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Lawrence001
30-11-2019, 11:57
I do like modern jazz a lot but there's one thing I've always wondered. Coming from listening to a lot of baroque and classical music, plus the usual popular music, I'm used to basslines following a pretty standard sequence of notes (the most obvious being a ground bass in baroque a la Canon and Gigue).

When you hear those upbeat modern jazz numbers where the bass player is playing a seemingly semi random sequence of bass notes, are there established sequences or are they literally just playing a random notes within a loose rule so it doesn't sound completely nonharmonic?

AJSki2fly
30-11-2019, 15:52
I do like modern jazz a lot but there's one thing I've always wondered. Coming from listening to a lot of baroque and classical music, plus the usual popular music, I'm used to basslines following a pretty standard sequence of notes (the most obvious being a ground bass in baroque a la Canon and Gigue).

When you hear those upbeat modern jazz numbers where the bass player is playing a seemingly semi random sequence of bass notes, are there established sequences or are they literally just playing a random notes within a loose rule so it doesn't sound completely nonharmonic?

Are you talking free Jazz here?

If you you just play random notes on any instrument whether a bass or not in relation to what the other instrument(s) are playing, usually a chord sequence(song structure) then it would stick out like a sore thumb, some notes would fit with the key of the piece or fit with the chord at that point being played, but some notes definitely would not. Without getting into music theory too much it is possible to take a sequence of chords within a song and identify the key(s)/scale(s) that those chords will fit(derived from), apart from the key of the song and then play notes from that scale(s) over those chords and then revert to the native key of the piece. This is basically called improvisation, but it is not random as I hope I just explained.

A good example of this were it is done a great deal is the good old standard "Autumn Leaves" this has an odd song structure in that is a 14 bar sequence, and has various natural chord groupings implying different keys. The chord sequences are slightly odd and there are several different chord sequences throughout the song that can be selected to then use difference scales to improvise over the song with. This can be very confusing when playing the piece as it can make the song change in how it sounds from a key point of view and the players can then easily loose where they actually are in the songs chord because the person improvising who is altering how it sounds from a key perspective.

I know this sounds odd but it is basically how Jazz works. Free Jazz is an extortion of this where the harmonic rules are often broken, and also rhythmic patterns, this can and dos lead to dis-harmonic sounds and patterns that can be very difficult to follow, however over this will be done to lead the piece into a different feel and then will be done again to resolve it and bring it back.

AJSki2fly
30-11-2019, 16:01
I just thought you might want to try out this classic Jazz album, an interesting listen.


https://youtu.be/tIR6Z7aIeuo

Lawrence001
30-11-2019, 16:10
I don't been Ornett Colman type jazz just middle of the road modern (ie last 60 years or so) stuff. So for example In the Mood I understand. It's not the same type of sequence of notes as say Pachelbel's Canon but the overall idea is broadly the same. But some seem to have a load of notes that only vary by a semitone between them and then suddenly jump all over and not in the typical sequence you'd expect from a scale. I'll listen out for a tune later with the type of bass line I mean.

AJSki2fly
30-11-2019, 16:34
I don't been Ornett Colman type jazz just middle of the road modern (ie last 60 years or so) stuff. So for example In the Mood I understand. It's not the same type of sequence of notes as say Pachelbel's Canon but the overall idea is broadly the same. But some seem to have a load of notes that only vary by a semitone between them and then suddenly jump all over and not in the typical sequence you'd expect from a scale. I'll listen out for a tune later with the type of bass line I mean.

I am not sure I fully get what you are saying. You can play any notes over the top of a chord and make it sound very odd if they are outside of the native key of the chord and/or out of rhythm, although some will work, if a player chooses notes that do not fit the intervals of the scale/key others are playing it will sound odd and possibly random.

If you can give me an example to listen to it would help and be interesting.

JohnJo
30-11-2019, 22:05
I know what you mean Lawerence, it can be a bit emperorís new clothes sometimes.

If youíve lost the melody completely then youíve lost it completely IMO but I guess thatís more to do with soloing than support (bass).

Although it *is* jazz so here it is from the horseís mouth :)

lFG5qIYmQi0

Stratmangler
30-11-2019, 23:39
When you hear those upbeat modern jazz numbers where the bass player is playing a seemingly semi random sequence of bass notes, are there established sequences or are they literally just playing a random notes within a loose rule so it doesn't sound completely nonharmonic?

Most jazz players know exactly what they're doing.
They're not random notes.

Lawrence001
01-12-2019, 15:42
Yeah I don't think they're completely random just a very different sequence of notes to a "classic" bass line. I was wondering if there's a name for it.

I fell asleep early last night and didn't get a chance to look for something. But the earliest example I've found is probably So What on Kind of Blue. Not as different as in later jazz stuff but once the intro has finished (where the bassline is more "normal") it goes up or down in semitones and then jumps around a bit and goes back and forth in big jumps. This seems unlike any typical bassline in music before (New Orleans, trad, classical or pop, where the bassline on its own can usually be considered a little tune) so I'm wondering in musical theory terms what this type of bassline is called.

I'll think of a better example later.

Lawrence001
09-12-2019, 13:12
Ok was just listening to this album and noticed the bass line in the faster passages of those track is exactly what I'm talking about. What is the pattern behind the sequence of bass notes and how does it relate to the tunes played by the solo instruments? Is there a name for this sort of bassline?

I'm not saying it sounds wrong, I rather like it, I've just never been able to work out the musical logic behind it.

https://tidal.com/track/116356059

AJSki2fly
09-12-2019, 17:33
Ok was just listening to this album and noticed the bass line in the faster passages of those track is exactly what I'm talking about. What is the pattern behind the sequence of bass notes and how does it relate to the tunes played by the solo instruments? Is there a name for this sort of bassline?

I'm not saying it sounds wrong, I rather like it, I've just never been able to work out the musical logic behind it.

https://tidal.com/track/116356059

Hi Lawrence, is it the "Stablemates" track you are referring to? If it is then I do not find the notes being played in the fast passages at all odd, the bass player is basically playing runs in the key of the song and doing so to keep the rhythm along with the drums. If anything it's what I would call a traditional syncopated style of bass playing. So maybe this is what you mean "Syncopation is when the offbeats in a metre - eg beats 2 and 4 in 4/4 time - are given a greater degree of emphasis than the main beats - eg beats 1 and 3 in 4/4 time. ... In many forms of jazz, syncopated rhythms in the melody and accompaniment create complex rhythms." It does not sound odd in the least to me and I did not notice any odd bass notes, but I could be wrong, maybe I've listened to too much Jazz over the years to find it odd. My wife on the other hand hates it and calls it a confused set of notes going nowhere.:lol:

Lawrence001
09-12-2019, 22:34
Sorry if I wasn't being clear I mean the sequence of notes not the rhythm and meter. I managed to get my head around syncopation a few years ago. [emoji16]

If you listen to the bass line from 4'28'' or 6'00'' in the track, I just don't understand the sequence of bass notes. To me it just sounds like a "semi random" selection of notes where each one has little bearing to the one played previously.

To give an obvious contrast compare this to say the bassline from In The Mood or Little Brown Jug. Obviously this is a very different type of music (not even really "proper" Jazz I know) but there is an obvious pattern to the sequence of notes and how they fit in with the rest of the parts.

As a mathematician who understands the need for a strong relationship between maths (or, more generally, regular patterns) and music I want to understand the theory behind this type of bassline. Or, to put it another way, if he was improvising, what rules would the bass player be using to determine which note to play next if he's not just playing random notes?

morpeth
03-02-2020, 18:00
Yeah I don't think they're completely random just a very different sequence of notes to a "classic" bass line. I was wondering if there's a name for it.

I fell asleep early last night and didn't get a chance to look for something. But the earliest example I've found is probably So What on Kind of Blue. Not as different as in later jazz stuff but once the intro has finished (where the bassline is more "normal") it goes up or down in semitones and then jumps around a bit and goes back and forth in big jumps. This seems unlike any typical bassline in music before (New Orleans, trad, classical or pop, where the bassline on its own can usually be considered a little tune) so I'm wondering in musical theory terms what this type of bassline is called.

I'll think of a better example later.

Hi Lawrence.

I can help you with this specific example: So What is a modal composition (as are most of the pieces on Kind of Blue), which means that the improvising happens over specific pre-determined scales rather than changing chords.

In this case, the structure is a 32 bar AABA form: 8 bars of D minor dorian, 8 bars of D minor dorian, 8 bars of Eb minor dorian, 8 bars of D minor dorian. Dorian mode uses the second note of a major scale as its tonic, so D minor dorian uses all the notes of C major, Eb dorian uses the notes of Db major.

If you listen closely to what Paul Chambers plays on the bass, you'll hear that he stays fairly closely within each scale in the relevant sections, but the static nature of the harmony - 16 bars D minor, then a shift up a semitone - means he has freedom to wander around quite a lot within the scale.

Not the clearest explanation, but I hope it's some use.

struth
03-02-2020, 18:03
Hi Lawrence.

I can help you with this specific example: So What is a modal composition (as are most of the pieces on Kind of Blue), which means that the improvising happens over specific pre-determined scales rather than changing chords.

In this case, the structure is a 32 bar AABA form: 8 bars of D minor dorian, 8 bars of D minor dorian, 8 bars of Eb minor dorian, 8 bars of D minor dorian. Dorian mode uses the second note of a major scale as its tonic, so D minor dorian uses all the notes of C major, Eb dorian uses the notes of Db major.

If you listen closely to what Paul Chambers plays on the bass, you'll hear that he stays fairly closely within each scale in the relevant sections, but the static nature of the harmony - 16 bars D minor, then a shift up a semitone - means he has freedom to wander around quite a lot within the scale.

Not the clearest explanation, but I hope it's some use.

nice explanation:)

take5
09-02-2020, 19:37
Just to add in my 2p worth

Just in case it confuses folks, I should clarify the Autumn Leaves tune.
It isn’t a 14 bar tune!!!.

It is made up of four sections of 8 bars each. This would be known as AABA. So, it is a 32 bar tune.
The first 4 bars are in one key. The next four bars are in another/different key.

That 8 bars then repeats.

Then the 3rd set of 8 bars. ( the “ B “ of AABA )

Then the final A section. Not exactly the same as the first two “A” sections..... but near enough !

This not the melody/tune I’m talking about. It’s the underlying harmony.

This is not complicated harmonically , and in fact as an improviser, you can blag away on one chord/scale and sound ok.
ie it doesn’t move in to any wierd and wonderful places harmonically. It is quite simplistic

The interesting bit is that the type of chord progression used is similar/ the same as those used by Bach. So, to the ears, it can sound very similar.
Have a listen to this

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cLuVb2UEVq4

Jazz, or Bach ? For me it’s jazz, but you can hear the Bach, I think.

In terms of the opening post, back in the early days of jazz, the bass player role was well defined. He stuck quite strictly to the harmony. Playing the root of the chord on beat one of the bar, then possibly the 5th of the chord on the 3rd beat of the bar.
So, each note got a count of two. You will read about “ two to the bar”. this is that.

This was very important, and in many ways, was the foundation/ the rock of the band.
I suspect this is what you refer to in relation the earlier music. It was the norm. Simplistic but effective.

As the music got more complex the bass player wanted more to do, so his lines got more complex. Especially during the improvised bits. His job of just playing roots declined and he got more freedom.
So on a C chord, instead of just landing on a big fat note “C”, he may arrive there eventually, but via some out of key notes.
For example B to C sharp, then to C.

Now, we are at a point where any note works over anything, as long as the player knows where that particular note
“wants” to go, and resolves it accordingly.

You can think of this as creating tension, which wants to release back to “home “ again.

A great example is the tune that was mentioned above....SO WHAT.

Forget the bass player ( no-one is interested in the bass anyway )
Focus on the solos of Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

The solo by Davis sticks almost exactly to the notes of the Dorian scale. Pretty much all of it ( from memory ) !!!
So, as someone explained further up this thread, 16 bars of d minor, 8 bars of eb minor, 8 bars of d minor.

So, his whole solo is “ inside “ the chord/scale at any given time.

Contrast this solo with the one by Coltrane. He is playing over the very same harmonic structure, but his approach is to use lots of “outside “ notes, which then want to resolve back home again.

What he is doing, back in 1959, is what most folks do now, including Bass players.

It all gets a bit too much tension for me, and I crave a bit more resolution, back to something “pretty”

I’m getting too old for all this tension, I suspect.

take5
09-02-2020, 19:58
In terms of the opening post, back in the early days of jazz, the bass player role was well defined. He stuck quite strictly to the harmony. Playing the root of the chord on beat one of the bar, then possibly the 5th of the chord on the 3rd beat of the bar.
So, each note got a count of two. You will read about “ two to the bar”. this is that.

This was very important, and in many ways, was the foundation/ the rock of the band.
I suspect this is what you refer to in relation the earlier music. It was the norm. Simplistic but effective.


.

Just to hone in this idea.
I thought this may help.
It’s a guy playing Bass on the harmony to Autumn leaves.

Initially he plays a “Two in the bar “ feel. (Older style)
Yes, he sometimes plays more than that but basically ( oops ) that is what he is thinking.

So, plays the sequence of 32 bars twice like that. ie 64 bars.
Then at 1 minute 40 seconds, he goes in to a different feel.he is thinking 4 notes to the bar now, and playing in the style of a bass player behind a soloist. This generally what folks would call “walking bass”

I Hope that helps.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=X3w67uYIarI

Lawrence001
10-02-2020, 11:26
Thanks for the information guys I'm going to take this away and do some listening when I have time to see if I can understand it now.

As it happens my dad played double bass with his quartet in the Cafe de Paris in Leicester Square in the 50s and 60s, but I don't think he would ever have played the more Avant Garde stuff as Mecca would have thrown him out [emoji38]