bebop scale

Bebop Scale

Welcome back, guys! Today we are talking about a very important tool of one of the most characteristic jazz styles: the bebop scale.

Bebop scales are often used in improvisation and give the playing the right mix of tension and variety that make your “sound” truly unique.

Before going deeper into the scale, however, let’s better define the style to which this important “tool” of our repertoire belongs.

What Is Bebop?

The Bebop (often abbreviated as bop) is a jazz genre that originated in America, precisely in New York, in the early 1940s. In the beginning, the word “bebop” indicated, in addition to the musical genre itself, also the lifestyle and the rebellious attitude of those who called themselves boppers.

Seen by many as one of the most important developments of the jazz style, the bop is characterized by fast times and improvisations on the chord changes. From a purely harmonic point of view, in fact, this style is characterized by several particularities:

  • Using of diminished and altered chords
  • Frequent use of harmonic substitutions
  • Frequent use of chromaticism

If we want to make a comparison, in its musical style, the Bebop is profoundly different from the schematic compositions, for example, of the Swing style that preceded it. Bebop is characterized by rapid rhythms, complex harmonies, and “complicated” improvisations over the changes. This is why it was defined by many jazz lovers as an exciting and beautiful revolution.

What is the Bepop scale and how many types are there?

Theorized by David Baker, an American jazz teacher, the Bebop scale is an octatonic scale (i.e. with 8 different tones) which is formed by adding a chromatic note of passage to the heptatonic scales (7 notes) and creates a natural melodic movement that emphasizes the basis of the underlying seventh chord.

There are 5 types of bebop scales most frequently used:

  • the Bebop Dominant scale
  • the Bebop Dorian scale
  • the Bebop Major scale
  • the Bebop Melodic Minor scale
  • the Bebop Harmonic Minor scale

The Bebop Dominant Scale derives from the Mixolydian scale with the addition of the chromatism between the minor seventh and the major seventh (for that reason also called the Bebop Mixolydian scale). It has all the notes both in the major scale and on the Mixolydian scale. This scale is often used on dominant chords and on all extended dominant chords.

The Bebop Dorian Scale derives from the Dorian scale and has a chromatic passage between the minor third and the forth. It has all the notes both in the Dorian scale and in the Mixolydian scale of the same key.

The Bebop Major Scale is derived from the Ionic mode (major scale) and has a chromatic transition tone between the 5th and 6th.

This scale is often used for Major sixth and Major seventh chords.

The Bebop Melodic Minor scale derives from the ascending form of the melodic minor scale (aka jazz minor scale) and has a chromatic transition tone between the 5th and 6th. It has all the notes of both the ascending form of the melodic minor scale and the harmonic minor scale of the same key. This scale is often used on Minor sixth chords.

The Bebop Harmonic Minor scale (or Bebop Natural Minor scale) is derived from the harmonic minor scale and has a chromatic transition tone (an additional 7♭) between the 6th and 7th. It contains all the notes of both the harmonic minor scale and the natural minor scale.

Bebop scales are formidable “tools” that cannot be missing in your playing.

They are also often used on Modern Blues in many licks.

Do you want to deepen this aspect?

Come and read the article and you will find everything you need to know!

If you liked the article please write a comment below! 🙂

See you soon!

Best,

Davide Pannozzo

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