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Hopefully you've had chance to digest the last column (if not, check it out Here) So after the last article I received some really great feedback from some of the readers with suggestions of what they would like more to cover in the coming instalments.

One of the most popular questions was "What scales are used in bebop?". As with any style of music there's a lot more to it than that, in fact you may have opened a can of worms here, but I give you "The Bebop Dominant Scale".

One of the first in depth analysis of the bebop dominant scale is in David Baker's "How to Play Bebop 1" (Published by Alfred in 1985) and should be considered essential reading for the modern bop player. It covers the common bebop scales, patterns and "rules" all based on the study of Parker and his contemporaries. There were three volumes produced as a handbook for the serious musician, they are not written specifically for guitar players - so don't expect any tab!

So first the "scale" - G bebop dominant contains the notes G(r),A(2),B(3),C(4),D(5),E(6),F(b7),F#(7),G(r)

It would be worth discussing the name first, although it's called the bebop dominant scale it's actually an arpeggio approach. The idea is that we can alter the way we play to add harmonic definition to our playing instead of just running up and down scales aimlessly with the hope that you find the right place to end. If you play a G mixolydian scale (1,2,3,4,5,6,b7) starting on the root descending you play a chord tone, followed by a chord tone, followed by a scale tone, then a chord tone etc. 

Above we have the scale notated with chord tones inside red boxes. What you'll notice is that the chord tones start on the beat, but then because of the nature of the scales construction, the strongest notes begin to fall on the weakest beats (The "and" of each beat). This isn't a problem, but when we're playing at 220bpm our number one priority is to give the listener a line that defines the harmony as each chord won't last long.

So in the new scale the addition of the F# offsets the chord tones placing them all on the strong beats. This highlights the reason I like to think of this concept as an arpeggio based idea and not a scalar idea; we're now playing a G7 arpeggio with added passing tones to help move the line along. This is a wonderful idea because you can now start on any chord tone and move up and down the scale as much as you like and you will always have chord tones on the strong beats and passing tones on the weak ones.

I'm always fascinated by horn players, because they don't play an instrument that can rely on shapes - they really do need to learn this in 12 different keys. It baffles me how they can improvise so freely and with such fluidity as realistically we should have them pegged here. In the above diagrams I have written out the arpeggio, mixolydian scale and bebop scale all in position 1 (the E shape of CAGED). As with last month's lick you ultimately need to begin to master your intervalic perception of this position, always using your arpeggio as a reference for harmonic strength.

This column's lick is a strange blend of Pat Martino and Don Mock all over a Robben ford style groove. It's very bluesy in nature with an extended G7 vamp - but Charlie Parker was no stranger to playing over the blues so never under-estimate such a fundamental progression. Above I've written out the rhythm guitar part for anyone interested, this is a great Ford style rhythm that any blues fan will lap up.

Above is the line notated and played slowly against the rhythm track. As with any chromatic approach it's really useful to have an understanding of what your ideas sound like this against the chord. Notice how we start by descending the G bebop dominant scale before moving back up and going a little outside, that G#/Ab - b9 at the start of bar 2 beat 2 really twists the ear. This is something that you need to become confident doing, there is no such thing as a bad note, only a bad resolution. This particular line then moves down to the major third (B).

Next he have the line played at tempo in a more spontaneous manner, the bluesy phrasing linking the two runs of the line are really important in purpose - they help the line flow and give it context. You should try putting your own stamp before and after the lick, theres nothing that makes a line sound like a prewritten one than a sudden unexpected jump into it with a sudden ending.

Lastly we have a short backing track for you to practice the line and your own ideas over.

Download backing track


As always i'm keen to get your feedback, so drop me a comment below or contact me via email. Cheers!

MissMisstreater Transcriptions



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Bop 'n' Roll Part 1