1. #1

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    I have several times now come across a concept of learning or beginning a solo arrangement of a tune by playing the bass and the melody only. Martin Taylor teaches this, I heard Julian Lage say he learns tunes this way first, and others.

    The one question that sticks in my mind is what bass note? Are they really meaning going to a fake book, looking at the chord symbols somebody has placed over the melody, and playing the lowest note in the noted chord? That seems the obvious but unsatisfying answer. Often fake books don't even agree on the chord, and playing only half or whole notes seems weak. Often the essence of a particular performance of a tune is what the bass player did. Do you transcribe a seminal recording? Are there bass centric fake books? What?

    I assume each player takes a different approach. If there is one thing I've learned from years of studying music is that there are as many approaches as players. So for those of you who have adopted this approach of beginning with a bass/melody only arrangement, how do you work out the bass line you are matching to the melody?


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  3. #2

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    Root note of each chord is usually enough to get started. You can always add passing or approach notes in between if necessary.

    I don’t worry about what the bass player on some recording did, unless there is a specific bass riff which is vital to the tune (e.g. All Blues).

  4. #3

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    I would start with a recording, to make sure I get the right chords.

    Joe Pass used to say that bass was a basic thing on his arrangements, and then he would just add some chords here and there. So you have to think a bit like a bass player, meaning work at creating bass lines.

    A very useful utility is studying drop-3 voicings, and how one can use and connect them to do that.