How to Make it Swing in Five Minutes

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Make Your Walking Bass Swing

Notes, notes, notes…It’s all about ‘da notes, right? We dutifully study “roots and fifths”, using chord tones and approach notes and enclosures… and then cool rhythmic skips, drops and left hand pull offs… all these get lots of attention during lessons and online discussions. But famously:

It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing

Whether you have many miles of walking bass under your belt or you are quite new to the swing thing, the key is to make it feel good. No cool note combo, or sophisticated reharmonization, or incredibly virtuouso-like drop can bail out a bass line that just doesn’t swing. On the other hand, a relatively simple line that feels good, will get you the gig every time.

But hey, I’m playing mostly quarter notes, so what could possibly go wrong?

Plenty! But the good news is that there are just two tweaks that can inject the swing into your walking bass lines…Watch!

 


Learn how to construct walking bass lines and much much more in our Online Course

Also read

Gifts for the Upright Bass Player

This technique habit can hold you back on the bass

Comments(10)

  • Anonymous
    December 3, 2020, 10:10  Reply

    Cool, liked the lesson definitely something I’d like to be able to do someday.

    • Ari
      December 3, 2020, 18:33

      Go for it! Don’t wait. You start by doing it slowly. Figure out a simple walking bass line (just roots and fifths is great, like this: 1 1 5 5) Start slowly and follow the tips in the video. You might just shortcut developing a whole bunch of bad habits and then having to unlearn them. Wish you good grooving!

  • Dave HEin
    December 3, 2020, 13:55  Reply

    Great lesson. Short and focused. Plus good timing as I am just starting to work on some exercises to get some control over my bass line swing feel. Thanks!

    • Ari
      December 3, 2020, 18:30

      Great to hear, Dave! Make it swing! (And I see what you did there with your “good timing” remark 😉 )

  • December 3, 2020, 21:01  Reply

    I love the Ding-a-ling — makes so much more sense than counting.

    • Ari
      December 5, 2020, 23:20

      Happy it hit the spot for you, Natalie. Counting gets us into our heads, while words and syllables get us in the body. Happy ding-a-ling-ing 🙂

  • December 6, 2020, 17:34  Reply

    Hi Ari, I come from a background in latin percussion and klave moves me. So making it swing (I think) comes to me naturally even if I’m not aware of the actual technical aspects of it. You’re so right. It don’t mean a thing if it don’t got that swing” 😉

    • Ari
      December 7, 2020, 19:52

      Cheers Reid, yes the more different rhythms (and rhythm instruments!) we have up our sleeves the more we will feel all kinds of rhythms! Keep it groovin’, no matter the style, right 🙂
      Thanks for writing!

  • Tom
    December 7, 2020, 16:25  Reply

    Thank you Ari! This was an easy to follow explanation and fix. Much appreciated!

    • Ari
      December 7, 2020, 18:03

      Hi Tom, thanks for your comment. Happy to hear you like my teaching!

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