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Scales for "Sex machine"

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Thurisarz, May 21, 2005.

  1. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    The school ensemble which i'm in are gonna play the James Brown classic "Sex machine" at the last day of school-show. We're playing it in Eb and i'm asked to do a bass solo, i've been thinking about it but i don't know what scale to do, been thinking about penta or some bebop scale. Any tips on scales i'm grateful for :)
  2. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    What are the changes you are soloing over?
  3. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    Changes? The solo is in Eb
  4. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    Use Eb Dorian and you'll be all set. Dorian is THE Funk scale. For some extra coolness, throw in the occasional flat fifth.
  5. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    Yeah Dorian sounds great! Thanks everybody :)

    But what is flat fifth? I don't know the english musictheory words
  6. the fifth note of the scale, lowered by one half step.
  7. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    This really depends on the arrangement you are performing but "Sex Machine" generally has a pretty funky, driving bassline. It has been my experience that on some songs(like this one) where the bassline "drives" the song when I drop out of my bassline to solo the groove is lost or greatly deminished. This of course all depends on the drummer and what lines the guitar(s) and other rythym instruments are playing.
    For this reason I sometimes like to approach my solo by first playing the bassline and "showing it off" in all it's super funky glory, remember, just because you've been playing it for 5 mins doesn't mean everybody's been paying attention to it. I then sometimes add a bit, but not to much as to loose the groove, then bring it back home.
    I find this technique especially effective when people are dancing, nothing clears a dance floor more quickly than a "deep" or complex bass solo in the middle of a funk tune.
    Anyways.....just a thought............
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I'm sorry, but with all respect, this just sounds like complete rubbish to me...:meh:

    Nobody has even mentioned the quality of the chords being played or whether we're in major or minor - funk is a rhythmic feel nothing to do with scales and you can't just say : play Dorian, whatever the tune is...:meh:
  9. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    Try adding a D natural between the Db and the Eb .
  10. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    I say solo in E minor penatonic. MMmmmmm bad.
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Hmmm....as they say : in the the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king!! ;)
  12. Its James Brown Sex Machine. There is only one chord. The key is enough information to completely define the song.... :D At least until you "Take it to the bridge!!!" :bassist:

  13. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    ."....on D....heavy D...HUNH!"
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    There are many chords that will fit within a key and what's all this stuff about Eb Dorian then? Just as if we're playing D Dorian, we are actually playing a C Major scale, if we play Eb Dorian, then we are effectively playing a Db Major scale - and can you apply the Dorian mode to any funk tune...no matter what chords? :scowl:
  15. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    Okay, let me be more specific, then. For most funk songs that have a minor-ish feel (which is the case for a whole damn lot of funk songs, including "Sex Machine"), the Dorian scale is probably most appropriate to use for your bass line or a non-jazzy solo when the tonic is played. Happy now, Mr. Lindfield?

    By the way, we're talking about "Sex Machine", we ain't got no need for yer crazy jazz logic. :p
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    But you just can't say : the key is Eb - play Eb Dorian - that's just plain wrong!! :meh:
  17. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    Its Mixo all the way and because of that there alot of availible alterations.

    Some Horns Guy look at these songs and think Modal Funk.Personally, I play the Blues.

    To the original poster

    Try a combination of Mixolydian,Dorian and Major and minor pentatonic, and the "blues scale"

    Make simple,Very Rhythmic themes and repeat them. The Magic number is three times and move on.Try to create groups phrases that last 2,Four or eight bars. actually If you ceated 2,8 bars then 2,4bars then 4, 2 bars it would be effective.When you feel you almost done, play more, this could very controld and "perfect" or Just go nuts keep this section short. then either bang a BIG OL" EFLAT(might work well if you've gone the go nuts road) to let them know your done or play a simple melody something that says "there thats the end" dont noodle past this point your done enjoy it!

  18. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Put down the bass. Put the song on your CD player. Sing a bass solo. Then pick up a bass and figure out what you sang. Then after the fact, figure out what scale you used.
  19. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Might I add... get up... get on up.
  20. Elia


    Apr 12, 2005
    my funk band played this song back when it was still together, and the funny thing is, that the song itself is not actually in dorian. it's definitely Eb, but when James Brown played his little piano solo-y thing in the middle, he played a #9 over top of it; the song itself is in Eb mixolydian. listen to the guitar chords, and you can hear the G natural. so i would recommend playing things which fit over that scale: blues scale, dominant (mixolydian), minor pentatonic (not major, in this case, it would be too happy, as you already said). the bridge goes to an Ab7. good luck.

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