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1 Scale on a Desert Island

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by sbasssman, Aug 3, 2002.

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  1. sbasssman

    sbasssman Guest

    Jan 1, 2002
    If you were stranded on a desert island
    and you could only use 1 scale, what would it be?
    What is the most useful but interesting
    single 2 octave scale pattern? And why?
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The obvious answer is the chromatic scale, since it contains all others.

    Alternately, if you were free to do almost anything you wanted, but could only start one pointless thread, what would it be?
  3. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Don't laugh Chris. I actually found myself in this situation once. I was aboard a ship when the weather got rough, and if not for the brave leadership of the captain, the Minnow would be lost, the Minnow would be lost.

    So, when I got to the island, some shipmates and I were able to create crude instruments using coconuts, palm leaves, and sheep's guts. Because of the elacticity (sp?) of the palm leaves and coconut juice, the instrument would break, bend or snap if you played any different scales. I was stuck using only the minor pentatonic (b5) scale. Luckily, we started a BB King/Eric Clapton cover band. It never seemed to be a problem.
  4. I'd use my bass as an oar actually.
  5. sbasssman

    sbasssman Guest

    Jan 1, 2002
    Hey friends, thanks for all the helpful sarcasm,
    but this thread has alot more value than many others here.

    The question it a good one. What's the most
    valuable scale? I know, the experts among you will say -- all of them -- but to direct the beginners out there, what scale has the most value?

    Many instruction books overwhelm early students with scales, and many students wind up not committing Most of them to memory as a result.

    There Are one or two 2 scale patterns, that if known well, Can give an early bass player lots
    of mileage.

    What would you cite?
  6. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Your approach is kinda wrong. You don't play scales in a song. You play notes that fit or complement the given chord(s).

    So concentrate more on chord (changes) and then check what scales are related to them and how.
    Blindly memorizing scales gets you pretty much nowhere.
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I'd say Major and Natural minor, since these will correspond most closely to most of the chord symbols that beginning bassists will be looking at (assuming they aren't using t4Bz). Not only do these scales "contain" many useful modes, but they may also be easily modified to produce the next most important set of scales to learn (i.e. - Dominant, Dorian minor, Harmonic Minor, Melodic minor, etc.). This way, they can serve as a foundation for further learning.
  8. sbasssman

    sbasssman Guest

    Jan 1, 2002
    Ok guys, with all the dopey kind of stuff thrown around this place, I thought the desert island reference would not have landed me in TB jail.
    It will never happen again.

    As far the view of the chord changes, I think most beginners would know that.

    As far as the major and natural minor suggestion, ah, now the first piece of information for someone.
    And it only took us 6 appends to get there.


    Now, I guess why the question even came to mind was because of the minor scales. There are several flavors. Chris mentioned the natural minor.
    Would that be the most common soloing
    choice that would fit the largest number of songs? Or is it the melodic minor? Or is it a melodic minor with a flat 7?

    Obviously, it depends on the song and the changes in the song. But, if you statistically looked at the sum total of the music in the world, which flavor of a minor scale would appear most often?

    (See, not one reference to an island.)

  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Best $20 bucks I've spent this year...
    Jazzbo's post almost made me spew juice on the keyboard.

    The 'bass as an oar' comment I've heard before-
    ...a salesman told my mom "no need to spend but so much on his first bass; he(me) might end up using it as an oar".
  10. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA

    I gotta go with Chris on this one. "What are some essential scales a beginner can focus on?" versus "What one scale would you play on a desert island?", (I can just imagine the irritation of your fellow castaways as you pluck out the whole tone scale all day, all night, all week, etc.), are two ENTIRELY different questions.

    I find many would do well to focus on really really hearing the major and natural minor scales, and their corresponding triads and seventh chords, at first. I mean, REALLY, hear them and get them under your fingers. The idea of modes, (obviously, beyond Ionian and Aeolian), at first is rarely grasped, and can be better understood, I think, once major and natural minor are strong.

    My post, although facetious, was a little true. I mean, so many have gotten a LOT of mileage out of the "blues" scales.
  11. You know, this thread prompted me to watch Castaway again. Good movie.
  12. You know what flush scales. On a Desert Island you would probally trying to live off of fish so you would be pretty sick of scales. Granted they probally would not be bass scales but . . .

    I think we should try to pick 2 notes or less and make it mean something. What ever style you play. Pick up a Meters disk and hear how funky GP jr. can be with a small handful of notes. It all comes down to feel and/or dynamics.
    How many people have tried to figure out a line by their favorite player? Thinking my favorite is a madman, he must be playing a ton of notes, only to find out that he was playing 3 once you relaxed and listened.
  13. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    well there are 3 types of minor scales, natural, harmonic, and melodic. Dont you think it would serve you well to learn them all? This way you could decide which on you would like to apply and when to apply it for a solo or what not?

    Natural Minor:

    R 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8

    Melodic Minor:

    1 2 b3 4 5 6 7 8

    Harmonic Minor:

    1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7 8

    BTW the natural minor has the b7 ;)
  14. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    If I had a nickel for every time that happened, I'd have a lot of nickels.
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The question is still somewhat moot - eventually they will all be more or less equally useful. I mentioned Natural minor because for pop music, it is the most "harmonic" of all the minor scales... which is to say that, with the exception of the V chord (which requires a natural 7 or "leading tone"), Natural minor is the minor scale from which the most common minor harmonies are drawn - which is why it is always given as the key signature in minor pieces or movements in Legit music.

    Also, from a fingering standpoint, the idea of a relative minor scale and/or position for every major key is extremely useful both musically and technically, especially with major and minor pentatonic and blues scales (which are relative of each other). These minor scale positions tend to move across the strings, while the major ones to move along the strings, which yields a completely different sound. The knowledge - both conceptual and physical - that these scales are interchangeable notewise comes in handy, as you can tailor the approach you use to the sound you're going for.
  16. sbasssman

    sbasssman Guest

    Jan 1, 2002
    >Dont you think it would serve you well to learn them all?

    Of course. I do *know* them all. The question is for max mileage for the beginner.

    > I mentioned Natural minor because for pop music.

    Ah, another piece of useful information among the chaff.

    Now, the thread can almost close when we do it this way. Name the most common minor use based on the type of music. Yes, I know it depends on the song, but statistically, what would you cite for:

    1. Jazz
    2. Pop
    3. Rock
    4. Blues
    5. Funk
    6. Metal
  17. sbasssman

    sbasssman Guest

    Jan 1, 2002
    > The question is for max mileage for the beginner

    I started my musical life as a drummer. I played for many years, and I got to an advanced level.
    I'll never forget the approach my excellent teacher took. He didn't make me play rudiments on a snare drum for 2 years before having fun. He showed me some basics, then threw me on the kit, and we played a bunch of songs. It was extremely exciting, and I can still remember that magic feeling playing behind a song for the first time. It was awesome. Then we got down to the important business of all the rudiments and building blocks.

    The moral is: if you are involved in teaching, and you know anything about succeeding with your students, you need to be able to bring them to that magic point as quickly as possible. Part of that is not overwhelming them with all the impressive theory - it's finding what they want to do, and showing them the fast way to get there and begin to Speak on their instrument. Then, if the student wants to get to the Next level, yes, there's no escaping learning Everything. But too many teachers - and some of you may be included - don't know how to help bring a person through that first magic wave. This thread is among the rare few at TB that can actually help.
  18. I would say the Major scale then. If a beginner knows a Major scale and builds upon that then they will probally end up playing and learning the modes without putting a label on the modes.
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Jazz - All of them, as derived from legit melodic minor (see "minor scales" threads from Newbie Links)
    Pop - Natural minor.
    Rock - Natural minor. Rock is just loud pop with an attitude, so you can practice the scale with an attitude if you want.
    Blues - Dorian minor, since the 6th is often used in line building.
    Funk - Dorian. See Pop/Rock relationship.
    Metal - "Gothic Minor". (Practice Natural minor while wearing all black and thinking dark, pretentious thoughts about doom lyrics you want to write. This may or may not involve a great deal of grimacing)
  20. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    You're an awfully presumptious one, aren't you? You asked a completely inane question, and then tried to turn it around as if you were really just trying present a golden nugget of information to all the teachers here, when really you're full of BS.

    "What are the most useful scales for pop music?" Wow, look! I can just take a student and give him the major scale and he'll be able to play along with songs and have fun and STAY INTERESTED and now my students will love me!

    Where do you come off?

    "This thread is among the rare few at TB that can actually help." Yes, again it's your sage wisdom that is helping to turn this mediocre website around from a sespool of ignorance to a utopian learning center. Thank you. Thank you. God bless you. You haven't earned any stripes, so back up. There are a lot of teachers here who do nothing but give their time, experience, wisdom, and help freely and regularly. You, my friend, are not one. And to come here with your little, oh I'll be nice and call it an anecdote, and pretend to assume you've got the answer to all of our problems? Ridiculous.

    Each person is different. What one person wants will not be what another wants. Perhaps some teachers don't have the desire to spoon feed their students every precious little thing they want. A good teacher may also be defined as one that not only listens to their students needs, but keeps them on the straight and narrow when they sometimes want to stray. When I was "auditioning" new teachers 3 years ago, I quickly steered clear of the ones playing "Portrait of Tracy" and Flea crap. Instead, I went with the one, that on the first lesson put AUTUMN LEAVES in front of me and made me just play. LISTENED TO ME! I don't want someone to show me the quick shortcuts and then release me to the world. I want a patient teacher that will take the time to help me along the path I want, which is dramatically different from what you wanted.

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