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Scales / Modes ...Again


jar546

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In everyones opinion, what would be the top...........oh lets say 5, yeah the top 5 scales that a bassist should have burned into his/her head and into muscle memory.

 

When it really comes down to it, at a minimum we should know:...?

"The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know" by Me
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You should be able to play a major scale in any key. No thinking allowed. The next thing I have my students do is play scales in 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, Octaves and 10ths.

 

Then 3rds in two octaves.

 

You should also know dorian and mixolydian scales.

 

Every key for everything.

 

That's enough of a start.

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a third is a three note letter span, so the third of an A is C (a, b, c), a third over C is E (c, d, e). Note that you count the starting note as one, not zero. Stop reading and practice a major scale (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C) in thirds, than put a third over a third and practice chords. We will be talking harmony on the next step.
-- Michele Costabile (http://proxybar.net)
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Yep. Do all the keys.

As said, major scales, mixolydian, dorian, major pentatonic, minor pentatonic and blues would cover the great majority of what I do (except when I practise at home, the rare jazz gigs and the Greek and Bulgarian stuff ;) ).

 

I tend to practise chordally more than scale-wise these days but I swap between the two. Chords (with extensions) and scales are the same thing just that one is written stepwise and one in thirds.

 

So practise scales in thirds etc. as Jeremy says; practise them starting on notes other than the root; practise them in different rhythmic feelings and (the one I neglect) practise them at different tempos!

 

 

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As said, major scales, mixolydian, dorian, major pentatonic, minor pentatonic and blues would cover the great majority of what I do

 

That was really what I was looking for. I knew that the major, minor and blues were a "given" but I was looking for what others such as the pentatonic, mixolydian and dorian. Ever since I bought the Bass Grimoire I am in need of narrowing down which ones I will really need to concentrate on.

 

I love Jeremy's recommendation for 3rds, 4ths, 5ths,.....etc. all the way to 10ths.

 

I will have to ask why the 10ths though. ??

"The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know" by Me
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10ths will help you hear chords.

 

They will help you learn the I II III IV etc sequence, knowing which ones are minor and which are major. It will stop being book information, you'll know it intuitively (hopefully).

 

You can use 10ths in songs. Chuck Rainey used a 10th at one point in the the classic basslines to Peg.

 

I like to play a 10th on the last chord of a song.

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You really, truly need to have all the modes of the major scale pretty deeply locked up in the old muscle memory. That's 7, so you've already surpassed your self-imposed limit. If you really had to distill the most frequently used scales from this category, I'd add lydian to the previously mentioned dorian/myxolydian. Lydian is pretty useful.

 

I'm assuming that you've already learned the piece-of-cake major and minor pentatonic scales and that you've got a sense of what the blues scale is.

 

Don't forget the chromatic scale; I'm not kidding. Knowing how to play chromatically smoothly is like a big step and stuff (how I get to write when no one's editing me...yay!)

 

After you've done all that, I'd check out melodic minor. Especially the 7th mode, as it'll help you sound cool on jazz gigs when you see dominant chords.

 

But I think Phil W had the best point. Check out chords, arpeggiating them to the 13. They are just scales-made-functional.

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But I think Phil W had the best point. Check out chords, arpeggiating them to the 13. They are just scales-made-functional.

 

The three of us seem to have similar philosophies. I like to think of it as: Scales and chords are just two different ways of ordering the same notes. That's why I like practicing scales in thirds. Scales are based seconds. Chords are based on thirds. Playing scales in thirds ties the two methods together. A tenth is a third up an octave, so playing scales in tenths reinforces the concept.

 

Getting hungry?

 

Say you have a bowl of alphabet soup. All the note names are floating around in your bowl. You get your spoon and take a big spoonful of soup. Now you have the notes for your first phrase of the solo. Are these notes scale notes or chord notes?

 

The answer is yes. ;)

 

 

All us teacher/theory guys keep emphasizing the learning of scales and chords and the relationships between the two. Yes, you can figure out this stuff intuitively with big ears and lots of playing without knowing note names and I've seen it done, but there aren't a whole lot of people in the world who will be able to do that.

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Thanks to all of you for responding and helping. I am only a year into playing the bass and I want to get it right. I think it will make me a better musician and bassist when I can actually call myself that.

 

When people ask me if I am a musician or a bass player I just tell them that I am trying but don't feel as though I am worthy of the name....not just yet.

"The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know" by Me
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Johnathan Hererra said:

you've already surpassed your self-imposed limit.

 

Not a final self imposed limit by any stretch but a start on which I can build once I am comfortable and competent. Then it is time to expand my knowledge and skill. One step at a time.

"The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know" by Me
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Go for it Jeff.

 

Actually, learning the scales is the easy bit.

Applying them is the tough bit.

 

The more you play scales and arpeggios though the better you'll know the sound of intervals on the neck and eventually you'll get closer and closer to that point we're all aiming for when you can just hear something totally cool in your head in a certain musical context and immediately play what you hear in your head.

 

Jeremy is right, there are monster players over on the keyboard forum that half-jokingly argue that chords don't exist and instead of learning theory we should all listen to Art Tatum and Charlie Parker and copy that stuff by ear and apply it.

 

That's too hard for me. I'm going to grab every assistance I have available and scales and modes are two very useful tools.

 

Once you've got those scales under your fingers/in your mind/in your ears; I would advise you to study jazz - whatever style of music you like as you will learn loads from it and get to apply lots of lydian and other modes, modes of the melodic minor and diminished scales to your heart's content! ;)

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