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Jazz Bass Lessons: Play Along: "Blues On The Bottom" Scales for Improvising

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Now I'm going to give you
the scales that go with the chords for
improvising on blues on the bottom.
But I want to make sure
you understand one thing,
I don't want you to think that improvising
is always just based on scales.
And even the way you
practice your scales for
these things, I'm trying to get
you to think more creatively.
Later on, we're even going to do some
call and response improvisations
because I want to make sure you
get these sounds in your ears.
It doesn't do us any good for you to
just be able to play the scales up and
down over the chords.
I want you to be able to use the scales.
Think of the scales as pallets.
Like a painter has a pallet
with all his colors on it.
The scale is your pallet.
Then, you use those notes to paint.
I'm gonna give you a little
example right now.
We're gonna turn on our metronome and
we're gonna think about it on two and
And also, one quick thing about,
when I'm thinking about two and four,
make sure when you walk you don't
accent the two and four so heavily.
Some people go
[SOUND] and they make such an accent on
it, that they don't have a real
solid one in three, as well.
You need the one and
three to set up the two and four.
So if you say.
The reason why I say that is that also
affects the way you articulate your
improvise line too, because if you walk
like that and you're really leaning on two
and four all the time, chances are you
might have that lopsided view when you
start improvising,and I wanna
make sure that doesn't happen.
So let's start with the F seven.
Primary chord, the one chord in the blues.
So your palette,
your notes to choose from, the first,
the most basic set of notes anyway, would
be the notes in an F7, a dominant scale.
Remember, we talked about that
in the theory, so you have,
one, two, three, four, five,
six, flat seven, octave.
You can go all the way up too.
Remember we had this fingering before.
[SOUND] See I'm
just taking just taking
notes from the scale do
that so, see what I do.
They are just notes in the scale.
[SOUND] Think of your whole bass in that
See the pattern.
But do it in time.
Just only notes in that.
Play phrases.
Then it doesn't sound so
much like scales cuz I'm just thinking
of that whole sound, that whole scale.
I see the whole bass
in the shape of an F7.
You can go up slowly.
That's all F seven.
But see, I also have listened
a lot to this style of music.
If you listen a lot to blues,
you can find phrases
that use all the same notes
that I just said but,
one of the great horn
players might go [SOUND].
He's just using notes in that F7 scale,
he's using the notes like
a painter uses his palette.
He's not stuck on having to run
the whole scale, you know what I mean?
So maybe for you, it might be good to
break up the scale, like
They call that broken thirds,
cuz every third note you play
Root, third.
The second note and then a third away.
Next note, third away.
That's called broken thirds.
the arpeggio.
That's in the melody, remember?
So I'm just using notes and
I'm just making notes
from the F seven scale.
That's F seven scale.
Now the second chord in the blues,
is the B flat seven.
Same sound,
just starting from another note.
So it's one, two, three, four,
five, six, flat seven, octave.
Remember we talked about starting
our scales from a note
other than the root,
you can start from the low
F in your B flat scale.
you got that
basic sound
that dominant
seventh pallet.
Let's practice going from the F
seven to the B flat seven.
So that you're using scale tones but
not thinking so
scaly but really more in phrases.
Little bites, using parts,
some of the colors,
not all of them at the same time,
that's kind of a way to think about it.
People who play the whole scale all
the time are sort of just throwing all
the colors against the wall at the same
time instead of using a few and
creating a shape or a shade.
Here's going from the F
seven to the B flat seven.
Here we go into
the B flat seven.
[NOISE] Back to the F.
[NOISE] So, did you notice what I did?
And I even went to the root.
I even started my idea from the root.
You don't even have to do that when
you go to the B flat seven, but
you get the idea that I don't
have to play all the scale.
I can just think that In order to
stay within the sound of that chord,
I have on the B flat seven now
these notes available to me.
It's almost
the same notes
as the F seven,
by the way.
The only thing that changes,
is remember with our key circle.
We went up a fourth.
So, when we went from F seven,
to B flat seven.
We gained that A flat.
See, here's F seven, F,
G, A, B flat, C, right?
D, E flat, F.
Now, if we start from B flat,
we have B flat, C,
same as F seven, D, same as F seven,
E flat, same as F seven,
F the root of F seven [SOUND],
G, same as F seven.
[SOUND] The B flat is the defining
note that we have to watch for
when we go from the F seven to the B flat.
So if you were to play that you can go,
why when we play that phrase [SOUND]
That's the F seven.
Now we go to the B flat.
See notice now we're laying on the B Flat,
that A Flat.
Okay, so now we have the one
chord and the four chord.
And we know what scales work.
Now that little thing that
we call the turnaround that
happened in the seventh and eighth bar.
That was F seven.
And then remember we said we could play B
flat seven on the second half of the bar?
You already know what that is or
you could play it,
starting at the top of that bar again,
you could play F seven and then E seven.
Sometimes we play.
So that's, now were going to do with
the turn around in a second so,
say we play F seven,
E seven, A seven, D seven,
that's a typical turn around
we could also go F, B flat,
A, D, so,
this is a little turnaround before the big
turnaround that comes at
the end of the course.
I should qualify that.
When I say turnaround, the biggest
turnaround always comes in bar 11 and
12 on the blues.
I don't want to confuse you.
Bar 11 and 12 on the blues, is the...
When somebody says the turnaround,
that's what they mean.
But there's also another little sequence
that happens, always, on the blues.
You hear people doing various little,
sort of,
turnarounds, to me that
's a kind of turnaround.
Anyway, a little sequence, you can call it
a sequence too, at bar seven and eight.
So, If we think about.
That's F seven, then either B flat seven.
And then you go to A seven.
We haven't done that yet.
A, B, C sharp, D, E, F sharp.
G, A,
its all these parallel chords,
7th chord then going to another
7th chord then going to another,
its the same scale, its 1,
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, flat 7.
So its all the same sort of sound,
its a question of also
knowing when to play on them and
when to let one go by.
Because if you go,
that doesn't really work.
And the great improvisers
let some chords go by, so
maybe in that bar 7 and 8 of the blues,
you play the F seven and
you let the B flat seven go by.
And then maybe you play the D seven for
the whole bar before
you go to the G minor.
Let's talk about that F seven
transition part at bar seven again.
So for now let's do the B flat.
We already know that.
Then we go to the A.
Then D seven, right?
[SOUND] D, E, F sharp,
G, A, B, C, D.
So let's talk about that.
Let's put on the metronome again were
just going to practice the F to the B
flat the A to D that little
part in the Blues okay.
And I'm going to give you some options.
So let's put on that same
metronome we had a second ago.
[NOISE] And we're just going to do
the F F B flat A D so this is the.
So that's
the simple way
to express it
Because we're going to G minor.
You don't have to play the whole scale,
in other words.
Or you can play, sometimes,
you know let it go by.
You could say, I'm going to go play some
F stuff and let those two bars go by.
Let's start from the top again
with that little metronome and
I'll show you a chorus where I let
a few things go by in that section.
One, two, here's the top of the blues.
Here's F seven.
Now B flat
Here's the B flat seven, A seven,
D seven, now there's the G minor.
I just let those two bars go by.
And no problem and that's the thing,
you don't have to play on them.
You don't have to play on every chord.
You can let some go by and
play on the other ones.
The next scale is a G minor.
Right now, we're gonna use the, but
to keep it simple we use the Dorian G,
[SOUND] A, [SOUND] B flat,
I'm just coming up,
I'm just,
and if you're thinking,
boy, I'm just not used to doing this,
just learn what I just played.
Learn it by ear.
Thing is, the oral tradition
of this music is so important.
In a minute, we're gonna do call and
response, anyway.
I'm just gonna walk you
through playing the Blues.
I'm gonna play a phrase, and
you're gonna play it back to me.
Now, finally, after the G minor,
there's a C7.
One, [LAUGH] two, three.
So, we'll be going.
And a lot of it is, if you play the most
simple thing with the right rhythmic feel.
You can make it all feel good.
You don't even have to use all the scale,
you don't even have to get
incredibly fancy with it.
You can just play notes that fit in
that palette, with a good time feel.
Here's the G minor to the C.
After we did that little turnaround,
where we decided we wouldn't
plan all the chords.
So, here's the G minor to C.
I'll play it over, and over again.
G minor.
Here's C.
[SOUND] G minor.
Now, give you
a little secret.
That G minor that we just said,
the Dorian.
Those are the exact same notes,
in the C7 that comes next.
So, you can think of that whole two bars,
there is a G minor if you like.
So, that helps, right?
So, now we're at the last two bars.
Now, we have what is always
called the turnaround.
F7, D7, G minor, C.
Now, that one is,
that's a very [LAUGH] common progression.
Let's start with the metronome again.
And, [SOUND] that's this sound.
You've probably heard this before.
The last bar you already know
what to do because the G minor,
and the C7 are the same scale.
[SOUND] Remember we just said that?
You can use G minor that whole bar.
But now, the F7 to the D7.
Remember, you know your F 7,
[SOUND] not D7.
[SOUND] It's the same scale over,
and over, and D, [SOUND] E,
[SOUND] F sharp, [SOUND] G,
[SOUND] one, [SOUND] two, [SOUND] three,
[SOUND] four, [SOUND] five, [SOUND] six,
[SOUND] flat seven.
[SOUND] So, let's play the turnaround.
One, two, [SOUND] three, four.
You know, what I did?
So, I played part of the F.
I play the F sharp,
when it came to the D7
cuz that's the third.
If you can do accent the thirds,
and the sevenths of the chords,
that's a simple way to do it.
You can do a whole solo based
on thirds and sevenths.
Let's do it from F7.
Watch this.
So, we have the thirds and
sevenths for F7, or A and E flat.
So, we go, and you can go.
Now, the B flat
seven is D and A flat,
and then.
So, hold on a second.
So, then with the turnaround,
there you could even play them all.
If you did the thirds and
sevenths for all those, so F7,
you have the third [SOUND] is A,
E flat [SOUND] is the seventh.
[SOUND] Now, B flat seven,
the third is a D,
[SOUND] and the flat seven is A flat.
That's F7.
And then
B flat seven,
the flat seven is A flat,
[SOUND] third is D.
So, then the turnaround,
[SOUND] F7 [SOUND] and
then B flat seven, [SOUND] and
then A7,
what would the seventh note be of A7?
Count it up, A, B, C sharp, D, E,
F sharp, G is the seventh,
so the G is the seven.
And what's the third of A7?
Count it up from A, B, C sharp,
that's the third note.
[SOUND] So, from A7 [SOUND] and D7,
[SOUND] those are the thirds and sevenths,
you probably heard this
sound in the Blues.
You probably heard
that sound before.
So, these are some of
the choices you have.
This seems overwhelming.
[LAUGH] Don't worry about it.
You can take this a little bit at a time,
you really need to kinda
know what the notes are.
Okay, now let's
wrap this all up now.
So we're gonna use the metronome,
we're gonna play through
a little bit of the scales.
Obviously, when we have those places where
it goes F, B flat, A seven, D seven,
then bars seven and eight, we're not
gonna run all the scale sounds in that.
One time I'm gonna also
play the arpeggios too.
We know the arpeggios too.
And we can play like
That's F
And B flat seven
I just played,
just the arpeggios.
I outlined F seven,
and B flat seven,
so then when it moves,
played a little bit of the F seven and,
little bit of the B flat seven
Bottom of the A seven,
A, C sharp, E, and then
D, F sharp, A and then
for the G minor, G B flat, D and then
C seven and then
So the F seven
D seven
G minor.
But as you notice that doesn't
really sound like the blues when we
start outlining just scales and arpeggios.
So, I'm just gonna go through
the scales a little bit one time, and
then we're gonna go to the tune and we're
gonna do some call and response cuz that's
when I think you're gonna get more of
a taste of what the blues actually is.
So we're going to do one thing,
so I just show you what the scales are and
the arpeggios.
I'll go through it a little bit with
the scales and the arpeggios so
you can know how to make the changes very
plain in your mind that they're coming.
And then, we're going to
figure out a way to really connect with
the phraseology, the call and response.
That's really the blues coming
out of the African tradition.
So here we go with the metronome.
We're gonna do that first.
1, 2, scales and arpeggios on the blues.
B flat seven.
Now F, B flat,
A seven, D seven, G minor.
C seven.
F seven.
G minor.
C seven.
These are the arpeggios.
Now B flat seven.
see what
I did?
I just kind of outlined everything.
I did F seven scales, or F seven arpeggio,
then B flat,
little scale of it, part of it.
Arpeggio, then F, B flat,
A seven, D seven, G minor,
C, F, D seven, G minor, C.
So now you know like theoretically
what that is, and sometimes,
knowing the theories is important so
you know what notes are in the chord.
But learning how to tell a story in the
blues tradition by call and response and
singing phrases back and
forth, playing things,
is really stylistically more
what we want to achieve here.
So it's important to know, like
somebody asked Charlie Parker one time,
do I really have to learn all those scales
and arpeggios and all that stuff, and
he said absolutely.
But Byrd was also the one who said
you're gonna learn all that stuff and
then you're gonna forget about it all and
just play.
The thing is you can't
forget what you don't know.
So let's make sure we get
to know stuff before we
start worrying about forgetting it.
Now we are going to put on the play along.
And we are going to run
up to the bass solo.
And I'm going to give you call and
respond phrases, and
we'll go through it, and
you are gonna answer me back.
I'm going to play something and
you are going to answer me, okay?
Here we go.
Notice how different that felt or
sounded compared to us just
playing the scales through it.
Of course, I know the scales and
I learned the harmony and
I know what those are, and
I can play over those if I want to, but
what's more important is that you're
able to make a statement like that.
That's very much like telling a story,
If I say to a phrase to you,
then you got to say it back,
it's just like a conversation.
What I want you to develop is that
you can do that with yourself.
Now, we're going to do the same thing and
I'm going to do it with myself.
I'll do different answers to my questions.
I think now we're ready
to just do a whole version.
I'm gonna play a whole version down for
you, I'm gonna walk and two.
I'm gonna play two beat,
walk, play a solo,
I'm gonna play the melody And
this is what I want from you.
I really want you to
learn all these things.
And start to play.
When you play your solos on this,
I want you to start with simple phrases,
that really have a little
statement to them.
A little sell.
A little lick.
An idea.
And that you develop.
Instead of getting hung up in just
playing scales, because remember,
the blues is not a scale.
One final thought before we get started.
Remember, I was talking to you
about hearing phrase lanes.
When we do the whole version
together where you're also
trading fours with the drums.
So, the piano will play four bars
The drums will play four bars.
You need to keep your pulse through those
four bars where the drums are blowing.
It's okay at first if you
want your way through it, and
sort of feel the quarter note.
Eventually, I would like for you to start
listening to the phrasing of the drums,
and see if you can by just listening
to the phrasing of the drums,
know when to come back
in without counting.
But for a while,
just count your way through it and
see how his phrases speak to you.
And listen to jazz records and
listen to the trades and
start to sing the drum trades.
I do that a lot.
I love the drums.
So, I would actually
learn how to sing some of
the little trades that the drummers did
and learn how to sing those little.
That was a four.
I don't care if I make a fool of myself
singing to you [LAUGH] but
I really want you to get that down and
actually all the great jazz musicians
that I've hung out with in my life,
oftentimes they sing and
do little stuff like that.
And they're not ashamed of it,
because they have the language and
they have the culture at their fingertips
so they can sing you great drum trades.
Wayne Choeder one time broke out
into a conga solo, one time.
He had us on the floor.
It was so good,
it sounded like a real conga player.
So, this kind of rhythmic thing,
if you can do it with your mouth,
you can do it on your instrument.
Think about that when you do this version,
cuz you're gonna be
doing all the disciplines together,
including drum trades.