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Common Rock Scales?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Thulsa, Sep 27, 2002.

  1. What are the most common scales used in Rock? I know the question has probably been answered before, but my search attempt did not turn up any results that really answered that.
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yup - the scales used in rock are pretty "common"!!

  3. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    'Rock' is kinda broad and covers a whole load of stuff. As Rock is eclectic, it has borrowed scales & harmonies from various other styles - Blues, Jazz, Classical, even Eastern music. Aside from major and minor (natural minor, or Aeolian in particular), blues scale, and pentatonic are common ones - but it goes a lot further than just those.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yeah but 99% of rock guitarists solo using just the blues scale!! ;)
  5. Well, as someone who plays primarily rock, which scales should I concentrate on. Granted, I will eventually want to learn all scales, but I need to start someplace, and I would like to start with the ones that will do me the most good in the music I play.
  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah, and most of them should be tied up and forced to learn G# locrian until they beg for mercy! :)

    Off the top of my head, major, natural minor, blues, pentatonic. Anyone feel free to correct me or add to this.
  7. The Lydian and Phrygian scale.

    Start with them, fundamently used in classic rock songs.
  8. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    As moley said, 'Rock' is a pretty broad genre. Could you be a bit more specific? Also, are you looking at building basslines or soloing over the top of songs? A lot of rock basslines are built with just two or three notes - it's not so much identifying a scale as nailing the feel and timing that matter.

  9. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    G# locrian.

    It's the only option, really.
  10. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I would say as a quick solution to your situation, learn the major and minor scales, the major and minor pentatonic and the blues scale for starters. Learn them in every key. Thay will keep you pretty busy for awhile.
  11. ZZMorgan


    Sep 6, 2002
    Los Angeles
    G# locrian.

    It's the only option, really.


    Sounds pretty cool if you happen to be in F# minor. You can alternate it with F# Dorian, but only use the 6th of each scale sparingly, as they clash with each other... ;)

    Hmm...Better yet, for good ol' rock and roll, major and minor pentatonics and blues scales will get you started.

    ZZ Morgan
  12. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    I had a buddy tell me once the only bit of theory or scale he ever learned was the chromatic scale - I guess any note you might wanna play could be found in a chromatic scale. He plays rock exclusively - and he doesn't sound bad at all.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    But if you played a chromatic scale over 99% of rock songs it would sound pretty dissonant - at least at certain points!! ;)
  14. I've seen it banded about......

    So what, exactly, is G# locrian?

    :confused: John:confused:
  15. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    John, locrian is one of the modes of the major scale. If you play a C major scale, but start and end on B (i.e. all the white notes), that is the locrian scale. It's like a minor scale, but with a flattened 2nd and flattened 5th. G# locrian is this scale transposed to start on G#. Generally it's only mentioned by Jazzbo when he's being funny :D and is of little use in this thread ;)
  16. You mean, you can take any major scale, begin on a note that's not the scale name and it's called locrian? So your example become C locrian rather than C major?

    But how can there be flats when you're still only playing the white notes.....that's gotta be such a dumb question but it has to stand?

    :confused: :confused: John :confused: :confused:
  17. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    John, start here:

    <a href="http://www.talkbass.com/html/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=31"><img src="http://www.stuffmagazine.com/mayhem/stuff_stuff/wallpaper/babyfrog_800x600.jpg" width="175" height="150" border="0" alt="Learn THEORY and get some CANDY by clicking on BABYFROG!"></a>
  18. WOW.

    That guy's an absolute genius. [I should stick to electronics, me thinks]. And all you other music theory guys ....all geniuses (genii?)


    I'm going to print that lesson.

  19. ZZMorgan


    Sep 6, 2002
    Los Angeles
    That guy's an absolute genius. [I should stick to electronics, me thinks].


    Jazzbo certainly is. He's written the clearest expression of these basics of music theory I've seen.

    But don't give up. Jazzbo's article is so clear that if you take one section at a time and have your bass and/or a keyboard with you when you read it so that you can hear what he is writing about, it will make sense to you.

    And you'll hear the difference in your playing AT ONCE!

    Good luck.

  20. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Nonono. Only if you play a major scale beginning on the 7th (e.g. C major scale beginning and ending on B) is it called locrian. If it started on the 2nd it would be Dorian, 3rd would be Phyrgian, 4th would be Lydian, 5th would be Mixolydian, 6th would be Aeolian. When I say flats, I don't mean black notes. I mean, the notes are flattened compared with what they would be if it was an ordinary minor scale. The B Locrian scale (i.e. C major played starting and ending on B) is similar to B minor, but with a flattened 2nd and a flattened 5th. This is because B minor would have a C#, not a C natural, and an F#, not an F natural. So, to turn B minor into B Locrian, you flatten the 2nd (turn C# into C natural) and flatten the 5th (turn F# into F natural). So, this is why the Locrian scale is like the minor scale, but with flattened 2nd and flattened 5th.

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