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!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Practicing scales, best way

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by DaBassman, Dec 22, 2004.

  1. DaBassman


    Mar 25, 2002
    Oneonta, NY
    I read an interview in Bass Player this month with Dave Holland. He said when he practices, he still runs thru all 12 major scales to start off. Now, it's the same pattern whether you start on C to C or move down one fret to C#, D, E... etc. I assume I'm not understanding his comment because that doesn't seem to teach me anyting about the notes in a particular scale......what am I missing?
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    My answer in your other thread.
  3. Play them any way but straight--start high and go low, play through octaves, vary the rhythm, different places along the neck, by thirds, etc.

    To really know or understand a scale you have to get away from the patterns you mention. When I first started fooling with the bass, I learned the pattern. After that, I could positionally play virtually any scale from lowest note to highest, but had no real concept of what that all meant. And I never played a tune that required running through a scale.

    When I began taking lessons, my teacher steered me toward a much more practical approach to practicing scales. I still don't practice them as much as I should but what I do now is far more beneficial. I have the beginnings of an understanding of how the pieces all fit together. Of course, understanding how they fit and actually fitting them are two different things.
  4. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    I practice scales in fourths a lot; something Lynn Seaton had me do.

  5. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Running the circle of fourths is good practice, as it gives you II-V-I type progressions. As is choosing a key and playing through Major, dominant, minor, 7b5, dinimished & augmented for that key (these kind of things help to keep the practicing of scales more interesting). Playing a scale from the lowest note (not the lowest *root* note) to the highest (and back via a different route) is a workout too.

    Two things that my teacher has me do that really help get a feel for what's going on:

    1) Play the scales backwards (without having led into them forwards first). It's much trickier than you think.

    2) Say the note names out loud as you are playing scales (I end up singing the note-names - which possibly helps). This takes you further than just playing the shapes on the fingerboard, by connecting you to what it is that you're actually playing - the notes that make up the scale.

    I try to combine scale practice with bowing practice to save time - you could spend all day, every day, playing through scales if you had a mind to.
  6. Here it comes!!! You're not understanding this because the DB has no....all together now.....F R E TS..........
  7. Klelewon


    Mar 15, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I do this for my long tone warm up and basic fingerboard familiarity. I used to start on C and cycle in 4ths. (Which I think is great!) Now I start in my weakest keys first (B, Db, Ab, and Gb). Rather than cycling in 4ths, my teacher now has me move in Major 3rds and Minor 3rds. (Augmented and Diminished cycle? Cool).

    Well, for DB this is not necessarily true (IMHO). On electric bass the C and C#/Db patterns generally are the same. On DB my and C#/Db patterns generally are not the same. They can be but generally they’re not. There are many DB scale patterns that I know of, e.g., Rabbath, Vance, Simandl, etc...

    Well, what this teaches me is: Intonation, where the notes are on the fingerboard, different finger patterns and combinations, with a descending scale which fingers to use with the 1/2 steps, the same for ascending, when and where can I switch to a new string. This helps me when moving in and out of the transition area and thumb position. If I’m cycling in 4ths using 2-5-1 this helps with my Jazz work. It helps me with my speed and increases my facility on DB. Oh, yeah…I gets to plays my bass!! :D
  8. DaBassman


    Mar 25, 2002
    Oneonta, NY
    Thanks Paul,
    I got a big surprise here for you....I know a DB has no FRETS (and Mr Holland plays DB mostly)!!! I simply entered my question in both forums hoping some nice folks would give me a few tips for practicing.
    Thanks anyway! However, I already found some nice people willing to give helpful advice (sans the smugness :rollno: )
    Happy Holidays to all!!
  9. JetJazz


    Sep 9, 2004
    You're right DaBassman, no matter about frets or no frets.
    Practice is practice and scales are scales. Keep practicing, my friend!!! and Happy Holidays! Hey....and don't forget to practice those chord tone patterns!

  10. Hey, this is just a thing I do....not trying to be smug. It's kinda like a humor kind of thing. Still, no matter how you cut it, the DB still has no frets....Merry Christmas to you and best of luck with your studies! :D
  11. DaBassman


    Mar 25, 2002
    Oneonta, NY
    Well, then I guess it's good you're a musician, not a comedian :) !!
    No problem, my question was answered by several others (in both forums) who gave me some helpful advice.

    Keep your day job!
    Happy New year!
  12. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Imagine a bar -- a real place, with real people there -- where bass players hang out. The main reason for this place to exist is for bassists to hang, play, shoot the sh*t, get into the occasional heated discussion, et cetera.

    Imagine this place is even cooler -- there are folks from about 4 different generations hanging there. Folks with 40 years of pro playing time, folks with none; folks who have played with the best, folks who have just had their first lesson.

    Can you imagine someone coming into such a place and treating someone like Paul Warburton with the disrespect this kid DaBassMan just did? I mean, doing so when you can actually see and hear the evidence of Paul's lifelong work, when he's playing and when he's hanging out giving folks the benefit of his experience?

    As Ray Charles would say: "nah, I can't feature that." In real life, with real people situated in a real environment, such a thing could only happen if a fool walked in the door.

    DaBassMan: take a minute to check out Paul and what he's done. There's plenty of evidence right here at TB. Then see if you wanna come back and make that "dayjob" crack again.

    While you're at it, send me some trax, Dude. I'll put you up there with the rest of the DBers. Let's check you out...
  13. brutuscheezcake

    brutuscheezcake Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2003
    Bodega Bay
    hey guys,

    MY (IMHO) take on the "how to" on scales needs to be prefaced with the "when " and "what".

    scale practice needs to take place every morning just after the first cup of coffee and email/internet check. get up,get dressed, pee, brush your teeth, wash your face, comb your hair, get your coffee, check out the world in general. tune your bass, fire up band in the box. its now time to get on the stick!

    the big thing here is consistentcy. 6 or 7 days a week. 1 and a half to 2 hours per day (this is just for the scales bit), everyday. day in, day out. i dont dick around while its scale time. no sirree bob. this is before anything else gets done. if i have to travel (an occupational hazard here) i get up extra early.

    OK so i said my piece, there!

    in improvisation (in general) there are 8 "more" important scale choices to practice. they are Maj7lyd, m7, 7b9, mMaj7, m7b5, 7alt, dim, 7#11 (lyd dom). take that by 12 scale degrees equals 96 scales to cycle thru.

    each scale gets taken apart by scale, arp from1 arp from 2, a pattern and a little improv. 5 minutes per section minimum. that works out to 20-25 minutes per scale times 4 scales perday equals about 2 hours per day with 5 minute breakes between scales.

    today i got up and worked on DbMaj7Lyd, Dbm7, Db7b9, DbmMaj7 for damn near 2 hours watching pregame shows.

    everyday i run 4 scales. i run the same 4 scales for 7 practice days then move to the next 4 in my 96 scale matrix.

    oh, yeah. then do it backward. on patterns preserve direction. on arps keep changing how far you go on a string, and sing the arps so you get to know the fretboard (FINGERBOARD, only kiddding Paul!) and intonation.

    thats just the scale side.

    so... practice practice practice

    figure out what it is that you dont do well and ATTACK it until it is yours.

    you know what i mean! today is the day to get tough!

    i know i sound didactic but i truly believe that if you want to seperate yourself from the weak and insincere, just be BRUTALLY honest with yourself and practice like there is no tomorrow. today might be your best opportunity to get that perfect gig.

    find the best teacher you can, afterall you only asked about practicing scales!

    sorry for the ramble....


  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    No offense, but define "not dicking around". Wouldn't "not dicking around" include focusing your entire attention on what you were doing and the sound you were producing? :eyebrow:
  15. I didn't mean to de-rail this thread.....Damon, what you wrote in my behalf actually made me cry. With friends like you, that other stuff means nothing to me. Partly I was, as usual , trying to have fun. This site means so much to me. I guess I do over do the fret thing, but I love this instrument so much that I really do these kind of things to kind of welcome younger players here.
    I'll pull it back a notch or two. Thanks again Damon!
  16. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Hey Paul somebody has to keep us all in check. :p

    otherwise we will have new DB players talking about frets all the time. :rollno:
  17. DaBassman


    Mar 25, 2002
    Oneonta, NY
    Wooo, Paul

    This whole thing has all gotten out of hand, sorry. The day job crack was meant about being a comedian!! Not a musician.......I'm sure you're as good as everyone says.

    This all started because I put a post in the Bass Guitar Forum (hence the fret part). Then thought I might also get some useful insight from the DB section as well. So, I cut and pasted my question again rather than retype it.....I got some very helpful advice and only one wise crack, you :). Most people understood what I was getting at.

    I guess we both should keep our days jobs and leave the comedy to someone else!!!

    Peace :)
  18. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    If yo uso a search in you will find that TB'er PACMAN posted an interesting scale practice procedure that is worth looking into to.
  19. DaBassman


    Mar 25, 2002
    Oneonta, NY
    Got it!!!! Thanks! :cool:
  20. brutuscheezcake

    brutuscheezcake Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2003
    Bodega Bay
    awwww jeezy peezy chris,

    its awful early out here. if you parse my words and find illogical inconsistencies, well... i guess its because i havent done my scales yet. i am still in the check the internet, get a cup of coffee bit.

    but that will change in the next 10 minutes

    as i go from sleepy riser to super scale acheiver (where i FOCUS my inner strength!)

    (ahh...wheres that cuppa coffee now mister super acheiver?)

    time to go get that coffee, give mrs cheezcake a kiss and get on the stick, stickman.


    simon (not at his best before the coffee)