bebop scales part 1

Using bebop scales in your jazz solos is easier than you think!

Chapter 4: of Learn Jazz Piano book 4

I don’t believe that most of us can learn jazz piano by instinct alone and these scales should be a part of your vocabulary.

The key is getting the right balance of instinct and theory. Here are some more tips to learn jazz piano, This time we are looking at bebop scales.

I’ll begin by stating the obvious.

Major and minor scales have 7 notes.

Most jazz tunes are in 4/4.

Solos are usually built from eighth notes.

Taking these three facts into our playing, a major scale in 8s and in 4/4 time, looks like this.

Fig 42

bebop scales
Downbeats of major scale

You’ll notice that beats 3 and 4 all fall on weak notes of the chord.

In order to make these downbeats fall on the chord tones, we can add one extra note to the scale.

Fig 43

bebop scales
Adding the extra note

This extra, chromatic passing note that occurs between steps 5 and 6 is the Bebop major scale.

Bebop major scale

Fig 44 shows this C major scale ascending and descending.

Play it in swing 8s with the marked accents on the downbeats. Notice how effectively this added note drives the phrase along.

Fig 44

bebop scales

Bebop dominant scale

Because the bebop dominant scale is paired with a dominant 7 chord, our starting scale is the Mixolydian mode.

Once again, we will be adding an extra, chromatic passing note, but this time between steps 7 and the root of the Mixolydian mode.

Here is the C bebop dominant scale ascending and descending. The passing note is B♮.

Fig 45

bebop scales
Bebop dominant scale

You can read all about these scales in eBook 4 of Learn Jazz Piano
And there’s plenty more info here.

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