Last updated
Country walkdown, in blue, with Carter Family picking.
Play  (help*info) Walkdown I V vi.png
Country walkdown, in blue, with Carter Family picking. Loudspeaker.svg   Play  

In country music, walkdown is a bassline which connects two root position chords whose roots are a third apart, often featuring an inverted chord [1] to go between the root notes of the first two chords. See: slash chord. A walkup would be the converse. For example the chords G Major and E minor (a minor third apart) may be joined by an intervening chord to create stepwise motion in the bass: G-D/F-Em (I-V6/4-vi). The second chord, D Major, is performed with its third note, the F#, in the bass. Walkdowns may be performed by the upright bass player, the electric bass player, the guitarist, or a piano player.

Country music, also known as country and western, and hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as folk music and blues.


A bassline is the term used in many styles of music, such as jazz, blues, funk, dub and electronic, traditional music, or classical music for the low-pitched instrumental part or line played by a rhythm section instrument such as the electric bass, double bass, cello, tuba or keyboard. In unaccompanied solo performance, basslines may simply be played in the lower register of any instrument such as guitar or piano while melody and/or further accompaniment is provided in the middle or upper register. In solo music for piano and pipe organ, these instruments have an excellent lower register that can be used to play a deep bassline. On organs, the bass line is typically played using the pedal keyboard and massive 16' and 32' bass pipes.

Chord (music) harmonic set of three or more notes

A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of pitches consisting of multiple notes that are heard as if sounding simultaneously. For many practical and theoretical purposes, arpeggios and broken chords, or sequences of chord tones, may also be considered as chords.

In jazz, a walkdown is a descending bassline below chords sharing a common tone. [2] For example, if the above was G-D/F-Em7 the bassline would descend, G, F, E, while D is held in common. Walkdown may also refer to the movement from V to IV in bars nine and ten of the twelve-bar blues. [3]

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

In music, a common tone is a pitch class that is a member of, or common to two or more chords or sets. Typically, it refers to a note shared between two chords in a chord progression. According to H.E. Woodruff:

Any tone contained in two successive chords is a common tone. Chords written upon two consecutive degrees of the [diatonic] scale can have no tones in common. All other chords [in the diatonic scale] have common tones. Common tones are also called connecting tones, and in part-writing, are to be retained in the same voice. Chords which are four or five degrees apart have one common tone. Chords which are three or six degrees apart have two common tones. Chords which are one or seven degrees apart have no tone in common.

Dominant (music) fifth scale degree of the diatonic scale, between the subdominant and the submediant

In music, the dominant is the fifth scale degree of the diatonic scale, called "dominant" because it is next in importance to the tonic, and a dominant chord is any chord built upon that pitch, using the notes of the same diatonic scale. The dominant is sung as sol in solfege. The dominant function has the role of creating instability that requires the tonic for resolution.

In very much conventionally tonal music, harmonic analysis will reveal a broad prevalence of the primary harmonies: tonic, dominant, and subdominant, and especially the first two of these.

The scheme I-x-V-I symbolizes, though naturally in a very summarizing way, the harmonic course of any composition of the Classical period. This x, usually appearing as a progression of chords, as a whole series, constitutes, as it were, the actual "music" within the scheme, which through the annexed formula V-I, is made into a unit, a group, or even a whole piece.

See also


  1. Wilson, Steven Robert (1985). On the Importance of Popular Music Theory in the Curriculum, p.62. University of California, Santa Cruz.
  2. De Mause, Alan (2002). Complete Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar, p.181. ISBN   9780786665594.
  3. Julin, Don (2012). Mandolin For Dummies, p.174. ISBN   9781119943969.

Related Research Articles

An altered chord is a chord in which one or more notes from the diatonic scale is replaced with a neighboring pitch from the chromatic scale. According to the broadest definition any chord with a nondiatonic chord tone is an altered chord, while the simplest use of altered chords is the use of borrowed chords, chords borrowed from the parallel key, and the most common is the use of secondary dominants. As Alfred Blatter explains,"An altered chord occurs when one of the standard, functional chords is given another quality by the modification of one or more components of the chord."

Chord progression a succession of musical chords

A chord progression or harmonic progression is a succession of musical chords, which are two or more notes, typically sounded simultaneously. Chord progressions are the foundation of harmony in Western musical tradition from the common practice era of Classical music to the 21st century. Chord progressions are the foundation of Western popular music styles and traditional music. In these genres, chord progressions are the defining feature on which melody and rhythm are built.

Root (chord) note after which a chord is named

In music theory, the concept of root is the idea that a chord can be represented and named by one of its notes. It is linked to harmonic thinking— the idea that vertical aggregates of notes can form a single unit, a chord. It is in this sense that one speaks of a "C chord" or a "chord on C"—a chord built from "C" and of which the note "C" is the root. When a chord is referred to in Classical music or popular music without a reference to what type of chord it is, it is assumed a major triad, which for C contains the notes C, E and G. The root need not be the bass note, the lowest note of the chord: the concept of root is linked to that of the inversion of chords, which is derived from the notion of invertible counterpoint. In this concept, chords can be inverted while still retaining their root.

Thirteenth musical interval

In music or music theory, a thirteenth is the interval between the sixth and first scale degrees when the sixth is transposed up an octave, creating a compound sixth, or thirteenth. The thirteenth is most commonly major Play  or minor Play .

Eleventh chord chord that contains the tertian extension of the eleventh, typically found in jazz

In music theory, an eleventh chord is a chord that contains the tertian extension of the eleventh. Typically found in jazz, an eleventh chord also usually includes the seventh and ninth, and elements of the basic triad structure. Variants include the dominant eleventh, minor eleventh, and the major eleventh chord. Symbols include: Caug11, C9aug11, C9+11, C9alt11, Cm9(11), C−9(11). The eleventh in an eleventh chord is, "almost always sharpened, especially in jazz," at least in reference to the third, with CM11 (major eleventh): C–E–G–B–D–F, Cm11 (minor eleventh): C-E-G-B-D-F, and C11 (dominant eleventh): C–E–G–B–D–F.

In music theory, a ninth chord is a chord that encompasses the interval of a ninth when arranged in close position with the root in the bass.

Comping is the chords, rhythms, and countermelodies that keyboard players, guitar players, or drummers use to support a jazz musician's improvised solo or melody lines. It is also the action of accompanying, and the left-hand part of a solo pianist.

Chord substitution

In music theory, chord substitution is the technique of using a chord in place of another in a sequence of chords, or a chord progression. Much of the European classical repertoire and the vast majority of blues, jazz and rock music songs are based on chord progressions. "A chord substitution occurs when a chord is replaced by another that is made to function like the original. Usually substituted chords possess two pitches in common with the triad that they are replacing."

Tritone substitution

The tritone substitution is one of the most common chord substitutions found in jazz and was the precursor to more complex substitution patterns like Coltrane changes. Tritone substitutions are sometimes used in improvisation—often to create tension during a solo. Though examples of the tritone substitution, known in the classical world as an augmented sixth chord, can be found extensively in classical music since the Renaissance period, they were not heard until much later in jazz by musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker in the 1940s, as well as Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge and Benny Goodman.

Guitar chord

In music, a guitar chord is a set of notes played on a guitar. A chord's notes are often played simultaneously, but they can be played sequentially in an arpeggio. The implementation of guitar chords depends on the guitar tuning. Most guitars used in popular music have six strings with the "standard" tuning of the Spanish classical guitar, namely E-A-D-G-B-E' ; in standard tuning, the intervals present among adjacent strings are perfect fourths except for the major third (G,B). Standard tuning requires four chord-shapes for the major triads.

Level (music) in music, a temporary modal frame contrasted with another

A level, also "tonality level", is a temporary modal frame contrasted with another temporary modal frame built on a different foundation note. It is more general and basic than a chord and is found in Asian, African, and Celtic folk musics and in European Renaissance music. Levels then give way to chords and chord changes in Baroque music and in the twentieth-century chords give way to levels in the blues, completed with the V-IV-I progression, and spread to all popular music.

Slash chord

In music, especially modern popular music a slash chord or slashed chord, also compound chord, is a chord whose bass note or inversion is indicated by the addition of a slash and the letter of the bass note after the root note letter. It does not indicate "or". For example, a C major chord (C) in second inversion is written C/G or C/G bass, which reads "C slash G", "C over G" or "C over a G bass". If E were the bass it would be written C/E or C/E bass, which is read "C slash E", "C over E" or C/E bass. Some chords may not otherwise be notated, such as A/A. Thus, a slash chord may also indicate the chord form or shape and an additional bass note.

ii–V–I progression

The ⅱ–Ⅴ–I progression is a common cadential chord progression used in a wide variety of music genres, including jazz harmony. It is a succession of chords whose roots descend in fifths from the second degree (supertonic) to the fifth degree (dominant), and finally to the tonic. In a major key, the supertonic triad (ⅱ) is minor, and in a minor key it is diminished. The dominant is, in its normal form, a major triad and, commonly, a dominant seventh chord. With the addition of chord alterations, substitutions, and extensions, limitless variations exist on this simple formula.

Jazz improvisation is the spontaneous invention of melodic solo lines or accompaniment parts. It is one of the defining elements of jazz. Improvisation is composing on the spot, when a singer or instrumentalist invents melodies and lines over a chord progression played by rhythm section instruments and accompanied by drums. Although blues, rock, and other genres use improvisation, it is done over relatively simple chord progressions which often remain in one key.

In music theory, the word inversion has distinct, but related, meanings when applied to intervals, chords, voices, and melodies. The concept of inversion also plays an important role in musical set theory.

In music, harmonization is the chordal accompaniment to a line or melody: "Using chords and melodies together, making harmony by stacking scale tones as triads".

Seventh (chord) musical interval spanning six staff positions; either a major seventh (11 semitones) or a minor seventh (10 semitones) in a diatonic scale

In music, the seventh factor of a chord is the note or pitch seven scale degrees above the root or tonal center. When the seventh is the bass note, or lowest note, of the expressed chord, the chord is in third inversion Play .

Chord names and symbols (popular music) system

Musicians use various kinds of chord names and symbols in different contexts, to represent musical chords. In most genres of popular music, including jazz, pop, and rock, a chord name and the corresponding symbol are typically composed of one or more of the following parts:

  1. The root note (e.g., C).
  2. The chord quality (e.g., minor or lowercase m, or the symbols ° or + for diminished and augmented chords; quality is usually omitted for major chords).
  3. The number of an interval (e.g., seventh, or 7), or less often, its full name or symbol (e.g., major seventh, maj7, or M7).
  4. The altered fifth (e.g., sharp five, or 5).
  5. An additional interval number (e.g., add 2 or add2), in added tone chords. For instance, the name C augmented seventh, and the corresponding symbol Caug7, or C+7, are both composed of parts 1, 2, and 3.
  6. Often, a bass note other than the root is indicated after a forward slash, following or slightly under the rest of the chord notation--for example, "GM7/B" would indicate a G major seventh chord, with B, not G, as the bass or bottom note.