Walking Bassline Lesson



Walking bassline’s are a good way to inject energy into your playing. Traditionally they’re played by a bass player but sound equally effective in the left hand of a solo piano arrangement. In this lesson I explain how to write a walking bassline over any chord progression.

TARGET NOTES: The goal of a walking bassline is to play the root of each chord on the first beat the chord’s played (usually beat 1 or 3). So the first step is to write out the root note of each chord – these are your ‘target notes’.

LEAP vs. STEP: As with melody, there are 2 ways a bassline can change note – by leap (C E G B) or by step (C D E F)

• When moving by leap (gaps of a 3rd or more), the idea is to leap between chordal tones of the accompanying chord (1 3 5 7), and not just random notes.

• When moving by step (half-steps / whole-steps) the idea is to use notes from the scale (whichever scale the current chord outlines), and not just random notes. Remember – bassline, chord and melody are built from the same scale, so when writing a walking bassline, use the scale outlined by the chord – if there’s a major 3rd in the chord, use a major 3rd in the bassline. If there’s a minor 7th in the chord, use a minor 7th in the bass, etc – just as you would when playing a solo in the right hand. Each time the chord changes, so does the scale – so you’ll be playing from a different scale with each new chord.