Walking scales to use in Van Morrison "Moondance"?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by remo, Oct 21, 2006.

  1. remo


    Jan 15, 2005
    The main chord progression in this song is basically Am7 - Bm7 (Em turnaround)

    the bridge ("the soooft moonlight...) goes Dm7 - Am7

    with the D7 - E7#9 turnaround..

    now I can play the basic bassline for this but I would like to know which mode I should used to improvise a walking bassline under the guitar solo.. I don't want to just learn the recorded bassline because thats no fun.. which modes fits over Am7 - Bm7?

    I'm guessing an Em scale that begins and ends on A with a Bb note in it (flat 5), whatever mode that is.. can anyone shed some light on this situation
  2. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    I don't have it in front of me, but from listening in my head, I think you can just stick with A Dorian throughout the Am-Bm section. (A Dorian would be A B C D E F# G).
  3. jady


    Jul 21, 2006
    Modesto, CA
    Dont use modes, use the chord tones,
    Am= A,C,E
    if you just walk around in a mode, you will lose all tonality of the chord changes. Whereas the note in the mode above are correct, think chords when you walk.

    I play this tune a lot in E and it's a jacked up big band arrg with lots of chord subs but in the verses it's only bass and voice so all of the chordal harmony is up to my bassline.
  4. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Excellent point. I was going to suggest landing heavily on the roots at the appropriate moments, but somehow let it slip.
    For example, you don't want to play a G over the Bm chord. (Voila-- a G major 7 chord!)
    (Or maybe you do!)
    (However, playing a G as a passing note from F# to A (as you move from Bm back to Am) works. It's all in the context.)
  5. ^^ - I agree fully with the walking bassline creation - ^^

    When creating your walking lines you should definitely be keenly focused on the chord and moving from one chord to the next with good leading tones and resolutions.

    Regarding modes...
    I have been wrestling with this very situation regarding soling/improv.

    I created this app. to help "suggest" some approaches to using modes in improv.

    The way it works - in your situation is like this:

    Select Am (A - Aeolian) as the primary key
    1. Click the first button, the "Select a Key" button, and select "A"
    2. Skip button 2 (# or b)
    3. Click the third button, the "Select a Mode" button, and select "Aeolian" - which is minor.
    4. Click "Generate"

    The results:
    It returns the Keys and Modes of the Am chord tones (A,C,E, G [the seventh]).
    A - Aeolian
    C - Ionian
    E - Phrygian
    G - Mixolydian

    What do you do with that?
    Ok... there are many here how will tell me I am WAAYYY overthinking this, but what I do with it is:

    Suppose you are jamming along in Am and it's your turn to solo.

    You could start jamming around in Am and have done with it - hey, no problem there, right?

    Next time around, I want to do something different - so I decide to start my improv on the chord tone "E". If you were to play an E-phrygian scale while Am is rolling along, it would sould quite fine. So I use my "Phrygian" patterns and keep a focus on the fact that I am soloing over Am. So I make sure my phrases move to and resolve on notes that sould good in Am - "A" (root) for one...

    Next time around, I could choose to utilize the Mixolydian mode (which in this case is the "G" of the Am scale) - whip out a nice arpeggio based on G Mixolydian and roll on up to the A to finish the phrase... sounds nice!

    Ok, maybe I am overthinking it, but I have used my little modal relationship app. when practicing some standards like "So What?" and "My Favorite Things" and found it to be a great way to have an improv approach "suggested".

    Since all of the modes and different flavors - mystical, serious, fun, happy, exotic... using them to invent solos is good, in my opinion.

    Now I reserve the right to come back after further study and revise my opinion when and if I gain more insight into modes and how to use them - but for now, this really does work - for me.
  6. jady


    Jul 21, 2006
    Modesto, CA
    sweet app tZer!!!
  7. Thanks, Jady. I have found it useful in suggesting other perspectives for improv. Since I learned scales (and modes) by positions and intervals - being able to simply say, "Hell, I am going to solo in E-phrygian (using the phrygian scale and arpeggios with E as the root) - you can get the flavor or phrygian while playing against A minor. You just need to make sure your phrases "make sense" against the parent key.

    And so I don't hijack this thread - remo - Check out the article here about walking bass line construction.

    Covers it from the ground up!
  8. the thing with walking basslines is that you dont usually just use one chord or mode to walk over.

    say the shord progression in a song is A-D7-E7, your basic I-IV-V prog...

    the easiest way to walk through that would be to play the root, third, fifth of a chord, and on the last beat, play a note that acts as a leading tone to the next chord(if the song is in 4), then you would continue the process for the next two chords

    its not necessary to use the root third fifth, but thats the easiest way when your first learning.

    for most, emphasis MOST, rock music, you can just stick to one chord or mode for a bassline or guitar solo...but MOST jazz or blues is based on playing around the chord changes in a song.

    for example, a jazz trumpeter usually wont just solo on the dorian mode of A, but he will use the notes in one chord to say something, while he is moving towards the next chord, which he will then use to travel to the next...so on and so on.

    its really quite complex.
  9. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    True enough, but the original poster was asking how to walk over a two-chord vamp in a song that is really just jazz-flavored rock, at best. I thought talking about tritone substitutions and the like would be a little bit over the top!
  10. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    I agree. This is a good song for getting familiar with the blues scale. R, m3, P4, #4, P5, m7. Lends itself well to 'jazz-rock-pop' stuff
  11. To me, "Moondance" has one of the most difficult bass lines I've ever "tried" to play. It is also one of the best I've ever heard. I kinda improvised my own on our demo cd. I think my version is very amateur. I didn't really have time to learn it before we did the demo. You can listen to it on our website at www.recklessunion.com The other previous post all seem to make alot more sense than what I played on the demo. I "will" do better next time around. Thanks to the other posters for the info. ;) ;) :D

  12. i agree with what you said...but if you use those degrees of the scale, you gotta switch scales that you use when the chords change, as i said, you cant just use one scale
  13. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Hello iplaybassguitar

    In my post I was agreeing with dougjwray that talking about using tri tone subs in a two chord vamp in a pop song may be a little too much. I guess I should have explained a little deeper. I have a habit of talking in shorthand and am guilty of not going into enough detail to back up my opinions. My bad. Of course to actually understand and be able to hear and use tri tone subs to play walking bass lines to this song would, IMO, be a good thing

    I agree with djwray's earlier post where one can treat the whole Am - Bm "verse" section as an Am (Dorian was his preferred scale). The Bm is on the and of 3 and is mostly carried by the keyboard. I too hear this section as one chord. I chose to suggest the blues scale because for a bland vanilla pseudo jazz pop-rock song like this it just lends itself to a simple funky sounding scale. I was specifically talking about the "verse" in my post

    I understand what you are saying and agree with you it is much more interesting if one switches scales as chords change. I do not agree that you gotta or that you can't use just one scale. There are no hard, fast rules except your fingers follow what your ears hear. But I agree making the choice to play one scale under all chords all the time would get pretty old pretty fast for both listener and player unless the resolutions were handled in an interesting way

    I agree the chorus (Dm7 to Am7) would sound more interesting using different scale choices and would sound more normal if the roots followed the roots of the chord being played (but not necessarily just playing the roots on 1 all of the time). The same is true of the D7 - E7 turn around, although one can play Am7 Dorian under a D7 - it's the same thing

    To the OP: this is an excellent song to try all kinds different minor scales in the "verse" because the section is so static. Experiment with the Blues scale, Bebop minor, modes - aeolian, dorian, phrygian - for fun try A Dorian ascending and use A Phrygian descending. Use melodic minor (because it works in the ascending, descending fashion). Since the keyboard and guitar are holding down the chords, you can take off and explore a little in your walking lines.
    Don't necessarily try everything all at once, Try a couple of different ideas every time you play the song and see what sounds good to you. Simplicity for a simple song.

    *whew* -- see why I prefer shorthand! I should have just said "I agree"! haha
  14. remo


    Jan 15, 2005
    thanks guys.. heaps of ideas here.. I think because the Am -Bm vamp is so pinned by the gtr and key's its the freedom for the bass to wander that made me ask the question in the first place!
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