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whole tone scale

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by richardgk, Apr 18, 2010.


  1. in what situation would a whole tone scale be useful? As far as I understand it there is no tonal center for the scale, so how could it be used over chords?
     
  2. jweiss

    jweiss Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah
    Used in jazz a good amount for improvisation.

    It works well over specific altered 7th chords such as 7#5.

    Can also be used over any dominant 7th chord where you want to sound a bit out.

    Does not work well over 7b9 due to the natural 9.

    The second half of the scale is same as the altered dominant scale, so it can be used in places where you would use the altered dominant scale if you avoid the natural 2/9.

    Easy to finger on bass/guitar, lends itself to digital patterns.

    Since there are only two unique whole tone scales, it is easy to switch between them when 7th chords move up a 4th / down a 5th.

    I like to use whole tone sparingly on the bridge of rhythm changes.
     
  3. jweiss

    jweiss Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah
    Works well over these 7th chords:

    7#5, 7b5, 9, 9#5, 9b5, 7#5(#11).
     
  4. Entzel

    Entzel

    Feb 24, 2006
    I think that just blew my mind. Thats a tad dramatic, but I've honestly never heard that before. I feel I should have picked this up, even after only a semester of playing jazz!

    So what you are saying is that the two unique WT scales are built off of the 1st and 4th scale degree in any key. (that is: the two are built starting on the 1st and 4th scale degrees).

    Thats kinda neat.

    Thanks for enlightening me!
     
  5. jweiss

    jweiss Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah
    Yep.

    Another way to approach it - if you are playing whole tone scale over dominant seventh chords that move up a fourth or down a fifth - just take whatever lick/pattern you just played and move it up or down a half step and you will now be playing in the whole tone scale for the next 7th chord :)
     
  6. JoZac21

    JoZac21

    Nov 30, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Ooo... don't forget dom.13 chords... like butter.
     
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    i would have stopped after "sparingly" ;)

    i personally prefer not to bog myself down with thinking about scales and consciously working them into my playing. too limiting. fun as an academic exercise, not fun as music. i'd rather just see the chords and make up my own mind what notes to use rather than force scales into it.

    just an alternate viewpoint here. feel free to regard or disregard...but my favorite solo bassists never sound like they're playing scales, so...
     
  8. jweiss

    jweiss Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah
    I understand your concerns, but scales are chord tones :)

    You have made several assumptions about how I might apply the whole tone scale.

    It's all about how you use them.

    whole tone over 7#5:

    1 9 3 #11 #5 7
     
  9. jweiss

    jweiss Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah
    Yes, absolutely!
     
  10. bassandbeyond

    bassandbeyond

    Aug 28, 2004
    Rockville MD
    Affiliated with Tune Guitar Maniac
    Don't you mean b13 chords? The natural 13 tends to clash with the #5 in the whole tone scale, so if I want a more "colorful" sound on a 13 chord, I'll usually play dominant-diminished or lydian b7.

    The easiest way to use a whole tone scale musically, for me, is to play any whole tone lick (e.g. a simple augmented triad), and then move it up or down the neck by whole steps.
     
  11. jweiss

    jweiss Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah

    Good point.

    Yep, works nicely.

    Or move up the chord tones!

    1-3-#5-3 3-#5-7-#5 #5-7-9-#5 etc.

    Another fragment that is very easy to finger on bass or other stringed instruments tuned in 4ths is major 3rd -> major 2nd

    e.g.

    1-3-#11-3 3-#5-7-#5 #5-1-9-1 etc.

    Or turn it around, major 2nd -> major 3rd.

    1-9-#11-9 etc.
     
  12. anonymous02282011

    anonymous02282011 Guest

    Jun 27, 2007
    Also, there are really only 3 diminished scales, each within a half-step of one another.
     
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    that would sound pretty :bassist:

    didn't mean to cast aspersions...just my way of doing things...ymmv.
     
  14. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City

    Robert Fripp called, he wants his idea back.


    :)
     
  15. bassandbeyond

    bassandbeyond

    Aug 28, 2004
    Rockville MD
    Affiliated with Tune Guitar Maniac
    That idea goes back long before Fripp's time! ;)
     

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