Paul Baloche on Walkdowns
Featuring Paul Baloche Posted on May 11, 2011
Walkdowns describe the bass movement in a song, creating interest and emotion. A “one chord” with the root in the bass makes the listener feel “at home”. But a “one chord” with the third or the fifth in the bass is a totally different animal, usually evoking a majestic, anthem like quality. These are very useful tools in writing and arranging songs.
Almost every song ever written has either a walk-down or walk-up. Think of how the bass walks down in choruses like “Jesus, Lover of My Soul”, “There is None like You”, “As the Deer”, or “Mr. Bojangles”. Sacred and Secular, Classical and Contemporary, all employ this timeless musical device.
So here we go. By learning the walkdowns in the five “guitar keys”, you will be equipped to play nearly 90% of all music ever written. Or at least most of the music you ever hope to play. Of course then, by using a capo, you will be able to play in all twelve keys with ease. That is one of the cool things about the guitar—if you learn the “shapes” of certain chords, those shapes can be moved up and down the neck forming different chords in different keys. Something you can’t do on a piano I might add.
Look at the examples shown below. In the key of C, look at the F/G chord. That “shape” is a “moveable shape”. If you move that shape up 2 frets, it becomes a G/A, which sets you up for the key of D. It’s a great shape to use when you’re modulating from one key to another. Another moveable shape that will serve you well is the A/C# in the key of D. Move it up and down the neck and figure out what chord you’re playing. Bb/D, C/E, etc. Go ahead and try them. Ouch!! It’s tough at first. The guitar is a very physical instrument. Take heart. Your hand muscles will grow stronger through repetition so keep practicing.
The examples shown start with the easiest key, C, and progress to the hardest key, E. If you are striving to be a better guitar player, I truly believe this is time well spent. Learning these walkdowns will prepare you to play hundreds of songs and enable you to enjoy your instrument more fully. “Play skillfully…..” Ps. 33:3
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