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More Freedom For Your Jazz Bass Solos

in Bass Groove/Bass Lessons/Bass Technique/Hear Bass/Learning Concepts/Musical Vocabulary/Musical Voice

Instantly create good sounding jazz bass solos with minimal music theory and very little thought.

A streamlined thought process for approaching jazz bass solos, allows you to focus more on the delivery of your musical statement.

When your mind is free, you can groove harder, articulate your phrases with more drama, and just have more fun with improvising!

Simplify your thought process for your jazz bass solos and automatically start delivering notes that make your solos sing.

Simplify Your Jazz Bass Solos Into The 3 Primary Sounds

One of the most effective and efficient ways to approach your jazz bass solos, involves simplifying your perception of chords.

Start perceiving the sound of each chord, in a chord progression, as belonging to one of the 3 primary sounds.

The 3 primary sounds found in any chord progression, are:

  1. Major sounds (1, 3, 7)
  2. Minor sounds (1, b3, b7)
  3. Dominant sounds (1, 3, b7)

Examples of Major Sounds: Cmaj, Cmaj7, Cmaj7#11, Cmaj6, Cmaj9

Examples of Minor Sounds: Cmin, Cmin7, Cmin/maj7, Cmin7b5, Cmin6, Cmin9

Examples of Dominant Sounds: C7, C7#11, C7b9, C13, C7b13, C7b9b13, Calt7, Diminished chords, Augmented chords

No matter what extensions are notated for a chord (ie: b9, 9, #9, 11, #11, 13, b13), only concern your ear if the sound you are hearing is a Major Sound, a Minor Sound, or a Dominant Sound.

Implying Dominant Sounds In Your Jazz Bass Solos

It is a common practice to imply a Dominant Sound over a static Major Sound or static Minor Sound.

The purpose of implying a Dominant Sound is to simply create more movement in your line. Implying a Dominant Sound will create momentary tension, prior to resolving back to the static chord sound.

Movement may be needed when you are soloing over static chords. At some point after exploring the over sound of a static chord, the ear will need something else to maintain its attention.

Implying harmony over static chords will momentarily catch the ears attention, prior to resolving back to the static chord sound.

Quick Explanation Of The Application Of Diminished Chords In Jazz Bass Solos

Diminished chords create a partial Dominant Sound. Adding a specific note will complete its Dominant Sound.

If you want to imply a Dominant Sound in your jazz bass solos, then you can include a diminished chord arpeggio.

For example: A C diminished chord (C, Eb, Gb, Bbb) with a B on the bass will create a B7b9 sound. An Eb diminished chord (Eb, Gb, Bbb, C) with a D on the bass will create a D7b9 sound. A Gb diminished chord (Gb, Bbb, C, Eb) with an F on the bass will create an F7b9 sound. A Bbb diminished chord (Bbb, C, Eb, Gb) with an Ab on the bass will create an Ab7b9 sound.

Notice, that by simply playing a bass note that is a half-step below any note of the diminished chord, a dominant 7b9 sound is created. The root note of that Dominant Sound you just created, will be that bass note.

Quick Explanation Of The Application Of Augmented Chords In Jazz Bass Solos

Augmented chords also create a partial Dominant Sound. Adding a specific note will complete its Dominant Sound.

If you want to imply a Dominant Sound in your jazz bass solos, then you can include an augmented chord arpeggio.

For example: A C augmented chord (C, E, G#) with a Bb will create a C7#5 sound. An E augmented chord (E, G#, C) with a D will create an E7#5 sound. A G# augmented chord (G#, C, E) with an F# will create a G#7#5 sound.

Notice that by treating any note of an augmented chord as a root note, and adding its b7, you will create a dominant 7#5 sound.

Focusing your efforts on the 3 primary sounds will simplify your thought process tremendously. With minimal music theory and minimal thought process, your efforts can focus more on your delivery (dynamics, groove, articulation, and phrasing).

What Notes To Focus On For Your Jazz Bass Solos

The ear primarily hears the melodic movement on the downbeats. Therefore, emphasize chord tones (roots, thirds, fifths, sevenths) on the downbeats. Natural Ninths and Natural Sixths can also be played on downbeats. These tones simply add color to your lines. However, maintain the majority of your focus on the chord tones.

Altered tones (b9, #9, #11, b13) are mainly used to create movement in your lines, because those notes gravitate toward resolution. Therefore, when tension in your line is needed, or when additional movement in your line is needed, simply begin to introduce altered tones.

Linear Jazz Bass Solos That Create Major and Minor Sounds

For Major and Minor sounds, mainly use diatonic notes to connect the primary melodic movement that is being played on the downbeats. Non-diatonic notes will often be derived from an implied Altered Dominant 7 sound.

Introduce non-diatonic notes when a Dominant Sound is needed to create more movement in your line. Weaving Altered Dominant 7 sounds into your Major and Minor lines will create sweet notes that grab the ear’s attention.

Linear Jazz Bass Solos That Create Dominant Sounds

For Dominant Sounds, chromatic leading tones can often be explored to connect the primary melodic movement.

The Dominant Sound is very tolerable with the use of chromaticism.

In a sense, the Dominant Sound, sounds chromatic.

Simple But Highly Effective Tips For Creating Freedom In Your Jazz Bass Solos

Always remember, the ear hears the melodic movement occurring on the strong beats. Harmonic clarity exists in the strong beats.

Arpeggios quickly define and create harmonic clarity. However playing your entire jazz bass solo with arpeggios gets tiring, because the line ascends or descends too quickly. Create variation by adding lines derived from modes/scales, or by adding chromaticsim.

Decide on a mode that you will use for all of your major scales and minor scales. The notes in this mode/scale will be used to connect your chord tones. This will slow down the direction of your line.

If you pace your jazz bass solo in terms of speed (fast, medium, slow), your lines will maintain interest. Arpeggios are fast speed. Scales are medium speed. Chromaticism is slow speed.

If the changes are moving quickly, do not concern yourself with trying to add more movement by implying a Dominant Sound in your line. Focus on harmonic clarity.

If the chords are static (not moving for long periods of time), then you can explore adding more movement, by implying harmony (ie: a Dominant Sound) in your line.

Simplify your perception of chords. Is the chord you are hearing a Major Sound, a Minor Sound, or a Dominant Sound?

Freedom from thinking will provide you with more freedom to explore other aspects of music, such as groove, articulation, phrasing, and dynamics. You can focus less on the notes and more on the delivery of your musical statement.

Posido Vega is a professional bass guitarist from Columbia, Maryland. His concept of Mutant Bass (2005) was born from a list of skills that he observed from his favorite bass players. This list became the blueprint for teaching himself and his students. A collection of his work can be found at: http://www.posidovega.com

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