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Has anyone read Total Scales, Techniques, and Applications for bass by Mark Sternal?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by RandomEvent, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. RandomEvent


    Nov 10, 2007
    I just got it for some scale practice, and while the guy says the book is for beginners to pros, the first chapters are already hard for me to understand.

    For example, he says that if using the natural scale, if the root is C (C D E F G A B C), then the scale is major. And if the root is A (A B C D E F G A), then the scale is minor. What's so different about A and C, that one is major and the other is minor? From what my brain tells me, they're both written the same, just starting in different places.

    Another thing, when he mentions this:

    E Position C Major/A Minor Scale
    C major root note is on the 3rd string, 3rd fret.
    A minor root notes are on the third string open, 1st string second fret.
    This is known as the 3rd position because E is the 3rd note in the C Major Scale.

    Why in the world is it 3rd position. I get the explanation, but look at this other scale in the book:

    F Position Cmajor//Aminor Scale:
    Cmajor root notes are on the 3rd string - 3rd fret and 1st string - 5th fret.
    Amajor root notes are on the 4th string - 5th fret and 1st string - 2nd fret.
    F is the 4th note in the Cmajor scale so it is also called the 4th position Cmajor scale.

    Now it's switched positions so that the 4th note is mentioned. Does this mean that the note and positions are directly related? Like, the 5th position would be G in this same scale? I'm super confused overall. And when he mentions scales being Cmajor/Aminor, I though scales were one or the other, not both? What does this mean?

    If anyone could help me out in anyway, I'd be grateful. Also, if someone wants to really help me out, I'll scan a few pages, haha! Thanks in advance. And please let me know if you need me to clarify. I really want to figure this out, but I'm not going to try and kill myself over it. I'm going to go back to doing some exercises in the meantime.
  2. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    I would throw that book away.

    To answer your first question (which the book apparently doesn't), when he says the root of C major is C and the scale is C D E F G A B but the root of A minor is A and the scale is A B C D E F G the book doesn't seem to define "root". The root is the first scale degree, where the scale gets it's name (C major, A minor). You are correct in seeing that Cmaj and Amin have the same notes however those scales start in different places and the resulting relationships have different sounds. C major sounds happy, A minor sounds sad.

    As for the second part of your question about positions, I don't know what that guy is trying to say since he seems to be just giving a roadmap of the fretboard based on where your hand is.

    F Position Cmajor//Aminor Scale:
    Cmajor root notes are on the 3rd string - 3rd fret and 1st string - 5th fret.
    Amajor root notes are on the 4th string - 5th fret and 1st string - 2nd fret.
    F is the 4th note in the Cmajor scale so it is also called the 4th position Cmajor scale.

    That is true but who cares what the position is? The root of C major is C no matter where you play it. That book sounds like a guitar player wrote it.

    If you want scales go get The Bass Grimoire by Adam Kadmon.
  3. RandomEvent


    Nov 10, 2007
    Does that book just have a ton of scales, and that's it? I'd like a book that explains things, and goes in progression, from beginner to expert, so to speak. I learn better when I have limits set on me. So if you can recommend me a book that explains things in pieces, and gives you exercises you should perfect before moving on?

    If the Bass Grimoire does this, I'm down with that.

  4. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    Yes I believe the Bass Grimoire might give you what you want. The first 21 pages explain the music theory conventions used in the book. You'll need to read them carefully, then read them again and then maybe a third time so that you get a grasp of how he presents the scales.

    It is essentially a scale dictionary. It shows you the "root scale", it's related mode derivatives, what types of chords it will work with and then dots-on-fretboards galore of where to play them.

    What are you after? An understanding of music theory? Some scales to practice in 12 keys for exercise? I think if you get bogged down into "positional playing" which is what that Mark Sternal book sounds like it advocates (what the hell is F position? We call that first position in string bass land) I think you'll limit your playing severely.

    Here are some reviews from amazon.com:

    The thing about some music reference books is that you have to know how to create your own learning program out of them.

    Chord Studies for Electric Bass by Rich Appleman is one of my favorite books to use for sight reading only. If I thought about what I was playing I could probably get more out of the theory. The Charlie Parker Omnibook I use for theory and analysis as well as reading and just fun playing.
  5. RandomEvent


    Nov 10, 2007
    I'm a beginner, so I'm basically looking to add things to my practice schedule. I can sight read very well, and it's the only thing I'm confident about. I'll check out the Bass Grimoire, because I believe I can use the book and make my own schedule.

    But, for example, I found the Ed Friedland "Bass Method" books great for me, because it was separated with sections and a few exercises. Once I felt confident in the current section, I just moved to the next.
  6. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    If you're a beginner then the Grimoire might look interesting to you but you will have a hard time getting anything out of it. Ed Friedland's books are excellent but I don't think you've played all of the exercises in it yet... ;)

    Have you transposed them in all 12 keys? That will keep you busy for a while and give you a lot more insight into what you're playing.

    There is no race to get through the book. I don't care if you played through the whole thing in a week with the exercises as written. Now go back and play them again 1/2 step higher, perfectly and at 60 bpm with your metronome. I bet it's a lot more challenging.

    This kind of example is where the books can't go but a live teacher (if they're good) can.
  7. RandomEvent


    Nov 10, 2007
    I'm about halfway into the second book. I've played everything so far up to 120 with a metronome. I've tried to make myself work at different speeds before moving on. Thank you for this good advice. But is there anything you'd recommend me to learn, scales wise? And what do you mean by half a step higher? Do you mean half a step higher note wise on the fretboard? If so I'll try that.

  8. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Get a basic theory book that explain how scales are constructed, that will answer your question how C Major scale is also A Natural Minor.

    The way I have alway seen Position determined is by what fret the Index finger is on. I don't know what the fingering pattern your book is talking about, but the common for C Major with C on the A-string, 3rd fret would be called Second position. That is because your index finger would be playing the B on A-string, 2nd fret, and E on D-string, second fret, and A on G-string, second fret.
  9. Just got this from Amazon Saturday. So far, it has taught me how to read tabs. Thick books like this should be spiral bound. Otherwise, it's too hard to keep the book open to the page you want.

    I'm thinking of throwing in the towel and getting a teacher.
  10. Jojabeau


    Feb 8, 2008
    Mid Atlantic
    Scales and modes are great, but as bass players our primary function is to bridge the harmony with the rhythm. To play bass well you need a through understanding of chords and their construction more than “what mode goes over A min.?” Also, learn notation NOW, tab is worthless for rhythm and not much better at conveying notes. Get a teacher who can read and know more than one style of music. Best of luck!
  11. "And when he mentions scales being Cmajor/Aminor, I though scales were one or the other, not both? What does this mean?"

    Every Major scale has (what they call) a 'relative Minor'. It's always a 6th degree or step-up from the Major scale root note (and a third down from same).

    Major's and minors all have their place is bass playing. You will learn how to 'get minor' in your choice of single notes when you want to sound 'meaner' (like in funk or rock) versus 'staying major' in say, soloing or creating a pop/groove. In any case, both are useful tools and can be used interchangebly in really any genre. If you're playin blues, one use of the minor scale would be to play those notes in the relative minor for variety's sake... .

    Have fun and play bass.

  12. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    +1 get a new book. That book is far too advanced for you.

    First you need to know that the distance between two notes can be named. Starting from the first note (typically the lower note) you count notes up to the next note you want to measure.

    You count them in "whole" or "half" intervals. A whole interaval is 2 notes. A half interval is 1 note.

    A -> B is a whole interval (there's a note in between them).

    B -> C is a half interval (there's no note in between them).

    The major scale is "whole whole half whole whole whole half."
    The minor scale is "whole half whole whole half whole whole."

    It just so happens that when playing piano on just the white keys, C is major and A is minor.


    There is a note between C and D, so it's a whole interval. (C#)

    There's no note between E and F, so it's a half interval.

    Start on C and count whole whole half whole whole whole half. Major scale.

    Start on A and count whole half whole whole half whole whole. Minor scale.

    What makes a scale major or minor? 3, 6, and 7.

    In the two scales 1, 2, 4, 5 and 8 are the same. But the 3, 6, and 7 change. They're either minor or major. The minor 3rd, minor 6th and minor 7th are all, conveniently, one half note "flat" (down) from their major position.

    Major: 1 _ 2 _ 3 4 _ 5 _ 6 _ 7 8
    Minor: 1 _ 2 3 _ 4 _ 5 6 _ 7 _ 8
    On the bass, the two scales form very distinctive patterns that you should learn:

    C Major Scale 1 Octave Version
      0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    A Minor scale 1 Octave Version
       0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    PS - the best book I've come across for basic music theory is Writing Music for Hit Songs. I know the title sounds like it's for songwriters, but it's actually an excellent overview of basic theory.
  13. RandomEvent


    Nov 10, 2007
    Thank you everyone for all of this wonderful advice. I've given up the book, lol.

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