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Learning Scales


scyzoryk

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I am at the point of being able to play root notes alongside a guitarist, and improvise simple walking bass lines on the way (built off the major scale of each note.)

 

Really, i'd like to take the next step up in my playing... so is it a good idea to learn all positions of the G, C, D, etc, scales on the bass neck (so I can learn to solo / improvise during playing), or is it better to learn all the modes (lycronian, etc)?

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Just to clarify on what you said (since I'm not too familiar with scales).

 

I should learn all types of scales (Major, Minor, Harmonic, etc) for all notes (which, is quite easy)... or learn all scales for all notes on each line of the neck?

 

I've google'd some websites, but can't seem to find any good ones on all scales for every note.

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Originally posted by scyzoryk:

I've google'd some websites, but can't seem to find any good ones on all scales for every note.

The major scale is always the same. That's because it's not defined in terms of keys--or notes--but in terms of intervals, i.e. the distances between the steps.

 

Here's the major scale: root note, whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step (back to the octave).

 

So here it is, in C:

 

Root: C

2nd (up 1 whole step): D

3rd (up another whole step): E

4th (up a half step): F

5th (up a whole step): G

6th (up a whole step): A

7th (up a whole step): B

Octave (up a half step): C

 

If you start this on D, or Bb, or whatever, the notes will of course be different, but all the intervals will be the same.

 

A good way to see this, literally, is to play the following pattern:

 

G------------------2--4--5---

D---------2--3--5------------

A---3--5---------------------

E----------------------------

 

That pattern starts at C, so it's C major. Once you've learned that pattern, move it somewhere else on the A or E string. If you play the pattern, you'll be playing the major scale for whatever note you start on, no matter what note you start on. That's because the pattern is a pattern of intervals.

 

On a fretted instrument, it's very easy to count half & whole steps: from one fret to the next is a half step, & from one fret up two frets is a whole step.

 

Good luck!

 

PS You're better off looking at music store bookshelves than at websites. You'll find some info on line, but even these days you'll only find a real approach to learning in a book. And of course your best bet is to take some lessons from someone knowledgeable.

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I should learn all types of scales (Major, Minor, Harmonic, etc) for all notes (which, is quite easy)... or learn all scales for all notes on each line of the neck?

Learn it all.

I don't know what you were googling, but there are plenty of websites with this information.

Here\'s one of them.

 

A C major scale is C D E F G A B C

Number the notes from 1 to 8.

 

Okay,

Now a major scale is:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

C D E F G A B C

 

A natural minor scale is:

1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8

C D Eb F G Ab Bb C

 

A harmonic minor scale is:

 

1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7 8

C D Eb F G Ab B C

 

A melodic minor scale is:

 

1 2 b3 4 5 6 7 8

C D Eb F G A B C

 

In classical theory, this scale goes up this way and down the same as a natural minor scale. In jazz theory, it's called a jazz minor scale and is the same up and down.

 

Now here are the modes.

 

Ionian (another name for major)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

C D E F G A B C

 

Dorian

1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 8

C D Eb F G A Bb C

 

Phrygian

1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b6 8

C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C

 

Lydian

1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 8

C D E F# G A B C

 

Mixolydian

1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 8

C D E F G A Bb C

 

Aeolian (another name for minor)

1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8

C D Eb F G Ab Bb C

 

Locrian

1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 8

C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C

 

and a few more

Diminished (whole step/half step)

1 2 b3 4 #4 #5 6 7 8

C D Eb F F# G# A B C

 

Diminished (half step/whole step)

1 b2 b3 3 #4 5 6 b7 8

C Db Eb E F# G A Bb C

 

Altered scale (also known as super locrian, diminished whole tone and a maybe few other names)

1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7 8

C Db Eb E Gb Ab Bb C

 

Whole tone

1 2 3 #4 #5 b7 8

C D E F# G# Bb C

 

Lydian Dominant

1 2 3 #4 5 6 b7 8

C D E F# G A Bb C

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scyzoryk, if your next question is "but how do I find what notes are where on the neck?" I advise you to do one of three things:

 

1) Find a teacher.

 

2) Ask a friend who knows guitar or bass to help you.

 

3) Sit at a piano with your bass and figure it out (I did this one).

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Originally posted by chewstermaniac:

benloy, please what would the notes for D flat melodic minor be? (so we can see the scale patern)

 

and also the notes for the harmonic scale?

I'm not Ben Loy, but I play him on TV. :D

 

The minor scales built on Db are typically notated with their enharmonic root not, C#. If you do understand why Db and C# are the same note, post back and I'll explain it in more detail. I'll assume for now that you know that Db and C# are the same note and that they are played on all of the same frets of the neck.

 

Before we get into the melodic and harmonic scales, let's review the C# natural minor scale.

 

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

 

If you had a strong cup of coffee this morning, you might have recognized that these are all of the same notes in the E major scale

 

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

 

but here they have been rearranged to be played starting on C# instead. There is always a relationship between a major scale and its relative minor scale (natural minor). The relative minor always starts two notes below the root of the major scale (C# is two notes lower than E). Conversely, the major scale always starts two notes above the root of the natural minor scale (E is two notes above C#).

 

So, to make a long story short, when you learn major scales, you are learning minor scales at the SAME TIME. Only the start and end notes shifted up or down according to the relationship that I just mentioned.

 

C# Melodic Minor Scale

 

The melodic minor is a crazy scale, because it has different notes depending on whether you're ascending (playing up to higher pitches) or descending (playing down to lower pitches).

 

Here is the C# melodic minor scale:

 

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

 

(note: A# is the same as Bb, and B# is the same as C natural)

 

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

 

(note: the descending melodic minor scale has the SAME NOTES as the descending natural minor scale discussed above)

 

C# Harmonic Minor Scale

 

The harmonic minor has the same notes whether you're ascending or descending. It is the same as the natural minor scale except for the seventh note, which is raised a half-step (one fret).

 

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

 

(note: B# is equivalent to a C natural)

 

Good luck!!!

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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And when you learn a major scale you are learning the notes that go with all the modes related to that scale.

 

Unfortunately most people teach the modes by having you play

C major

D dorian

E phrygian

F lydian

G mixolydian

A aeolian

B locrian

 

All those modes have the exact same notes, so in some ways you haven't learned anything about modes if you practice them that way.

That's why I listed all the modes starting on C in my previous post.

 

Start with major scales.

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I don't want to hijack this thread, but I've got a question about modes. I always feel guilty for not studying modes. (And I couldn't begin to tell you what name goes with what mode.) But do I need to? I know major & minor scales, can arpeggiate, & when I'm sitting on an E in a song in C major (say), I know what notes I could move to from the E & still be inside the key.

 

So what am I missing by ignoring modes?

 

(PS That's not meant as a rhetorical question!)

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Modes are just another piece of knowledge.

 

Don't you want to know more and more and more?

 

Here's some uses for the modes:

 

Ionian

Use on music in major keys

Use on Ma7 chords

 

Dorian

Use on m7 chords when used as II chords.

Use on funky one chord tunes in minor keys

Use on Im7 to IV7 two chord tunes

 

Phrygian

Use on m7 chords when used as III chords.

Use for "Spanish sounding" tunes

 

Lydian

Use as an alternative on Maj7 chords

Use on IVMaj7 chords

 

Mixolydian

Use on 7 chords.

Use on V7 chords.

 

Aeolian

Use in minor keys

Use on m7 chords used as VI chords

Use on Im7 to IVm7 chord progressions

 

Locrian

Use on m7b5 chords

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Not to be contrarian but I don't know how much you should actually focus on like an detailed study of scales-- or modes for that matter-- while no one mentioned arpeggios.

 

As you are "ready for the next step" and I beleive you are and you are going in the right direction, I think you should look into "what arpeggio works on what chord" kind of thing.

 

In a sense it is simpler. Say you're playing a tune with these chords, each for one measure: C maj, D min, G maj, A minor, Bb maj, Ab maj, G maj, G maj (again). Well you've got two arpeggios that will work: major and minor. and without worrying about which mode or scale to use when you get to the Bb, you simply plug in the major arpeggio.

 

I'm just saying learn the basic arpeggios at the same time as you learn the scales (they sort of go together anyway), they'll get you making more music more quickly.

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I think you should look into "what arpeggio works on what chord" kind of thing.

I think arpeggio's to a degree are a stylistic choice. In some music you might play 135 major minor triads.

some you may play 145 bluesy arpeggios or funky root-7-octave. Of course you can add blue notes. So I tend to think that this gets into the next step beyond learning scales. I assume you are talking simply about major and minor triads, which you are probably right. It is a good idea to know the character of each mode (is it major or minor and does it have a flat fifth).

Together all sing their different songs in union - the Uni-verse.

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I agree with all the responses I've seen concerning learning all your scales, and I'd like to add one more thing - when you go about learning all your major, and minor scales in all keys, make sure you learn how to play them in several positions. It's too easy to just move the universal fingerings around the neck and rely strictly on the geometry. Every scale has at least two different positions, as well as positions that use open strings, and ones that go up and down one string. Before you move on to something else,make sure you can play a major scale several ways.

 

And - know the fingering, know the numerical coordinates (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8) and most importantly, know the names of the notes for each key!

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Ah, yes! That was my next original attempt... to learn every position of the major scale for every note. That way, for example, I can go all over the neck when the guitarist is playing a G (If I am correct.)

 

On a side note: Ed, I purchased the Slap Bass DVD from Amazon (takes 4-6 weeks to ship, yikes!). Do you have any interactive DVD booklets regarding scales? I was thinking about getting your Walking Bass Lines book, but not sure what the experience level is.

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If you play the arpeggios:

CMa7 Dm7 Em7 FMa7 G7 Am7 Bm7b5 CMaj7

 

You will have played every note of the scale.

And you will have practiced arpeggios.

 

Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

 

Now do that in every key.

 

Then play the arpeggios in this order:

CMa7 FMa7 Bm7b5 Em7 Am7 Dm7 G7 CMaj7

 

It's what I call the diatonic circle of fourths.

(F to B is an augmented 4th.

Diatonic means "related to a scale")

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Arpeggios are subsets of scales. Of course, you should ideally practice both, but it's important to recognized that an arpeggio is not something separate from a scale.

 

Consider the C major scale:

 

C D E F G A B C

 

Now, consider the Cmaj7 and Dm7 arpeggios:

 

C E G B

D F A C

 

Now, consider the Em7 and Fmaj7 arpeggios:

 

E G B D

F A C E

 

Or the G7 and Am7 arpeggios:

 

G B D F

A C E G

 

In each case, you end up with the same seven unique notes.

 

C D E F G A B

 

A good exercise is to see how many arpeggios you can come up with using the notes of a major scale. Here are some of the many possible arpeggios that are available in the C major scale.

 

G9: G B D F A

 

Am9: A C E G B

 

Dm11: D F A C E G

 

G7sus4: G C D F

 

G13: G B D F E

 

Dm(add 9): D E F A

 

Bdim: B D F

 

Dm7, first inversion: F A C D

 

Fmaj7, second inversion: C E F A

 

G7, third inversion: F G B D

 

A scale is a treasure chest that holds a wealth of arpeggios, intervals, and other musically useful tools. Open up the treasure chest and start experimenting. Maybe you'll discover something that will compliment your technique or your signature sound.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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My analogy about chords and scales:

 

Take all the notes and put them in a bowl of alphabet soup.

 

Now take a nice spoonful of soup.

 

What did you get?

 

A chord or part of scale?

 

What's the difference?

 

Chords are scales arranged in a different order.

 

Scales are chords arranged in a different order.

 

Songs are made up of notes.

Sometimes they can be interpreted as scale notes, sometimes they can be interpreted as chord notes.

 

Learn every note on your instrument and its many relationships to all the other notes.

 

Then forget everything and play whatever you want to or need to play.

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I always thought that if I learned all the scales and modes and relationships between notes that it would just make playing more complicated for me. I thought I was better off just playing what I feel. Now, from the other side of the fence the grass is definitely greener over here. The beauty of understanding the music and having new and spiffy tools makes everything so much easier. The more connections I make and the more I learn the less I have to think while I play. The less I think while I play, the better it sounds and the more fun I have. Learning, although tedious at times, pays off big.

Let your speech be better than silence, or be silent.

 

For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not, none will suffice.

 

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One small thing for me, is that I never understood how scales work.

 

If a major scale plays all the notes in a key (G for example: G A B C D E F# G, then how do other scales sound "good" if they trail off into other notes not relative to the key?

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Originally posted by scyzoryk:

One small thing for me, is that I never understood how scales work.

 

If a major scale plays all the notes in a key (G for example: G A B C D E F# G, then how do other scales sound "good" if they trail off into other notes not relative to the key?

I'm not sure that I understand your question, but I'll try to address it. If I'm on the wrong track, please let me know, and I'll try again.

 

Consider the G major scale that you mentioned.

 

G A B C D E F# G

 

Here is a common chord progression in songs in the key of G major (jazz, show, pop, and country sounds might use this progression).

 

Am7 D7 G

 

All three chords exist in the G major scale, so there are no "accidentals," i.e. notes from outside of the scale.

 

Am7 = A C D G

 

D7 = D F# A C

 

G = G B D

 

Now, here is a second possible progression for a song in the key of G. I'll list it first, then discuss why it works even though it ventures outside of the scale notes.

 

G Em7 A7 D D7 G

 

All of the chords exist naturally in the G major scale EXCEPT for the A7. A7 contains a C#:

 

A7 = A C# E G

 

There is no C# in the key of G. Why does this note work? Why doesn't it sound bad?

 

The answer is that for PART of the progression, specifically during the chords Em7 A7 D, the song shifts out of the key of G temporarily and goes into the key of D. You'll recall that the D major scale DOES contain a C#,

 

D E F# G A B C# D

 

so the C# works at this moment of the song.

 

The D7 then knocks the song back in to the key of G. It can do this because it's the "dominant" chord in the key of G. Dominant means forceful or irresistible in chord theory, just as it does in real life. The D7 shoves the song back into its original key.

 

One more thought. If you really want to tease your brain, compare the original progression

 

Am7 D7 G

 

to the section on the second progression that I said momentarily switched to the key of D

 

Em7 A7 D

 

If you compare them, you'll see that they are identical progressions except that they are in different keys. The first is the ii-V-I progression in G, meaning that the chords are built on the second, fifth, and first notes in the G major scale (A, D, and G).

 

The second progression (Em7 A7 D) is the ii-V-I progression in the key of D, the key through which the song took a detour.

 

---

 

NOTE: Chord progressions are often expressed using Roman numerals. The numbers represent the not of the scale (I,II,III,IV,V,VI, or VII) that corresponds to the chord's root note. Upper case letters imply a MAJOR chord. Lower case letters imply a MINOR chord. Hence,

 

ii V I

 

means a minor chord built on scale tone 2, followed by a major chord built on scale tone 5, followed by another major chord built on scale tone 1.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Originally posted by scyzoryk:

Just to clarify on what you said (since I'm not too familiar with scales).

 

I should learn all types of scales (Major, Minor, Harmonic, etc) for all notes (which, is quite easy)... or learn all scales for all notes on each line of the neck?

 

I've google'd some websites, but can't seem to find any good ones on all scales for every note.

www.activebass.com

 

There is a section called "Bassics" which have theory charts that do a reasonably good job of telling one how to put together various chords, scales and arpeggios. I have printed them out and filed them in my "Bass Book"

 

They even have a feature that allows you to "hear" the chord or arpeggio being played, along with fret positions for the various notes.

 

If you are that interested in expanding your theory, have a blast. You also probably made Jeremy a happy man.

 

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

 

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