RockSchool Grade 4 - Track 1 - Help

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by rodoherty1, Jan 16, 2004.

  1. Hi Guys,

    This is a pretty general question.

    I'm aiming for RockSchool Bass Grade 4 in June this year and I recently started tackling the course material.

    The first two tracks place strong emphasis on the ability to improvise (which is a weak spot for me). Grade 3 was not so bad because all solos were tied to a particular key; I simply chose a pentatonic scale and tried to make it sound musical. Grade 4 has me soloing over chords which I cannot tie to a particular key (and that's fair; it's Grade 4 so I should be able to solo fluidly through any given chord progression).

    The last few bars are as follows ...
    |: A7sus4 | A7 | Dm7 | Dm6 :| [*4]

    I've been reading Chris Chaney's recent BassPlayer Column about assigning scales to Triads (or 7th chords) so I did the following ...

    For the first chord, the chord tones are A D E G. From what I understand, a scale like ... A C# D D# E F G A ... could be used to create a solo.

    For the Dm7 chord, the chord tones are D F A C. A scale like ... D E F Ab A B C ... could be used to create a solo. (incidentally, what are the 4 chord tones of Dm6?? Are there 4 tones or only 3)

    Please correct me if I'm wrong with the above scale assignments.

    Is this the theoretical approach most of you would take for a solo over the above chord progression? Are there simpler ways to assign a scale to a solo?

    For example, is there a single pentatonic scale that would suit this chord progression or is Vertical Soloing the only way through this mess.

    The solo on Grade 4 Track 2 is particularly challanging so I need to get the correct approach here.

    I'd appreciate any help anyone can offer (weblink or whatever).
    All the best,

  2. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    1stly , I'm no great improvisational soloist, in any sense! ...just so you know!

    The first two chords are derived from the same scale, A mixolydian, with just one chord tone changing. A nice movement from the 4th down a semi-tone to the the 3rd to play with there - that should be a nice change to work with - from the suspended to the dominant.

    If you assume D dorian for the D-7, then you've already got the right scale to play with the D-6, since the added 6th is major (rather than in natural minor). The same applies to the -7 to -6, you have semi-tone downward movement between two chord tones.

    In actual fact you're dong a simelar thing with the chord tones in both sets of chords there - in the A7sus4 the 4th and 7th form a perfect 4th apart - you then flatten the 4th to create tritone - increasing tension.
    In the D-7 the 3rd and 7th form a perfect 5th apart, you then flatten the 7th to create a tritone, again increasing tension.
    The two tritone at play here are a tone apart, C#,G and B,F (that's inverted).
    Try playing the chord on your bass, or on a guitar - then play those two tritones - you should be able to kinda hear the movement from just those four notes(?)

    So you have...

    A7 = A B C# D E F# G = A mixolydian
    D-7 = D E F G A B C = D dorian

    Right, there's two changes between those scales the C# (3rd in A7) flatted to the C (7th in D-7)... and the F# (6th) flatted to the F (3rd in D-7) - those notes also make up a nice double stop if played together :)

    You can also play with the C# up a semi-tone to D - the root of the D-7 - that should be nice too

    Hmm, not quite sure where they came from. My advice is learn your major scale modes and then theory wise you can bass all the 'workings out' in your head from that... e.g.

    A is natural minor in C major, so it's all whole notes = ABCDEFG - so sharp the 3rd and 6th and, voila, you have A mixolydian - the scale you'd naturally associate with an A7 chord...

    Personally, I'd assign scales per chord as you've done, and I'd focus on a) the semi-tone changes between scale tones - these casue a strong increase or decrease in tension depending on the context ....and the scale tones that remain the same but that move from a non-chord tone to a chord tone over the change - the same applies.
    Basically, semi topne changes can create and resolve the most amount of tension, the really work wonders in basslines and solos, IMO, of course.

    I have no idea! Using single scale will make it sound more like bassline than a solo I should imagine - try to think of scales per chord - the play horizontally through those scales

    Just my advice, others may offer better :)

    good luck!

  3. Hi Howard,

    Thanks for the reply. There's some food for thought there which I'll try and digest this evening.

    Thanks again ...

  4. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Yeah, apologies, it's a lot of waffle for sure!!

    Basically, to look at the notes in each chord and work on a) the movement between the 3rd + 7th and b) the roots

    The roots give you a pretty good basis for a bassline, and the 3rd and 7th give you a good start point for your solo...

    ...also notice how through the chords the 4th of A7, to the 3rd of A7, to the 7th of D- to the 6th of D-, is a downward chromatic movement, D, C#, C, B.
  5. Hi Howard,

    I printed out your reply and studied it last night and I think I saw a blinding flash of light. I'm sure you can remember certain days when something clicked in your head and you laughed outloud with delight at your new understanding. I think I got another one of them last night.

    Referring back to my first mail ... I suggested that a possible scale for Dm7 could be something D E F Ab A B C. To be honest, I just pulled those notes from my arse. From your mail, I think I now understand where your scale assignments came from. Am I right in saying that Dm7 (D F A C) could also be from any of these scales?

    D Eb F G A Bb C - (D Phrygian)
    D E F G A Bb C - (D aeolien)
    D Eb F G Ab Bb C - (D locrian)

    That was an interesting observation about the chromatic drop. It may be a while before I begin to spot such colour in chord progressions but it's something else to look out for.

    Anyway, thanks again for your reply. You've kick-started me towards Grade 4 ... !!

    All the best,

  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Nearly there.

    From the major scales modes, Dm7 could come from dorian, phrygian, or aeolian.

    Lochrian has a flat 5th (Ab), and the chord that derives from that scale is Dmin7b5 = D minor 7 flat 5th.
  8. Yep, got it ... !! Don't know why I missed that.
    Thanks !!

  9. redjeep!

    redjeep! Guest

    Jan 19, 2002
    Hey Rob,

    Sorry to hijack your thread, but how beneficial do you find the entire rockschool concept ? I'm thinking about going in for it myself as I'm finding it hard to keep motivated and find new things to practise.

    I've also been finding it hard to get a tutor out here in rural Ireland so felt that Rockschool could help me to focus.

  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    A friend of mine teaches drumming at a few local schools and he was telling me that rock school is essentially easier than the more classical syllabus (I cant remember the name of the one he mentioned right now).. but, of course, that's for drumming, and is just his opinion.

    Personally, I have no experience of either so I wouldnt know!
  11. Hi Andy,

    Personally I love the syllabii (plural of syllabus?? ). :confused:

    The exam itself will challange your ability to sight-read although the RockSchool book only presents the tunes and no more in standard notation. If you want sight-reading exercises then go to the web or, like I did, photocopy BassPlayer articles and keep them together in a big folder. That way you can lay your hands on exercises immediately without having to root through your back issues for tunes you don't know.

    I found the basslines in the book were tastefully expressed and the sample basslines in the CD are very interesting and professional without dazzling the student with fretboard acrobatics. I'm only beginning Grade 4 now and, to be honest, I hate the first tune but I took a sneak peak at 2 of the 5 remaining tunes and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in. The 6 tunes cover different styles. The first 3 are intended to capture styles of the last 10 years and the last 3 are classic (Jamerson, Blues, jazz, whatever).

    This is the biggest challange for me. Grade 3 was a perfect intro to soloing. Simple chords lifted from one key and the sample solos were wonderful and very inspirational. Grade 4 is keeping me awake at night. Far greater emphasis on the student's ability to follow a set style with a chord-chart and some tunes have mixed-key 8-16 bar solos. Wonderful stuff altogether.

    Emphasis on technique
    I think book pitches the emphasis on technique fairly well. Grade 3 had the occasional string-crossing exercise as part of a riff (or whatever) and Grade 4 is (so far) placing emphasis on well-timed 16th notes. The solo in the first (awful) tune asks the student to knock out a solo/sequence of fills to a nasty 80's dance tune which requires 16th note octave jumps etcs. Nothing manic but it's definately getting interesting.

    I like the tunes (with the exception of the Grade 4 Tune 1). Nice chords, nice melodies and well recorded.

    I know I sound like an advertisement for the course; there's nothing I can do about that because, as I write, I can't think of anything I'd suggest to improve the course.

    Andy, mail me privately if you want to hear more.
    All the best,

  12. redjeep!

    redjeep! Guest

    Jan 19, 2002
    Thanks Rob,

    That was a very comprehensive response.

    I've looked on Rockschools webpage and i think that I'm around book 3 level so I'll order a copy of the book.

    I'll PM you if there is any more specific questions, but I think that you've answered everything thta I can think of.

    B.T.W Did you ever get my PM about Real Books ?

  13. ok i know far less than those hear about the mixolidian scales and whatnot, but when i see i chord, i just imagine the notes in that chord, somewhat hihlighted in my mind, on the fretboard, like a sus 4 has the fret directly above, 7 has the fret two below the octave etc etc.

    then i just play around with these till something sounds good.

    should i learn all these dorians and whatnot, or is the current way seem ok to you guys?
  14. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Depends on your motives?!

    If you can do what you want to do with what you know then you dont need to learn more.

    ..but learning more can only improve your playing, that is of course unless knowledge displaces soul, which has yet to be proven ;)

    put it this way, my appreciation and understading of music and my ability to play with others has improved imemeasurabley since i started learning bits and bobs of thoery a few years back.
    i wish i'd learnt it all from day one and i'd suggest that anyone who wants to be the best musician they can be should understand theory and how to apply it.

  15. Hi Andy,

    Thanks for your PMs. I got them alright and I replied (I take it you didn't get my replies?). My email if we're not having any luck with PM.

    All the best,

  16. I took a look at the web site but couldn't see any examples of the actual pieces in the book
    (I just saw sight reading examples). Maybe I was just being blind?

    If you know of any URLs which show examples from the main tunes I'd appreciate it. Thanks!
  17. You can hear 1 or 2 tunes from each Grade here. Also have a listen to the Piano tunes.

    I'd be happy to MP3-up my Rockschool Grade 3 and 4 CD if you're interested. I bought the books from but I'm sure you can dig the books up elsewhere.

  18. Thanks!
    Actually I was mainly curious what the sheet music looked like.
    (OK, I guess all the information is contained in the audio files, but I suffer
    from too much training in using sheet music and not enough ear training!