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Incorporating Chromaticism With Your BassLines

in Bass Groove/Bass Lessons/Learning Concepts/Musical Vocabulary

Effective Chromaticism can add interest and movement to your basslines and fills.

Learn a simple, rhythmically accurate, scale for adding chromaticism with little thought!

Chromaticism Using The Dominant Bebop Scale

For example purposes, let’s look at a C Dominant Scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb, C

If you were to play this scale as straight eighth-notes, the following bold notes would be occur on the beats 1, 2, 3, and 4. The remaining notes would occur on the upbeats of 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Example: C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb, C

Going up the scale one time sounds fine and rhythmically accurate. The chord tones of a C7 chord are C, E, G, Bb. Each of these chord tones are occur on the strong beats.

On the contrary, if we go down the scale one time, the following notes are emphasized: C, Bb, A, G, F, E, D, C

Things start to sound a little ambiguous now. Descending on this scale, one time, seems to outline the sound of an F6 chord (F, A, C, D), and less of a C7 chord (C, E, G, Bb).

This is where the concept of bebop scales come in handy. Bebop scales add an additional chromatic note in order to allow the chord tones to always occur on the strong beat, no matter what direction of the scale you go.

A C Dominant Bebop Scale has these notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb, B, C

The Dominant Bebop Scale inserts a chromatic note between the root and the b7 of the scale. This additional chromatic note makes it really easy to play a line based on this scale, without having to think about the placement of your notes.

Hear the bebop scale in action. In this Instagram clip below, I use a bebop scale with my bass fill.

A video posted by Posido Vega (@posidovega) on

Posido Vega is a professional bass guitarist from Columbia, Maryland. His concept of Mutant Bass (2005) was born from a list of skills that he observed from his favorite bass players. This list became the blueprint for teaching himself and his students. A collection of his work can be found at:

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