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Every time iI look for jazz for bass i always find alot of scales that dont make any sence to jazz all they are , are the same major or minor sscales that U see all the time . Could somebody direct me to abetter source of study ....thank's.
Pete Combs...
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If what you think you asked is what I think you meant, then those same major and minor scales are just as important for jazz as they are everywhere else. For example, over an E-minor chord you could play a C major scale, a D major scale, a G major scale without altering any notes. Naturally the relatve minor scales for these three major scales are just as appropriate. And when you accept altered notes (or a broad sonic palette), then every scale goes with every chord. Even ignoring the reality that you don't have to start the scale on the root note of that scale - in other words, scales are the basis of modal playing - what better way is there to build technique than by working with scales and exercizes?


Unless you really thought that you were asking something else...

Dave Martin

Java Jive Studio

Nashville, TN



Cuppa Joe Records


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For jazz, knowing scales inside out, backwards and from any angle is paramount. Walking basslines are all about that.

"If you're flammable and have legs, you are never blocking a fire exit. Unless you are a table."

-Mitch Hedberg

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I would recommend knowing the chords...then know the scales...this is what helped me>>>Unless you're dealing with scale variations, think in major, then know the modes...the cool thing is if you know your major scale you already know the modes you just have to know where to start:

Ionian is the Root (major scale)

Dorian is the 2 (major scale but began on 2 and played to 9)...from there is phrygian for 3-10, lydian for 4-11, mixolydian for 5-12, aeolian for 6-13 and locrian for 7-14...seems like a lot but it is not. You can also learn you chords better by learning the modes of the major scale for instance:

ionian is major or maj7, dorian is minor or minor 7 or minor 6, phrygian is minor or minor 7, lydian is major or major 7, mixolydian is major or dominant 7, aeolian is minor or minor 7, locrian is diminished or diminished 7 or minor 7. One big part of jazz is using the dominant 7 chords to figure out the key changes when nothing is indicated but be careful in minor keys as the 5 of minor (which is not the same as the 5 of the relative major) can also be a dominant 7. Another "the main thing" is listen to players...get a real book...study and practice...it will take less time to develop than you think if it all clicks at a point.

We must accept the consequences of being ourselves-Sojourn of Arjuna


Music at www.moporoco.com/nick

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I forgot to mention something...Once you're comfortable playing the modes...Play just the the 1-3-5-7 of each mode. That is to say that you may have a minor 3rd or a diminished fifith or a major or minor 7th. Play the 1-3-5-7 in respect to the mode and this will yield the chord that fits most properly with that mode.

We must accept the consequences of being ourselves-Sojourn of Arjuna


Music at www.moporoco.com/nick

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I'm going to make an attempt to interpret our hosts post as this will also be to my benefit. First Ed Friedlands book is on my list.I understand major and minor scales but do not know how to apply them to jazz.I use basic jazz lines to practice sight reading but I just can't seem to feel the way the line should be played.I play in a blues band and would like to add some jazz feel to my bass lines.I hope I'm making some sense here.You guys have a technical profiency that is way over my head and I have difficulty understanding most of it.Many of the websites when they post lessons seem to be more rock oriented.Are there any jazz websites that start with the basics for players trying to play jazz.

Where I live there are no bass instructors. Everything I have learned has been off of websites and forums. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Know that every note of a walking bass line is not necessarily in the key you're supposed to play. This is because of strong beats and weak beats. In a 4/4 measure beats 1 and 3 are strong beats...beats 2 and 4 are weak beats. PLay chord or scale tones on strong beats and non chord tones on weak beats to add more flavor. Rufus Reid's Evolving Bassist mentions this breifly but the way he stated it seemed to make it click. He basically said: ok...you walk a bass line with just chord tones or with just scale tones or chromatically and you can really walk when you think of combining two or all of the three. Keep is moving in a single directions until you feel the natural change.

We must accept the consequences of being ourselves-Sojourn of Arjuna


Music at www.moporoco.com/nick

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Gearjammer, I strongly recommend Ed Friedland's books.


However, you say that everything you know about jazz you've learned from books or from forums.


Listen and imitate, it's what everyone has done. It's the jazz tradition. Music is meant to be heard. Written music and theory are attempts to capture and explain sounds.


Sounds are what we are after.


Dave Brubeck has been mentioned in another thread. He was a country boy who learned everything by listening to recordings.

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Ok,I gotcha, SplitNick.I'm doing this with the non-chord tones. It sounds good to me ,I'm just not sure if what I'm doing is acceptable in the true jazz listeners ears. Or is this what it is all about playing jazz. Improvisation in any form ia ok as long as it sounds good. I think I need to find some slower playing songs to work with. Am I making any sense here?
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What Jeremy C is getting after is emulating sound. You need to aurally get jazz in your head. Listen to as many people as possible. Check out the splinter genres of jazz: cool jazz, modal jazz, free jazz, dixieland, jazz-rock fusion, bebop...there's tons of amazingly different music out there that falls under the "jazz" umbrella.
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Your right Benloy,I have 1 Tower of Power,1 Weather Report ,The Essential Miles and 2 cds from Bassics magazine. But I've been on a Motown kick lately. Like I mentioned earlier I need something a bit slower to work with. I will try to get some more jazz influence worked into my listening time. Thanks all for your time.


ps- any suggestions on some slower music to work with help. Thanks

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There are a lot of classic jazz ballads: 'Round Midnight, Misty, Sophisticated Lady...stuff like that. The only problem is that in many ballads the bass takes a more limited role playing roots and then falling back. I would not necessarily look for slow songs but for songs that are easier to follow chordally. Check out all the jazz-blues tunes (I-IV-V type stuff). These are the easiest progressions to walk. You hear these progressions in every type of music. I think the first songs I learned walking were "Straight, No Chaser", "Au Privave", "Billy's Bounce", "Blues for Alice". Once you can make sense of walking in one chord progressions the other progressions will become easier.

We must accept the consequences of being ourselves-Sojourn of Arjuna


Music at www.moporoco.com/nick

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For those who asked for more information on jazz, here are a couple of ideas to chew on.


Big Idea Number One - Chords and scales are the same thing.


Okay, I know that someone is going to say, "No way, Man! A chord is different than a scale," but hear me out on this one. A scale is the definition of a collection of related chords in a key, just as a blueprint is the definition of a collection of related rooms in a building.


Time for a practical example. You all know the G major scale, right? I'll write it out over two octaves.


G A B C D E F# G A B C D E F# G


Let's start skipping every second note and pick the first four notes we come to starting on G.


G B D F#


(remember, we skipped every second note: A, C, and E)


So we've got G B D F#, which is the Gmaj7 chord. Do you need to know what notes are in the Gmaj7 chord? Not really. If you know the G major scale, you can derive the chord, because, as I said before, chords and scales are the same thing.


Let's look at that G major scale one more time. What other chords can we yank out of it by skipping every second note?


G A B C D E F# G A B C D E F# G


G B D F# ---> Gmaj7

A C E G ---> Am7

B D F# A ---> Bm7

C E G B ---> Cmaj7

D F# A C ---> D7

E G B D ---> Em7

F# A C E ---> F# half-diminished seventh ---> F#m7(b5)


So, if you know the G major scale, you already know seven chords. Why do these seven chords all live in the same scale? Because they're related. If you play a song in G - not a Korn-style song, but a jazz standard type of song - you'll probably see most of these chords together used in that song. The scale is your road map. The scale tells you that, if you're playing a song in G, you probably don't have to worry about chords like F7 or Ebmaj7. The scale narrows down your focus so you can pick notes that make sense in the context of the song. That's why they call it a key, and a key is essentially the same thing as a scale, and a scale defines a set of chords that you'll use in that key. Clever, huh?


Big Idea Number Two: Stay faithful to the chords most of the time.


Let's say we're playing a song in G and the chord progression goes like this:


Am7 D7 Gmaj7 Cmaj7 Bm7 Em7 Am7 D7


Start with a bass line that follows the notes in the chords strictly. You can always mess around with the notes later, but even then, go outside the chords sparingly. Use "outside" notes like a spice.


Simple bass line to the above progression:


A E A C | D F# A F# | G D G D | C E G C |

B F# A D | E G D B | A C G E | D C A F# | etc.


To spice it up, let's add some outside notes. I'll put the outside notes in parentheses. Some are notes from the G scale, some are not. Can you tell why EACH outside note is considered "outside"?


A (B) C E | D F# A (Ab) | G D B (Db) | C E G (A) |

B © B F# | E G © B | A (G#) G E | D (Eb) F# A | etc.


That's a lot of spice. For most songs, don't mix in the spice (outside) notes this frequently. This was just an illustration.


Big Idea Number Three: Note choices aren't as important as time and feel.


If you have good swing time and can play with good feel, you could play with just roots and octaves, and the song would sound fine. I'll use upper case letters for roots and lower case letters for octaves.


A A a a | D d D D | G g G G | C c c C | etc.


Remember that the bass is a RHYTHM instrument. It's in the RHYTHM section. Make sure that the RHYTHM is solid rather than jumping all around the neck looking for cool notes.


Big Idea Number Four: When you solo, start with chord tones but AVOID root notes.


A really good exercise is to pick in advance a note from each chord and solo on just that note. For example, if we soloed on just the third of each chord in the progression above, we'd play (you choose the rhythm):


C C C C C C ... | F# F# F# F# ... | B B B B ... | E E E E ... |

D D D D D D ... | G G G G G G ... | C C C C ... | F# F# F# F# F# F# ... | etc.


This is harder than it seems, because it forces you to choose notes by following a plan meticulously instead of wandering aimlessly up and down the G scale. Do this with thirds (as illustrated), fifths, sevenths, ninths, and thirteenths, then group them in batches. For example, let's say we're going to solo using the fifth and seventh of each chord in the progression.


G G E G E E | C A C A | D F# F# D F# D | B G B G G B |

A F# A A F# | B D D D | E G G G E | C A A C C A | etc.


Believe me, this is a totally brain punishing exercise. I urge to do to it SLOWLY and OFTEN when you're learning a new song. This one exercise may finally render null and void all of those old jokes about bass solos. :D


Good luck!!!

The Black Knight always triumphs!


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Nice post, Dan.


I've received some funny looks when I've said the same thing

Chords and scales are the same thing.
But think of music as a bowl of alphabet soup. You have all the letters and they move around and mix up and make a flavorful meal.


One of the most important technical exercises to practice is to play scales in thirds. You will find this exercise in method books for every instrument.


A scale in thirds would be in the key of C:




In E it is:


E G# F # A G# B A C# B D# C# E D# F# E


In numbers it is:


1 3 2 4 3 5 4 6 5 7 6 8 7 9 8


You are playing each scale note followed by a note a third higher and staying in key. Below is the same series of notes. This time I put parenthesis around the notes which are a third higher than the scale notes so you can see the pattern better.


1 (3) 2 (4) 3 (5) 4 (6) 5 (7) 6 (8) 7 (9) 8


When you are practicing scales in thirds, you are thinking the scale notes, but since you are playing in thirds you are playing notes the way chords are constructed: in thirds.


In the key of C, playing the exercise actually is hinting at the chords C Dm Em F G Am Bdim C, which of course are the chords in the key.


Hope this makes sense to many of you.

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I'm reading these posts and I've come up with this: The technical advice above is exactly what you need. There's a broad difference between playing what fits and knowing what fits. The prior makes you a player, the latter, a musician. Knowing those scales and variations is paramount but you need to know them so well that you don't have to think. I doubt that you have to think to construct a I-IV-V blues line, right? Listen to a lot of older jazz- it's built off the same chords. What makes it jazzy (besides the swinging beat) is the use of passing (non-scale) tones. Throw a b5 into the line somewhere. Slide up the neck playing the same frets on the G and D strings (that's a fourth). Find some things like this that make your playing sound jazzy. I guarantee that what of the technical info you gained from the prior posts will creep in and it will make sense all of a sudden.


and one more thing...- listen to jazz, especially bluesy jazz. That's the most important thing!

...think funky thoughts... :freak:
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Here are a couple more "BIG IDEAS" to enhance your jazz chops.


Big Idea Number Five - Connect chords with leading tones.


Leading tones are notes from two chords that are either (1) the same note, or (2) very close to each other. To illustrate, let's look at the first four bars of Stella By Starlight. I'll spell out the notes for each chord after the chord symbol.


Em7(b5): E G Bb D

A7b9: A C# E G Bb

Cm7: C Eb G Bb

F7: F A C Eb


The first two chords share the note "E", and the second two chords share the note "Eb". One simple way of soloing over these chords would be to play repeating "E" notes over the first two chords and repeating "Eb" notes over the second two. Notice that the first THREE chords share both G's and Bb's, so your could play something like this.


G Bb Bb G G | G G Bb | G Bb G G Bb | A A F A


The "G" and the "Bb" work over the first three chords. Notice that I shifted from "Bb" to "A" for the last chord (F7). I did this for two reasons. First, F7 contains an "A" note, but more importantly, "Bb" and "A" are very close to each other (one fret, or one half-step apart). This makes this pair of notes "leading tones." These leading tones make the transition from one chord to the next very smooth. You COULD have gone directly from "Bb" to "F" or "C" or "Eb", and in some cases you might have, but it's nice to use a smooth transition like the "Bb" of Cm7 to the "A" of F7 sometimes in a solo (or even in walking lines) in order to create a seamless flow between chords.


Here's an example of a more complex leading tone approach to soloing over these four chords. All notes are eighth notes (swing).


G E F G Bb C D Bb | A C# E G A Bb G E | Eb D C G Bb D C Bb | A G F Eb C A rest rest |


The "Bb" note of Em7(b5) leads to the "A" of A7b9, then the "E" of that chord leads to the "Eb" of Cm7, and finally the "Bb" of Cm7 leads to the "A" of F7. The transitions are very smooth, plus this lends a sense of chromaticism to the sound of the solo without injecting any "outside" notes.


Big Idea Number Six - You need to HEAR the notes before you play them.


This is the most important idea of all. You can use the technical approaches that some of us have posted above, you can listen to tons of jazz records, you can memorize licks, and you can practice scales and arpeggios until you're old and gray, but YOU WILL NEVER be able to SPEAK THROUGH YOUR INSTRUMENT unless you can hear what you're playing BEFORE YOU PLAY IT.


It takes a lot of knowledge and practice to get to the point where you can see a Cm7 on the page and instantly recognize that the third of Cm7 is "Eb" and play that note in time with the music. That's a big first step, and I do not mean to diminish (no pun intended) its importance. BUT, if the sound of the note when you play it comes as a surprise to you, YOU DO NOT YET KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIPS OF THE NOTES TO THE CHORDS AND TO EACH OTHER. Ideally, you should be able to play (bass lines or solos, there's no difference) and sing in unison, George Benson style, and sing every note exactly as you play it. This happens when the theory, the ear training, and the familiarity with the fretboard all come together.


This may seem like an impossible objective, like boxing blindfolded, but you can get there in a relatively short time if you enhance your practice of chords and scales with ear training. Others have posted ear training tips on this forum before, so I won't rehash all of the details here. But, for instance, if you play a note (C, for example), you should be able to sing the fifth above that note. Then play a G and check whether your sung note was accurate. Repeat this for the major third above C (E), the minor third (Eb), and the minor seventh (Bb), and when you can do it accurately, you can now sing any note in any major triad, minor triad, seventh chord or minor seventh chord, just based upon those four intervals (m3, M3, P5, and m7). The good news is that there are only TWELVE intervals in total (in Western music), so when you've learned these four, you're a third of the way there.


If you've never done this before, your first attempts will be frustrating, but don't despair. Stick with it, and within a few weeks you'll start to "get it." And when you "get it," this technique will revolutionalize how you play, listen to, and think about music. You'll be able to improvise better, transcribe parts from records more easily, jam with less effort and frustration, remember bass lines more quickly, and even write music more effectively. (I DID say that it was a BIG idea, didn't I?) :D


Please feel free to post questions as they occur to you.

The Black Knight always triumphs!


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I don't know about them Yankees, but this is definitely one of the better threads I've read lately... thanks a million you guys!




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Originally posted by Dan South:

Big Idea Number Four: When you solo, start with chord tones but AVOID root notes.

Why had I never realised this before? Thanks for the revelation Dan!




P.S. Now hoping to make his solos sound like something other than louder basslines!

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Boy, is there an easy way to combine some of the material in this thread with the stuff in Jeremy's "theory" thread?


There's some good stuff here and there, and it would be great to have it all together.


I guess I could take it upon myself to do some "cut&paste" work. Maybe there's some special "moderator magic" that could facilitate some sort of thread merge?


I'm grasping at straws, eh?



Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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