1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Need help with modes and scales

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by vidy8, Jun 9, 2014.

  1. vidy8


    Jun 9, 2014
    can some one explain to me the difference between the different scales and modes and how they have different finger positions for playing them and how they all work together or at least refer me to something that explains it im having a hard time understanding it
  2. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    This won't help you with fingering but a lot of that is just common sense or what works best for you. You can play a D Dorian scale starting on the D of the A string and move vertically to the octave on the G string (assuming a 4 string bass). You can also play the same scale moving up the neck. Depends on where you want to land and what sound qualities you want out of the bass for a particular part or song. But the easiest way to understand the modes (for me) was to think of the the C major (Ionian) scale. Can you play a C major scale on your bass? That is the Ionian scale. Next, play all the notes in that scale but start on D (D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D); that would be the Dorian scale. Notice the minor 3rd (D to F) and the major 6th (D to B). Moving on, if you played all the notes in the C major (Ionian) scale starting on E (E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E) you would be playing the Phrygian scale. Notice the flat 2nd (E to F) and minor 6th (E to C). I took a music theory class when I was first learning bass (which was my first instrument) and it helped tremendously. Also, check this out:

  3. WBasstrolo


    May 10, 2014
    If you're in high school and want to learn more about music, you can probably take a music theory course, that will be the best way to learn, but for now, here's some quick tips.

    Google "basic music theory".

    That will get you on the right track.

    Also, google major and minor scales for bass.

    Scales are patterns of whole steps and half steps. A half step is when you move up or down a fret on your bass. A whole step is when you move up or down two frets.

    A major scale is wwhwwwh (w=whole step, h=half step).
  4. Dirac


    Aug 28, 2013
    As already stated, major modes are simply scales that start on different notes of the major scale (AKA, the Ionian mode). There's Dorian (starts on the second note), Phrygian (third), Lydian (fourth), Mixolydian (fifth), Aeolian (AKA, a minor scale, which starts on the sixth), and Locrian (seventh, and my personal favorite).

    I would also recommend studying basic music theory or taking a class on the subject; it's incredibly useful. Otherwise, a good start is to learn the major scale and its whole/half step patterns, and figure out the finger positions at different points on the neck. A great way to learn your fretboard is to figure out how to play every major scale at any position on the neck. Learning the modes, then, is just a matter of adjusting your starting note.
  5. vidy8


    Jun 9, 2014
    alright thanks for the help everyone its really appreciated i'm very new to bass and playing as instrument in general i played the trumpet a little in 4th - 6th grade so i don't remember anything I've been just practicing the scales and learning a few easy songs here and there anything else i should do to help me learn i also have a book that i'm going to start doing to help develop my skills with the bass?
  6. Scales first. Here are the Major scales:
    Scales with sharps
    C D E F G A B ...........................0 sharps
    G A B C D E F# .........................1 sharp
    D E F# G A B C# .......................2 sharps
    A B C# D E F# G# .....................3 sharps
    E F# G# A B C# D# ...................4 sharps
    B C# D# E F# G# A# .................5 sharps
    F# G# A# B C# D# E# ...............6 sharps
    C# D# E# F# G# A# B# .............7 sharps

    Memory peg - See God Destroy All Earth By F#iry C#aos is the order of scales with sharps.
    Order of sharps - Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Birds. C scale has none, G has one sharp the F# (Fat) the D scale has 2 sharps the F# and C# (Fat Cats). The A scale has three sharps which ones? How about Fat Cats Go

    Scales with flat notes
    C D E F G A B ...........................0 flats
    F G A Bb C D E ..........................1 flat
    Bb C D Eb F G A ........................2 flats
    Eb F G Ab Bb C D .......................3 flats
    Ab Bb C Db Eb F G .....................4 flats
    Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C ....................5 flats
    Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F ..................6 flats
    Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb .................7 flats
    Memory peg - See Farmer Brown Eating Apple Dumplings Greasly Cooked
    Order of flats use same Farmer Brown, etc.

    When the song writer writes a song he usually has a vocalist in mind so he writes the song in the scale/key the vocalists likes to sing in. I like to sing in D. Now we all can sing in several keys, all of them really, but, we can hit all the high notes and all the low notes in just a few. I'm good with D so if I will be singing a solo I'd ask for the song to be played in D. That is a simple answer to why there are so many scales and why songs are written in certain scales.

    Modes are moods of a scale. You are not ready for modes yet. Do yourself a favor and ignore modes for at least 6 months. Modes will steal valuable time that you can spend on learning how to use scales and chord tones. But, since you asked:
    • Ionian is the same as the major scale and has an up beat mood.
    • Lydian is one of the major modes that is very close to the major scale sound. Some say it has a daydreamy sound. It is so close to Ionian I seldom use Lydian.
    • Mixolydian is also one of the major modes and has a Latin sound. Used with dominant seven chords and the Blues chord progression quite a lot. Of the major modes Ionian and Mixolydian get the most use. Of course IMO.
    • Aeolian is the same notes as the Natural minor scale and is said to have a sad sound.
    • Dorian is another minor mode and has an attractive minor sound. Dorian is my favorite minor mode.
    • Phrygian is another minor mode and has a Middle Eastern sound.
    • Locrian is the diminished mode and has a dark and tense sound.
    Now to get that sound you should play your mode over a modal vamp. Long story and you need not get into it right now. Scott Devine has a great video lesson on modes. Check it out. http://www.scottsbasslessons.com/welcome-to-the-shed His use of the pedal point hitch hikes on what I talked about needing a modal vamp.

    So if you are writing a song and want an attractive minor sound notes from the Dorian mode would serve you well. If you want an up beat happy sound use Ionian or the major scale.

    As each mode has different notes they have different finger positions. As I bet you will not be writing any original songs any time soon you have no reason to get off into modes right now. Do yourself a favor and forget modes for now. Concentrate on scales and chord tones.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2014
    elBandito and Pentatonic like this.
  7. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    In that case, I would not get too hung up on modes for the time being. They can come later on. Malcolm has given a good basic run down of scales and modes.

    I would suggest concentrating on chord tones as this is what the bassist plays most of the time. For now I would suggest learning the major, minor and pentatonic scales. Then move swiftly onto chord tones.

    Here is a link that explains the importance of giving chord tones at least equal priority to scales. It is a great site and one worth ear marking.

  8. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Find a good method book.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.