to land at the root of the next chord on the first beat.
So now you have beats 2, 3, and 4 to worry about. Well, no worry.
Use different notes on them (never stay on the same note twice in a row), you should usually use chord tones and chromaticism, so a couple of quick suggestions:

First bar: A C E D# \ A B C C# \ A (Low) E A C
Second bar: D C B A \ D (Low) E F F# \ D C A F#
Third bar: G B G G# \ G F# G G# \ G D B G

I've assumed the Gmaj7 goes back to the Am7, I havent worked on that specific standard yet.

Hope this will help you get the hang of it, and yes, the Walking lesson on this forum is quite informative.
For long you live and high you fly
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You race toward an early grave.


Ben Hamelech
#6
What a coincedence,
my teacher used autumn leaves as an example of how you can make solo's/improvise with the use of arpeggio's.
Just use the arpeggio's from the chords, and use similar notes of the chords for switching chords.
#7
Let's see if I can explain this right, and I know Sinan will jump in and comment if I'm leading you astray...

For simple walking basslines, the following approach has helped. me.

At first walk through the song playing just the root - 5th or root - 3rd through the chord changes. This will give you a feel for the chord changes.

From there, you can work several tried and true patterns, like root - 2 - 3- 5 or root-3-5-7 (just as an example) with chromatic walk ups (or downs) for dramatic effect as passing tones. Your walking bass lines should also have a good "two beat" feel in 4/4 time.
#8
Ugh. I hate this song so much. Find a common tone and use it as the tone to transition into the next phrase.

A common tone in jazz is simply a note that is found in both the the chord being played, and about to be played. (Usually 1 3 5 7b in jazz) So if I were going from Bb7 to Eb7 id use a D or an F right before the Bb7 for a basic progression.
#9
Read the thread anarkee posted, especially the portion on my quote. Not that Sinan's part isn't good, but my part is the basics of a walking line.

Just some other basic things: playing two notes in a row is actually a great way to break up a line; don't just arpeggiate the chord, that does not make for an interesting and effective walking bassline; your teacher chose a pretty difficult tune to begin improvising a walking line on. Don't get frustrated when you can't get it right away. Improvising a walking line isn't something that happens in a week. You need to work at it.
#10
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
Read the thread anarkee posted, especially the portion on my quote. Not that Sinan's part isn't good, but my part is the basics of a walking line.

Just some other basic things: playing two notes in a row is actually a great way to break up a line; don't just arpeggiate the chord, that does not make for an interesting and effective walking bassline; your teacher chose a pretty difficult tune to begin improvising a walking line on. Don't get frustrated when you can't get it right away. Improvising a walking line isn't something that happens in a week. You need to work at it.


Hey, not to thread hijack, but I hope to make my school's jazz band this spring, and I was wondering if you had some songs that I could use for some simple walking. I'm pretty sure I know enough theory, I just have to learn how to apply all of it....thanks.
#11
Walk a blues. Walk a blues. Walk a blues. When you've done it three times, walk it another 42,234,123,542,165 times. Then repeat. F blues, Bb blues and Eb blues. Start out with F and Bb though. Those are the three HUGE set of changes you're going to have to walk over. Learn the simplest forms, and then add alterations, chord extensions, extra chords, anything you can possibly do to a blues. If you can master walking the 12 bar blues in its many forms you have just mastered 98% of any improvised walking you're going to have to do in school.
#12
k so far your guys' replies have been a lot of help. However, I am still uncertain by the difference between some certain chords.. eg Em and Eb7. So does this mean i have to play a mode with a flat 7th? ugh.. just little things like this are confusing me.

oh and to bassfirst.. red deer alberta canada.
Gear:

Basses:
2008 American Standard Fender Jazz
Ibanez SRX300
Amp(s):
Ashdown MAG 300 C410T + 1x15
Effects:
SansAmp 3-Channel Bass Driver D.I.
#13
Quote by -zj*
k so far your guys' replies have been a lot of help. However, I am still uncertain by the difference between some certain chords.. eg Em and Eb7. So does this mean i have to play a mode with a flat 7th? ugh.. just little things like this are confusing me.

oh and to bassfirst.. red deer alberta canada.


For Em, you would use your minor scale. For Eb7, you would use an Eb major scale, but with a flattened seventh.
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#15
1. Learn the arpeggios for the chords.
2. Play arpeggios over the right chords.
3. Try mixing the order of the notes you play in the arpeggio.
4. Add other notes related to the key of the piece. The whole of Autumn Leaves can be played just using the E minor/G major scale, unless you get some tritone subs in play.
5. Add other non-key related notes for chromaticisms or tensioned notes
6. Learn about ii-V-Is and how to spot them
7. Find other pieces and run through the same list again until you become confident enough to play something straight off spotting the ii-V-Is.
8. Learn to play out of time.

EDIT: Chord construction here: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=536815 If you can't construct chords from their name then there is no point to what is above really.
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