Bassology Lesson 3

Bassology Lesson #3

7th Chord Arpeggios Within Mode Shapes

One of my objectives with this lesson is for a bassist to see patterns inside mode shapes. In this case, the particular pattern is the 7th chord arpeggio. Doing arpeggios in mode shapes allows multiple arpeggios in one hand position. Plus it allows you to see different shapes for the same kind of arpeggiated chords. Since we are dealing with a particular mode shape in this instance, the Ionian, we will be playing the 4 diatonic chords in the Ionian mode. The 4 diatonic 7th chords are Major 7th, Minor 7th, Dominant 7th and half diminished. I’m only showing this exercise for the Ionian mode but you should learn this exercise for all 7 diatonic modes and the modes of the harmonic minor and melodic minor scales also.

I also have posted shapes and fingerings of all 7 diatonic modes as Lesson #4. So after you learn this exercise for the Ionian mode, you can go to that chart and apply this exercise to the rest of the modes. The objective here is to do these arpeggios in one hand position and not shift your hand. I don’t want to share all of the objectives I have in teaching this lesson to my students, because I’m very much into people finding their own objectives and concepts when it comes to learning and playing the bass.

I also want to add that this is NOT a study of modes and this is NOT a study of arpeggios. If it were, I would go into more detail into the construction of modes and arpeggios. This is just an exercise on how to play arpeggios in a particular modal shape. It’s a very useful skill especially for bass players since they tend to rely heavily on pentatonic scales when soloing and expressing themselves - and that’s great! The pentatonic scale is a great sounding and very popular scale, but, it’s not very melodic sounding. One of the ways to add ‘melodicism’ (I think I just made up a word) to your soloing is to arpeggiate chords. When I’m soloing and I notice myself playing a lot of pentatonics or ‘block’ patterns, that’s when I like to add in modes and arpeggios. If you really think about it,… notes, intervals, chords (arpeggios), pentatonics and modes are five different ways of expressing the same information. At least, that’s how I look at it.

OK,…here’s the Ionian mode and a suggested fingering. I intentionally didn’t give a starting note because whatever note you choose to start this pattern on, the pattern will be the same. Just be sure to start it on your lowest string.

The previous page concludes the sequences for the 4 string bass.


The previous page concludes the sequences for the 5 string bass.


The previous page concludes the sequences for the 6 string bass.

In the layout shown above, I have given you just one of the ways that I suggest you practice this exercise. I’m going to give you some more, but I suggest that you use these as a ‘springboard’ to explore the endless possibilities inherent in these types of studies. Above, we did the individual diatonic chords ascending numerically. For example, I Maj 7, ii min 7, iii min 7, IV Maj 7,
V Dom 7, vi min 7, and vii half diminished. We also did the individual arpeggios in ascending order. For example, root, 3rd, 5th, 7th of each chord. This was the first one:

1. Chord order ascending ------------------------------------------- arpeggios ascending


Now, try these others:

2. Chord order ascending ------------------------------------------- arpeggios descending
( I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii)------------------------------------------------------- (7th, 5th, 3rd, root)


3. Chord order ascending-------------------------------------------- arpeggios alternating ascending/descending
( same as above)---------------------------------------------------------(root, 3rd, 5th, 7th – first chord) (7th, 5th, 3rd, root – second chord) etc.


4. Chord order ascending ------------------------------------------- arpeggios alternating descending/ascending
( same as above)---------------------------------------------------------(7th, 5th, 3rd, root – first chord) (root, 3rd, 5th, 7th – second chord) etc.


5. Chord order descending------------------------------------------ arpeggios ascending
( vii, vi, V, IV, iii, ii, I)------------------------------------------------------- (root, 3rd, 5th, 7th)


6. Chord order descending------------------------------------------ arpeggios descending
(same as above)--------------------------------------------------------- (7th, 5th, 3rd, root)


7. Chord order descending ----------------------------------------- arpeggios alternating ascending/descending
(same as above)--------------------------------------------------------- (root, 3rd, 5th, 7th - first chord) (7th, 5th, 3rd, root - second chord) etc.

8. Chord order descending------------------------------------------ arpeggios alternating descending/ascending
(same as above)--------------------------------------------------------- (7th, 5th, 3rd, root - first chord) (root, 3rd, 5th, 7th - second chord) etc.


Try to come up with your own exercises. One of the things you can do is to mix up the chord order. The combinations are endless. Of course you should practice these with a metronome. Better yet, if you have an accompaniment machine, like the Boss Jam Station you can play these over all styles of music in different keys at various tempos. You’ll find that these lines will start showing up in your playing on an unconscious level.