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Learning scales

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by jostego, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. jostego


    Jan 4, 2013
    I would've thought this would be covered thoroughly here but I couldn't find what I'm looking for.

    I'm a drummer who recently picked up bass. I think learning bass will make me a better drummer and musician in general. Also, bass is awesome.

    One goal I have, is to learn the major, minor and pentatonic scales in all finger positions on the fretboard, maybe move on to modes after a while. I've found this:

    G major

    ...which is great.

    Now I know that the pattern is the same for all notes, with a sequence of half and whole steps, but telling me (├╝bern00b) that "when you know the major scale for one root, you know them all" isn't good enough.

    So where can I find more pedagogic figures such as the one I linked to above? I would ideally like all finger positions for all roots and several types of scales.

    Some information explaining how to transfer the intervals from one root to another, i.e. how to play A major without no other knowledge than how to play G major would be amazing.

    If there is a book I could buy that contains this information I'd be super happy. If it's free on the web I'd be ecstatic :)
  2. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
  3. Here's one possibility - write out the patterns yourself.

    Yes, there's probably a million charts out there just like the ones you posted, and half of those are about to be linked to in this thread, but honestly, you'll learn more by using a little elbow grease and sitting there writing them out. You've already got G major as a template. Learn the interval pattern of a major scale, along with all the note names possible, and go from there. Next note up from G is Ab, right? So, start from the next fret up from that first G in your diagram, and outline an Ab major scale.

    By doing it yourself, you'll quickly internalize: notes and their positions on the fretboard, how to correctly spell the various scales, all the different permutations of their fingerings, the various patterns that you can use to play them. Plus, knowing your basic scales will give you a huge head start to learning the various music fundamentals (i.e. - basic theory) that people sometimes want to learn - spelling basic triads, 7th chords and other harmonies, basic chord functions & progressions, diatonic vs. chromatic tones, etc...

    Another thing you might want to do is get a good method book that introduces the various scales through etudes. This way, you're playing scales as music, instead of running them as abstract things (which can be helpful too, don't get me wrong).

    Your question does seem to contradict itself a little - you say that "when you know the major scale for one root, you know them all" isn't good enough, but then you specifically ask how to play an A-major scale with no other knowledge than how to play a G-major scale.
  4. jostego


    Jan 4, 2013
    Yeah, I see what you mean. I normally write out drum parts which I find helpful so maybe doing the grunt work will be helpful also here.

    What I'm trying to say at the end of my first post is: people say that when you've learned one major scale you've basically learned them all. I get that, but I'm saying that I don't have the basic knowledge to "convert a major G to a major A". That's what I really want to learn.
  5. mikew31

    mikew31 Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2008
    Superior, WI
    To play the A major scale, just take pattern #1 from your link and start on the fifth fret instead of the third. To play B major scale start at fret seven and so on. That's what's meant when someone says "when you know the major scale for one root, you know them all".

    Is that what you're asking?
  6. jostego


    Jan 4, 2013
    Well, no. I get what your saying, but I assume it's a bit more complicated than that. What if I want to play all the notes in A major in finger position one (starting on fret 3), I have no nice reference like you just given me for fret 5. I know that I could figure it out if I sit down with it, but I was also thinking that I could more easily see "the big global patterns" on the fretboard if I had a bunch of those figures.
  7. Nothing wrong with that site you gave, however, here is what I use. Yes, it's all numbers instead of note names.
    You mentioned modes.

    Ionian - use the major scale box.
    Lydian - use the major scale box and sharp the 4th.
    Mixolydian - use the major scale box and flat the 7th.

    Aeolian - use the natural minor scale box
    Dorian - use the natural minor scale box and sharp the b6 back to a natural 6.
    Phrygian - use the natural minor scale box and flat the 2.
    Locrian - use the natural minor scale box and flat the 2 and the 5.

    Place the modes R note on your fretboard. C Ionian find a C note. C Dorian leave it at that same place just flat the 3 and 7. Drum roll................ http://scottsbasslessons.com/welcome-to-the-shed See what Scott says about Lydian at 5:41.....

    Have fun.
  8. zenman


    Jan 30, 2008
    St. Paul, MN
    +1 to what the_stone said. Work it out for yourself. You've already got enough information to answer your own question.
  9. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member


    Using that chart mixes up the scales and the modes in a confusing way.

    If you are going to learn it that way, I recommend just jumping into the modes and learning them completely.
  10. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    You can go to this page:

    Enter what type of bass you have 4 or 5 and the tuning if different than normal.

    Enter the scale root and the scale type and it will show you a fretboard with every note laid out on it. Cool tool.

    I started by learning one octave modes, then learning to play every note from each mode without moving position, then I learned each mode pattern starting on index, middle, or pinky. After doing that, you get a pretty good idea how all the modes interlock and fit together.

    scottsbasslessons.com does this with the major scale:

    Here is a good start on modes:
  11. chadgrimes


    Jan 11, 2013
    I removed the comment people didnt like!
  12. Really? If I'm playing a country song where, when the I chord moves to IV and I play a quarter-note bassline that walks up from I to IV, have I not just played a fragment of some sort of scale? If I'm playing a fill, or solo, or even a bassline over a 1-chord harmony and introduce non-triadic tones, am I not playing notes that probably lay in some sort of a scale associated with that harmony?

    I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm jumping all over your comment, but dismissing scales (while still advocating one learn the arpeggios that are themselves derived from scales) is of no service to someone trying to learn basic music fundamentals and might confuse someone new to this stuff. Whether we like it or not, scales and chords are intricately related, and do not exist independently from one another, whether in the classroom or real world.
  13. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    it's helpful to say the note either mentally or outloud, even better to sing the note

    the idea of moving a major scale pattern from say G to A as just an exersice is to begin to expand knoweldge of the fretboard.

    even better is to learn more than one major scale pattern
    and then build minor patterns from there etc. etc.
    and then find key centers where a lot of related chords can be played from one hand position.
    moving from one chord or scale or mode (but as bass players we get all our clues from chord changes so it's simplest to think about chords, chord tones, chord/scales, modes that are 'triggered' by chords) to another chord is really where this is headed and where so-called theory gets applied
  14. chadgrimes


    Jan 11, 2013
    The stone, no offense taken. let me clarify a bit more for you. I hear what you are saying about walking into different progressions on scale tones. However, NONE of the greats see them as scales. They understand CHORD TONES and non chord tones. The problem with scales and reading around scales is that the hand is locked into motionless scale patterns and that is NOT how the real true bass players play. It is funny how everyone in today's world has scales on their brain and NO ONE ever mentions chord tones. People will go crazy trying to learn useless scales and yet when I ask bass players the notes that make up a Cm7b5 chord they look confused and cant answer questions like that. A bass player should be able to see a chord like that and say quickly, C, Eb, Gb, Bb. Or when they see Fmaj7 be able to say and play F, A, C, E right away. But players now adays cant because they have scales on their brains. Now listen very closely to this advice. Sure, you can add up all the notes of a solo and come up with some scale name but that is not how the greats see the solo. Some times its best to look at a guitar player solo like Eddie Van Halen. Watch his hands, they go all over the neck of the guitar, however, a theorist will add up all the notes and say, eddie played a C mixolydian, yadda yadda scale. Sure if u add up all the notes yeah I'm sure u can box it up in a pretty name, but conceptually, that is not how Eddie saw it. What scales fail is in the PHRASING. What is Eddie doing u ask? Simple, he sees the solo around the CHORDS of each measure, he sees CHORD TONES and a little non chords to create the tension to resolution we humans love. Now lets look at the Bass, go look at any piece of music, and I do mean any, you will find that each measure has notes that i guarantee will be almost completely CHORD TONES that match the chord above the measure. For example. you might see notes in the first measure of a song that is C, G, B and I guarantee you will see a C major or C Maj7 above the measure. Why? because they are the CHORD TONES. It would be a major coincidence that if people wrote bass lines bassed on scales that each measure would be filled with chord tones. I play bass and read music and move my hand around the CHORD TONE voicings and NOT locked into one position playing scales. A note like C is the root of a C chord but it is the 5th of an F chord. Scales are not going to take that into consideration. And finally, I usually get the scale people thinking when I say.... PLAY A BUNCH of F notes over a C major chord and see what happens. Or, play a series of D, F, A, notes over a C major chord. Theory teachers will teach that a C major scale is suppose to work for songs in the Key of C major. Here is what u will hear, the F note over a C chord which in THEORY is suppose to work but it CLASHES with the C chord because you hear a minor 2nd CLASH between the E of the C chord and the F note you are playing. The D, F, A notes over the C chord are going to sound AIRY and NOT grounded. Why? because the player is not understanding the CHORD TONES of the music which goes with the chords above each measure. Bass teachers have got to start teaching students these things and stop with all the scale non sense. And finally, if you dont believe me, type in YOUTUBE Carol Kaye interviews and u will come across the great Carol Kaye saying the exact same thing! Watch the entire video especially around the 1 minute mark onward.
  15. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    I disagree with those you are saying that Chord-tones are the best way to create a bassline. This is FALSE.

    Our first goal is to outline the harmony and the tonality!!!

    So scales will help you do that in a easy way. Too much chromatism in a bassline will blur the tonality unless you play a walking bass or a bebop solo. Scale tones will define much better the color of each chord especially when those have the same chord symbols like in the key of C major: Dmin, E min and A min. These 3 chords have the same arpeggios construction but not the same scale construction. This is a very important aspect that the bass player should be aware of and make sure he/she does integrate those differences in the bassline to support the harmonic function of each one.

    This will be an endless debate here and if you want to learn scales you should do it because any serious musician from classical to jazz music, spend a lifetime working on scales. Why shouldn't we??? Especially since this is our bread and butter!!

    Good luck,

  16. +1 I use this site all the time.
  17. Most instruments start you off running your scales. Why? IMO it is the fastest way to get your fingers and your ears knowing how to do the things they need to do to play that specific instrument.

    True, right at first when you start playing with others, roots, root-five's and chord tones will occupy your time - right at first. But, as you learn more the notes of the scale will creep into your playing - guaranteed to happen. If you had spent those many long hours running your scales. If you skipped over scales then good luck with your fills and melodies just happening......

    Of course IMO.
  18. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Here is why scales come first.

    C D E F G A B C

    These notes apply to C Major scale.

    Play it over two octaves and we get.

    C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C

    Every other note is a chord tone, so that is

    C E G B D F A (we have to stop her because the next note in the sequence is C...and we already have that note and the sequence that follows them.

    Now look at what is formed from those chords tones as scales degrees.

    C is the root
    E is the 3rd
    G is the 5th
    B is the 7th
    D is the 2nd and the 9th
    F is the 4th and the 11th
    A is the 6th and the 13th

    So all the chord tones are present in the scale you practice, to make form chords you in fact remove, add or alter this information. If you just learn chords tones you have to keep filling in the blanks as you are missing basic information. By learning the correct scales you are learning chords tones but you just do not know it.........at the time.

    Scales get your hands moving, the develop co-ordination skills, stamina, tone and timbre in your playing......But again you will not know this till it becomes apparent as you playing progress.

    So how do you make a C7 scale? You flatten (lower by a semitone, every fret on your bass form a line of semitone up a string, skip a fret to form a tone) the 7th note. So the B becomes Bb (b is the sign for a flat) and now you have a C7 and that Bb is now the 7th note of C7. It is a b7, the B is the VIII

    Now look at that as chord tones, C Major scale chord tones are,
    C E G C (I III V VIII) Roman numerals are use so they do not get mistaken or confused with intervals which are called steps and have numbers like 2nd, 3rd etc used to show them. As this is a major scale the interval steps and scale degree corrospond from the root to match the notes...that's why it is a scale. The 8th note of a scale is the same note as the root and called octave, but its pitch is higher.

    But intervals and scale degrees do not always corrospond as an interval is the gap between to notes, again this will just become clearer if you write this stuff out, that's why it is called theory, it is easer to see and read it in order to understand than it is to relate it to the instrument.

    So C-E is a 3rd, as is E-G a 3rd, so you can now see why the Roman numerals work because from the III to the V the interval is a 3rd.
    To say from the 3rd to the 5th is a 3rd is confusing,
    Because scale degrees and interval steps need numbers they are just given the number in a different form to distinguish them apart.
    Intervals played one after another forms melody, intervals played together form harmony.....end of story....there is no other way to look at it.

    So to make that C7, we flatten the 7th, but the chord tones for C Major do not have a 7th, where as the scale does.
    If we used the 7th of the Cmajor scale as one of our chord tones,
    C E G B, but now we get a C Major7 chord, that is not a C chord and it is not a C7 chord it is a new chord, new arpeggio, new chord tones because we have now added a Bb.

    To make the C7 chord we flatten the VII of the scale, so the B becomes Bb and now we have a C7 scale, AGAIN...we have a flat 7.

    By learning scales first we have all the information, so we alter or remove from what we already know. Of you have to keep back tracking and adding info (such as why C Major7 is not C7) to fill in the gaps, your learning is disjointed. In learning some things you need to understand, and some you just need to be aware of, they will make sense later when you move onto new ideas, you do not need to understand everything..In fact you cannot understand everything or you will be off in all sorts of directions trying to follow it up, that will lead you to areas where you.......that's right have missing info....so you fill that in and off you go again on different directions again trying to make sense of that.

    A good music teacher will sort you out, and a good bass tutor will help you come to terms with the bass.
    My example of the C Major to C7 is just one area that jumping to chord tones will leave gaps....as for modes, leave them alone. No pupil needs to look at or work on modes in the first ten years of their playing. Modes are variations on all the info you have learned in theory....if you have not learned all the info, you will have gaps when you study modes.
    Fact is, if you get to a higher understanding and qualification in theory, you will have cover a lot of mode ideas and concepts.....but you will not have realised it. Then when you look at modes you will realise you know most of it, but using modes gives the player some new options for harmony, melody, arranging and composition, but if you have not studied them...again you will have gaps.
    This has not even touched on minor scales, Diminished or Augmented ideas, all which need to be related back to the Parent scale ( Cmajor was my parent scale used, so all intervals and scale degrees refer to Cmajor and Cmajor only. Though I formed the other from the Cmajor scale they each have there own individual theory)

    Proof in point, look at that Cmajor Scale again over two octaves and what else do you find....the notes A B C D E F G A the are the notes of an A minor scale (natural) and just for the hell of it because some will point it out, an Aeolian mode.....plus you will find all the other modes constructed in there as well......as I said you will use ideas and concepts and not know you are doing it if you learn correct......you become aware how much you actually know when you have a reason and an application to use it, you have the ability to answer your own questions if you will, to take a small idea and match it to others to form bigger ideas and new concepts.

    This is how learning works we do not need all the info all the time, we can reason answer to questions. The day many player realise this and it is in their hands to learn, I would expect to see the devil carrying ice skates......(see what I done there.......you know my meaning if you have the relevant info and reference, if not its a pointless gap):)
  19. chadgrimes


    Jan 11, 2013
    Apparently you guys did NOT watch the Carol Kaye video. She shows you how it is done. First she said right out of her mouth, NO ONE in the 40s and 50s played scale tones. It was Chordal Tones. No one in the Jazz world sees it that way. Here is why, I will break it down for you what Carol Kaye is saying. First scales do NOT help you hear or see it better. The reason is YOU DONT HEAR the CORRECT CHORDAL INTERVALS in your ear. CHords are the EVERY OTHER NOTE of a scale. When you play scales you really DONT MOVE and you DONT hear the hills and valleys of your playing. Listen to Carol she is right on in the video. Second of all, learning the CHORDAL arpeggios allows u to play all the CHORD TONE patterns withOUT thinking about it and having to compensate lowering this and that in one isolated scale pattern. Plus Jazz music has BORROWED chords from many different keys. 75 percent of Jazz runs cycle and there is NO WAY a person is going to be able to react quick enough with scales over those chord changes. Scale people dont get it because they dont DEFINE the harmony right. Here is a test. Teachers will tell u that a C scale works over a C chord. BULL! Have someone strum a C chord or play it on the piano and then get a bass and play nothing but F notes or D, F, A notes. In THEORY its suppose to work and it doesnt because the F will CLASH against the E note of the C chord and the notes D, F, A over a C chord will sound AIRY, simply because the player had NO sense of CHORDAL tones viewing it from a scale perspective. And the comment about C major going to C7 is incorrect. There is NO GAPS if you know your chordal tones. The finger patterns wont lie. You simply FLAT the 7th but you do it from the CHORD TONE ARPEGGIOS and NOT from a scale perspective.Watch the video

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