Scale suggestions for BG bass solos
I am interested in opinions for what scales to use for bass solos for Bluegrass. I already have the concept down of doing the melody and often do this, but I'm looking to go to the next step.
It sometimes happens that I am playing with folks I don't know well on a song that I don't know at all, barely holding on. Then I get "The Nod" to do the bass solo and have no concept of what the melody is. I'd like to have a set of scales to fall back on that will help get me through situations like that.
I would expect major scales to work since Bluegrass has "Major" feel about it,but it just sometimes seems that Major scales just don't always work. Too full of "bad choice" notes.
So what do y'all do when you are pinched and have to put together a solo that can fit even if you don't know the melody?
Modal scales such Mixolydian
Or something else of your own creation?
I'm really open to ideas here for "Instant Solo in a Can"
The easiest way to deal with this issue, IMHO, is to practice singing to tunes. Put on Band in a Box or Aebersold CDs or what have you, and sing your solo(s). Then, after you're comfortable with that, try soloing on your axe while you sing. It will be awkward at first and you'll eventually become frustrated with your inability to get what you have in your head to your axe, but, 1) welcome to the would of improv and 2) practice will make it better. Transcribe solos, practice, practice, practice, work with a great teacher, and you'll get closer. And remember, it's the journey, not the result. Only some of us can be Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, your name here, but the rest of us can enjoy trying to approach their genius.
You know, sometimes you may not have to do much more than what you are already doing, it may just be people "hearing" the bass and throwing in a few connecting notes, eg, a chromatic run from e to g, may just be enough. I'd also steer away from cord X = scale Y, you can hear the "bad" notes as you say, so to tcl's point, sing a few solos, transpose them in different keys and learn to connect what you are playing with the harmony..there is also an excellent thread, somewhere within the wider forum, called how to really learn a tune, have a read of that too...And don't forget to breathe.
I've heard some good solos, even interesting ... but it's a rare bluegrass bass solo that actually ADDS anything to the performance. Try this ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIfl2o44zb0 ... look at 0:40 ...
To have a solo in the can, I'd suggest using pentatonic since most melodies gravitate toward this, add the occasional lower chromatic neighboring tone for spice, and pre-compose your solo breaks over the usual progressions. Maybe lean toward making them melodic in nature, rather than imitate a burning guitar break. Do the same with mixolydian for a starker sound.
Keeping it simple and connected to the melody is a good and hard to go too far wrong with a pentatonic approach. Slapping can add some drama and switching from a root-five to a dominant 7th walk can work nicely too. Don't forget to leave some silent spaces too.
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