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Looking for continuous scale exercise to use over chords/cycle of fifths etc.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by DuluthDank, Apr 27, 2019.

  1. I have a great arpeggio exercise I love to use that I use over jazz progressions, but I've struggled to come up with some great scale exercises. My favorite ways to practice are those that can be applied to music, or at least chord cycles. And intervals and patterns within scales are great as far as I'm concerned. Any suggestions?
  2. Groove Master

    Groove Master Commercial User

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Make the scales 8-notes with a passing tone in it. That way you have a even number of notes which fits in 4/4. Start with the major scale with a passing note between the fifth and the sixth, up and down. All scales with a flat 7th you can fit a passing note between the b7 and the octave. This lines up all the chord-tones also on beats ;-).

    To play this in a cycle you can skip the 2nd while descending to finish on the root on the last 8th note and go to the next root of the cycle. When you get this you can adjust all your patterns the way you want with chromatism or to the next chord-tone etc...
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
  3. Reg Braithwaite

    Reg Braithwaite

    Oct 21, 2018
    If you want some background reading, the "Bebop Scales" are all based on Groove Master's idea:

    Bebop scale - Wikipedia
    Bioflava and Groove Master like this.
  4. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    This is actually a fairly easy exercise conceptually but with a lot of mileage in practically.

    Take a standard or something, for this example I'll use a Blues because it's easier to explain.

    You'll only be playing 8th's and starting the scale on any chord tone. Ideally not the root though. So I'm going to start on the 5th.

    First chord Bb7. Starting on F, you'll have F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D, Eb, F. That leads us to an Eb7 chord in bar 2, where you should aim to start that chord on the first available scale tone of that chord. Which in this case is G. So that bar will be G, Ab, Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G leading to the next bar of Bb starting on the Ab and so on.

    It helps to start on the lowest available note all the way up to the highest and then back down etc. Do the same thing on different chord tones but you'll get into the habit of being able to navigate through changes a lot more linear. That's just one set of scales available on the form, when you mix and match the other scale choices then the exercise becomes limitless.

    You can also mix this exercise up and find some sort of common tone for all the chords. Let's take the note C in our Bb blues and start every scale from the note C. You can reduce this more and only play the first 5 notes of the scale. On Bb7 you'll have C, D, Eb, F, G, F, Eb D. Moving to Eb7 you'll go C, Db, Eb, F, G, F, Eb, Db and so on.

    That's just the tip of the iceberg, you can change rhythms, directions, intervals etc but it's enough to get you thinking and exploring.
    BassChuck and DuluthDank like this.
  5. upload_2019-4-30_13-19-1.png

    C scale on the third string third fret, then forth string 8th fret, then 3rd string 15th fret. Patterns repeat themselves all over the fretboard. Experiment in hooking them together..... YOU first have to see them, then they belong to you. Hint a chromatic 3 note walk to the next C hooks the second C scale to the first...

    Take B at the 3rd string, there is another down a string and toward the nut 5 frets. From there the octave B (8) is up two strings and over two frets. See if the D on the third string follows that same movement.

    Lets say you end the first C scale on the A note (7th scale degree), where is there a B note? Yep right next to the C on the 8th fret. Does that open things up for you?

    Things like that repeat themselves all over the fretboard. Once you can read the map the fretboard belongs to you.

    Post #4 and 14 of How to get started? talk about this same subject.

    Have fun.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
    DuluthDank and lizardking837 like this.
  6. These are just the types of exercises I like, thanks a bunch. With the first exercise, I think the challenge might be finding the right patterns and approach so that you are working across the fingerboard more and not spending too much time on the G string.
  7. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    Got just the exercise for that too.

    Limit yourself to one finger per fret and then one shift of the hand. So in C major you'll have open E, F, G in one hand then shift which gives you A B C in that hand. Since you have used the hand shift now you have to change string. You are only allowed one shift on each string. It really opens up the area between the 7th fret and the 12th, which I've often found tends to be the area that people know the least.
    IamGroot, Bioflava and DuluthDank like this.
  8. Fantastic. I think this is going to become one of my "every day" exercises.
  9. BassChuck

    BassChuck Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    I like this idea. But I have to ask, taking the example you mentioned, would you be thinking: F, Mixolydian up and then Eb Phrygian down... etc. or are you thinking a scale (major or minor) based on the root of the current chord?
  10. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    My favorite exercise is diatonic triads or 7th chords around the cycle in a given key.

    vii iii iv ii V I VI

    in c major: B min7b5, E min, Amin, D min, G 7, C maj , F maj

    you could extend that to diatonic modes
    B locrian
    E phrygian
    A Aeolian
    D dorian
    G mixolydian
    C Ionian
    F Lydian

    and mix it up: arpeggios up, scales down, etc
    start with an arpeggio and lay the next chord as a mode, etc.
    Garret Graves and DuluthDank like this.
  11. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    I'm not personally, I don't particularly think that is a good way of looking at it either. The example on the blues I was treating the first two chords as Mixolydian but I feel starting everything on the root note is a bit pedestrian. The idea is to be able to switch between scales fluently. You could go back and use a Lydian Dominant scale and so on. Then mix and match etc.
  12. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
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  13. Groove Master

    Groove Master Commercial User

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    For improvisation purposes I think it is better to simplify things and instead of thinking about all those inversions of the Parent scale I would see more the patterns starting on chord-tones or notes of the arpeggios. It makes life easier :cool:. So in the case of a blues it would be much easier to think of the mixolydian scale (or the bebop scale) and then start on the other notes of the chord. Even the major scale can work over a dominant in a blues but that would be another topic LOL
    Jeff Bonny likes this.
  14. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I would tend to agree with that.
    Constantly switching modes mentally is not often done in practice.
    Improvising a song in the key of C major, for example,
    Instead of thinking E min = E phrygian scale,
    I tend to think E min = C major scale emphasizing E, G, B, D*

    That said, there is some value to practice modes explicitly

    * more truthfully I think: E min = E, G, B, D, and whatever else my ear tells me works with the style of music.
    Groove Master likes this.
  15. Groove Master

    Groove Master Commercial User

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Absolutely. I am a big big fan of modes because it helps building coherent bass lines in any diatonic contexts. But as far as improv I like to bring down the scales to a minimum so students can start to hear and sing lines instead of doing too much intellectual analysis while trying to solo ;-)
    DuluthDank likes this.
  16. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    I found the Ray Brown way of playing scales in intervals (see The Ray Brown Bass Method) to be an excellent foundation for getting patterns in your mind’s ear and under your hands. It’s real basic ground floor stuff that opens many doors.
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  17. Groove Master

    Groove Master Commercial User

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Hahaha You too know the good old books ;). Great suggestions
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