How to Play a Two Octave Minor Scale on the Bass

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 17,158
    Professional bassist Percy White demonstrates how to play a two octave minor scale on the bass.

    Percy White

    Percy White is a professional bassist living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He is originally from Philadelphia, Pa. He started playing bass when he was 10 years old after trying unsuccessfully to play guitar. As he puts it, "It just made sense. The bass has four strings and I have four fingers to play them with." He started playing by ear but after hearing Stanley Clarke he realized that he had to take lessons and so he did. After graduating high school, he joined the U.S. Navy's Nuclear Engineering Program but his musical education also continued with his study of jazz and music theory. After serving in the military, White moved to Chicago to begin an engineering career that was short lived due to his love of music. He began taking bass lessons with Nick Schneider (former bassist for the Tonight Show Band) After playing in numerous jam sessions, he began his career as a full time musician. He played with notable jazz artists like Ramsey Lewis, Oscar Brown, Jr, Roy Ayer s, and Ronnie Laws. He has jammed with Buddy Guy at his famous blues club in Chicago. White has been a founding member of two rock bands, two blues bands, one latin/jazz band, and one contemporary jazz group. He has played for the Chicago City Colleges Jazz Band, and was a winning member of the 1996 Chicago Blues band competition. In 2000, White relocated back to the east coast to broaden his musical experiences. He shares his musical knowledge by teaching privately in the DC area. After one of his outstanding performances in DC, White was asked to audition for the 257th Army Band and he recently joined the ranks of the elite performers of the Nation's Capital Army Band. White feels it's an honor to serve his country through his musical talents and is glad to have the opportunity. Although his full time occupation is being an application engineer for a worldwide water treatment company, White can still be seen playing in the Washington, DC area at least five nights a week doing what he has been doing for the last 30 years.

    Percy White: Hi, I am Percy and this is the bass playing series. So, in this section I am going to show you how to play a minor scale covering two octaves and the exercise that goes with it. Whenever you practice your scales or whatever exercise you are doing, you want to go over two octaves, which gives you a wide range of playing and get you used to playing your bass. So, Ill show you the fingerings and the exercises and see how that makes you play. So, we are going to start off by playing a minor scale, two octaves. You are going to start off with a pre-string minor scale, fingering, follow that with a two-string minor scale. Of course, there will be some finger switching in the middle, but I will show you how to do that. So, we are going to start off with one, three, four, next string; one, three four, one, three. Okay, now if you are going to switch down, you are going to switch from here to here, what you are going to do is you are going to switch positions and you are going to switch fingers. So, you are going from third finger to the first finger. Slide down to frets and when you are sliding down to frets, you put your fingers. So, from here you switch to here. So, your first finger, so it then is one, two, four, one, two, four, and then slide the four. So, weve covered two octaves. So, Ill play it smoothly through, and backwards. So, thats a three-string followed by a two-string. Now, we are going to do a two-string followed by a three-string. Now, you notice I did a lot of finger sliding because it gets you in position to move your finger. There are different ways you can do this. All you really want to be concerned about is making a right note. Now, you can go here and then slide into position, and you are right in position that you needed to be to do a three-string scale. Now, the exercise that goes with it, is the one that I like to teach all of my students, is to play the first four notes of any scale and then you can consecutively build that by each note. For example, you play the first four notes and then stop from the second note, playing up four notes and third note and so forth and backwards. So, by continuing this over two octaves, it will sound like this and then you will go backwards. So, as always, remember to alternate your right finger for every note and use the trusted metronome. You cant go wrong if you use a metronome. There you have a minor scale over two octaves play two different waves and the exercises that go with them. Happy playing.