Building Bass Lines With The Minor Pentatonic Scale
Here’s the 2nd of the minor pentatonic scale videos I spoke about last week. This one comes to us from Denmark, from Lasse of contemporarybasslessons on YouTube.
Lasse explains that he will demonstrate the scale in two positions and show how we can use it to create bass lines and grooves. Like Yonit’s video, he says that its used in multiple styles, like soul, funk and r&b. There was no PDF of the lesson available, so here are rudimentary diagrams that I made to illustrate the two positions:
Position 1: (this pattern was new to me)
Position 2: (we’ve seen this one before)
Both of these are moveable patterns, so we can start them on any note that allows us to run through the given pattern to completion. Lasse explains that its important to know both positions, so that we can shift from one to the next for improvisational lines. This gives us more options for note choice when using the scale in a song.
He then gives us 2 exercises. The first asks us to play the scale and shift from one pattern into the other. What he does to illustrate this is play the first pattern going up and the 2nd going down. It looks like this:
The 2nd exercise is the reverse of the first, so we play up the 2nd pattern and down the first. It looks like this:
Once we’ve seen this, he adds in notes from the scale from different octaves – so other E’s and A’s and so on. At this point, it went into outer space for me. I don’t have the fretboard memorized yet, so although I understand that he added these notes, the speed at which he did so, and my lack of fretboard knowledge, keeps me from attempting it myself at the moment – I do plan on mapping this out, at least for the scale in A (A minor pentatonic). Then, I can see how much of that pattern is moveable. With the symmetry of the bass, I suspect that it will all be moveable. His suggestion is that we practice the two exercises above and then practice what he calls the “long scale” which is all of those scale notes from the low E string to the high G string. (I believe he actually wants us to go from the low E to a high E on the G-string.)
With the instructional material covered, Lasse then throws on a loop that he had waiting and improvises over it. Then, he shows us several grooves as examples of what we can do with the scale. These are things we can practice for ourselves, or we can make up our own grooves. He tells us we can download material from his website to follow along with the lesson, but the website is no longer active (thus, my diagram attempts above).
After breaking down the basslines/grooves that he played for us, he closes the video with suggestions about how to build our own basslines using the scale. I actually really like the method of using two scale variations to build exercises where we play up using one fingering and down using another. I’m probably going to incorporate this into my own practice, if I ever make time to actually sit down with my bass. Its a nice way to begin to stretch out with notes from a scale (and thus, with chord tones from the scale) and expand where we’re playing, for a fuller sound. Thanks, Lasse!