by Russ Nolan
Teaching Jazz As A Language: Using the Bebop Scale for Longer Phrases
If the students show a basic understanding of the Blues Scale, I will move on to the Bebop Scale. One of the dividing lines between high school jazz students and college jazz students is the use of this scale. Outside of transcribing, most of my own practicing and concepts of the Bebop Scale come from David Baker’s series entitled, ‘How To Play Bebop’ (volumes 1-3). I site his books in my clinic reference materials. This scale is the basic tool used by advanced improvisers to smooth out their lines and land on chord tones on the strong beats (if they so choose—but that’s another discussion).
The Bebop Scale and Use over Blues Changes
The Bebop Scale is typically played in a descending fashion. By adding a half step in between the root and the b7, the root, 3rd, 5th, and b7th land on the beats.
Practice this scale from the root, 3rd, 5th, and b7th in descending fashion, keeping the original two half-steps (F-E-Eb) in place.
Now we can apply our new scale to the Blues Progression: