# A Big Scale Lesson for Bassists (begginners to pros)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by tomd03, Sep 11, 2008.

1. ### tomd03

Oct 8, 2004
Hey there,
Alot of you may know me from around these forums, as I've been here for a really long time, and I've showed a few lessons on these forums (they're in the archive section now). I decided to show you guys a new exercise, that some of you may already know, but some will not!
Now before I post this, I apologize to my college because I kind of "borrowed" 100% of the 2 octave portion of this exercise from them, but I think that it can be a big helping hand for those who want to learn it!

As a note, this lesson will get very intensive, you probably won't want to do all of it in the same sitting.

Alright,

This exercise focuses on Scales and Modes, eventually in two octaves.

Let's start simple:
A scale is simply a series of 7 notes which ascend/descend in either whole tones or semi tones to create different tonalities, and for the sake of this exercise, we are starting with the Ionian (Major) scale.

Using C as our root, a standard major scale is as follows:
Code:
```    tone      tone       semitone      tone       tone      tone       semitone.
C          D         E            F           G         A          B            C```

That is the basic major scale!
There are several different ways you can play this scale with your left hand, allow me to tab a few out:
(These all start on the first C on your A string)

The most commonly used major scale box is starting on your second finger (middle finger)
Code:
```G||----------------------|-------2----4----5----||
D||------------2----3----|--5-------------------||
A||--3----5--------------|----------------------||
E||----------------------|----------------------||```

The second most used is starting on your fourth finger, but involves a shift:
Code:
```G||----------------------|--0----2----4----5----||
D||-------0----2----3----|----------------------||
A||--3-------------------|----------------------||
E||----------------------|----------------------||```
Keep in mind that I only used the open string because we're in 3rd position, if we were in 8th position it would look like this:

Code:
```G||----------------------|------------------5----||
D||----------------------|--5----7----9----(10)--||
A||-------5----7----8----|-----------------------||
E||--8-------------------|-----------------------||```

And one more way,

One of the least common, but still used (especially in college) is starting on your first finger (in Stretch position):
Code:
```G||----------------------|------------4----5----||
D||-----------------3----|--5----7--------------||
A||--3----5----7---------|----------------------||
E||----------------------|----------------------||```
(To hit the 5th fret, you use your second or third finger, and your fourth finger to hit the 7th fret, keeping your first finger anchored on the 3rd fret the entire time)

You can use these boxes and move your major scale to any part of the neck starting on your E and A strings (because these patterns are 3 string patterns, if you started on your D or G strings you would have to shift to continue the scale).

Now for modes.

Modes are simply defined as scales, nothing more, nothing less. What most musicians, if not all musicians, most commonly associate modes with is the "Modes of a major scale." (or of a natural minor, or harmonic minor, or melodic minor, or whatever)

If you've heard that, and have no idea what it means, allow me to simplify it as easily as I can for you.

A mode is when you start with a major scale, and then begin playing the scale on scale degrees other than the root.

(using the C scale as an example)
The first "mode" of the C major scale is playing the exact same scale you just played, but instead of starting on C, you will start on D and continue to D using all the notes of the C major scale.

To show this in tab form I have put C Major Scale first, and its first mode following:

Code:
```G||----------------------|-------2----4----5----|----------------------|--2----4----5----7----||
D||------------2----3----|--5-------------------|-------2----3----5----|----------------------||
A||--3----5--------------|----------------------|--5-------------------|----------------------||
E||----------------------|----------------------|----------------------|----------------------||```
Easy, Huh?
We call this the Dorian Mode. The only difference between the standard Dorian mode and what I tabbed out is the position in which you would normally play it.

I will now tab out and label all of the modes how I play them, not necessarily the ''right'' way.

I. Ionian (Major Scale)
Code:
```G||----------------------|-------2----4----5----||
D||------------2----3----|--5-------------------||
A||--3----5--------------|----------------------||
E||----------------------|----------------------||```
II. Dorian (Natural Minor Scale with a natural 6th)
Code:
```G||----------------------|-------4----5----7----||
D||-----------------5----|--7-------------------||
A||--5----7----8---------|----------------------||
E||----------------------|----------------------||```
III. Phrygian (Natural Minor Scale with a minor 2nd)
Code:
```G||-----------------------|-------------7----9----||
D||------------------7----|--9----10--------------||
A||--7----8----10---------|-----------------------||
E||-----------------------|-----------------------||```
IV. Lydian (Major Scale with a sharp 4th)
Code:
```G||-----------------------|--------7----9----10----||
D||-------------7----9----|--10--------------------||
A||--8----10--------------|------------------------||
E||-----------------------|------------------------||```
V. Mixolydian (Major Scale with a minor 7th)
Code:
```G||-------------------------|--------9----10----12----||
D||--------------9----10----|--12---------------------||
A||--10----12---------------|-------------------------||
E||-------------------------|-------------------------||```
VI. Aeolian (Natural Minor Scale)
Code:
```G||--------------------------|--------------12----14----||
D||--------------------12----|--14----15----------------||
A||--12----14----15----------|--------------------------||
E||--------------------------|--------------------------||```
VII. Locrian (Natural Minor Scale with Minor 2nd and Minor 5th)
Code:
```G||--------------------------|--------------14----16----||
D||--------------------14----|--15----17----------------||
A||--14----15----17----------|--------------------------||
E||--------------------------|--------------------------||```
And that brings us back to Ionian.

You can apply this pattern to every single note available on your bass! From A to A.
The only limit is how many frets you have!

2. ### tomd03

Oct 8, 2004
Alright, now that we have covered the Major Scale and its Modes, let me move on to how you can apply this in two octaves.

Allow me to introduce you to a Tetrachord.
A Tetrachord is a 4 note pattern with a shift, allow me to tab out the 4 tetrachords we will be using.

*Note* I am including how you shift with each of these, the numbers after "Shift = #" are which fingers you use, and "--->" means the actual shift. The number which comes after "--->" is what finger you shift to, and you continue the pattern from there. *Note*

Major (Shift = 1 --> 1 3 4 3 1 ---> 1):
Code:
```G||-------------------------------------||
D||-------------------------------------||
A||--3----5----7----8----7----5----3----||
E||-------------------------------------||
```
Minor (Shift = 1 ---> 1 2 4 2 1 ---> 1):
Code:
```G||-------------------------------------||
D||-------------------------------------||
A||--3----5----6----8----6----5----3----||
E||-------------------------------------||```
Phrygian (Shift= 1 2 ---> 2 4 2 ---> 2 1):
Code:
```G||-------------------------------------||
D||-------------------------------------||
A||--3----4----6----8----6----4----3----||
E||-------------------------------------||```
Lydian (Shift= 1 3 ---> 2 4 2 ---> 3 1):
Code:
```G||-------------------------------------||
D||-------------------------------------||
A||--3----5----7----9----7----5----3----||
E||-------------------------------------||```
What is the point of this? Why am I showing you these tetrachords? Well allow me to explain.
Every scale is made up of two tetrachords, which gives us our 8 notes of a scale (7 + the octave). When we were doing the box style of scales, we were using two tetrachords, but without shifting. Now, I will tab out a C major scale using two tetrachords, and label which ones I used.

C Ionian (TC = Maj, Maj)
Code:
```G||-------------------------------------------||
D||----------------------5----7----9----10----||
A||--3----5----7----8-------------------------||
E||-------------------------------------------||```
As you can see, on the A string we use one tetrachord, and on the D string we use another! We use a pair of Major tetrachords, and this makes our Major scale.

The last part of this lesson is all you, I am no longer tabbing anything out, it is for you to practice and figure out on your own, I'm simply giving you the tools to do so.
This is a chart of every combination of tetrachords crossing 4 strings in two octaves, shifting on different stings, over all the modes of the major scale.

If you figure out how I connected the two tetrachords in the last example, it will be easy for you to figure out this chart. If you could not figure that out, keep trying! It is essential for this part.

Here is the chart.
*Note 1* Where it says ---, you continue the scale without shifting, and shift on the next string. *Note 1*
*Note 2* If one of the lines has a * next to it, that means you will have to hit a note that isn't covered by one of the tetrachords, but you can figure that out on your own. *Note 2*

Code:
```Ionian

E    A    D    G
Maj  Maj  Min  ---
Maj  Maj  ---  Maj
Maj  ---  Maj  Maj *
---  Lyd  Maj  Maj

Dorian

E    A    D    G
Min  Min  Phry ---
Min  Min  ---  Min
Min  ---  Min  Min *
---  Maj  Min  Min

Phrygian

E    A    D    G
Phry Phry Lyd  ---  *
Phry Phry ---  Phry *
Phry ---  Phry Phry
---  Min  Phry Phry *

Lydian

E    A    D    G
Lyd  Maj  Maj  ---
Lyd  Maj  ---  Maj
Lyd  ---  Lyd  Maj
---  Phry Lyd  Maj *

Mixolydian

E    A    D    G
Maj  Min  Min  ---
Maj  Min  ---  Min
Maj  ---  Maj  Min
---  Maj  Maj  Min

Aeolian

E    A    D    G
Min  Phry Phry --- *
Min  Phry --- Phry
Min  ---  Min Phry
---  Min  Min Phry *

Locrian

E    A    D    G
Phry Lyd  Maj  --- *
Phry Lyd  ---  Lyd *
Phry ---  Phry Lyd
--- Phry Phry  Lyd *```

Thank you for reading this wall of text, I really hope you got something out of it!!!
Again, thank you to my college for the Tetrachord Chart, it helped me immensely and I hope it helps those of you who use it!

Cheers, see you next time

- Al

Edit: There may be some errors in the Tetrachord chart, as far as *'s go, if anyone finds one, let me know and I'll check & change it

3. ### stratovani

Nov 18, 2007
Spencer, MA, USA
Excellent lesson. My only question is, is there a way you can do a printable version of this lesson, one I can print out and put on my music stand in my bedroom?

4. ### CommremanFaith, Family, Fitness, and FretsSupporting Member

Feb 12, 2005
New Jersey
Highlight and copy all of the text into a word document and then print!

5. ### Lefty Geek

Feb 13, 2006
NYC
Just make sure to use a fixed-width font.

6. ### JimmyMSupporting Member

Apr 11, 2005
Apopka, FL
Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
Good stuff, bro. I'm going to use that tetrachord stuff when I practice later today. They look like excellent shifting exercises.

7. ### Ívar ÞórólfssonMmmmmm...Supporting Member

Apr 9, 2001
Kopavogur, Iceland
Moved to General Instructions.

8. ### scootronSupporting Member

Jul 17, 2007
Moved to Texas
What would be a good fixed width font?

sorry for the dumb question

9. ### Tylos

Great lesson.

10. ### mrjim123Supporting Member

May 17, 2008
Indy
Try Courier or Courier New.

11. ### manutabora

Aug 14, 2007
Iowa City, IA
Very good and valuable material. Thanks for sharing.
I just have a quick question. I usually use the "stretch" position for playing scales (playing the root with first finger and doing three notes per string). You mentioned something about keeping your first finger anchored in place. What is the importance of this? It seems to me like that would be almost a bit limiting.
Again, thanks for sharing your knowledge

12. ### tomd03

Oct 8, 2004
Of course it's all depending on your hand size, but if you can avoid moving your first finger, it develops better muscle memory. If you aren't moving your first finger around, then you aren't losing your position if you look away - it's a reference. It's a good habit to get into if you're doing stretch

May 10, 2007
Sydney

14. ### Midianez

Aug 20, 2008
Poland
Interesting aproach with the tetrachord stuff, im gonna pracice this too, gr8 thx !

15. ### ninefingerbass

Jul 29, 2005
Walnut Creek, CA
I like the stretch position. I was talking to someone in the Navy Band, a bassist and he said that they barely use the stretch. It is not wrong just different. He was giving me some pointers for the school and audition. This will really be useful as well seeing that it's probably what's going to be taught. Thanks!!

16. ### Depth_Charge

Least common? Cool. I didn't know that. This is the fingering shown in my "Bass for Beginners" book by Sharon Ray.

Great lesson too.

Thanks.

17. ### notalent

May 15, 2008
XT, nitsuA
I loved the lesson! I have edited it and put it in a pdf format with some changes that made it easier. This will allow you to print it out (and makes it nicer).

Let me know what you think

File size:
139.9 KB
Views:
184
18. ### stratovani

Nov 18, 2007
Spencer, MA, USA
Excellent, notalent. Thanks so much for setting it up as a PDF. It's printed and will soon be on my music stand.

Oct 8, 2004