Red Mitchell: Tuning in Fifths and the Walking Bass Line
Bright, Stephen Thomas
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In 1966, Red Mitchell began tuning his bass in fifths to meet the demands of film composers who required a low C. Having played in fourths for approximately twenty years, Mitchell required only nine days to adapt to fifths tuning. This thesis examines the changes that fifths tuning had on his walking bass lines through the transcription, analysis and comparison of three blues from each of Mitchell's tuning periods. The analysis will probe changes in pitch, range, intervals and motives. Other chapters include a biography of Mitchell's career and one that discusses why he chose fifths. Included in this section are brief summaries of other bassists who have adopted fifths tuning. The chapter on bass line grammar discusses those elements that were affected when Mitchell changed tunings. The concluding chapter discusses the findings showing that tuning in fifths did have an effect on Red Mitchell's walking bass lines.