Jazz Minor

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ninefingerbass, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. I'm teaching myself jazz minor and going through it with a different approach. My approach begins with scale in the first mode to grab the sound and fingering as its a unique sound to my ears. I then move forward from there and play the arpeggios of each mode down the board to get the stretch and sound under my fingers and ears respectively. I recently started to play the R 3 5 7 and their inversions to get a grasp of the sound and other colors of their scale tone. Right now I'm only on the first mode. Till recently I just started to truly dive into this world and its a bit difficult considering I'm using a different approach and teach myself what quite possibly is a whole new language on the bass.

    Do you feel my approach is too intense or simplistic? How do you approach it? I'd be interested in how everyone else learns the Jazz minor.
  2. When I work on a new scale, I go through all of this, and more...

    play it forwards..
    in 3rds
    in 4ths
    in 5ths
    in 6ths
    modes of scale
    arpeggios from harmonizing scale (all inversions, up, down, up/down, down/up)
    1 octave, 2 octave, full range
    around circle of 4ths/5ths
    1st, 2nd, 4th finger starts
    shell chord voicings
    cell patterns
    etc, etc, etc...
    there are 1000s of different ways to change things up.
    Then you do all this stuff with different rhythms and times and tempos, and over individual chords, and chord progressions, so you really get it into being a part of your language.
    Be musical.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
    Groove Master likes this.
  3. How do you go about it in 3rds, 4ths, 5ths and 6ths?

    What are cell patterns?
    Schlyder likes this.
  4. doing the scale in 3rds... 132435465768798 etc and reverse... (scale degrees)

    4ths = 14253647586973 etc..
    5ths = 1526374859637485 etc.
    6ths = 16273849 etc..

    cell patterns... groups of 3,4,5,6

    123 234 345 etc..
    1234,2345,3456 etc
    12345, 23456, 34567,45678, etc

    you can also make use of other patterns/cells... like 1235 or 1257 etc... use your ears and imagination, and be musical.

    these are only some examples of ways you can utilize the information.
    there are many, many more ways.
    Be creative, be musical.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
    ninefingerbass likes this.
  5. IMO modes are for when you get a lead break. I do not get lead breaks, because, the solo instruments do a much better job of this than the bass, with it's low frequencies can. However if you must, perhaps the following will save you some time. I really doubt you using a lot of modes in a band situation. Our job revolves around calling attention to the chord changes and maintaining a steady beat, i.e. the harmony part of music. The solo instruments take care of the melody. Scales and modes help our fingers know where the notes are on our fretboard so -- they should be in our gig bag, my point; is this the time to be spending time with them? O'h yes then there is that rhythm thing, more on that later.

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

    Major Scale Box.
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    See a Cmaj7 chord coming up, find a C note on your 3rd or 4th string and put the Major scale box's R note on that C note then use the spelling for a maj7 chord, that spelling is listed below and is R-3-5-7. Want the C major scale do the same but, now use the spelling for the C major scale, which is R-2-3-4-5-6-7. Want the C Dorian mode, use the spelling for the Major scale and flat the 3 & 7. Yes you may want to read that again.

    Basic Chords
    • Major Triad = R-3-5
    • Minor Triad = R-b3-5
    • Diminished Chord = R-b3-b5
    7th Chords
    • Maj7 = R-3-5-7
    • Minor 7 = R-b3-5-b7
    • Dominant 7 = R-3-5-b7
    • ½ diminished = R-b3-b5-b7
    • Full diminished = R-b3-b5-bb7
    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.

    • 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.

    Major modes
    • Ionian same as the Major Scale. R-2-3-4-5-6-7
    • Lydian use the major scale and sharp the 4 - yes, it’s that simple. R-2-3-#4-5-6-7
    • Mixolydian use the major scale and flat the 7. Change one note..... R-2-3-4-5-6-b7
    Minor Modes
    • Aeolian same as the Natural Minor scale. R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7
    • Dorian use the Natural Minor scale and sharp the b6 back to a natural 6. Change one note.
    • Phrygian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2. Again change one note.
    • Locrian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2 and the 5. OK here you have to change two notes.
    Modal Harmony - the rest of the story.
    • If you play your modes over a chord progression you will probably only hear the tonal center of your progression.
    • However, if you play your modes over a modal vamp the vamp will sustain the modal mood long enough for the modal mood to be heard. The modal vamp droning effect will sustain the modal mood. Where with a chord progression the chords change so quickly that the modal mood does not have time to develop. Modal vamps of one to two chords let the modal mood be heard. http://www.riddleworks.com/modalharm3.html
    Scales and modes are for the melody - your solo. Chord tones are for your accompaniment bass line. Of course that's IMHO. To solo let the melody (the tune) be your guide. Yep, melody has to be in there some place. Counting on running a scale or a mode and letting that be your lead solo - good luck. The song's tune is the foundation for your solo or your improvisation of that tune. Let the melody be your guide. OK easy said, hard to do. As the melody and the chord line to harmonize must share some of the same notes at the same time in the song -- and as the songwriter has already taken all that into account - inserting the harmonizing chord where needed - it makes since to play the chord's pentatonic scale over the chord - as that scale will have three chord tones and two safe passing notes in it's makeup. Play the chord's pentatonic scale notes over the chord changes as your melody solo right at first. Major chord - major pentatonic R-2-3-5-6 and minor chord - minor pentatonic R-b3-4-5-b7. Mix the notes up, no need to just run them in scale order. Think generic licks made from pentatonic notes and move those licks around with the chord changes.

    Generic Notes - for your bass line.
    • The root, five and eight (R-5-8-5) are generic 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.
    • 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. Google can find hundreds of riffs for you; get several into muscle memory.
    These two videos should help pull all of this into focus.

    Scales and modes so our fingers know where the notes are. Chord tones will be your bread and butter.

    Let Google find you some chord tone backing tracks and play-a-long with them. Google these key words; Backing tracks showing chords.

    Have fun.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
  7. MalcolmAmos - although the information you posted is good information in general... It doesn't answer the OP's question. The OP is obviously aware of that type of information dealing with scales/modes.
    The OP is looking for ways to apply that type of information in a musical manner. Your post isn't offering anything in the way of applying the information musically.
    You could know all that information inside and out, but unless you know what to do with it, you will end up in the situation the OP finds himself in. "What do you do with that information to make music?"
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
    Febs, INTP and ninefingerbass like this.
  8. basschanges

    basschanges Unconditionally Loving Member Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    You want to know how to make music with scales? Transcribe other music. :)
  9. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Inactive

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    OP, I am curious as to what your goal is with this scale. Do you have an idea as to where/when to apply it?

    Such as Db Jazz Minor over a C7 Alt? :woot:

    Pitch-Collections from the 4th and 7th Modes are far more useful. Your post sounds as if you are needing to get with a Jazz Teacher. I'd steer clear of yoo-toob videe-ohs.
    hintz likes this.
  10. Thank you for the information everyone!

    As far as Stick_Players post goes, I am aware of when and where to apply it, to some degree(reading theory and chord books on jazz minor). Perhaps you can enlighten me with some simple/basic information to get me up to speed? I'd be very interested in learning and get a better understanding especially from a bassists point of view

    I have read up and wondered about this scale when I was a young warthog but never knew how to apply it as I never was given a situation to apply it let alone learn it. Now, I am curious as I have developed my ear into more of this sound as well as wanting to play with a unique sound compared to other musicians. For me, I utilize the bass not only as a means of providing the meat and potatoes for the music but as a solo instrument for my own pleasure.

    As I have studied over the years, on my own of course and with the use of books and my own ear/transcriptions/etc. I understand the major, minor and their modes and would like to pull away from it. Quite honestly, it's become mundane and dry to me and I'd like a different approach to music, hence my interest in learning and applying the jazz minor and its harmony. I am very fond of the unique sound and harmony it offers and feel that it's now in my best interest to develop this or else I will not be moving forward for my own personal gain.

    My question in the first post was how everyone approached studying not just the jazz minor but any scale and I think Schlyder hit the nail on the head. I am not asking how to make music with scales but just how others, compared to me, and what I am doing, how they approach in learning new scales/modes more specifically the jazz minor. I don't just want to play scales up and down the fretboard, to me this particular scale, like any other, has their own sound but I feel this one is especially useful in the jazz setting, which is why I am interested. I am not a straight ahead jazz player but one who enjoys and dabbles in the virtuoso world of the electric bass. With that being said, my interest in jazz minor and understand not just the scale, modes, harmony applications, etc does not end there, it will go above and beyond to understand harmonic minor and more and more unique and exotic scales for my own education and enjoyment.

    Schlyder, I have applied your information and it has been helpful in getting the finger and sound but also making music out of it too. I started to do the spider technique to allow my fingers to adjust to the different fingers on the different modes and possibly allow for better dexterity.
    Schlyder likes this.
  11. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Inactive

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Just so you know... J. S. Bach was using this scale 300 years ago.

    Not sure when this "tradition" of ascending Melodic Minor / descending Natural Minor started.

    Anyway, it is what it is.

    Probably the most used mode is the Seventh Mode of the Jazz Minor, or often called the Altered Scale. What's sometimes difficult to understand is that this scale needs some enharmonic spellings to make it obvious to pair with a Dominant Seventh with Altered 5ths and 9ths.

    Example: Pair a C7 Alt with a Db Jazz Minor

    C7 Alt: C, E, Gb, G#, Bb, Db, D#

    Db Jazz Minor: Db, Eb, Fb, Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db.

    Now... with some enharmonic changes AND starting on the 7th scale step: C, Db, D#, E, Gb, G#, Bb, C

    Presto! Now you have the chord tones to the C7 Alt.

    That's ONE application.

    Pretty sure Bach didn't use this mode. :woot:

    The next "most" used mode is the 4th mode of the Melodic Minor / Jazz Minor. This mode is usually called the Lydian b7. This scale can be paired with a V7(#11), with the Major Ninth and Thirteenth.

    Example: C7(#11) is paired with C Lydian b7, the Fourth Mode of G Melodic Minor / Jazz Minor: C, D, E, F#, G, A, Bb, C.

    West Side Story and The Simpson's Theme utilize this sound.

    One needs to know where these Dominant sounds are resolving to (if at all). Knowing this will help you decide on the extensions, that then will give you the Pitch-Collection (or scale/mode). Or, your can settle into one of these Modes and build/compose/improvise within this "sound".

    tonemachine likes this.
  12. Yeah all that stuff just gets your ear/brain wrapped around the scale, and gets your motor skills going on more than just up and down the scale.
    It is a whole other ballgame applying it into jazz harmony. ..as Stick_Player said.
    Now the work is in playing it over all kinds of chords/progressions, and finding what you like the sound of. And building a vocabulary with it.
    It won't be a blanket scale you can just float around in forever. You need to work it in with all the other tools you have to use.
    In the end it just gives you some more colors to paint with. Another tool in the tool box... to be used with the other tools. What you make with it is only limited by your taste and imagination.
    tonemachine likes this.
  13. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    It is true that you need to play the scale in various ways to get the sound in your head,
    but basschanges nailed it. If you want to find ways to use any scale musically,
    you must find examples by the greats and learn them, analyze them, transcribe them.
    That is how you build your vocabulary.
    tonemachine and basschanges like this.
  14. basschanges

    basschanges Unconditionally Loving Member Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    Yes Yes and Yes. I assume if you're calling it Jazz minor and not Melodic minor you want to apply it in a jazz context. I think there just might be some recordings out there of Dexter something and Miles whoever and Oscar Pete something utilizing this scale in their playing. Get crackin' young blood!
  15. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Inactive

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    A scale that would be more useful in a Jazz Context, would be a Bebop Melodic Minor Scale. It has an additional scale step between the 5th and 6th steps of the Jazz Minor.

    C Bebop Melodic Minor Scale: C, D, Eb, F, G, G#/Ab, A, B, C.


    There is also the Bebop Harmonic Minor Scale: C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, A#/Bb, B, C

    This one probably the most used Bebop Minor Scale, in a Jazz Context.

    Works great over a: || iim7(b5) V7(b9b13) | im7 ||

    This scale has ALL the chord tones of the V7(b9b13), plus the Tonic of the Key Center.

    There are OODLES of examples of this scale, or arpeggios derived from this scale, over the iim7(b5) V7(b9b13).

    Minor is Major is a good book that explores this.
  16. ^ +1 all the Bebop scales are a must have in the toolbox.
  17. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Inactive

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    OP, I've been listening to the recent Kenny Barron / Dave Holland release: The Art of Conversation. They cover the Charlie Parker tune Segment.

    The composition covers TWO things for you.

    1) Minor Rhythm Changes :cool:

    2) Use of Jazz Minor Scale / Bebop Melodic Minor Scale :thumbsup:
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  18. basschanges

    basschanges Unconditionally Loving Member Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    I don't think most bop players are thinking in either of those scales. But they of course use the intervals contained within them. Melodic, Harmonic Minor, major scale, diminished and wholetone. That's 99% of all that's needed. Does he have to memorize two more scales just to get the natural 6th and #9 for the Valt chord? You guys really overcomplicate things.

    Jazz isn't that difficult. It just takes some practice to learn how to voicelead through the changes. No scale is going to make you sound "jazzy" unless you know what intervals to hit when. Once you know that, all these B.S. short-cut scales outlive their usefullness big time.

    I guess what I'm saying is, learn the intervals first, transcribe, then you can stack your intervals into a reverse balinese enigmatic eastern minor scale and sell tons of books guaranteeing that this is the magic scale that makes you sound awesome.
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  19. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Inactive

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Exactly! The Master Improvisors are NOT thinking those scales - or any scales. The College-Jazz-Theory professors came up with this Snake-Oil.

    This is the problem with the Chord/Scale Teaching tool. It misleads young players, that do NOT really listen much to the Masters, into running endless scales over Real Book chord changes.

    Master Improvisors are indeed using the notes found in the aforementioned scales - most of the time. Jazz Music Theory shows us that. But it is the melodies, motifs, arpeggios, sequences, rhythmic changes, etcetera, etcetera, etceetra... that are the improvising tools. Once in a while they do use a fragment of a scale.

    Extemporization cannot be taught. You are either born with the skill or not. Of course nurturing will develop it. Improvising is a personality trait - accept it oh college professor! These musicians are already out in the world gigging - at age 20. And you, college professor, are not.

    However, if you don't have the innate skill, but you are capable of long, tedious hours of "study", you can become Good. Thank you, oh college professor! These musicians are vying for their college professor's gig - waiting for him to die, though.

    One MUST develop (whether or not having the innate improvising ability), Instrument Technique. If you can't get what you are hearing in you head out through you chosen instrument - you will still suck. This is another facet of being a player. The practice rooms at any music school are jammed with technically great players. They can read the notes but cannot improvise. Then, off campus watching yoo-toob music lesson videos, there are the ones that (perhaps) can improvise, but have zero technical skills.

    Of course it is overcomplicating things. But that's the Jazz College Teaching Method. :thumbsup: It MUST be raised into a Heady Subject that is then capable of awarding college degrees. Then once awarded, the recipient continues with gathering up another award. Never leaving the campus to go into the dirty, repulsive Jazz Dives, where the Heroes live, improvise and die. Thumbing through a germ-free text book is far safer.

    The Chord/Scale Teaching tool -- I find it "dumb", but ONE does need to know about it! If only to endlessly blather about it on TB. :woot::woot::woot:

    Oh, Jazz is extremely difficult. It must be -- look around at all the average-joe players.

    There are NO shortcuts.

    Now, now... there are a few TBer's that are hocking their books on here. Be polite.

    tonemachine likes this.
  20. basschanges

    basschanges Unconditionally Loving Member Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    I agree with everything in your post except this. Successful improvisation in jazz relies upon learning rules of a language and executing music based upon those rules or deliberately straying from them. So not only can it be taught and learned, it has to be.

    Regarding the statements about professors: some of my greatest influences and teachers were also bomb players who decided to go into academia. Not many people outside of Ithaca know about Steve Brown, Miles Brown, and Paul Merrill, but these guys play their asses off, and can teach and manage an ensemble. "Those who can't do, teach" has got to be one of the dumbest sayings ever conceived.

    My friend went to USC across the country in California, and his number one complaint about the jazz program there was that it hires some big name teachers who can play better than anyone but can't teach for [email protected]#$. I'd rather have professional level top 20% players (as opposed to top 2%) who can teach their asses off. They're out there.

    I owe everything I can play to those professors who would sit with me and explain ad nauseam what the greats were doing when I brought them transcribed solos in college.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
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