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Lesson: Bebop Jazz Patterns Pt. 2

Charlie_Bird_ParkerWelcome back! I hope you enjoyed the bebop patterns from last month. Let’s continue with a few more licks from David Baker’s Bebop Jazz Solos book.

If you read Part 1 of this lesson, you’ll know that the bebop scale is basically a mixolydian with the addition of a major 7 which acts as a passing tone. Example 1 is a classic descending lick using the bebop scale over a B7 chord. (The chord in the tune that this song was lifted from happens to have a #9, but it’s not significant for this lick)



Example 2 has a lot going on! This lick is all whole-half tone scale played over a minor chord which, from my experience, is kind of unusual but it sounds pretty awesome! The notes in the E whole-half tone scale are E, F#, G, A, Bb, C, Db, and Eb. If we look closely at this four bar phrase, we see that it’s comprised of three separate patterns. Pattern one is over bars one and two.

Think of pattern one as diminished and, more specifically, based on an E diminished chord where the notes are E, G, Bb, and Db. The first four notes are ascending and approach the chord tones from a half step below. This is followed by an interval jump up of a minor 6 to A, which resolves down to another chord tone (G). This sequences then repeats – ascending up the fretboard. Do you see the pattern?

The second pattern in Example 2 takes place in bar 3 and descends straight down the scale from the nine – pretty straightforward. The interval jump of a 7th to start the lick is pretty impressive.

Pattern 3 (bar 4) approaches all of the chord tones from a step above (still diminished). This is a great pattern to practice and apply to any chord.



Example 3 has another example of approaching all the chord tones from a half step above. This time the chord is G7(b9), and the scale used is a half-whole tone (G, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, D natural, E, and F). The lick over the C7(#9) chord is over the altered scale (C, Db, Eb, E natural, Gb, Ab, and Bb). This scale starts out half-whole and finishes up whole tone which also gives it the #5 augmented flavor.



Example 4 is a bad to the bone whole tone scale lick! The whole tone scale is used for augmented chords. The A whole tone played over the A7(#5) chord contains the notes A, B, C#, D#, F, and G. Notice that it is a hexatonic scale and that it is symmetrical.

Because the Whole Tone scale is made up entirely of whole steps and our tempered scale contains twelve tones, there are actually only two whole tone scales. The other one contains the notes Bb, C, D, E, F# and G#.

Back to Example 4. This lick plays a major third interval (there are no minor thirds in the scale) and then walks up to the next scale tone via the chromatic passing tone between them. You can then repeat this sequence all the way up the fretboard.

Now, notice that something seems a little off. In the first two bars, we’re not playing the A whole tone scale at all; we’re playing the other one! The nature of augmented chords and chords that contain dominant 7ths is that they lend themselves really well to chromaticism. This lick is so chromatic in the first place, and the notes go by so quickly, that it really doesn’t matter. The chord tones in the first two bars just land on the upbeats. This is really an advanced approach!

Things do turn around at bar three. Not only do we get on the “right” scale, but the pattern alters a bit and descends down the fretboard.



Now I’ll play all the patterns for you.

So, there’s some cool stuff to chew on for a while. Thank you David Baker for your tremendous resources. Remember you can purchase Bebop Jazz Solos and other books by David Baker at

Till next time…


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