Tip #38 – Minor Bebop Scale Uses

These series of posts are going to cover bebop scales and possible uses – so let’s jump right in.

As a quick refresher: the bebop era of jazz grew from the trends taking place during the 1930’s in the United States, but didn’t become fully developed and established till the 1940’s.  During improvisation, some players would use the convenience of these “bebop scales,” which were no more than diatonic scales with a single added chromatic passing tone in-between to push chordal tones on downbeats.

So, now let’s take a look at the minor bebop scale:

Note that the scale degrees are | 1-2-b3-3-4-5-6-b7-8 |

Some points where they work great is over the ii7 and V7 chords in the key.  However, experimentation is encouraged, as this is just a jumping point to start from.  Also, building creative lines using the bebop scale should NOT use EVERY SINGLE note.  Add space.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #37 – Dominant Bebop Scale Uses

These series of posts are going to cover bebop scales and possible uses – so let’s jump right in.

As a quick refresher: the bebop era of jazz grew from the trends taking place during the 1930’s in the United States, but didn’t become fully developed and established till the 1940’s.  During improvisation, some players would use the convenience of these “bebop scales,” which were no more than diatonic scales with a single added chromatic passing tone in-between to push chordal tones on downbeats.

So, now let’s take a look at the dominant bebop scale:

Note that the scale degrees are | 1-2-3-4-5-6-b7-7-8 |

The dominant bebop scale can work great over V7, ii7, and vii7(b5) chords in the key. Also, ii – V progressions as well! However, experimentation is encouraged, as this is just a jumping point to start from.  Also, building creative lines using the bebop scale should NOT use EVERY SINGLE note.  Add space.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

How To Beat Writer’s Block – Tip #4

Here is another tip of finding inspiration and beating writer’s block – and it comes from a source of distraction, too!:


In this modern world, social media has taken over. While it can be argued that society has benefited from this advance in instant communication through technology, one could also propose a counterstance saying that social media has led to distraction, unfulfillment, anxiety, and more. But let’s safe that topic for outside of music.


Today, I will be discussing an opportunity for using social media as an inspiration that can be done as you are endlessly scrolling.
Start by taking a random tweet, Facebook status updates, or Instagram caption and find one of two things:

  1. A topic
  2. A small phrase

Concerning the first one – simply write a song that is about or tangent to the focus of the post. Nothing complex about that; and maybe too, the perspective of the person who wrote it could be the vision of the character in the song – or at least the mood of the piece in general. With the latter choice, pick s small phrase that stand out to you and make a repetitive motif out of it. The motif can be a symbolic representation of it, or it can be a directly related to the spoken rhythm & pitch contour of the phrase.
Experiment with both and see what you create.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

How To Beat Writer’s Block – Tip #3

This was taken as inspiration from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum down in Nashville, TN.

For this one, take photo clippings printed out online, from a newspaper, magazine. Try to get a variety, possibly of things you like and an equal quantity of things you dislike.

After that, place all the picture facedown, or mixed in a container. From there, randomly select three photos and turn them faceup to use.

Try incorporating those three images creatively somehow into the lyrics or general meaning of the piece of music you want to create.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #6 – Incorporating Melodic Alternation Interplay for Variety

Well, that title certainly is a mouthful. But it is just a fancy way of saying “call & response.” Everyone has probably experienced some form of practicing call & response, as it is used in blues, camp songs, jazz improvisation, polychoral music, and more. One voice (or group) plays one thing as the “call,” and the other voice plays something back as the “response.” While the “response” can be an absolute copy of the “call,” this tip post will feature different opportunities of contrast.

First: different registers. It is a bit easier incorporating this when you have a large ensemble; but even with a single instrument try bouncing between the two low/high extremes of the voice range.

Second: different intervals. Simply put, one theme can be all stepwise in motion, while the other uses leaps.

Third: different contours. Contour is the shape of the line. So, one can go in one direction while the other goes in the opposite.

Fourth: different instruments. Every instrument has their own timbre, or color of sound. Alternating between the voice-like sound of a high-registered cello and a breathy low-voiced flute can be a beautiful contrast.

Fifth: different techniques. Not only do instruments have their own unique timbre, but they also have their own techniques, too. String instruments can both be plucked and bowed, and alternating between the two possibilities in a call & response format can bring beautiful contrasting colors as well as highlights to the melody.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #5 – Finding the Right Chords for your Phrygian-Dominant Scale

Or vice versa! Maybe you already have the chordal harmony, but are looking to see if playing a lead line over in a phrygian-dominant mode is appropriate.

The phrygian-dominant scale is a mode based off of starting from the fifth degree of the harmonic minor scale. So, to remind, a harmonic minor scale looks as such:

And if you were to start from the fifth degree, it would not look like this, becoming the phrygian-dominant scale:

Notice that the scale degrees are | 1 b2 3 4 5 b6 b7 1 | and what chords can be derived from them. The strongest chords built when playing in this mode are:

Harmonic movements between I – bII , and I – bvii are good indicators to the ear that you have now dove into the world of phrygian-dominant.

In the case that you are in a regular major/minor kay, but want to incorporate the phrygian-dominant, look to add chords like: 7alt , 7(b9b13) , V7/III , and V7/VI . These best fit the pitch collection of the mode. Also, a VImaj7 chord can possibly work if the melody has a raised sixth being approached from above.


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Tip #4 – Crafting Melody with Chord Inversions

In chord voice-leading, the bass note has the most flexibility on how/where to move. While there are some strong suggestions to keep bass motion at intervals small – like under a perfect-fourth – there is certainly more leeway for a bass not in a chord to make large intervallic leaps… as opposed to inner voices and melody, which should move stepwise.

Now, what if these roles were reversed? Given, jumpy upper voices in a chord can sound a bit out of place; however, having the bass line be crafted like a melody can yield cool results of a smooth transition from one chord to another.

Take a chord progression for example:

After deciding on a progression, my next piece of advice is to find common tones between the chords as well as adjected notes by at most a minor third (though M3 and P4 can work, too). Make a note of all the possibilities. From there, write a melody within the harmonic rhythm that is smooth and overall stepwise in motion. Then, let those be the root positions and/or inversions of the chords you previously chosen.

Rest is there for you from there on out on how to play around with the upper voices and melody, but now you have a melodic line in the bass that can be used as a motif a basis for variation.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.