Basic theory Question

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bassnninja, Jun 12, 2020.

  1. Bassnninja


    Jan 5, 2018
    For two weekd iv been slowelt try to learn some theory. I figured I should know it havinf played as long as I have. Iv been using scotts bass lessons website.

    Heres my question.

    C major scale. The pattern is C-Root then ,W W H W W W H
    A: 3 5
    D: 2 3 5
    G: 2 4 5

    What happen when I apply the same Pattern to say a D root note two frets up?
    A: 5 7
    D: 4 5 7
    G: 4 6 7

    Is that a D major scale? Is it the Dorian mode of the C major scale? Is it something else entirely?

    What I have been doing is applying that same pattern to every note in the C major scale up and down the fret board..Just trying to make dure im practicing wgat I THINK I know correctly.
    Smooth_bass88, dkelley and jamro217 like this.
  2. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    It is D Major.
    The notes are D, E, F#, G, A, B and C#
    Febs and jamro217 like this.
  3. Bassnninja


    Jan 5, 2018
    ok thanks
    SteveCS likes this.
  4. Playing the same pattern starting with D as the root is a D Major scale. That "pattern" can be moved anywhere on the neck to produce a major scale from whichever root you choose. It is not the Dorian mode.

    Modes are really quite simple to understand. For example, take the notes of the C Major scale: C D E F G A B C. To employ the modes, the notes of your major scale are your palette of notes for constructing all of the modes. So the Dorian mode of C would be from D to D using only the notes of the C Major scale. D Dorian = D E F G A B C D. E Phrygian = E F G A B C D E. And on and on.

    Hope this helps . . .
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
  5. kevindahl


    Aug 21, 2006
    It would also be beneficial for you to know the names of the notes as well. There are different ways(shapes/patterns) to play scales. Starting on the root with your middle finger like the example you gave, starting on the root with your pinky and starting on the root with your index. Practicing this will help you become more familiar with your neck.
  6. Bassnninja


    Jan 5, 2018
    Thank you both for the information.

    I will try that, changing the finger on the root.
  7. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    Little long, but, is a starting place.

    Here is some more things I wish I had when I first started. Print this off and file it away in your reference folder. What, you do not have a reference folder? Start one.

    OK -- first things first. Until we understand the Major and minor scale -- which notes are in each scale and the difference in a scale and a key -- most of the stuff you read on the internet will only take you so far before a brick wall comes into the picture. Those Internet bits and pieces of information assume you already understand this, and with out this basic knowledge everything will keep being Jell-O.

    No way you can remember all this. File it away so when you need it you know where to go get it.

    How can the following help you? The band director says; "Next one is Kiss Ole Kate, we'll do it in G ready 1 & 2 & 3..... OK you need to know the notes and chords in the scale/key of G and have some sheet music or chord charts on Kiss Ole Kate that you can use.

    The melody instruments will play notes of the G scale and the harmony instruments (which we are one) will play notes of the chords made from the G scale notes. So it kinda helps if you know what those notes and or chords are -- or have some way of remembering then.

    Having the notes of the Major and Natural minor scale all on one page is hard to find. That is why I've listed them below.

    Major Scale Chart 221-2221 Major Key I,ii,iii,IV,V,vi,viidim
    Interval number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    C major scale.....C D E F G A B........................Notice how each scale has different
    G Major scale.....G A B C D E F#......................notes. C has no sharps or flats and
    D Major scale.....D E F# G A B C#....................the E major scale has 4 sharps. I've
    Etc, etc. ............A B C# D E F# G#.................given you some memory pegs below
    ........................E F# G# A B C# you will not have to rely upon this
    ........................B C# D# E F# G# A#.............scale chart all the time.
    ........................F# G# A# B C# D# E#
    ........................C# D# E# F# G# A# B#
    Now the flats......F G A Bb C D E
    ........................Bb C D Eb F G A
    ........................Eb F G Ab Bb C D
    ........................Ab Bb C Db Eb F G
    ........................Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C
    ........................Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F
    ........................Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb

    Natural Minor Scale Chart 212-2122 Natural Minor Key i,iidim,III,iv,v,VI,VII
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    A B C D E F G
    E F# G A B C D
    B C# D E F# G A
    F# G# A B C# D E
    C# D# E F# G# A B
    G# A# B C# D# E F#
    D# E# F# G# A# B C#
    A# B# C# D# E# F# G#
    D E F G A Bb C
    G A Bb C D Eb F
    C D Eb F G Ab Bb
    F G Ab Bb C Db Eb
    Bb C Db Eb F Gb Ab
    Eb F Gb Ab Bb Cb Db
    Ab Bb Cb Db Eb Fb Gb

    Print this off and use it as a reference as you study the rest of this post.

    Everything we do in Western music (Western part of the World) is based on the Major scale. To understand it we really have to start with the chromatic scale. -- C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab, A, A#/Bb, B, C.
    12 sounds that start over again at the 13th (C) with another octave of the same. Understand C#/Db is one sound, thus one note with two names. They are the in-between sounds - the black keys on the piano. Notice it's not every other one -- E does not have a # or sharped note nor does B. Why not? That will drive you crazy, just accept it and keep going.

    At the begining of the Major Scale Chart notice the "phone number" 221-2221. This phone number is the tone, half tone structure I'm sure you have heard of. I remember the phone number easier than Tone, Tone, Half Tone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Half Tone. Use which ever one lifts your kilt. This phone number is your memory peg to help you decide what notes are in each Major scale. Take any note - let's use C to start with. Apply the phone number looking at the chromatic scale - C go up two notes to D now go up two more notes to E, now go up one note to F continue on going up two notes to G then two more to A then two more to B then one to C.

    That is the C Major Scale. C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C. Now do that same thing for the G scale and you end up with one sharp note, the F#. The D scale ends up with two sharps the F# you already have and the C#. Continue on and you will have built the full Major scale -- just by applying that "magic phone number"

    Next thing written at the top of the Major Scale chart is something called Major Key I,ii,iii,IV,V,vi,viidim,I. --- Upper case will be major chords and the lower case will be minor chords. That is the key structure cheat sheet, memory peg, what ever you want to call it -- that will tell you what chords are in a certain key. Remember scales have notes and keys have chords. That is no exactly correct, but, for now close enough for our study. Let's use the D scale and find what chords are in the key of D.

    Structure.. I,. ii,... iii,... IV, V,.vi, viidim,..... I
    D scale =.. D, E,.. F#,... G, A,. B,.. C#,....... D
    Key of D = D, Em, F#m, G, A, Bm, C#dim,.. D --- notice the F# note becomes a F#m chord. and the E note is now a Em chord. A key will have three Major chords, three minor chords and one diminished chord. Every key will have this same number of Major, minor and diminished chords.

    The band director says; "OK, the next song will be in D". The solo instruments will select their solo notes from the D scale and the accompaniment instruments will use the key of D for their chords. And Yes if the bassists will be playing accompaniment he/she will gather their notes from the active chord for their bass lines. R-R-R-R or R-5 or what ever fits with this song.

    Now look at the minor scale chart. Notice the phone number is different and the key structure is also different. Apply these the same way as you did for the Major scale -- they being different is what gives the minor sound.

    Notice something else -- the first column of the minor scale is the same as the 6th column in the Major scale. The 2nd minor scale column is the same as the 7th Major scale column. The third minor scale column is the same as the 1st Major scale column, etc, etc, etc. Just something to keep in mind when you start studing relative minors etc.

    Some memory pegs that will help you remember things on the fly:
    • See God Destroy All Earth By F#iry C#aos. Is the order of scales that have sharps in them. C has none, G has 1, D has 2, E has 4, etc.
    • Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Birds. Is the order of the sharps in the sharp scales. C has none, G has one the F# (fat) D has 2, the F# and the C# (cats), etc.
    • Farmer Brown Eats Apple Dumplings Greasly Cooked. Is the order of the scales that have flats in them. F has one, the Bb, Bb keeps itself and adds the Eb. Eb keeps itself, the Bb and adds the Ab. Notice how it builds from Farmer Brown Eats Apples, etc.
    Use these memory pegs:

    See God Destroy All Earth By F#iry C#aos
    Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Birds
    Farmer Brown Eats Apple Dumplings Greasly Cooked

    The lymiric See God Destroy... and Farmer Brown .... can be used to remember the Circle of 5ths order which can be used to help you with chord progressions.

    I've just given you the basic foundation of Western Music.
    • The Major Scale and which scales have what notes.
    • What notes are sharped and which notes are flatted.
    • The Major Key structure and which chords are in each key.
    • Which chords are Major chords, which are minor chords and which one is the minor diminished chord.
    We really only do three things with our instruments. We make either, scales, chords or arpeggios. Perhaps you now understand scales and chords a little better ------ now go on the Internet and learn how to use scales and chords. Dirt simple logic; scales are for the melody, chords are for the harmony. If the melody notes and the notes of the chords share some of the same notes we get harmonization. That is how music thinks.

    Quiz; Under a C major chord what bass line will fit while that C chord is active?
    Answer; the notes of the C major chord. Question; what are the notes of the C major chord? Answer; the Root, 3rd scale degree and the 5th scale degree, i.e. C, E, G notes. Where on your fretboard is the C, E and G notes? And this brings us back to my first post.

    I glued a picture of the Circle of 5th on my first instrument so I could sneak a peak when ever I needed some help. Help yourself to one of these; of 5ths&tbm=isch&imgil=-Cp5KlJsP5zt8M:;I8U63V4ACDlOIM;;I8U63V4ACDlOIM;;;1024;1024

    It's a circle - put the scale name, or tonic chord name you want at 12:00 O'clock. The three major chords, or scale notes are outside the circle. The three minor chords or scale notes are inside the circle and the diminished chord or scale note is inside just to the right of the last minor chord. Chords or notes works the same.

    Have fun, it is a journey. Little today, little more tomorrow... When you are comfortable with this it then will be time to study chord progressions and harmony. First things first...

    OK want more? Web/Music Theory - Basic Level.pdf Thirty minutes a day for the next month.

    Have fun.
  8. Bassnninja


    Jan 5, 2018
    Wow, thanks so much. When I get off work I will copy all that.

    Thanks everybody.
  9. Wow, that post by Malcolm was pretty comprehensive. Music and would also be great places to go for a logical general (not bass specific) presentation of basic theory materials.

    The faster you learn the pitch name locations on your bass the faster you’ll progress. Tab complicates things in my opinion since there are many fingering choices you can utilize even for something like a C-major scale. I can see tab being useful at first but it’ll never have the benefit of communicating rhythm, articulations, dynamics etc. in the precise ways that standard notation does.
  10. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    Supper is over, the dishes are washed and put up. Here is something else that may come in handy:

    Might as well give you some more. Fearceol mentioned chord tones. Yes that is what we play 95% of the time. Here is another cut and paste paper for your reference file.

    My old standby chart of generic bass lines using the major scale box as a Rosetta stone.

    Bass Patterns based upon the Major Scale box.

    Major Scale Box.
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    You may recognize this pattern with dots.
    Adding the numbers lets the pattern come alive.

    Cmaj7 chord coming up in the song. Find a C note on the 3rd or 4th string and put this box's R over that C note. Then play the "spelling" for the Cmaj7 chord. That spelling is listed below and it is R-3-5-7. If you wanted to play the C major scale, that spelling is R-2-3-4-5-6-7.

    Basic Chord Spellings
    • Major Triad = R-3-5 for the C chord.
    • Minor Triad = R-b3-5 for the Cm chord.
    • Diminished Chord = R-b3-b5 for the Cdim chord.
    7th Chord Spellings
    • Maj7 = R-3-5-7 for the Cmaj7 chord.
    • Minor 7 = R-b3-5-b7 for the Cm7 chord.
    • Dominant 7 = R-3-5-b7 for the C7 chord.
    • ½ diminished = R-b3-b5-b7 for the Cm7b5 chord.
    • Full diminished = R-b3-b5-bb7 for the C with the little o - no strike through.
    See a chord and play it's chord tones. As every key will have three major, three minor and one diminished chord it's a good idea to get your major, minor and diminished bass line chord tones into muscle memory so when you see a chord your fingers just know what will work. Now the song may only give you enough room for the root, or root five - adapt and get as many chord tones into your bass line as needed. Root on 1 and a steady groove from the other chord tones plus something to call attention to the chord change is what we do.

    Scale Spellings Yep, gotta do our scales so our fingers know where the notes are and our ears get used to the good and bad sounds. Scales are a right of passage thing. Got to know them, however, chord tones is what we get paid to play.
    • Major Scale = R-2-3-4-5-6-7 Home base
    • Major Pentatonic = R-2-3-5-6 Leave out the 4 & 7
    • Natural Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 Major scale with the 3, 6 & 7 flatted.
    • Minor Pentatonic = R-b3-4-5-b7 Leave out the 2 & 6.
    • Blues = R-b3-4-b5-5-b7 Minor pentatonic with the blue note b5 added.
    • Harmonic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-7 Natural minor with a natural 7.
    • Melodic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-6-7 Major scale with a b3.
    Let the major scale be your home base then change a few notes and you have something different. No need to memorize a zillion patterns. Let the major scale pattern be your go to pattern - then adapt/adjust from there.

    Generic Notes - for your bass line.
    • The root, five and eight are generic (R-5-8-5) and fit most any chord. Remember the diminished has a flatted 5.
    • The 3 is generic to all major chords. So R-3-5-3 will fit under any major chord.
    • The b3 is generic to all minor chords. And R-b3-5-8 will fit under any minor chord. Why the 8? Well the 8 is just another root in the next octave.
    • The 7 is generic to all maj7 chords. Yep, R-3-5-7 fits nicely.
    • The b7 is generic to all dominant seventh and minor seventh chords. G7 = R-3-5-b7 or Gm7 = R-b3-5-b7.
    • The 6 is neutral and adds color, help yourself to 6’s. Love the sound of R-3-5-6 with a major chord.
    • The 2 and 4 make good passing notes. Don’t linger on them or stop on them, keep them passing. Why? If you are playing chord tones about the only chord that has a 2 or 4 in it's makeup is a Sus or Add chord, and you will not run into them until you've played for several years.
    • In making your bass line help yourself to those notes, just use them correctly.
    • Roots, fives, eights and the correct 3 & 7 will play a lot of bass.
    OK fine, how to use all that I know is the question. How about some generic riffs and or grooves:

    |6667 8555 5668|5538 6333 3378| and the ole R-5-8-5 will fit most anywhere.

    Fake chord sheet music will be a friend. Let Google call up some fake chord sheet music for you using these search words; chords, name of the song. For example: Home On The Range lyrics chords | Gene Autry

    Have fun.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
  11. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    It's D major -- D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#. If you look at sheet music, you'll see key of D written with 2 sharps in the key signature, they're on those # notes, F# and C#. You can slide that same pattern up and down the neck to get each major scale depending on the root note: Bb starting on on the 1st fret using open strings, B starting on the 2nd fret, C on the 3rd, C# on the 4th, D on the 5th, etc. til you run out of neck.

    Dorian mode of C Major would mean you're playing the same notes as the C Major scale just starting on the 2nd note, D -- D, E, F[natural], G, A, B, C[natural].
  12. nnnnnn


    Oct 27, 2018
    Sure. That's why nobody ever argues about how to use them. Oh wait...

    It is very simple to understand what notes are in any given mode, I'll give you that.
  13. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    43ManSquamish likes this.
  14. You will get a lot of mileage out of studying this... just look up "circle of fifths".

    Attached Files:

  15. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Well I did give the "feed him for a day" answer, because that is what the OP needed to know. What I've 'discovered' with these threads is it's best just to answer the OP question and to leave the data overload to the rest. The data overload will come, but it will be full of contradiction, error, colloquialisms, and holes. For example, scales to not have 'Roots', yet already the 'Root' of the scale has been mentioned at least twice in only 14 posts, so now the OP and anyone else reading this thread will go away mis-informed, probably forever.

    This thread will become a pissing contest. More importantly, it will present information in an unstructured and disorganised way that will just confuse, overwhelm or even discourage the OP, who in this case is clearly right at the start of his/her music theory journey.
    JRA, rollie 55 and Trabeen like this.

  16. Holy

    It isn't often I find someone who completely out types me in one post just to try and help one guy out.

    Coffee much? LoL... that's what gives me energy at least.

    Awesome post, although TLDR all of it since I'm good on theory .... but i'm very impressed with your contribution
  17. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    If you want to learn theory, throw out the tab and learn to read music.
  18. Joshua Pickenpaugh

    Joshua Pickenpaugh Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2001
    The fingering pattern you have there is for a Major scale, so when you move your fingering pattern to D it is the D Major scale. Move it to any other note and it is a Major scale starting on whatever note you started on.
  19. geophreigh

    geophreigh Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2019
    Good job starting with Scott’s Bass Lessons. He has quite a few very methodical courses that will give you proper music theory as applied to the bass in an easy-to-access/process manner.

    Phil Mann’s Functional Theory courses are excellent. Download all the PDFs and take notes yourself. If you’re like me, you’ll go back to your notes repeatedly.

    For theory, I also enjoyed Scots Harmonic Layering course and his Playing Chords on Bass course. Once again... pages of notes for future reference.

    The courses on SBL are great because you can revisit them as often as you like. A lot of instruction on theory is like trying to drink from a firehouse. Scott & Phil slow it way down so it can be processed in bite-sized chunks and easily-accessed for future reference.
  20. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    It will really help you develop knowledge of theory if you get off tab, so you can just refer to notes, rather than fret numbers. It makes transposing much easier.
    HolmeBass likes this.