My bass journey

Hello H2O

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Sorry, I forgot to mention that yes I do follow the chart (sheet music), (real book) to see the chord changes. Also there is an app, IReal pro that I use on my tablet. It uses basically the same charts as the real book, but there are some differences here and there. The Sinatra arrangements are pretty close to the original sheet music, and in the same key. But others I have listened to can vary quite widely from the original sheet music as originally written.

The lines are 100% mine, for better or worse... :-D Transcribing other's lines is just as much work or more, and I like the idea of coming up with my own lines.
 

Hello H2O

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
That’s not me nitpicking as it relates to how accurately I can interpret your note selections for the bass line which is especially ‘muddied’ by the fact that you’re playing swing, constructing bass lines that are very chromatic.
Well, the muddyness I think is partially the way I have been recording. I record using headphones, and they somewhat neutralize the bass, so I was recording the bass too loud. And I was relying on the limiter to prevent the recording from getting too loud. Listening back on my stereo speakers, I can hear how the limiter squashed the recording, dropping the level of the band along with the bass. Very muddy sounding indeed. The recording device is pretty new to me so just getting the hang of doing recordings.

Just quickly,I dropped the bass down a bit, and rerecorded, and I don't hear the limiter being activated so much, with everything coming out clearer. Thanks for the feedback on this...

View attachment 210903_0093.mp3
 

T.C.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Just quickly,I dropped the bass down a bit, and rerecorded, and I don't hear the limiter being activated so much, with everything coming out clearer. Thanks for the feedback on this...

'Muddied' was probably a bad word to use because it is a term that is often used to refer to tone and mixing, etc. But what I was trying to convey by the word was actually more of an 'ambiguity' when it came to trying to discern which notes you were playing. For my sins, I actually hadn't heard the track before and didn't know how the progression was supposed to go, and the bass defines the chords of a song, and even though I listened to your recording a couple of times before I went to work, the whole thing sounded a bit strange and ambiguous. This is why I asked how new you were to the bass, and was wondering whether you were just trying to come up with some kind of walking bass sound that just sounded 'jazzy enough'.

But having got home from work and read that you have actually studied some theory and are familiar with how a walking bassline is constructed and how to follow charts, I turned on my computer and did a bit of listening to try to figure out why the bass line sounds so 'off'.

It seems to me, Hello H2O, that you're playing the song in F, but the recording is in Eb :whistle:

However, if you have iRealPro, and there's a chart for the song on there (which I'm sure there probably will be), you can use the transpose function to put the chart into Eb. Bad news is you'll have to re-learn it, but the good news is it's going to sound a lot less muddy and ambiguous :-)

(added: Found it. See attatchment)
 

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T.C.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Just a couple more things…

If you read back the quote from me that you included, you’ll see that I was referring to the style of music and the chromaticism of the bass line as being a factor that made it hard to figure out why it sounded off. I’m reminded of a jazz joke regarding this that goes something along the lines of, “No one can say you’re playing a wrong note if you just play every note” :lol:

But there’s a serious discussion that can and should be had with that joke in mind. I’m also reminded of a couple of jazz musician clichés. Apparently, a lot of hard-core, religious-type jazzers frown on the use of the Real Book, which is what iRealPro is based on. They kind of look down on and laugh at the jazz neophyte who has finally built up the courage to attend a jazz club for the first time with their instrument in one hand and a copy of the Real Book in the other hand.

Because for everything that you can get from charts, and learning them, practicing them, analysing them, they can’t train your ear and they can’t teach you different people’s versions and takes and interpretations of the songs.

I’m not that hardcore or stuck up, and if you don’t have access to recordings then I think charts are a great way to learn. However, I would encourage you to try to do a bit more to train your ear. There are lots of ear training courses online, but also, pick a new song and try to listen to what the notes should be, one by one, and find them on the fret board so you’re able to confidently say, “yes, that’s the correct note” each time.

Doing that should help you identify the keys of the songs that you learn in the future and create that ability in you to identify when a bass line sounds ‘off’.
 

Hello H2O

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
'Muddied' was probably a bad word to use because it is a term that is often used to refer to tone and mixing, etc. But what I was trying to convey by the word was actually more of an 'ambiguity' when it came to trying to discern which notes you were playing. For my sins, I actually hadn't heard the track before and didn't know how the progression was supposed to go, and the bass defines the chords of a song, and even though I listened to your recording a couple of times before I went to work, the whole thing sounded a bit strange and ambiguous. This is why I asked how new you were to the bass, and was wondering whether you were just trying to come up with some kind of walking bass sound that just sounded 'jazzy enough'.

But having got home from work and read that you have actually studied some theory and are familiar with how a walking bassline is constructed and how to follow charts, I turned on my computer and did a bit of listening to try to figure out why the bass line sounds so 'off'.

It seems to me, Hello H2O, that you're playing the song in F, but the recording is in Eb :whistle:

However, if you have iRealPro, and there's a chart for the song on there (which I'm sure there probably will be), you can use the transpose function to put the chart into Eb. Bad news is you'll have to re-learn it, but the good news is it's going to sound a lot less muddy and ambiguous :-)

(added: Found it. See attatchment)
Thanks for taking the time TC. When you mentioned the different key, I put the song into a couple of key finder websites, and guess what, they all came up with the key of G minor... :scared: My ears need training for sure, if I missed this.

Indeed I can use the transpose function of the app to change to Eb. It's late now, so I will work on it tomorrow if I can. Will be curious to see how different it sounds. I did construct the lines before finding a vocal, big band version on Youtube. Which ended up being this Sinatra version. I guess I was trying to put a square peg in a round hole, not noticing it didn't fit... :nuts:

Rookie mistake...

Again, thanks for taking the time.
 

T.C.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thanks for taking the time TC. When you mentioned the different key, I put the song into a couple of key finder websites, and guess what, they all came up with the key of G minor... :scared: My ears need training for sure, if I missed this.

Indeed I can use the transpose function of the app to change to Eb. It's late now, so I will work on it tomorrow if I can. Will be curious to see how different it sounds. I did construct the lines before finding a vocal, big band version on Youtube. Which ended up being this Sinatra version. I guess I was trying to put a square peg in a round hole, not noticing it didn't fit... :nuts:

Rookie mistake...

Again, thanks for taking the time.

Well, there’s only one note different between the scales of Gm and Eb. So, technology is almost there, but when it comes to music, it’ll never be a true substitute for the human brain ;-)
 

Hello H2O

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
T.C., I have a question. For this song, Have You Met Miss Jones, where is the one chord? Is it bar 1, or is it bar 6? The reason I ask is, I put the backing track that I learned the song from, into numerous key finder sites, and they come up with D minor. And the D minor shows up in bar 6.

Here is a screenshot of the chords of the backing track...Screenshot (3).png

Which then brings me to the question, if the Sinatra version is in the key of Eb, then is the chart this?
Screenshot 2021-09-07 at 13-52-12 Have You Met Miss Jones pdf.png

Or is it this?

Screenshot 2021-09-07 at 13-53-26 Have You Met Miss Jones01 pdf.png

Confused! 🤔

Thanks.
 

Seppo Ilmarinen

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
I listened those first few songs you posted Hello H2O; sounds great, and it's impressive how well you're playing already! :-)

Those old jazz songs aren't always tuned exactly to 440hz, so you may have to adjust little bit your bass guitar's tuning by ear, depending on the song you are playing. But it's the timing and rhythm that counts the most in this genre!
For this song, Have You Met Miss Jones, where is the one chord? Is it bar 1, or is it bar 6? The reason I ask is, I put the backing track that I learned the song from, into numerous key finder sites, and they come up with D minor. And the D minor shows up in bar 6.
D minor is relative minor of F major key (their scales F-ionian and D-aeolian share the exact same notes), so that's why you got the result from key finders, but the correct key for 'Have You Met Miss Jones' is indeed F major.

When looking for the correct key signature, you can start by searching V (dominant) - I (tonic) chord change, in this case C7 - Fmaj7. If you have the sheet music available, then start by looking at the key signature, then find clues is the key in major or its relative minor.
Look for the important places first, e.g what are the first and last chords. In 'Miss Jones' you can notice how there's C7 always at the end of every fourth bar in the section A.

It's basically the classic I-VI-II-V chord changes with some chord substitutions in the mix (for example the second chord F#dim7 is basically D7 chord with major third on the bass).

The B part of the song is bit more advanced when finding the key, this type of harmony was actually later popularized (and further developed) by John Coltrane. You can think of it as transposing between three separate key signatures, which are structured to be major third apart from each other: Bb major, Gb major, and D major (augmented triad). Then you can notice how each of them are preceded by the II-V chord:

Cm7 (II) F7 (V) Bbmaj7 (I).
Abm7 (II) Db7 (V) Gbmaj7 (I)
Em7 (II) A7 (V) Dmaj7 (I)

Then it returns back to the more traditional tonal harmony. By the way, one good example of a song in both major and its relative minor key is 'Georgia On My Mind'. Section A of the song is in G major, but the B-section moves into its relative minor key of Em. This is preceded by V dominant chord B7 (around 1:15 in the recording below).

Which then brings me to the question, if the Sinatra version is in the key of Eb, then is the chart this?
You can now apply the above for this, look in which of them you'll see the dominant chord (V7) in the key of Eb. Hope this helps! :-)
 

Hello H2O

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I listened those first few songs you posted Hello H2O; sounds great, and it's impressive how well you're playing already! :-)

Those old jazz songs aren't always tuned exactly to 440hz, so you may have to adjust little bit your bass guitar's tuning by ear, depending on the song you are playing. But it's the timing and rhythm that counts the most in this genre!

D minor is relative minor of F major key (their scales F-ionian and D-aeolian share the exact same notes), so that's why you got the result from key finders, but the correct key for 'Have You Met Miss Jones' is indeed F major.

When looking for the correct key signature, you can start by searching V (dominant) - I (tonic) chord change, in this case C7 - Fmaj7. If you have the sheet music available, then start by looking at the key signature, then find clues is the key in major or its relative minor.
Look for the important places first, e.g what are the first and last chords. In 'Miss Jones' you can notice how there's C7 always at the end of every fourth bar in the section A.

It's basically the classic I-VI-II-V chord changes with some chord substitutions in the mix (for example the second chord F#dim7 is basically D7 chord with major third on the bass).

The B part of the song is bit more advanced when finding the key, this type of harmony was actually later popularized (and further developed) by John Coltrane. You can think of it as transposing between three separate key signatures, which are structured to be major third apart from each other: Bb major, Gb major, and D major (augmented triad). Then you can notice how each of them are preceded by the II-V chord:

Cm7 (II) F7 (V) Bbmaj7 (I).
Abm7 (II) Db7 (V) Gbmaj7 (I)
Em7 (II) A7 (V) Dmaj7 (I)

Then it returns back to the more traditional tonal harmony. By the way, one good example of a song in both major and its relative minor key is 'Georgia On My Mind'. Section A of the song is in G major, but the B-section moves into its relative minor key of Em. This is preceded by V dominant chord B7 (around 1:15 in the recording below).


You can now apply the above for this, look in which of them you'll see the dominant chord (V7) in the key of Eb. Hope this helps! :-)
Thanks for this. Trust me to pick these complicated songs... :scared:

It is pretty interesting how all the theory works. and interesting to see how these songs were constructed, and the influence they had on the musicians coming along afterwards.

I definitely need to get into the theory more. Split my time between that and actually playing, and writing bass lines. I do hear some of this theory when I go to play with my buddies... Some goes in one ear and out the other... :-D
(Our playing is on hold for now, as the guitar player has what he calls, 'trigger finger'. He is going in for a procedure soon, and hopefully will be back playing again soon.)
 

Hello H2O

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
It seems to me, Hello H2O, that you're playing the song in F, but the recording is in Eb
Well, I finally had some time to sit down and figure it out in E flat. I recorded it and put it through a few key finder sites. Two said it was in the key of Eb major, and one said it was in the key of G minor, so everything looks good... :thup:

Here is the result... (Thanks TC)

Have You Met Miss Jones, Frank Sinatra version, in E flat major.

View attachment 210910_0099 E flat.mp3
 

T.C.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Well, I finally had some time to sit down and figure it out in E flat. I recorded it and put it through a few key finder sites. Two said it was in the key of Eb major, and one said it was in the key of G minor, so everything looks good... :thup:

Here is the result... (Thanks TC)

Have You Met Miss Jones, Frank Sinatra version, in E flat major.

View attachment 49280

Awesome :thup:
 

Hello H2O

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I actually spent a couple of weeks on this one, So What, by Miles Davis. For a beginning bass player, this can certainly stump you. It is basically 2 chords, the A section Dm for 16 bars, then up a half a step to Ebm for 8 bars for the B section, finishing off with 8 bars of Dm again, making it an AABA form. So you end up staying on one chord for a long time, making it hard to keep your lines interesting, and the second problem is, it is easy to get lost, and not know when the changes are coming.

It is basically D dorian mode, moving up to Eb dorian then back again. I was scratching my head what to do, and what I ended up with, was to construct an 8 bar phrase. This way I could more easily stay with the form and not get lost. I wanted a run going down, and a run going up higher on the neck, which would turn around an come down again. Kind of having the open D string as my home base.

So this is what I came up with.

First is a bassless backing track,
Screenshot (5).png

View attachment 211020_0112.mp3

and then a few minutes of a Miles Davis recording. Note that the Miles Davis version is much faster, which actually makes the lines sound better... if done right...
Screenshot (6).png

View attachment 211020_0113.mp3
 
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