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Beginner question on scale diagrams

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Big Bottom Bob, Apr 14, 2019.

  1. Big Bottom Bob

    Big Bottom Bob

    Feb 22, 2018
    I picked up the Hal Leonard Bass Scale Finder book. I'm a little confused on how to play the patterns. The first pattern for each mode starts on the root note, so this makes sense to me. However, the first note on the other patterns is not the root note. Am I supposed to just start on the note they have at the beginning of the pattern? Its still the same scale/mode, but starting on a note other than the root seems strange to me, I'm used to always starting on the root note. Am I missing something?

  2. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    The modes are just start/stop points along the major scale. D Dorian (the 2nd mode), for example, has the same notes has C Ionian (the major scale/1st mode), E Phrygian (the 3rd mode), F Lydian (the 4th mode), etc. While D Dorian and C Ionian are the same notes they are not the same scales. Each mode puts off its own vibe and has its own respective root note.

    Hopefully this helps. I am not familiar with the book in question so I may be missing something.
    Big Bottom Bob likes this.
  3. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    "Star Spangled Banner" and "Amazing Grace" start on the 5th scale degree. "Mary Had a Little Lamb" starts on the 3rd. "The Entertainer" starts on the 2nd. And so forth.

    I am not familiar specifically with the Hal Leonard book, but if the author is advising you to practice scale variations starting from every degree of the scale, in my opinion that is a useful exercise and you should give it a try. :)
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
    Big Bottom Bob likes this.
  4. Big Bottom Bob

    Big Bottom Bob

    Feb 22, 2018
    Thanks, I was able to figure out that each subsequent pattern starts on the next note in the scale. So for C major, the first pattern starts on C, second pattern starts on D, third pattern starts on E, etc. So there are seven patterns for each mode.
  5. Yes, that is known as the Relative way. Where the notes stay the same and you just start on a different note for each mode.

    There is another way; the Parallel way is where the key, or root, stays the same and the notes change. Either way ends up with the seven modes of the Major scale. I think, and play, scales, chord tones, modes, licks, etc. in the parallel way and the following is an example of the Major Scale Box Pattern used with the Parallel way:

    Major Scale Box.​
    ……... Index...Middle..Ring...Little
    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.
    Scale Spellings Let's get the scales out of the way first, then we will get into the spelling for the seven modes. With this parallel method we do not have to learn a zillion different dot patterns all we need is to memorize the above pattern then know the spelling of what we want to play. Place the pattern's R over the root note of what we want and then play the spelling for what we want. For example if I wanted to play the pentatonic minor scale I would use the natural minor scale pattern and leave out the 2 and 6. If I wanted to play the Dorian mode I would use the same natural minor scale pattern but here I would sharp the b6 into a natural 6. Read on.....

    One pattern and then use the spelling you need.
    • 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.
    Now the Parallel Modes:

    • Ionian R-2-3-4-5-6-7 same as the Major scale.
    • Lydian R-2-3-#4-5-6-7 same as the Major scale with the 4th sharped.
    • Mixolydian R-2-3-4-5-6-b7 same as the Major scale with the 7th flatted.
    • That takes care of the major modes, now the minor modes...
    • Aeolian R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 same as the natural minor scale.
    • Dorian R-2-b3-4-5-6-b7 same as the natural minor scale with the b6 raised to a natural 6.
    • Phrygian R-b2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 and here we flat the 2nd.
    • Locrian R-b2-b3-4-b5-b6-b7 and here we flat the 2 and the 5.

    Same pattern, we just adjust the "spelling" for what we want. Want to use the Lydian mode just take the major scale pattern and sharp the 4th. Want a Middle Eastern sounding mode? Phrygian will give you that, so, use the natural minor scale pattern and add a flat 2.

    Use either method you like. Have to add the following. Sooner or later you should spend some time with the use of modal vamps. Most of what we do with chord progressions is tonal. To let the modal sound develop you will need to be looking at modal vamps. This can wait for later. How much later? A bunch. Unless the guys are asking you for lead solos there is really no need for a beginning bassist to get off into modes. But, as you asked.

    I suggest you copy and paste this somewhere, as it normally takes a couple of readings to sink in.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  6. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Can people PLEASE stop calling the Tonic the Root. It's wrong, misleading, lazy and irritating, especially for beginners who some day will have to unlearn this stuff. Roots belong in chords, not scales.
  7. seilerbird


    Apr 12, 2012
    I disagree. Scales are what chords are built from. No confusion calling the tonic the root. Same thing.
  8. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    If seasoned hacks what to argue over who is the most misinformed, that's fine, and at times quite entertaining. But when a beginner comes asking for help, I think we should do them a favour and stick to the facts.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
  9. If calling "the tonic" by the generally accepted term of "the Root" automatically makes someone a hack in your eyes then there's a LOT of hacks out there that can play, and know theory, really, really well. I actually haven't heard anyone other than pretentious wannabe artistes in university refer to "the tonic" unless they are passive/aggressively attempting to show off their superiority.

    (I actually don't believe so about my second sentance...... just making a point) ;)
    Voce Moody likes this.
  10. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    And therein lies the problem.

    If by 'generally accepted' you mean 'widely disseminated misinformation' or 'dumbed down for the masses', then I agree. But someone who cannot distinguish root from tonic does not know theory really, really well, no matter how well they play. This is basic 101 stuff, and we owe it to beginners to get it right.
  11. Lets play nice.
    Jhengsman, Spin Doctor and Mushroo like this.
  12. Upstate SC Bass

    Upstate SC Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 13, 2009
    Greenville SC
    First off
    Think of it as there are only five positions to play the 7 modes
    The 3 and 4 share one position
    Also the 7 and 8 scale degree share one position and so forth
    That cuts it down some
    Hope that makes sense

    When I am in a minor mode I am still thinking the scale notes from the major key
    In othe words in A minor. All the notes from the C major are good
    And then some chromatic approach notes and passing tones etc

    The main thing besides knowing you scale is knowing your chords and all the chord tones

    Chord tones always will work!

    And then your major and minor Pentatonics
    I treat the 2nd and 6th scale degree of a major chord almost like a chord tone you just rest on a chord tone more
    BAG likes this.
  13. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Let's stick to facts and nice comes easy...
  14. I have been playing scales since I was 12. And suggest to bass players and guitar players to learn your scales, then learn the scale starting from a note somewhere in the middle. Not all songs start or end on the root note of the key signature of the song. Same for scales, sometimes you will need to start it on the 6th note then go down to accommodate the chord changes
    Upstate SC Bass likes this.
  15. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I give up...
  16. When a song is in the key of G, G is the root note
  17. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    No. G is the tonic of the key. It also happens to be the root note of the tonic (or I) chord.
    Febs likes this.
  18. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Please do.
    BAG likes this.
  19. To keep it s
    Let me simplify. If the music says G chord, play a G. Scales come in handy when filling in. Just watch for major and minor chords
  20. I think for bass, especially beginners, chords and chord shapes matter more than scales UNTIL you want to start to play melodic improvisation. That said, I don't want to diminish the value of understanding how chords are built from the tones of the scales and how a minor scale is different from a major scale.

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