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Upright Bass Lesson: Walking Bass Lines Over Altered Chords


Walking bass lines are a fundamental aspect of jazz and blues music, often performed by upright bass players. These lines provide a rhythmic and melodic foundation, guiding the harmonic progression of a piece while maintaining a steady groove. Upright bass, also known as double bass or contrabass, is particularly renowned for its rich and resonant tones, making it an ideal instrument for crafting intricate walking bass patterns.


Whether in a small ensemble or a big band setting, the upright bass player's role in generating walking bass lines is crucial for establishing the rhythmic pulse and harmonic structure of the music, ensuring a cohesive and dynamic performance.


In this online bass lesson, Grammy Award-winning bassist and ArtistWorks jazz instructor, John Patitucci, introduces us to the concept of altered chords, explains what they are and what makes a chord “altered,” and outlines how to navigate them when crafting a walking bass line or improvising.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play the bass guitar from a master musician like John Patitucci? Sign up for John’s course today for just $29!


Altered chords play a pivotal role in the harmonic language of jazz music, adding depth and complexity to chord progressions. These chords are characterized by the inclusion of one or more altered tones, such as sharpened or flattened fifths, ninths, elevenths, or thirteenths. By introducing these tensions, altered chords create tension and dissonance, which can be resolved in a variety of ways, adding intrigue and color to the music.


In jazz improvisation, musicians often utilize altered chords to inject harmonic interest and create a sense of tension and release within their solos. Whether subtly weaving them into a chord progression or boldly highlighting their dissonant qualities, altered chords are a hallmark of the sophisticated and expressive language of jazz music.


“One of the most difficult things about crafting a walking bass line over altered chords is deciding how to address the harmonic alteration while still keeping the line foundational and grounded for the rest of the ensemble,” explains John. “In this lesson, we’ll be focusing on techniques to accomplish this successfully. It can be done, and will ultimately become second nature.”


To learn more about altered chords and how to navigate them when crafting a walking bass line and improvising, dive into this online bass lesson from John Patitucci:


Walking Bass Lines Over Altered Chords with John Patitucci:




ArtistWorks online music lessons are recorded and taught by more than 40 world-renowned master musicians who not only have rich musical legacies but also have a deep passion for teaching and sharing their knowledge.


Our teachers also provide notation, tablature, backing tracks, and other amazing supplemental materials to round out their holistic curricula in each course. Students can learn anything from electric and acoustic guitar to banjo, piano, mandolin, fiddle, saxophone, ukulele, how to sing—just about any instrument you can think of. And, our esteemed faculty can teach you how to play everything from bluegrass to jazz to rock to blues to classical and beyond.


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



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