Bass Line Scale Choices


in Bass

In the previous discussion of bass lines we've talked about creating your own with the idea that needing something is often the mother of invention. In bass line voice leading we talked about a few options to help you be creative with bass lines.

This time we are going to talk about scale choices. One of the most enlightening things that helped me to understand music was discovering that scale choices influence and provide options for working on bass lines or solo voicings.

Scale Choice

Knowing the scale of choice for each chord application helps to give you more options for your bass lines. Let's say that you have a dominant major chord such as C7. What scales might you be able to choose to play along with this chord?

Of course you should be first thinking the mixolydian mode of the major scale of F. OK, I know I just lost more than half the musicians reading this and the remainder or saying: well of course, or are they? If you are weak on scales you need to get the Scale and Key Workshop, it's going to do a lot for your ability to create music.

Let's look at it a different way. This is just saying that if I play the F major scale but start on the fifth note of the scale and play it C it will fit nicely with this chord.

Compare notes


Well, F major scale has the notes of  F – G – A – Bb – C – D – E – F. The C dominant seventh chord has the notes C – E – G – Bb. Every note in the C7 chord is in the F major Scale. Karma? Well, at least some kind of harmony you'd think.

Back to the point at hand. There are other choices. Would an F blues scale work? Sure it would. This scale notes: F – Ab  – Bb – B – C – Eb – F. We're probably going to get some interesting sound here. You may have to avoid the B and Eb, but it just might add an interesting twist to the sound. The other notes when played with C7 chord enhance and add color to your sound.

Just as that knowledge helps with solo lines and/or chord voicings it can be applied to bass lines. You should be able to get some mileage out this concept for now, by playing around with this idea and other scales.

Try a F gospel or a C polytonal scale with the C7 chord and see how it sounds.

If you are confused by the application of scales concept, don't feel alone. I took lessons for years before I began to understand the applications such as these.

ecover-music-theory-scales-175The “Getting It Down Cold -Key- Scales Workshop” is a great way to start learning about the different scales and will give you some new scale options to play around with as you begin to improvise and create your music.

There are many more scales that you can use. We don't need to limit ourselves to the F and C variations. But today. we just wanted to explore one concept. This idea is put out here to get you to think creatively.

Honestly we could spend months on this subject so it's not a lesson that I can get into in detail here. It's about you thinking outside the basic fundamentals.

Share your experiments with us. What did you come up with that you liked?

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