Re: Practicing Scales

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Posted by Rudi Weeks on September 29, 2000 at 23:04:24:

In Reply to: Practicing Scales posted by Kyla on August 28, 2000 at 21:13:41:

Hi Kyla,

ONE approach for pulling it together on your bass in a way that will enable you to start jamming with people as soon as possible, is to first memorize the finger board. Start by learning all the notes that fall in the frets that have dots and you can extrapolate from those notes what the notes are between the dots.
~ Next sit down with a few chord charts and with a metronome or drum machine set on a tempo slow enough that you can hang in there, simply follow the root movement around as the chords change.
~Sit down with a page out of any good music theory book that talks about chord structures and learn the difference between major/minor/diminished/ and augmented chords. Be able to play each type and memorize the shape of their corresponding fingerings. You may want to add the 7th to each of these chord types as well.
~ Then try playing two notes per chord the root and the third.
~ If there are any tension causing notes indicated by the chord symbols such as b5 or dom 7th... try the root and these added tones (or alterations) still two notes per chord.
~ Next arpeggiate through the whole chord (root/third/fifth/& any added tones {7th,9ths etc..})
~ Try mixing up the note combinations (i.e. root,7,3,5) or (7,5,root,3) etc...
~ The next question of what are the available notes to play as the chords go by is “what are the scales that support these chords?”
This question opens up a whole can of worms, as there are many scales that will effectively support a given chord sometimes more than a dozen if you consider all the scales used on the planet.
Fortunately you can cover much of the ground you need to get by regarding the scales if you learn the 7 relative (diatonic) modes.

Note: They all share the same 7 notes from the same key. In (C) none of the notes in any of the modes will be flat or sharp.
Saying as you already know the major I will relate all 7 of them to the major scale.

C Ionian = (natural major)
D Dorian = (major with b3, b7)
E Phrygian = (major with b2, b3, b6, b7)
F Lydian = (major with #4)
G Mixolydian = (major with b7)
A Aeolian [natural minor] = (major with b3, b6, b7)
B Locrian = (major with b2, b3, b5, b6, b7)

Another way to think of these scales that may simply them (or not) for you is each scale in the order they are listed begins on the next degree of the C major scale and continues up the scale from there. This accounts for the scale letter names in the key of C corresponding to the notes of the C major scale.

A final point that will help carry you closer to your quest is to know that in western music a majority of the time (not always) the mode that works for a:
Major 7 chord = Ionian.
dominant 7 chord = Mixolydian
Minor 7 chord = Dorian or Aeolian
Half Diminished = Locrian

This should keep you busy for a while. I hope you find it useful.
Feel free to contact me at:
and check out my web site at:

Rudi Weeks

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