Ever wonder how bass players can play long continuous bass runs that don’t have gaps?
In this bass lesson, I’ll be focusing on a Major Scale and show you how to apply a chromatic note to extend your bass runs.
The best part is, your chord tones will also always fall on the strong beats.
Here are 4 places with your Major Scale you can apply a chromatic note
Chromatic notes are often applied to scales. The melodic line ends up with rhythmic balance when chord tones fall on strong beats.
Inserting chromatic notes ensures that.
This is a concept that many Bebop Jazz musicians use.
For this example, let’s look at a C Major Scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
If you were to play an 2 octave C Major Scale going up, you’ll notice the chord tones C, E, and G stop falling on the strong beats. After the first octave, the chord tones C, E, and G fall on weak beats.
If you were to play a 2 octave C Major Scale going down, you’ll notice that it’ takes longer even longer. Chord tones C, E, and G won’t fall on strong beats until halfway into the second octave.
To fix this, a chromatic note can inserted in 4 areas of the Major Scale.
- Chromatic note between the 5th degree and 6th degree: C, D, E, F, G, G#/Ab, A, B, C. Chord tones will always fall on a strong beat. It doesn’t matter what direction your line goes.
- The next 3 chromatic locations are often combined to restore balance.
- Chromatic note between the 3rd degree and 2nd degree: C, D, D#/Eb, E, F, G, A, B, C.
- You’ll notice that the chord tones are not immediately on strong beats. This is an opportunity to apply an another chromatic note to restore balance. Or, you can keep playing your line until your chord tones fall on a strong beat.
- Chromatic note between the 2nd degree and the root: C, C#/Db, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.
- Chromatic note between the 7th degree and the 6th degree: C, D, E, F, G, A, A#/Bb, B, C.
Keep in mind, it’s okay for chord tones to fall on weak beats, as long as it is not for an extended period of time. If your chord tones fall on weak beats more than strong beats, it will sound like you are playing a different chord.
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Understanding Bebop concepts is super useful for creating lines with your bass. These concepts can also be used in any style of music. Check out this book on Amazon: How To Play Beginning To Advanced Chordal Bebop Lines for Jazz Archtop Guitar: 3 Volumes in 1, A Method for Developing a Vocabulary of Chord Lines for Improvisation, Wes Montgomery and Barney Kessel