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The Importance of the Bebop Scale

If you've attended my Bebop Scale Boot Camp webinars, you've likely witnessed me shouting to the stars the importance of the Bebop Scale. The need to have this scale down under our fingers (and in our heads) is crucial; It allows us, at any point, to steer our lines at any moment so that they are in harmony, giving them a coherent sound, and making them flow.

The lines in the examples below use a few tricks to add chord tones to the downbeat, giving it a balanced sound. For a more in-depth discussion, please read Ed's Shed posts from the past.

Ex. 1: The line has all the "correct" notes from the Bb Dominant Bebop Scale, but it still doesn't sound right. The non-chord tones are to blame for this. Simply said, it sounds dreadful.

Ex. 2: There is a non-chord tone on beat 2, and our strategy up to this point has been to move to a chord-tone ASAP (G-Gb-F). There's nothing wrong with it—in fact, the color sounds nice—but eventually we want to outline the chord we're playing on.

Ex. 3: By simply adding notes from the Bebop Scale, we are extending the line that we began in Ex. 2. Just hear how thorough it is.

Ex. 4: We're moving down the scale directly. We can employ a chord tone on the downbeat after an eighth rest by adding one.

Ex. 5: In order for the 5th (F) to be played on the downbeat, we are adding a chromatic passing tone, a b5 (which sounds hip). It is an all-win situation.

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