BeBop Scale

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  1. JtV

    I have been working through the Bergonzi book Jazz Lines. I was wondering how useful is the bebop scale? Is it something worth spending time on, adding it to the tool box so to speak? Just curious.

  2. Matt

    i have never 'studied' anything involving the bebop scale, but to my understanding, it seems like a scale 'justifying' chromaticism, and to me, it is easier to get those notes out of passing tones/substitution/triads/etc.

  3. denjz

    I find bebop scales very useful, especially the major (Ionian with passing tone between 5th and 6th - look the 1st bar of Donna Lee) and dominant (Mixolydian with passing between 7th and 1st - this one is so common it's almost everywhere).
    Bergonzi's books are definitely worth spending time on them

  4. harmnobean

    the major and melodic minor bebop scales are also very useful to play in chords.

    With C major bebop, for example, you get Inversions of C6 (A-7) alternating with inversions of Bo7
    With C minor bebop, you get inversions of C-6 (A-7b5) and Bo7

    It's a fun sound!

  5. jorgemg1984

    I used to think bebop scales had no purpose but when I decided to really study them I realized how important they are, once you star hearing the chord tones aligned with the chord you will have a hard time getting back to regular scales again.

    The Bergonzi book is good but I find it a little overwhelming - bebop scales are not as complicated as triads or pentatonics. For me if the chord has a major 7h the tone chords are 1 3 / b3 5 6 and you put the chromatic between 5 and 6. If it has a minor 7h the chord tones are 1 b3 / 3 b5 / 5 b7 and the chromaticism will be between b7 and 1. Pratice on themes or cycles playing eight eight notes bebop scales on every chord ascending and descending from every chord tone and will you get it quickly. If you have two chords on a bar choose the most important one (if you have dm7 g7 use g7 bebop scale, thats why so many people say minor 7 chords dont use bebop scales; they do, only in this case you choose the dominant chord over the minor). I usually dont use it on melodic minor scales because they have no avoid notes, they are particular important to correct the 11 problem on major chords and the 6 problem on minor chords.

    If you really want to get deep into it the "How to Play Bebop" series from David Baker or the Barry Harris books will be great choices - but I think reducing everything to two bebop scales (one for major 7h and other for minor 7h chords) is the way to go.

  6. jazznan

    The Bebop scale is an after the fact observation. Bebop guys put a chromatic passing note leading up to the root, if it helps you to make music by calling it a bebop scale then fine (obviously it won't instantly make you play bebop-to simplify it like that is horseradish), but it's really just a sound that came about from playing.

    Make up your own scale by adding or subtracting notes and if it sounds good, maybe someday some academic will call it something.

    It's like the so called Hendrix chord (E7#9). Does playing it make you sound like Jimmy?

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  7. silverwater

    I used to think "Bebop scales, what's the point of learning them? It's just a scale with a chromatic approach to a particular chord tone. I'll approach any note I feel like!.".

    But then when I'd gotten a lot more transcriptions under my belt, I saw how common approaching this particular note was...and realized it gave a specific character to your lines, different than just approaching any chord tone. (And I've been finding it in modern's not just for classic jazz)

    One of the distinctive things about bebop scales is that using them allows you to play a chord tone (or M6) on every strong beat.

    I've never worked out the fingerings...I think it's best to just know what the notes are and start trying to use them.

    For more about bebop, I recommend the Omnibook for Guitar. I was just made aware that there was a guitar version recently, maybe it's common knowledge for a lot of people. What's particularly useful is having the fingerings for Parker's bop lines in there; I've always had my particular way of playing lines, but seeing how someone else could do it opened up a lot of doors for me.


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