Greetings to you, fellow 'holders-of-the-bottom-end!'

Last time around, we talked about using sequencing and intervallic concepts to enhance our use of scalar patterns. Remember: The idea is to apply these ideas to scales and other musical forms in order to inspire ideas that are more MUSICAL in nature. What you end up playing on the gig is directly related to what you spend your time practicing in the "woodshed." Therefore, it is vitally important to get out of the monotony of a stale practice routine and start to replace old habits with new ideas. Hopefully, these concepts will inspire some new lines in your bass playing, and give you a little more of an edge in your usage of scales.

In this installment, I will be introducing some new approaches to working your scale patterns that build off of the sequences and intervals presented to you last time around.

NOTE: If you haven't checked out my last article, "Making Patterns Musical, Part 1," you might want to do so before continuing. Part 1 outlines and explains the concepts that evolve into the material provided in this installment.



Hybrid approaches combine two (or more) different elements from our sequences and intervals and incorporate them into unique musical patterns. Examples of hybrid approaches might combine 2 different intervallic shapes, 2 different sequences, or even a mixtures of a sequence and an interval into one pattern. They are great to use in your playing, because their abstract and very unique sound.



Once again, let's use our major scale reference pattern as the basis for our examples, utilizing a 3 note per string approach to cover as many notes as possible in one position:

Now let's go over an assortment of hybrid patterns which we will use over a G major scale. (Remember that these can be applied to any other scale or mode; just transfer the fingerings to your new scalar pattern and position.)


Note: In each of these exercises, the numbers represent the scale degrees, or ordered positions of the notes in the pattern. Keep in mind that using a 3 note per string approach will give you 12 total notes in a single position for a 4 string, 15 notes total for a 5 string, and 18 notes total for a 6 string bass. These notes are numbered by their placement in a scale.




In this exercise, an interval of a 3rd is followed by a 6th, and then the cycle starts over again:


1-3, 2-7, 3-5, 4-9, 5-7, 6-11, 7-9, etc.


(Notice that the commas separate each interval played in succession.)


Here is the same example as it would appear on a staff using a G major scale:



In this exercise, an interval of a 5th is followed by a 3rd:

1-5, 2-4, 3-7, 4-6, 5-9, 6-8, 7-11, etc.



The 'consecutive' nature of these types of exercises lies in the fact that the intervals chosen are stacked. In other words, the top note of the 1st interval is the bottom note of the 2nd interval, and so on.

In this particular example, a third is stacked on top of a third. Those of you who are familiar with harmonic concepts will notice that this could also be looked at as a triad exercise:

1-3-5, 2-4-6, 3-5-7, 4-6-8, 5-7-9, 6-8-10, 7-9-11, etc.




This is a 5th stacked on top of a 5th:


1-5-9, 2-6-10, 3-7-11, 4-8-12, 5-9-13, 6-10-14, 7-11-15, etc.


Note: Many of the following patterns cannot be played in a single 3 note per string position on a 4 string bass. To play them through the scale, you will have to shift your fingerings.




This is a 5th stacked on top of a 2nd:


1-2-5, 2-3-6, 3-4-7, 4-5-8, 5-6-9, 6-7-10, 7-8-11, etc.




These examples will mix 2 different sequencing ideas together. These ideas are not as abstract sounding as the intervals, mainly because they have more of a scalar approach. They could be thought of as sounding a little smoother than the hybrid intervals.




This pattern utilizes a sequence of 5 followed by a sequence of 3:


1-2-3-4-5, 2-3-4, 3-4-5-6-7, 4-5-6, 5-6-7-8-9, 6-7-8, 7-8-9-10-11, etc.


(Notice that the commas separate each sequence.)




This pattern utilizes a sequence of 3 followed by a sequence of 4:


1-2-3, 2-3-4-5, 3-4-5, 4-5-6-7, 5-6-7, 6-7-8-9, 7-8-9, etc.





This pattern utilizes a sequence of 6 followed by a sequence of 3:


1-2-3-4-5-6, 2-3-4, 3-4-5-6-7-8, 4-5-6, 5-6-7-8-9-10, 6-7-8, 7-8-9-10-11-12, etc.



IMPORTANT: For brevity, each of the preceding exercises has outlined only the ascending versions of the form. However, it is vitally important that you work them in both ascending and descending directions on the bass. To play the descending forms, simply play the patterns backwards from highest range to lowest. You don't want all of your ideas to come out on the gig only going in one direction!




Notice that in each of the exercises presented so far, each pattern has had both an ascending version and a descending version, moving from left to right on the staff. Bi-directional approaches mix both ascending and descending movements into both versions, making for some really neat sounding ideas. This exchange of both ascending and descending movement within a pattern is what I like to call "contrary motion." Here are some examples:




1-3, 4-2, 3-5, 6-4, 5-7, 8-6, 7-9, 10-8, etc.


Notice that each 3rd played is followed by another 3rd moving in an opposite direction. Here is what it looks like on a staff:




1-6, 7-2, 3-8, 9-4, 5-10, 11-6, 7-12, etc.




1-2-3, 4-3-2, 3-4-5, 6-5-4, 5-6-7, 8-7-6, 7-8-9, 10-9-8, etc.




1-2-3-4, 5-3, 4-5-6-7, 8-6, 7-8-9-10, 11-9, etc.





1-3-5, 6-4-2, 3-5-7, 8-6-4, 5-7-9, 10-8-6, 7-9-11, 12-10-8, etc.


I hope you enjoy working through these exercises. Obviously, these are just the tip of the iceberg here. You can use any of your favorite approaches and mix them together to come up with some really neat sounding musical approaches. One bit of advice, though; don't try to tackle all of these at once. Focus on only a few at a time, and work on their mastery through ALL of your scales and modes before moving on. Otherwise, you might not see these ideas "rear their heads" in your soloing ideas quite as quickly as they could. Be patient, use a metronome, and track your progress daily. The rewards are well worth it!

Until next time-


Adam's website: Adam

Home / Articles / Teachers / Reviews / Contact / Send in a Teacher Profile / Lesson Links

Bass Book and Video Store

Copyright 1998