Walking Bass Lines

Over the last few weeks we’ve used the idea of walking bass lines, either as an actual bass line or as a harmony for the melody players. Here the lowest note walks between each chord, moving by step rather always being the root note of the chord. This is indicated in the chords with markings such as D/F#, meaning that you should play a chord of D with an F# as the lowest note in the chord. It’s not about adding extra F#s, but about using a particular inversion of the chord, and you might end up using only the higher end of your instrument in order to accommodate the full scale.

Here is a video to demonstrate the effect – you’ll notice that I’m keeping the rhythms quite sparse in the accompaniment for a more delicate arrangement.

We can use this idea through out mst of Sir John Fenwick (just not in the final phrase of each section) and throughout Star Above the Garter, as well as in the A section for Spring at Last. Here is a PDF with suggested chord sequences and bass lines for these tunes.

If you want to try this on some other tunes, then it’s useful to know your arpeggios/the notes of the chords. For instance, a chord of G = GBD and a chord of D = DF#A, so if you’re going from one to the other you could play G-F#, D-D or B-A in the bass.

Author: debfiddle

Deborah is a violinist and violist specialising in English folk music. She trained in viola and Baroque viola at Birmingham Conservatoire, before returning to her first love of traditional music, song and dance. Deborah has developed a passion for playing for dancing since joining her first ceilidh band at age 13. She is a member of Stepling, a band performing English music, step-dance, song and percussion, and also plays with Folk Dance Remixed, a dance company combining traditional dance with hip hop and street dance styles, with whom she has performed as such events as Car Fest, the Southbank's Festival of Love and Glasgow's Commonwealth Games Festival. Deborah records on a regular basis for a number of people, including The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra, and for Laurel Swift's 'Travelling with Thomas' musical. She teaches music, song and dance regularly for The English Folk Dance and Song Society, as well as on a freelance basis for various workshop series, festivals and music services. Deborah recently completed The Teaching Musician MA degree course at Trinity Laban, graduating with Distinction.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s