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Limitations of using patterns for improvisations


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Just wondering if anyone has stumbled across this problem from using patterns for jazz improvisatioin.


I suddenly realised that patterns are less useful when you get multiple key centers in a song. One could memorise more patterns to overcome this.


But I find that knowing all the scales and key signatures by heart helps solve this problem of connecting from one key to another key.


And my current bass guitar teacher is teaching patterns. I know cause he stumbles when we are trying to find notes on the fretboard. I am not trying to defame him. Pattern works for rock bassists who create riffs based on patterns. But i think learning key centers help in continuation of jazz melodies in between key changes.


It's similar to thinking like brass players who don't have patterns to rely on. They really have to master all the major, harmonic, melodic minor key signatures, diminished, and whole tone scales.


Would love to hear what you guys think about it. Any suggestions would be gretaly appreciated.


Take care.



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First of all, the horn players do learn patterns. But they are not finger patterns, they are note patterns. They learn them in all the keys.


There's nothing wrong with learning patterns per se. But you should be learning the names of every note you play and what part of the chord or scale that each note is.


You must be able to analyze chord changes and determine key centers in order to solo effectively over changes. This is not a bass issue, it is a learning issue.


If your bass teacher does not know the names of the notes on the neck without having to stop and think, it is time to move on to a new bass teacher.

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Everything in music is patterns. Knowing the deeper underlying patterns of musical thought - sometimes known as or equated with chord and scales theory - as well as the surface ones of hand execution, is the real step to the next plateau... As you study music you find that patterns and relationships are likely infinite. There is always farther to go.
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