Join Tricia Woods for an in-depth discussion in this video Boogie-woogie bass lines, part of Beginning Blues Keyboard.
- Boogie-woogie was one of the earliest piano styles to develop. It was a combination of ragtime playing and barrel house playing, also known as stomping, which was like a cruder or rougher contemporary of ragtime. The most important feature of boogie style is the strong, rhythmic left hand parts. Now the guys who played boogie were usually playing on some kind of bad pianos in some loud clubs, so these parts were usually played loud and fast. Here is the simplest boogie-woogie bass line; it basically outlines each dominant chord adding in the sixth as well.
We play up the chord, root three-five-six, flat seven, and then back down, six-five-three and so on. Here it is in the key of C: root three-five-six-seven, back down. (plays piano chords) Keep in mind that it takes eight beats to climb up and down each chord.
Now we know that eight beats will equal two measures of music. So in playing through the bass pattern for just one chord, we've already used up two measures of the tune. As I play through the whole form, watch how this pattern moves through 12 bars, paying special attention to the last four measures. (plays piano) Since we stay on the five chord, G7...
(plays chord) and the four cord, F7... (plays chord) for only one measure each, we only have enough time to climb up before changing chords. Let's hear the last four bars again. (plays piano) Here's the same bass line with a melody from the C blues scale on top. Check out how simple the right hand part is. The bass line movement underneath it creates all the excitement.
(plays melody) Now if you want a bass line with even more motion, you can transform the simple pattern we just played into an eighth note line by adding the octave of each note in the pattern.
(plays piano) You'll notice that these eighth notes are played in a straighter rhythm, less swung than the eighth notes you played for shuffle bass line. Have a listen. (plays bass line) You feel like you're playing twice as fast now, but it still takes two measures to play the complete pattern for each chord.
So your movement through the 12 bar form is the same as before. This bass line takes a little practice, but it's a lot of fun to play. (plays melody)
Note: This course was created and produced by Alfred Music. We are honored to host this training in our library.
- Labeling the chord and triads
- Triad inversions
- The blues scale and the major pentatonic scale
- Playing off the dominant chord and dominant bass line
- Dominant chord inversions
- Playing off the triad
- Blues fills
- Endings and introductions
- Boogie-woogie bass lines
- Cycle of 5ths and the 6th chord