Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsLet’s have another example now with the tune “Satin Doll”. I want to give you a sample bass line for this. First of all notice that we play it an octave lower - bass players operate in this area and not in this area - so I’ve put an octave sign under the bass clef, but I’ve written it on the stave to make it more readable. So you need to transpose it down an octave. All the bars here are split bars and, pretty much throughout, I’m just gonna use chromatic anticipation, so I’m going to get to a particular root either from a semitone above or a semitone below. Let’s have a look.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 secondsThe first bar is Dm7, G7 so I’m going from D and I going to get to G from a semitone below, get back to D from a semitone above. In bar 2 I repeat that and I’m going to get to E in bar 3, Em7, but bass the root note E from a semitone above, namely F. We get to A from a semitone below - same again.

Skip to 1 minute and 24 secondsNow this stays on A, it goes from A7 to A minor7 in bar 5, so I’m just going to get - I could repeat the A - but I’m going to go up to the B flat and back down to the A, down the scale, I’m on the F sharp of D7, the root of D7 in bar 5. Then exactly the same thing down a semitone, A flat minor7.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 secondsThen we’re in bars 7 and 8 and so C7 repeating the root, D minor7 repeating the root, E minor7 going up to A7 and then going back down to D minor7 from a semitone above. By the way, notice that C7, D minor 7 you quite often when you’ve got chords which are next to each other - either a tone away or a semitone away - you quite often repeat the notes. Then bar 8. Now we’re in the second A section. In the first A section I went up to get to G7. This time let me go down.

Skip to 2 minutes and 36 secondsI’m going to repeat the D and then go down to G and get back up to D by C sharp in bar 9. Same again in bar 10. This time I’m going to go to E from D sharp, a semitone below. The same again in bar 12. This time I’m going down to G sharp to get back to A. Then up a third onto D in bar 13. Then we’re going to get to A flat from a semitone below. We’re going to get to D flat from a semitone above. The we get to C from a semitone above. Then those repeated notes.

Skip to 3 minutes and 20 secondsNotice in bar 16 we’re going up a semitone, repeating the notes, then we’re going bar - semitone again to get to G minor7 repeating the notes. Now we’re in the middle 8 - G minor so I’m climbing up the chord to take me to C. I’m just going up the scale then. I’m going up to G - an octave fall - C. This time I’m going to go to E because it gets me to F from a semitone below.

Skip to 3 minutes and 55 secondsThere’s the third of F and I’m going down to G and I’m going to do that repeating trick in bar 19, 20 - G minor7, repeat the G, A flat diminished7, repeat the A flat, A - we’re up to now - so root, fifth, root an octave higher to get us onto bar 21, fifth, then down to D7, repeated note. The root A minor7, bar 22, just down to D7 again.

Skip to 4 minutes and 33 secondsThen we’re in D minor7 which gets to G7 from a semitone below and gets to E minor7 from a semitone above, gets to A7 from a semitone above, gets to D minor7 form a semitone below, gets to G7 from a semitone above (below), fall an octave, D - semitone below - and then same shape for the next bar E minor7, A7.

Skip to 5 minutes and 0 secondsNow we’re going to go back to A from a semitone above. D from a semitone above, A flat from a semitone above, fifth of A flat minor7 - down to D flat, a third, then as we had before C7 repeated, D minor7 repeated, E to A via G sharp. So an awful lot of chromatic anticipation as a way to get around. So if we put the roots in and I’ll sort of whistle the tune.

Sample bass line for "Satin Doll"

We analyse in some detail a sample bass line for the jazz standard “Satin Doll”.

You can download the chart for a “Sample Bass Line for Satin Doll” in PDF format at the bottom of this step.

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This video is from the free online course:

Learn Jazz Piano: III. Solo Piano and Advanced Topics

Goldsmiths, University of London