Jazz Guitar Music For Real Men Part 1: Bebop Scale For Beginners

author: Jake Jeremy date: 03/06/2013 category: guitar scales and modes
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Jazz Guitar Music For Real Men Part 1: Bebop Scale For Beginners
Jazz, to many it is a very dirty word, it brings a sense of stuffy night clubs with old men listening to horn players shrouded in smoke. However, it really isn't like that at all, some of the untapped stylistic approaches that can be applied from Jazz into blues, rock and metal can really add to your arsenal and kick your playing into the next level, just ask Robben Ford or John Petrucci. In this first lesson we'll be looking at the bebop scale, but first some context... Preceding the Bebop era, jazz players (mainly horn players as the guitar was seen as more of a comping instrument, often not included in the band if a pianist was present) would treat notes that were 'between' the 'natural' notes of the major and minor scales, also known as chromatic notes, as passing tones, however when Bebop became more of a recognised style players began to improvise in mainly 8th notes in a linear fashion, i.e. a note on every beat. Now, if you look at a bar in 4/4, with a standard major scale only 7 out the 8 beats would contain a note, this is where the chromatic note is placed and this creates the bebop scale. As an example: C - Major Scale
C7 - Bebop Scale
As you can see above the notes in the scale there are numbers and these correspond to the intervals in the scale. The b7th note, which, in the context of C7 is Bb, is the extra chromatic note that creates the complete 8th note structure in the bar. So, to practice this, if you can record a C7 chord, either on guitar or piano, and loop it, then you can play these 8 notes to get the 'jazzy' context of the b7 note, and it is worth running this through all twelve keys to get the initial shape under your fingers. Arguably the most influential horn player from the Bebop era is Charlie Parker, and his technique was such that he had an innate ability to place chromatic tones on the 'and' of a beat, with the major and minor scale tones hitting on the stronger beats (where the bass drum hits), so it is well worth listening to Parker if you're looking to develop your chromatic technique further. In terms of guitarists a great player to look at is Mike Stern, who has a strong chromatic presence in both his arranging and improvisational style. In the next lesson we'll be looking at 'enclosures' and targeting notes within the scale to create the desired stylistic effect, with techniques such as side-slipping and using arpeggios to establish tonal centres as the key focus point. Thanks for reading UG members, Jake Jeremy Further Reading:
  • "Charlie Parker For Guitar" - Voelpel, M (2001), Music Sales,
  • "Signature Licks" - Charupakorn, J (2010), Hal Leonard Further Listening: Mike Stern, Pat Metheny, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane.
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