Improve Your Pentatonic Bass Playing With Just 3 Notes! Pt 3

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Welcome the Noisegate Bass Lesson brought to you by Craig Strain from Bass Lessons Melbourne. We’re looking at the humble Minor Pentatonic Scale and different ways in which you can ‘dress it up’ to help with your grooves and soloing.

Last lesson we looked at adding 2 notes from outside the minor pentatonic scale, the b5 and major 3rd, to give a little more colour and flavour to our licks and fills. In this 3rd and final instalment we are going to add one more note and also look at some licks that use all of these ‘extra notes’. As a result hopefully you will have some new approaches and colours to choose from when using the minor pentatonic.

The final note that we are going to add to the minor pentatonic is the major 6th and in the case of our A Minor pentatonic scale that will give us an F#. So our new scale looks like this: A C D E F# G and is technically taking us in to the realm of the Dorian Mode. As you play up and down this new scale format you might notice that the F# doesn’t seem to quite ‘fit in’ tonally with the rest of the notes, in order to make it work for us we need to look at context: how and where we decide to use that F#.

In my experience I generally try and include the major 6th in a minor pentatonic line to add a little more of a ‘funky’ vibe, check out Example 1. To me, using the F# in this way conjures up feelings of P Funk, James Brown and Sly Stone as the Major 6th to b7 movement is classic ‘funk bass’ territory. Experiment with alternative octaves (beneath that low A starting note) and using it as an upper octave ‘accent’.

Another way of using the major 6th is as a ‘bouncing tone’ down to the minor 3rd: Example 2. This results in the interval of a tritone between the b3 C and the Maj 6 F# and gives a really cool ‘outside’ feel to the line without being too dissonant.

Example 3 combines the ideas from both previous examples into one super stanky bassline! Pay close attention to the articulation for extra mojo 😉 As in the previous lesson, these examples all play on the idea of Tension and Release, a staple in most blues, funk, rock, classical and jazz music

Improve Your Pentatonic Playing With Just 3 Notes! PT.3Finally, looking at the Minor Pentatonic Board 3 with all of the ‘extra notes’ added, our scale has nearly doubled in size with many more note choice combinations and a row of 5 chromatic notes to really spice up our playing! As always, take these concepts and ideas and experiment with them to come up with your own ideas to add to your vocabulary, try them in different keys and see which ‘flavours’ you prefer 🙂

Improve Your Pentatonic Playing With Just 3 Notes! PT.3I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on expanding the Minor Pentatonic, I’ll be back next month with a brand new lesson!

See you next time!



If you enjoyed this lesson head on over to www.basslessonsmelbourne.com for more free content and feel free to get in touch with questions/lesson suggestions via email: info@basslessonsmelbourne.com

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