Learn a Walking Bassline Part Two: Dominant Chords

Learning a walking bassline on a Dominant progression

In Lesson 1, we looked at four patterns for playing over the most common chord progression in blues, the I to IV (i.e. C7 to F7).

Another common chord progression is not a progression at all, but is instead multiple bars of the same chord. Sometimes playing over one chord can be more challenging than playing over changing chords.When chords change, you are forced to select different notes.When staying on one chord, you need to get more creative to keep the music interesting.

Probably the most famous two-bar patterns is the boogie pattern, shown in Example 1.If you don’t already know this one, it’s time to get it under your fingers. Entire basslines have consisted of this pattern alone!

Example 1: [1-3-5-6-b7-6-5-3]

Example 2 is a variation on this pattern and has more of a rockabilly feel to it.Both patterns also sound great when slapped on an upright bass!

Example 2: [1-3-4-b5-5-4-3-2]

Examples 1 and 2 consist of two barascending and descending patterns. In Example 3, we have four independent single bar patterns that can be played over multiple bars of the same chord. A single pattern can be repeated, or several patterns can be repeated.

Example 3: [1-3-1-5] [1-5-1-3] [1-b7-6-b7] [1-5-b7-7]

In Examples 4 and 5, we introduce another chord progression we encounter in the blues: I to V (i.e. C7 to G7).

Example 4 moves chromatically from the Major 3rd of the C7 chord (E) to the root of the G7 chord (G). This pattern is also called the “chromatic walkup”, and is the single most important pattern to learn. It can be applied to any chord change by playing the root of the current chord, then moving chromatically three half steps into the root of the next chord, whatever it may be.

Example 4: [1-3-4-b5]

Example 5 walks up the major scale from the root of the C7 chord to the root of the G7 chord.

Example 5: [1-2-3-4]

In the next lesson, we will look at the remaining chord changes encountered in the blues, and put together a bassline over a 12-Bar Blues progression using some of the patterns we have developed so far.