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FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Use of modes in bass playing

Contributing Member


Apr 19th, 2016 04:31 PM   Edit   Profile  

Do you really need to ?

Apart from bass soloing how are modes used in bass playing ?

Are there any examples ?

any help will be appreciated


Contributing Member

Wichita, Kansas

Drums = pulse, Bass = heartbeat
Apr 19th, 2016 05:05 PM   Edit   Profile  

I don't think in modes. It seems to be just an extra layer of "theory" to think about.

I think in chords. Chordal notes and scale notes within chord.

Major, 6th, maj7 chord = same notes as ionian mode
dominant7 chord = same notes as mixolydian mode
min7 chord = same noes as dorian mode

I just know what scale notes are in a specific chord from doing it for lots of years. It's second nature now.

Tyrone Shuz


I'm all in!
Apr 19th, 2016 09:36 PM   Edit   Profile  

If the song is modal, you'll use modes whether you know it or not.

If you play Oye Como Va you will use Dorian mode, and if you do Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald you'll use Mixolydian just to name two.

Contributing Member


Nov 20th, 2016 02:10 AM   Edit   Profile  

So now we are discussing the Superlocrian mode.

From a bassists point of view, over what progressions would it be used ?

Tyrone Shuz


I'm all in!
Nov 24th, 2016 02:24 AM   Edit   Profile  

It's really a jazz thing. The Superlocrian mode is a needless high-flootin' name for:

Melodic Minor 1/2 step up from the root of your chord (b9 of the chord, if you're scoring at home).

More commonly, this is called the Altered Scale. It goes over an altered dominant 7th, especially if it's "going home".

The Altered Scale is simply the R, 3, 7 of a dominant 7th chord, and all four color tones (b9, #9, b5 and #5).

G superlocrian = Ab melodic minor. You will have to, for analysis, use enharmonic note names. Ab melodic minor = Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F and G.


Ab = b9; Bb(A#) = #9; Cb(B) = 3; Db = b5: Eb(D#) = #5; F = 7; G = R

I don't know how jazzy/fusion-y your group is, but you must use dominant 7th voicings without the 5, or provide the altered 5. If your harmony players are hip enough not to play a regular 5th, this scale sounds fine over a dominant 7th.

But normally it goes over a 7b9, or 7#5 most often, but also 7#9 and 7b5. Off the top of my head, I can't recall an entire progression that uses this mode, it merely occurs over altered dominant 7th chords.

As a bassist, it simply depends on how busy you are. If you play primarily chord tones, you may indeed hit the b5 or #5, but the 9ths you will hit far less often.

WARNING: 9ths are extensions above the octave, and if you play 9ths in too low a register, it will force the chord to be rooted on the 9th you're playing. The 9ths are meant to be played in higher registers. You can use them in walks, but you won't hang on those notes like you could if you went high up the bass into Jaco-land.

If you're playing music that uses these types of chords, you may well be asked to solo on a regular basis, and that's where this stuff really comes into play. For a "normal" mode like Dorian, you'll play it knowingly or not if you do a tune like Oye Como Va, or Evil Ways, for example.

If your head is spinning, I can sort all this out for you, it's my life's work, and Skype works really well for this sort of thing.

Contributing Member


Nov 24th, 2016 01:50 PM   Edit   Profile  

Thank you Tyrone

i am a geezer who is taking bass lessons just for the fun of it. So thanks for offer of skyping but I'm not that serious about it.

The modes questions have come about from taking bass lessons with a guitar teacher who knows his music theory but hasn't put much thought into how it would apply to bass.

But being new to actually playing bass I am curious how modes would be used by the bass while the guitar or lead instrument plays modally over the top.

Thanks again for the response


Contributing Member

South Florida

Nov 25th, 2016 01:39 AM   Edit   Profile  

Wow you guys know your music theory. My approach is fairly simple by necessity.

Like the poster above I think in chords. So I know the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the major and minor chords anywhere on the neck on the top two strings. The D string and G string are essentially the same pattern moved up the neck.

If I"m confused I just stick with thumping the root note until something comes to me.

Anything more than that and I am in danger of painting myself in a corner and having the guys laugh at me.

(This message was last edited by larryguitar19 at 03:53 AM, Nov 25th, 2016)

FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Use of modes in bass playing

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