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Playing bass and modes, am I missing something?

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(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1089
Topic starter  

There is a site that is completely bass. No names, please. Every other question (OK, a little hyperbole there) is about modes. And they are mostly from new players. Why are some (new) bass players so obsessed with modes? As in "how do I know what mode to play in if the guitarist is playing A# Mixolydian?" or "can I play a G Lydian over D Dorian?" or some such silliness (silliness imo, anyway) :roll: They get themselves worked up into such a confusion Theseus couldn't get them out of the mental maze.

Why not just play what the freakin' song calls for? I haven't seen any questions like that for guitar soloing, but I see this constantly for bass. My "happy place" in bass playing is R 3 5. OK, I'm not adventurous and even on guitar I can't get my head wrapped around pentatonics. But what's with all the obsession over modes? What am I missing? I would ask that over there but without a doubt I would get my tongue ripped out and stomped on. And I need my tongue for snarky comments. :mrgreen:

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


   
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(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

You're not missing anything - they are. The bass is part of the rhythm section - the foundation for everything else. If the bassist is trying to play a G Lydian over D Dorian, it's going to be a train wreck - if the soloist is in D Dorian, they have no business being anyplace except D Dorian (or maybe another D minor scale if they all REALLY know the tune well, and are trying to give each other ideas).

Your happy place is really the only place. You can get fancy if you've got a solo. And if you do, then the questions should be the same as for a guitarist or a keyboard player - what you can play over the harmony. D Dorian isn't a harmony - ever. It's a scale :)

That's the root of almost all modal confusion: modes are scales, not chords. Some modes work well over certain chords. Some don't work over those same chords. Trying to work one mode over another (called bimodality) rarely works, because the charm of modes is the difference in tonal centers - if two different ones have to duke it out, one invariably loses.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1089
Topic starter  

Yeah, I wanted confirmation and you came through again. Thanks. Of course my examples were "way out there" but you got my drift. I think you hit it right on that they are confused with modes v. chords. I know a lot of experienced bass players and guitarists don't concern themselves with modal stuff. I always knew it to be useful in composing, not playing what was already composed.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


   
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(@danlasley)
Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2118
 

That said, it's good to know whether to play F or F# in a song nominally in Am. Songs that have Am - Bm progressions usually include the F#, which is probably one of the modes (or just call it a G scale). Am - G - F patterns play the F (obviously).


   
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