Bass Emporium Lesson #5: The Major Scale – All Over The Place
by Ed Friedland
Last month we looked at how to find a CMaj7 arpeggio in multiple positions, and I hope you’ve taken the time to explore this idea with other chord types in all keys. Continuing along with our music theory Kama Sutra, this time we’ll examine the C major scale—all over the place.
Figure 1 shows you many ways (but not all of them) to play the C major scale.
Example (a) uses the open D and G strings, whereas (b) is the standard “universal fingering” that will produce a major scale anywhere on the bass (starting from the 2nd fret up, on the E or A strings).
Example (c) starts the migration up the neck, and (d) has you stretching a bit with an extension fingering between B and C.
Example (e) moves up the D string, while (f) splits the pattern up evenly between the A and D strings.
Example (g) plays the scale out on just the A string—not very practical, but it’s important to understand and see how a scale lays out in a straight line. Example (h) shows some interesting possibilities by using the open strings as a bounce point to a higher position on a lower string (Hint: this is something you should explore more thoroughly).
Figure 2 starts the scale from the 8th fret on the E string.
Example (a) is an interesting counter-intuitive approach—you are playing up the scale, but moving down the neck. Example (b) starts in a similar fashion, but moves up the D string, then;
(c) returns to the universal fingering once again. The remaining fingerings work their way up the neck in different ways, but keep in mind that there are many more positions to be found. I didn’t write them all down because I want to encourage you to think a little.
Here’s the deal—teachers can be very helpful in many aspects of your learning process, they know more than you in respect to their particular field. Getting started on the right foot is important, and a good teacher should be able to do that. But, a good teacher also needs to help students think for themselves. When you get out there and play, you’re on your own. If you develop a dependency on a teacher (or any external source) to show you everything, you won’t have a personal understanding of what you’re doing. This is not to say that I’m retiring from the business, or don’t want you to buy my books (please do!), but the big message here is: Be inquisitive. If I show you a scale, you should automatically be thinking: “How else can this be played? What are the notes in another key? What other scales are there?” Any piece of information that you learn is just the tip of the iceberg, there are many, many layers to grasp. So… start thinking about music, develop questions and look for the answers—inquiring minds WANT to know!
Ed Friedland is a renowned Bassist, Educator and Author. He has authored over 15 books and DVDs and has played with the likes of Joe Beck, Larry Coryell, Robben Ford, Paul Horn, Clay Jenkins, Mike Metheny, Bud Shank, Lew Tabackin & Michal Urbaniak to name just a few. Ed is also currently teaching at Bass Emporium in Austin, Texas. Check out the Ed Friedland website for full information about him at http://www.edfriedland.com/.