Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by DJOSEON, Sep 29, 2005.



    Sep 20, 2005
    Do you think it's important any bassist memorizes scales?

    I'm trying to commit them to memory, but I wonder if that's worth the time and effort? Playing at church we use a lot of lead sheets and I'd love to be good at improvising, and I picked up the Berklee Practice method, and it seems like learning some of the scales will open up a variety of oppurtunities.
  2. Bass for Beef

    Bass for Beef

    Aug 11, 2005
    Scales are very essential to improvision and playing good in the pocket basslines. Learn em all inside and out, play in one scale and figure out how to intertwine it with other scales. Like if you're playring a Bb blues scale you could also alternate with the notes in a G Blues scale. Those are some of the thigns that go togehter nicely
  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    My advice would to learn scales in the context of music you're playing. For example, play a 12 bar blues in E. So you'll need three basic scales to start you off E, A and B mixolydian scales. The same scale, just built off different root notes.

    Not sure if you know this, sorry if you do, but if you take the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of a scale they make up a chord that is derived form the scale.

    So in an E Blues the main chord, the 'home' chord is E7.
    The E mixolydian scale is E F# G# A B C# D E. So the notes making up the the E7 chord are E G# B D. If you play these notes they will outline the sounds of the chord. That's what the guitarist wants to hear when he solos for twenty minutes so he knows where he is in the song.

    Just sitting down and laboriously learning scales is dull as dishwater.. but if you learn therm in the context of music, well, that's what it's all about I guess, it's much more fun!

    Write out the note sin any scales you use in a song too... write out the three mixolydian scales in an E blues and look at which notes stay the same between each scale and which change... with a bit of experimenting you should find some nice sounds and ideas for building basslines and solos :)
  4. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I think learning chords patterns and using passing notes is more important.
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I agree with Kiwi for once ;) I think learning scales is important, but knowing what to play over chord changes is much more useful to any non-classical musician.
  6. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I must admit, that I used to think scales and modes was the most important thing to learn. Now-a-days I'm more turned on by chord patterns as a solo, improvisation, and song writing tool.

    To me, it's harder to get a sense of harmony when using scales by themselves. also, chord patterns are more effective with training the ear. If I were a vocalist though, I'd be thinking about scales as the most important concept to learn.

    Don't get me wrong, I still think scales are an important concept bass players. But when it comes to priorities for developing harmony and rhythm, 1. chords 2. scales.

    just my 0.02 cents
  7. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    To me scales and chords are all part of the same thing. I think that to an extent, trying to pry them apart from each other is imposing an artificial barrier where none really exists. I say learn them both at the same time. After all, what are scales but spread-out chords with the gaps between the chord tones filled in?
  8. I have a hard time seeing where it is important to know all the scales and modes except when learning the fingerboard. I think that if you worry about what scale you are playing, what mode you're in, and what chord you need to outline you start thinking too much and when I start thinking that much I get tripped up and end up screwing something up. Am I wrong? I believe that scales, arpeggios, and chords are extremely important and help you know where to go in a given bass line but I don't know how important it is to know whether or not you are in the dorian or mixolydian mode. :confused:
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I have read about and talked to a few guitarists and bassists who would have no idea what to play if they didn't know modes. That, to me, is pathetic. You can hear them running scales, too, which is even more pathetic.

    However, I do see the value in knowing scales and modes, because they do give you ideas that you might not have thought about otherwise. But like anything in music, emotion is more important to convey than technical know-how, so you have to use the scales and modes for what they are...a tool to help you express your innermost emotions on your instrument. They are a means to an end, not the end itself.
  10. Ultimately you are right - it doesn't matter if you know that you are in dorian or mixolydian, what does matter is that you can identify the sounds and play what you hear.

    Scales, modes, arpeggios are all just tools to help you identify sounds. After playing them over and over, each have their own sound that you can use at your discretion, you will not be thinking "Dm7 = dorian mode = D,F,A,C arpeggio", you will hear a Dm7 and know where to find the sounds on the fretboard that you require at that point.

    The trick is to get those sounds under your fingers, so that your brain doesn't need to be involved. Once you disconnect from the thought process, you can be truly free to create.