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> Humannewman's Bass Modes Study Thread
Bogdan Radovic
post Jan 19 2015, 08:15 PM
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Hi Vic, I'm starting this thread for us to discuss some modes ideas on bass.
Before we start, I'd like to let you know that you shouldn't worry much about finding modes confusing, everyone does.
When I play or compose songs, I never really think about theory. It is there to help us choose some notes or explain what we are playing, but in the end all that it matters is music we play and come up with. That being said, having decent knowledge of scales can help you make some note choices when composing or improvising your bass lines. Personally, I have never digged too deep into the modes and incorporated them into my playing, beyond basics and stuff I found useful in what I was playing with my band(s).

As a starting point, I'd like to invite you to check out these two lessons of mine and let me know your impressions and if you have any questions :


This lesson covers essentials about modes and this is something which is useful to know to start understanding modes.


This lesson covers modes in more advanced way focusing on which modes work over which type of chords. This means that you choose a certain mode over a certain chord type, in example you have a C major chord in the progression and the safe bet scale wise would be to play the C Ionian mode over it. If you have Am or Am7 chord you could play A dorian mode notes over it and so on. I'd invite you to go through it but feel free to take your time and try not to get "stuck" just on that subject as it can really take away time. Rather, try to make goals simple and fun by learning what you'll be immediately using in your playing. Having fun while playing and learning the instrument is the only true way to stay inspired and make progress.

As a starting point, I would just choose a simple chord progression like famous Jazz ii-V-I progression and explore the possibilities of which scales can be played over it by matching each chord with a specific scale or mode. Maybe experiment playing dorian over the "ii" chord, mixolydian over the "V" chord and Ionian over "I" chord.

Since you are playing bass, question arises - what are you trying to play exactly?
Walking bass line? Bass solo? Standard root driven groove with some bass fills...
Context and your ideas can dictate which "road" you take when playing bass over the progression.

I'd also like to suggest checking out these parts of our theory board related to modes :

- Mastering Major Scale Modes
- Jazz Guitar Basics

Even though materials above are written with guitar on mind, everything is applicable on bass and can be "transferred" directly.

Please let me know if you have any questions, I'll be glad to help as much as I can?
These are indeed all interesting subjects which I'm also still learning about so I'm looking forward to feedback from you and others.

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