Bebop scale is a term referring to common seven-note scales that have an added chromatic passing note. These are frequently used in jazz improvisation and are derived from the modes of the major scale, the melodic minor scale, and the harmonic minor scale. These scales are most often used by David Baker and Barry Harris as a tool to teach jazz improvisation. According to Corey Christiansen, "David Baker, one of the world's finest jazz educators, named these scales the 'bebop scales' because they were used so often by jazz artists from the Bebop Era. These artists include Charlie Christian, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, and Dizzy Gillespie, to name a few." Barry Harris builds these scales from two unrelated 4-note chords, which gives them their names in his system.
In general, bebop scales consist of traditional scales with an added passing tone, and when the scale is begun on a chord tone and on the downbeat, all other chord tones will also fall on downbeats. The remaining tones in the scale occurring on the upbeat.
As such, many heptatonic scales may be modified by the addition of an eighth passing tone to accomplish this same effect; however, the modifier "bebop" is reserved to indicate those scales most frequently used—and popularised—during the bebop era.
Bebop dominant scaleEdit
The bebop dominant scale or the seventh diminished scale is derived from the Mixolydian mode and has a chromatic passing tone between the 7th and the root. Barry Harris explains that it is derived from a dominant seventh chord from the root.
It has all the notes in both the major scale and the Mixolydian scale of the same root. This scale is often used over dominant seventh chords and all extended dominant chords, and over II-V chord progressions. According to Michael Miller, "[w]hen someone says they're playing 'the bebop scale,' this is the one they're talking about."
Bebop Dorian scaleEdit
It has all the notes in both the Dorian scale and the Mixolydian scale of the same root. It is the 5th mode of the bebop dominant scale.
A second form of the bebop Dorian scale features a major seventh bebop note between the dominant seventh and the tonic.
The second style, featuring the major seventh, is generally used by guitar players for its accessibility when applied to traditional minor scale shapes (that is, it is simply easier for guitarists to play). However, many players and resources adhere to the traditional spelling of the scale.
Bebop major scaleEdit
The bebop major scale or the major sixth diminished scale is derived from the Ionian mode (major scale) and has a chromatic passing tone between the 5th and 6th notes. Barry Harris explains that it is derived from a major sixth chord from the root, and a fully diminished chord from the second degree.
Bebop melodic minor scaleEdit
The bebop melodic minor scale or the minor sixth diminished scale is derived from the ascending form of the melodic minor scale (jazz minor scale) and has a chromatic passing tone between the 5th and 6th notes. Barry Harris explains that it is derived from a minor sixth chord from the root, and a fully diminished chord from the second degree.
These scales are listed in David N. Baker's books on bebop. They are also included, with the exception of the Dorian bebop scale, in Roni Ben-Hur's book Talk Jazz: A Comprehensive Collection of Bebop Studies, which is derived from the work of Barry Harris. Ben-Hur further elaborates on the concept of placing additional chromatic passing tones between other notes in the scales.
Bebop harmonic minor scaleEdit
The bebop harmonic minor scale (or bebop natural minor scale, as listed in Mark Levine's The Drop 2 Book) is derived from the harmonic minor scale and has a chromatic passing tone (an additional ♭7) between the 6th and the 7th notes.
It contains all of the notes of both the harmonic minor scale and the natural minor scale (Aeolian mode) of the same root. It can be used on all three chords of a minor II-V-I progression. It is a mode of the bebop major scale: for instance, the C bebop harmonic minor scale has the same pitches as the E♭ bebop major scale.
Seventh flat 5 diminished scaleEdit
The seventh flat 5 diminished scale (which is identical to Messian Mode 6) is derived from the whole tone scale, with an added fourth and a natural seventh degree. It is also a combination of a dominant seventh with a flat fifth on the first degree, and a fully diminished chord on the second degree.
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