First developed to generate a feeling of buoyancy or lightness for dance music, the two-feel is a common style of accompaniment most often utilized by bassists during the melody or head of jazz compositions before transitioning into a standard walking four bass line for the solos. Sometimes referred to as the two-beat, the broken two-feel, or even the skip two-feel, this concept can also be frequently heard within the "A" sections of 32-bar A-A-B-A song forms where the "B" section or bridge is played in a straight-ahead walking four style. Unlike a walking four bass line consisting of a steady stream of quarter notes, the traditional two-feel places the emphasis on the half note.
In its most fundamental form, the two-feel or two-beat consists of only two half notes per measure. The root of the chord is played on the first beat followed by the fifth on the third beat. Using the concept of tension and release, the harmonic tension of the line may be heightened by placing a non-diatonic tone as a chromatic approach note on beat three of the measure. By integrating rhythmic embellishments such as eighth-note triplets, skips, ghost skips, syncopated rhythms, hammer-on skips, pull-off skips, and slurred skips, you can create more of a broken two-feel or skip two-feel. Although rhythmic embellishments can be placed anywhere within the measure, they are most frequently found before points of harmonic shift and within turnarounds. In a standard 12-bar blues, rhythmic embellishments are commonly placed in measures 4, 8, 11, and 12 to highlight the arrival of bars 5, 9, and the subsequent chorus. With the broken two-feel, the underlying sense of rhythmic tension and release is intensified, thus enhancing the forward motion of the line.
With regard to incorporating rhythmic embellishments, be careful not to go beyond your role as an accompanist. If the bass line becomes saturated with too much rhythmic activity, it may defeat the general purpose of the two-feel. Since the two-feel is usually applied while the melody of the composition is being played, you typically don't want to exaggerate the half notes with too many rhythmic embellishments or else you might distract the listener's attention from the melody. Rhythmic embellishments can add a rhythmic depth to your lines, but too many embellishments may disrupt the overall flow of the pulse. The two-feel should enhance the melody and not draw attention away from it. As always, the notes and rhythms that you choose to play should support and compliment the music as a whole. ... Subscribe Today & Read More!
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