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Thread: newbie needs help connecting scales, arpeggios, etc

  1. #1
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    newbie needs help connecting scales, arpeggios, etc

    i've played guitar on and off for several years and recently started learning bass. I don't want to learn just how to play my instruments, I want to understand what I am playing. My overall goal is to understand music theory enough to be able to fluently improvise and jam. That being said, here's my problem/questions:
    I can't afford lessons right now so I've been teaching myself scale patterns (major, 3 different minors, maj & min pentatonics, whole tone) and arpeggio patterns (maj & min). The trouble I am having is connecting scales and/or arpeggios to create good, fluent sounding music. I have read a little bit about passing tones but I still don't quite understand how to use them with this problem i'm having. I feel like a little push in the right direction & I could be jamming in no time!
    Example of problem:
    My favorite bands are Grateful Dead and Tea Leaf Green. I'm enjoying learning and playing with their music (on bass) but problem is both bands jam and trade off solos a lot. I'm good at sticking to the roots, arpeggios and octaves but it sounds boring and repetitive. Especially when both bands have extremely creative bass players (Phil Lesh & Reed Mathis) that are almost constantly changing things up song-to-song and even sometimes phrase-by-phrase.
    "Bertha" by Grateful Dead is a good example that I've been working with. It's basically 2 chords (G & C) the whole song except for the chorus. By hitting different octaves and throwing in some arpeggios I can make the verses sound okay for awhile but when it's time to support a long guitar solo or play a bass solo I get lost in the dirt. This is where I need to know: when I know the chord progression, how do I fluently connect scales and/or arpeggios to keep things sounding interesting?

    Thanks in advance for any help

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bassnewbie View Post
    i've played guitar on and off for several years and recently started learning bass. I don't want to learn just how to play my instruments, I want to understand what I am playing. My overall goal is to understand music theory enough to be able to fluently improvise and jam. That being said, here's my problem/questions:
    I can't afford lessons right now so I've been teaching myself scale patterns (major, 3 different minors, maj & min pentatonics, whole tone) and arpeggio patterns (maj & min). The trouble I am having is connecting scales and/or arpeggios to create good, fluent sounding music. I have read a little bit about passing tones but I still don't quite understand how to use them with this problem i'm having. I feel like a little push in the right direction & I could be jamming in no time!
    Example of problem:
    My favorite bands are Grateful Dead and Tea Leaf Green. I'm enjoying learning and playing with their music (on bass) but problem is both bands jam and trade off solos a lot. I'm good at sticking to the roots, arpeggios and octaves but it sounds boring and repetitive. Especially when both bands have extremely creative bass players (Phil Lesh & Reed Mathis) that are almost constantly changing things up song-to-song and even sometimes phrase-by-phrase.
    "Bertha" by Grateful Dead is a good example that I've been working with. It's basically 2 chords (G & C) the whole song except for the chorus. By hitting different octaves and throwing in some arpeggios I can make the verses sound okay for awhile but when it's time to support a long guitar solo or play a bass solo I get lost in the dirt. This is where I need to know: when I know the chord progression, how do I fluently connect scales and/or arpeggios to keep things sounding interesting?

    Thanks in advance for any help
    OK lets see if I can answer some of your questions.

    If you have to ask this question best to leave the solos to the solo instruments and concentrate on accompaniment bass right now. After you get accompaniment down then we can worry about your lead breaks.

    Accompiment bass is playing chord tones aka arpeggios or notes of the chord. You mentioned when supporting long guitar solo it gets boring. When you are supporting some one else's solo you augment - their efforts - if that gets boring sorry you are in a supporting role now.

    To harmonize a melody segment you need to be playing like notes. Now by like notes one is usually enough (the root), two a little better (R-5-R-5), three are not necessary. Here is what I mean. The melody is revolving around the notes of the Cmaj7 chord - fake chord has the Cmaj7 chord as the chord in play at this time. Root notes of C-C-C-C will harmonize that. (just 1 note the root) Now a R-5-R-5 would be better (two notes of the Cmaj7 chord. Since you have achieved harmonization with the C and the 5 anything else is gravy. Now gravy is good and you decide how much gravy is needed. A bunch of gravy could be R-3-5-7 - the notes of the chord, aka the arpeggio for Cmaj7.

    So I suggest you get some generic bass lines into muscle memory. When you see a major chord R-3-5-6 is one of my generic bass lines for major chords. Sometime roots only let me build a groove some other times I may need all four notes. R-b3-5-b7 is one of my generic bass lines for minor chords. My generic bass line for a dominant seven chord is R-3-5-b7 and my generic bass line for a diminished chord is R-b3-b5-b7. Again how much of those notes you use depend on the song - use the number it takes to build a groove.

    Going to leave you with several charts, lists, etc.

    Have fun.

    http://www.guitarhangout.com/wp-cont...itar-notes.jpg

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f22/no...ml#post9372867

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f22/wa...-lines-522578/

    www.studybass.com

    This should keep you busy for awhile:

    Bass Patterns based upon the Major Scale box.

    Major Scale Box.

    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    D|---6---|-------|---7---|---8---|
    A|---3---|---4---|-------|---5---|
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string

    Basic Chords
    Major Triad = R-3-5
    Minor Triad = R-b3-5
    Diminished Chord = R-b3-b5

    7th Chords
    Maj7 = R-3-5-7
    Minor 7 = R-b3-5-b7
    Dominant 7 = R-3-5-b7
    diminished = R-b3-b5-b7
    Full diminished = R-b3-b5-bb7 Harmonic minor and melodic minor will use the full bb7

    Scales
    Major Pentatonic = R-2-3-5-6
    Minor Pentatonic = R-b3-4-5-b7
    Blues = R-b3-4-b5-5-b7
    Major Scale = R-2-3-4-5-6-7
    Natural Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7
    Harmonic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-7
    Melodic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-6-7

    Major modes
    Ionian same as the Major Scale.
    Lydian use the major scale and sharp the 4 - yes, it’s that simple.
    Mixolydian use the major scale and flat the 7.

    Minor Modes
    Aeolian same as the Natural Minor scale.
    Dorian use the Natural Minor scale and sharp the b6 back to a natural 6.
    Phrygian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2.
    Locrian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2 and the 5.

    Generic Notes.
    The root, five and eight are generic and fit most any chord. Remember the diminished has a flatted 5.
    The 3 is generic to all major chords.
    The b3 is generic to all minor chords.
    The 7 is generic to all maj7 chords.
    The b7 is generic to all dominant seventh and minor seventh chords.
    The 6 is neutral and adds color, help yourself to 6’s.
    The 2 and 4 make good passing notes. Don’t linger on them or stop on them, keep them passing.
    In making your bass line help yourself to those notes, just use them correctly.
    Roots, fives, eights and the correct 3 will play a lot of bass.

    Ask specific questions.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 04-27-2011 at 11:10 PM.

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    Man, thank you soooo much for all of the valuable resources.
    I will be gradually going through all of the info and incorporating it into my practices. I'm excited

    I'm planning on picking the guitar back up real soon, too....any way you (or anyone else) could throw me a bone on connecting scales &/or arpeggios for when I'm jammin' on guitar? I've got more knowledge on guitar than I do bass. Playing guitar is where I usually run into the pattern of not being able to sound good and fluid when I jam, even when I know the chords, progressions, scales & arpeggios.

    Again, thanks a TON, Malcom!

  4. #4
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bassnewbie View Post
    Man, thank you soooo much for all of the valuable resources.
    I will be gradually going through all of the info and incorporating it into my practices. I'm excited

    I'm planning on picking the guitar back up real soon, too....any way you (or anyone else) could throw me a bone on connecting scales &/or arpeggios for when I'm jamming' on guitar? I've got more knowledge on guitar than I do bass. Playing guitar is where I usually run into the pattern of not being able to sound good and fluid when I jam, even when I know the chords, progressions, scales & arpeggios.

    Again, thanks a TON, Malcom!
    Jamming - Here again I'll say hold off on doing your solos until you can handle your chord accompaniment. Basically same thing I gave you with the bass, except you strum the chord all notes at one time where as on the bass you sound the chord notes one note at a time.

    Fake chord and sing the lyrics under your breath so you know when to change chords. Jamming no sheet music you can assume some things and normally get by.

    If you are jamming pop, rock, country or gospel a I IV V I progression is going to work. Sure the actually progression may be I vi IV V7 I and if so try and follow that, but -- drum roll - the I IV and V chords in a key/scale will contain every note in the tonic I's scale. So sooner or later one of those three chords are going to harmonize the melody if it stays in the tonic I's scale.

    So grab a 12 bar blues progression and play the chords to that and you will be close enough. Jamming is the same as horse shoes and grenades. close enough to get the job done.

    Get some fake chord or lead sheets on the music you like, I bet there will only be 3 or 4 cookie cutter cord progression put them to memory..

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 04-27-2011 at 11:08 PM.

  5. #5
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    There's a lot of advice that could be offered on this. I'd suggest transcribing, or learning the parts that interest you the most ....basicly stealing licks If you're able to look at the moves these guys are making and see how they mesh with the harmony, you'll be able to apply that knowledge to different tunes ...and maybe even tweak it to come up with your own variations.
    Hope that helps
    -best,
    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    Jamming - Here again I'll say hold off on doing your solos until you can handle your chord accompaniment. Basically same thing I gave you with the bass, except you strum the chord all notes at one time where as on the bass you sound the chord notes one note at a time.

    Fake chord and sing the lyrics under your breath so you know when to change chords. Jamming no sheet music you can assume some things and normally get by.

    If you are jamming pop, rock, country or gospel a I IV V I progression is going to work. Sure the actually progression may be I vi IV V7 I and if so try and follow that, but -- drum roll - the I IV and V chords in a key/scale will contain every note in the tonic I's scale. So sooner or later one of those three chords are going to harmonize the melody if it stays in the tonic I's scale.

    So grab a 12 bar blues progression and play the chords to that and you will be close enough. Jamming is the same as horse shoes and grenades. close enough to get the job done.

    Get some fake chord or lead sheets on the music you like, I bet there will only be 3 or 4 cookie cutter cord progression put them to memory..

    Good luck.
    kinda lost me there I think for now I'll stick with your advice on accompaniment and use the resources you posted. THANKS!!

  7. #7
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Understand - good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mjo View Post
    There's a lot of advice that could be offered on this. I'd suggest transcribing, or learning the parts that interest you the most ....basicly stealing licks If you're able to look at the moves these guys are making and see how they mesh with the harmony, you'll be able to apply that knowledge to different tunes ...and maybe even tweak it to come up with your own variations.
    Hope that helps
    -best,
    Mike
    Hey, Mike. Thanks for the input. I am attempting to transcribe & learn parts that interest me. It's working out okay except for some of the problems I mentioned earlier, ie: getting lost during the jam portions and the biggest problem: trying to learn Phil Lesh's style on bass. It's almost impossible to transcribe most of Phil's stuff because he changes it ALL OF THE TIME!! You could listen to 5 different versions of the same song and he may use different notes, variations, octaves, ect in each song and even from verse to verse. Tough stuff for a newbie

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    thanks for the great advice so far!

    Let me throw another example out there so y'all can maybe see what I'm aiming for....

    my last roommate was a damn good guitar player. 2 things he could do that always made me jealous & want to learn more:

    1) he could just f*ck around on the guitar for hours non-stop. not playing anything specific but just jamming his way through. and it sounded good. really good. when I'd ask what he was playing it was always, "i don't know. just messing around." When I told him that was what I wanted to be able to do his advice was for me to learn lots of scales and arpeggios. Well, I've worked on that and I still can't fluently "jam" or "mess around" like he could.

    2) ANY song that he heard (even for the first time ever) he could play with it. I'd turn on a song that he'd never even heard of and within about 10-20 seconds he was soloing all over it like he'd been practicing that song for years. When I asked how he does that it was something like, "once you figure out what key it's in it's easy." Again, even when I know the key & the chord progressions I still can't play along on a whim.

    Any more help and advice would be great but I really appreciate the advice already given! Thanks Malcolm, Steve and Mike!

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