This is the third in the Walking Bass Series that aims to provide an introduction to walking bass lines for those just getting started. This lesson deals with the song Fly Me To The Moon and a basic approach to weaving a line through the progression using only chord tones.
Fly Me To The Moon
This classic jazz song, most notably played by Frank Sinatra, is great practice for learning walking bass. Take a look at the chord sequence here:
- Key of C major (although there are a few non-diatonic notes and chords as well)
- Mainly one chord per bar (sometimes two)
- Chords used – major 7, minor 7, dominant 7 and minor 7 b5
Major 7 – 1 3 5 7 – C E G B
Minor 7 – 1 b3 5 b7 – C Eb G Bb
Dominant 7 – 1 3 5 b7 – C E G Bb
Minor 7 b5 – 1 b3 b5 b7 – C Eb Gb Bb
Make sure you are completely confident with these arpeggios before you continue with the lesson. As an exercise, locate all the notes of an arpeggio in the first position and play through them several times, (remember, the tones can be above or below the root). Do this with all of the chords in C major and you should get a pretty good feel for the key.
Now we can move on to the arpeggios of the chords in Fly Me To The Moon. For now, we want to play the arpeggios in ascending order so we can hear their tonalities. However, this means we will have to venture outside of the first position for a while.
Here is the construction of all the chords we will be using in relation to their own major scale:
Am7 – 1 b3 5 b7 – A C E G
Dm7 – 1 b3 5 b7 – D F A C
G7 – 1 3 5 b7 – G B D F
C Maj 7 – 1 3 5 7 – C E G B
F Maj 7 – 1 3 5 7 – F A C E
Bm7b5 – 1 b3 b5 b7 – B D F A
E7 – 1 3 5 b7 – E G# B D
A7 – 1 3 5 b7 – A C# E G
Em7 – 1 b3 5 b7 – E G B D
Practice all of these arpeggios in ascending and descending order along to the backing track. Doing this will get the shape of each arpeggio under your fingers and will allow you to hear and compare the sound of each one.
Turning Arpeggios Into A Walking Bass Line
When we play the tones of an arpeggio in order as we did above, it can sound a bit blocky. This is because there is no indication of what chord is coming next as the tones do not lead into each other – this makes the line flow less. There are loads of different ways to mix arpeggios up to add interest and it is best to use a variety of combinations in your lines.
Below are a few examples of chord tone combinations you can use to spice up your walking bass lines. Look through the notation and then return to the original chord chart and try to play the pattern by memory. This will help you get to grips with the feel and sound of the phrase much quicker than if you read it right off the chart.
The numbers at the beginning of each exercise refer to the chord degrees and the order you will play them.
The last exercise contains a combination of all the patterns we have looked at in this lesson. This should give you an idea of how to rearrange arpeggios to create a line that weaves smoothly between chords.
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