1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Bassy Bill's Beginners' Basic guide to scales and modes

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BassyBill, Feb 21, 2010.


  1. Mrdak

    Mrdak uber bass geek baby!

    Feb 1, 2006
    Middle GA
    Man oh man, this is a great thread.......... bump
     
  2. For me the light bulb turned on in the first page. Thanks Bill
     
  3. mambo4

    mambo4

    Jun 9, 2006
    Dallas
    I actually think similarly about modes, but use a simpler shorthand, based on the Major/Ionian scale as "Normal".
    Each mode's "pattern" is thought of in terms of how I must alter a major scale to get the mode:

    Ionian: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (the major scale)
    Dorian: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
    Phrygian: 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
    Lydian: 1 2 3 b4 5 b6 7
    Mixolydian: 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7
    Aeolian: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
    Locrian: 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7
     
  4. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I've been so busy recently that I've been unable to get back to this - I'll try to get something posted this weekend. I'm glad to hear that so many folks have seen this as useful.
     
  5. ryco

    ryco

    Apr 24, 2005
    97465
    Yeah, that's a mental shorthand I use as well.

    I should have highlighted my post this way, because this was the "mode" of thought, the main emphasis, I was trying to point out:

    I put the M & m steps in as a way for someone to double check what I was trying to relate. But yeah, trying to find a simple way to explain a thought on the web where someone doesn't interpret it another way is a challenge -- for me anyway!

    I was trying to show that one doesn't have to think of any mode as necessarily being related to any key. They can just be taken at face value as scales unto their own sound.
    I see modes as a passive thing. They happen as a result of the way a diatonic key is laid out - whether it be the "normal standard regular" keys, or the more exotic ones ala Melodic Minor, Harmonic Minor, etc.
    I don't really apply modes when I'm playing music like "paste a Dorian over ii" or "Mixolydian over V7" unless that is the specific thing I want at the moment, or is an experiment I'm trying to use. The stuff that makes music interesting is the chromaticisms and alterations. Playing a Phyrgian Minor E scale over iii in a Key of C Major song may sound a little bland because it doesn't add much tension or color.

    One interesting thing about the "regular" modes is the tritone in each of them points to the main Major key.

    What you posted is really good for playing all the diatonic modes starting on the same root (ie C Ionian, C Dorian, C Phygian, etc...) which is a GREAT exercise! It really lets one hear how altering one or two tones changes the sound between mode scales.
     
  6. peledog

    peledog

    Jul 9, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    What about modes on a minor scale?

    Say, Cminor?

    C-D-Eb-F-G-A-B (Bb descending) - C

    Dorian would be D-Eb-F-G-A-B-C-D?

    I know the minor mode would be aeolian (based on C major) or dorian or phrygian just because of the flat 3

    Melodic minor scale and its modes

    Just got a bit lost reading the above link.

    This thread however, is clear as a Caribbean ocean! Thanks!
     
  7. mambo4

    mambo4

    Jun 9, 2006
    Dallas
    Minor scales are a bit more complicated than the major scale as there are various kinds. I'll just clarify a few points:
    1.) The scale C D Eb F G A B is the melodic minor scale, not usually referred to as simply a C minor scale. Typically "C minor" will be thought of as C natural minor (aka C aeolian)
    2.) "Dorian" always refers to the same scale, there is no "dorian" mode of a minor scale. Simply starting on the second note of any scale will not make it "dorian"...only the second note of a major/ionian scale is Dorian.
    3.) Because the natural minor scale is itself a mode of the ionian major scale, it basically shares the same modes and no special names or terms are associated with it.
    4.) The harmonic and melodic(ascending) minor scales have had the modal approach applied at times, but I have never seen explicit greek names applied to them as is the case with ionian et al.
     
  8. peledog

    peledog

    Jul 9, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    Thanks mambo.

    1) If I recall my theory correctly, it's the minor scale, descending different from the ascending? (I think you refer to this point in # 4)
    2) Starting on the second, the 3rd (2nd interval) note is flattened - I guess you can't do that based on a 'minor' scale since the 2nd interval would already be flattend (semitone).
    3) So A minor shares the same modes as C major?
    4) I don't I've ever seen anyone refer to modes based on a minor scale - hence my question.

    I think you cleared it up though. The more I think I have my head wrapped around it, the less I feel I know, LOL.

    This thread, though, put into simple terms what two books on the matter couldn't drill into my head. So, it's never to late to learn, and have the lightbulb in my head go on.

    Thanks again.
     
  9. P-BassPat

    P-BassPat

    Oct 25, 2008
    Wow! Thanks bassybill :)
     
  10. samurai1993

    samurai1993

    Jun 6, 2010
    Chile
    This is great stuff! I have been so much time focusing on modding and construction of instruments, that I had almost forgotten to improve my playing. This little appresto just made my day! Thanks!
     
  11. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I just stumbled on this and it made me smile as I read how useful some folks found it back when I first did it. I never got round to taking it further, which is a shame (or a blessing, depending on what you thought of it at the time).

    Maybe I should try to pick it up again and share a few more things that have helped me play bass a little bit over the past 40 years or so. The thread is, as the OP says, very much aimed at novice players as I'm not in a position to help out folks who are way more advanced.
     
  12. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Note that some of the text formatting has become corrupted, probably due to the change to the new forum software. It's still understandable, though, I think.
     
  13. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    So Bill... whyon'tchu make this a sticky man? :cool:
     
  14. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I try to avoid stickying too many threads because of "clutter". I might add it to the FAQ sticky if folks think it would be helpful to have it there.
     
  15. T.Rex

    T.Rex

    Sep 19, 2015
    Canada




    I haven't read everything you've written on this post although i will later tonight because i don't have much time at the moment but i do have a question based on info i got from anthony wellingtons clinic video about modes on 4, 5, 6 and 7 string bass, basically there's a pattern that goes on on major and minor scales and i only assume modes for major and minor too and the pattern is Wholestep wholestep
    wholestep wholestep
    wholestep wholestep
    half step wholestep
    half step wholestep
    wholestep half step
    wholestep half step
    and from what i understand at the moment that can tell me how an entire scale plays from just the very first finger pattern on the first 4 frets and open string, the reason he shows it and teaches it on a seven string bass is you can only see that whole pattern take place in order from bottom to top (in pitch) on the fret bored, so basically if you play that pattern from the B string to the high string above the C string (because its a seven string) then you get whatever mode, he also mentions it works on a 4, 5 and 6 string bass too because if you just stop that pattern at whatever your high string is then you get a mode, my question (if you understand that and i didn't make a mistake) is how do i know what mode i just played on my 5 string when i stop at the G string? assuming i know what my mode names are and i guess what order they go in ( if there is an order because im not sure) i also probably have more questions i just cant remember them at the moment, thanks for listening and I'm looking forward to a response

    (also i forgot to mention that when you go into the halfstep whole step and up to the last wholestep halfstep you go up in pitch a single fret
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
  16. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Memorize the mode names and what order they go in. Also (equally important!) learn what each mode sounds like. This will clear up much of your confusion. Study and practice, if you want to really understand the concept. Good luck! :)
     
  17. AMp'D.2play

    AMp'D.2play Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    NJ
    That Ant Wellington lesson was very enlightening. I thought when I saw it a few months back, he went over the mode names starting on each "pattern". Perhaps not. I could go with a give a man a fish/teach a man to fish reply, but since I'm in the holiday spirit, I'll answer your question. ;)

    Firstly, here's a hint, though. The first 3 are the major modes, right? Why? They all start - wholestep wholestep - so have a major 3rd:

    Mixolydian
    Ionian
    Lydian
    Locrian
    Phrygian
    Aeolian
    Dorian
     
  18. T.Rex

    T.Rex

    Sep 19, 2015
    Canada


    so what do you mean by "so have a major 3rd"? and by "the first 3 are the major modes" are you talking about the first 3 wholesteps i talked about earlier?
     
  19. AMp'D.2play

    AMp'D.2play Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    NJ
    Play 3 notes per string as Anthony Wellington's exercise describes - which reminds me, btw .. you should check out the thread on Pacman's sure-fire scale practice method .. since it's very appropriate to Anthony's video. On the first string, you're playing a whole step followed by another whole step. This is an interval of a major 3rd. (i.e., C to D is a whole step; D to E is a whole step. therefore, C to E is a major 3rd) Come to think of it, also do a search for any of the posts by username JTE where the subject is stacking thirds. Another great source of relevant info.

    Anyway, the first 3 strings in Anthony's "patterns" have 2 whole steps. So whichever string (of these first 3) is your starting point, you will start with a major 3rd. Which is why I wrote that the 1st 3 modes using that format are major (Mixo, Ionian, Lydian). As he describes, the 7-string pattern repeats as a cycle, so when you go to the next string's pattern, the one prior to it moves to the "bottom of the list".

    I'll start the ball rolling on your 5 string, but as JTE often mentions, grab some paper & a pencil and actually write it all out (also remember, whenever you play the last whole-whole pattern, you shift up a fret on the very next string):

    whole-whole
    whole-whole
    whole-whole
    (shift) half-whole
    half-whole

    playing 3 notes per string in this way gives you the mixolydian mode.

    ok, now the 1st pattern moves to the bottom of the list, and you start the patterns with the 2nd line:

    whole-whole
    whole-whole
    (shift) half-whole
    half-whole
    whole-half

    this gives you the Major scale, or Ionian mode.

    and so on and so forth .. let's skip ahead to the 6th pattern (no particular reason, only to demonstrate how the patterns cycle around again):

    whole-half
    whole-half
    whole-whole <---- back around to the top
    whole-whole
    whole-whole

    this gives you the Aeolian mode. because the pattern on the 1st string is a whole step followed by a half step, you get a minor 3rd interval between the 1st and 3rd notes.

    But memorizing patterns are one thing. As mentioned above, learn how each one sounds.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.