Most courses for writing walking basses focus on 4 bass notes for one chord, where in general the pattern is (chord - maybe chord - chord - passing tone). However, there are also some pieces with half-note chords (and where I would still want to write a quarter-note walking bass, because using eighths would be too frenetic), leaving only 2 bass notes for each chord.

How does the theory change for a half-note chord sequence? What I wrote up to now was an adaptation of the 4-notes-per-chord style (chord - passing tone, chord if possible), but this is obviously more constraining and makes me write more repetitive basslines. Maybe I should relax the constraint of the 3rd beat being a chord note (or allow second inversion)?

edit: as I guessed, this question is too broad - thanks to both replies. Can anybody point me to examples of this technique?

  • Really depends on the context. Look at the chords and then the melody. See what notes the melody uses. If you can use those for one chord, do. There's no formula for this. See if the two chords have some tones in common and use those. Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 15:52
  • I googled 'walking bass lines' and found wall to wall examples.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


There are loads of different ways to do this. A simple one is 1-3 on 1st chord, leading often to a IV chord, so 1-3 on that. if the sequence is I to V, then play 1- lower 6, then 1-3 on the V. If the second chord has a note in it which is a semitone away from one of the first chord notes, then make them the 2nd and 3rd beat notes.

Using a passing note on beats 2 and 4 will often work, but it's better to give them a purpose, like a leading tone.

Come to think about it, this question's probably going to attract ' there are too many answers, it's too broad'.

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