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Which bebop minor scale?

Krank

Member
Messages
170
In a classic blues tune ('Bad Luck Blues'), the B part goes:

|Fm---|Bbm---|Fm---|Cm7-F7-|

So a strong F regular minor character in those first three bars. However, the two bebop minor scale variations I know both have the regular 6th, not b6 as implied by the Bbm's third, Db.

So what scale(s) for improvisation over this progression? I'm only starting out with jazz so would like to keep it as simple as possible, but still use bebop scale runs.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,063
The idea behind bebop scales is to add a chromatic passing note to a standard 7-note scale. They're not usually designed to work over more than one chord.
If you want a synthetic 8-note scale for both Fm and Bbm, what about adding the blues b5? (B/Cb). It comes out as a b9 on the Bbm, of course, but its familiar blues sound should get you out of that.
"Bebop aeolian blues" (to coin a phrase ;) ) = 1-2-b3-4-b5-6-b6-b7.

Personally I wouldn't get too prescriptive about scales. That's not how the bebop players would have worked on something like this, IMO.
They might have used plain F blues scale. They might have used chromatic approach notes to chord tones. They might have used an A natural in passing to the Bbm. They might have used a major 6 (or bebop dorian) on the Fm regardless of the Bbm (and then changed scale for the Bbm).
Mostly they would have been going for melodic phrasing, using interesting extensions where possible (or where they felt it worked). (It's generally theorists that come up with notions such as "bebop scales", by analysing what those guys did after the event. I doubt the players thought that way.)

BTW, I strongly recommend the allaboutjazz forum for very well-informed and helpful responses to good questions like this:
http://forums.allaboutjazz.com/forumdisplay.php?f=34
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,063
Our posts crossed!
I am not aware of the "Minor bebop" scale.
Mark Levine gives two:
Bebop dorian = 1-2-b3-3-4-5-6-b7 (passing M3)
Bebop melodic minor = 1-2-b3-4-5-#5-6-7 (passing #5/b6)
Both have the major 6 the OP wants to avoid.
 

Cap'n Fingers

Member
Messages
2,384
In a classic blues tune ('Bad Luck Blues'), the B part goes:

|Fm---|Bbm---|Fm---|Cm7-F7-|

So a strong F regular minor character in those first three bars. However, the two bebop minor scale variations I know both have the regular 6th, not b6 as implied by the Bbm's third, Db.

So what scale(s) for improvisation over this progression? I'm only starting out with jazz so would like to keep it as simple as possible, but still use bebop scale runs.
It's only a b6 if you're still playing the Fm scale over the Bbm. It's a 2nd in relation to the Bbm which is cool. I know the answer you're looking for is not this simple but what's wrong with playing a Bbm type scale when it changes to Bbm? Are you looking for a single scale play over the whole progression?
 

Krank

Member
Messages
170
Thanks so much for your help - it's great to have people like you around.

It's only a b6 if you're still playing the Fm scale over the Bbm. It's a 2nd in relation to the Bbm which is cool. I know the answer you're looking for is not this simple but what's wrong with playing a Bbm type scale when it changes to Bbm? Are you looking for a single scale play over the whole progression?
This part I don't get. It's D vs. Db.

Yes, I was looking for just one scale to maintain over the change to Bbm and back, without going pentatonic (which is the conceptual frame I seek to break out of - I have little experience with jazz). I feel straight F minor (aolian) sounds kinda pedestrian. Yet henry_the_horse and you suggest it? Is it a matter of simply taking F aolian and adding passing notes as one sees fit? Or should I try to 'move' to Bb dorian for the Bbm?
 

cameron

Senior Member
Messages
4,182
Yes, I was looking for just one scale to maintain over the change to Bbm and back, without going pentatonic (which is the conceptual frame I seek to break out of - I have little experience with jazz). I feel straight F minor (aolian) sounds kinda pedestrian. Yet henry_the_horse and you suggest it? Is it a matter of simply taking F aolian and adding passing notes as one sees fit? Or should I try to 'move' to Bb dorian for the Bbm?
I don't play jazz. But I think my approach (given what I know - it's very hard to describe "what to play" without knowing the melody of the song, or the bassline, etc.) would be to approach the alternating Fmin and Bbmin chords with F dorian, but add (and emphasize) the Db note over the Bbmin chord. I often play neither natural minor nor dorian, but a hybrid of both - I see both 6ths as perfectly valid. In this case, the flat 6th is a chord tone that can be used to outline the changes. Over the last bar the tonal center changes, though, and I'd want to emphasize the chord tones there. Without knowing what's next, it's hard to say what the important tones are, but if that resolves to Bb major (or one of its subs such as Dmin7 or Gmin7) then you'd probably want to emphasize the A note over the Cmin7 F7 sequence. i'd think C dorian there, but would aim for that A note over the F7.
 

Cap'n Fingers

Member
Messages
2,384
Thanks so much for your help - it's great to have people like you around.



This part I don't get. It's D vs. Db.

Yes, I was looking for just one scale to maintain over the change to Bbm and back, without going pentatonic (which is the conceptual frame I seek to break out of - I have little experience with jazz). I feel straight F minor (aolian) sounds kinda pedestrian. Yet henry_the_horse and you suggest it? Is it a matter of simply taking F aolian and adding passing notes as one sees fit? Or should I try to 'move' to Bb dorian for the Bbm?
There's lots of possibilities. You're definitely not limited to the aeolian scale based on the root. For example you can play a major scale starting at the b3rd, b6th or b7th of the minor chord. Jump to a pentatonic minor starting at the 2nd. Check this link out for some ideas: http://chrisjuergensen.com.hosting.domaindirect.com/improvisation guide.htm
Chris has lots of stuff to chew on on that site.

What you do over the chord is one thing but to me the magic is what you do just before the chord changes. Play a melodic minor a half step above the root of the chord in the last bar before the Fm changes to BbM. This type of melodic minor use is handy over minor or dominant chords where the next chord is a 4th higher.

Sorry I'm not giving you a concrete "do this", "do that", kind of answer. Everyone's ears are different. It boils down to what sounds good to you.
And to find out what sounds good to you you have to experiment.
 

Dannc6

Member
Messages
188
As someone who has been where you are - trying to figure out how to play/rationalize solo's - and I'm still there... My thought would be to focus on the guide tones in your changes. At first maybe only play the 3 and 7 of each chord. After that - try to work them into your playing.
There's a law of diminishing returns when trying to think of entire modes for only 2 beats - which might be what you running into. As stated earlier, that's likely not how the jazz guitarists you idolize went about playing these lines. Although it might help reverse engineer some of their magic, it can have a tendency to limit your own magic :)!
Perhaps take a step back and think about guide tones and voice leading. Start simple, fully internalize the chords, and maybe then think about how to solo over those changes. If you're looking into bebop scale runs, maybe just try and add some chromaticism into your playing, particularly centered around the 7th note. Just my .02!
 

Gene

Member
Messages
1,624
Listen to some jazz blues. 13th is played all the time on the tonic minor chord. Trying to shove,cram,force,fit one scale over a harmonic progession is bad thinking. I mean, doesn't this kind of approach sound wrong to your ears?
 

RichardB

Senior Member
Messages
1,334
Listen to some jazz blues. 13th is played all the time on the tonic minor chord. Trying to shove,cram,force,fit one scale over a harmonic progession is bad thinking. I mean, doesn't this kind of approach sound wrong to your ears?
Gene,

Ithink the idea of using one tonal center or "scale"to fit over as many chords as possible is exactly what is needed. after all, this is how the human "ear/brain" functions. We hear in tonal centers, and all of the most lyrical and most natural sounding melodies are "heard" and conceived this way- in tonal areas that are major or minor in character.

Having said that, the scale that offers notes that will fit over any of the chordsin that progression is the good old pent minor.I think the OP should stick w/ the fmin pentatonic scale and embellish that scale w/ approach notes. This is the way he willproduce the best melodies that will always sound better than the orthodox chord tone or chord/scale stuff...
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,063
Is it a matter of simply taking F aolian and adding passing notes as one sees fit?
Yes, IMO. I wouldn't be too concerned about finding something more "interesting". You can add any chromatic note for drama or interest (there are 5 to choose from!)
Or should I try to 'move' to Bb dorian for the Bbm?
It's the same scale - I mean same set of notes as F aeolian. So it's not "moving" anywhere. It would work fine of course.
Essentially, it's all about working from chord tones (arpeggios) and finding ways to move on to chord tones in the next chord. You can stay diatonic or use chromaticism, as long as you hit your target note - and as long as your line has a good melodic and rhythmic shape.
Don't think too much about scales - it's beside the point. Everything you need to know is in the chords and the melody.

But try asking on allaboutjazz, as I suggested. No offence to the posters here (some very good responses above), but you get a better quality of answer (on jazz practice specifically) over there.
http://forums.allaboutjazz.com/forumdisplay.php?f=34
 

Mandoboy

Member
Messages
1,768
If you listen to solos of this era, you hear a lot of D on the Fm (Fm6) and Db on the Bbm...so simplifying it takes you somewhat out of the idiom IMHO.

Nothing wrong with approaching it differently, but bebop is largely about navigating shifting chord changes with melodic lines that express the chords; i.e. if you take away the rhythm section, you can "hear the changes" in the soloist's line- it's one of the things that distinguishes that style of improvisation from others. It is a harmonically based music, so playing "over the changes" will work musically, but if it's your only MO, you wouldn't have particularly bop sounding lines.

The minor 6/9 sound is big in this kind of progression, so your basic chord conception might be 1 b3 5 6 9 rather than 1 b3 5 b7 9. The 6 is a very cool note on the Fm!
 
Messages
2,873
...Essentially, it's all about working from chord tones (arpeggios) and finding ways to move on to chord tones in the next chord. You can stay diatonic or use chromaticism, as long as you hit your target note - and as long as your line has a good melodic and rhythmic shape.
Don't think too much about scales - it's beside the point. Everything you need to know is in the chords and the melody...
+1 - Great post!
 

Krank

Member
Messages
170
JonR, the move I was thinking of was F dorian to Bb dorian (and back). Thanks for the link btw., bookmarked it.

Mandoboy - yes, I figured there's an essential change happening from the D to the Db, so a need to accomodate that somehow. I'll try to think of it as F dorian (bebop) to F aolian (=Bbm dorian) and report back if it works for me that way conceptually as I play.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,063
JonR, the move I was thinking of was F dorian to Bb dorian (and back).
OK.
I think the preference for dorian mentioned by the others (using D on the Fm chord) is down to "avoid notes". A major 6th can be held against a minor chord (or used as an extension) in a way a b6 can't. (And of course if a chord player is going to play a m6 or m69 chord, you better follow suit...;) )
Aeolian can be fine if the b6 is only in passing, and may sound better in some contexts.
Eg, in "Blue Bossa" I find it hard to make a major 6 sound right on the tonic chord. The b6 is so much part of the melody and the harmony in the other chords that introducing a major 6 on the tonic seems perverse.
IMO, that is.
At other times, I love the sound of that 6th. It has a great vintage cheesy sound on something like Besame Mucho, esp if you play a chromatic 5-#5-6 line... :D
(We're straying from be-bop now...)
 




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