Hey, how’re you doing? Scott here from ScottsBassLessons.com. If you
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Today, I’m going to be talking about improvising over two-five-ones and a
really, really cool technique that you can use that will instantly make you
sound like you’ve got great phrasing. And all you’re doing is shifting
shapes, or shifting arpeggios. It’s a substitution. It’s going to make you
sound like you’re playing out a bit, so that’s pretty cool. If you’re not
sure what ‘playing out’ is, playing in is playing within a chord. Playing
out is kind of moving out of that chord, so you get some dissonance, and
then you move back into it as well. So that’s all that playing out is. It’s
a jazz term. So we’re going to be doing a little bit of that as well.
And the main thing about this is the phrasing. Now, phrasing is super
difficult to start with if you haven’t done it before. Phrasing well is
difficult anyway. You’ll tend to… I call it the quaver machine gun.
People just running up and down scales and it not telling a story and not
being cohesive. Everything they’re playing, or everything they should be
playing should be tying together. So, for instance, if I played a phrase
like… the next phrase could be… You see, the phrases join together.
The solo makes sense, hopefully, like I’m making sense right now. My
sentences are tied together. They relate to each other. And a lot of the
time when people are trying to solo, especially over changing chords, if
you’ve got a two-five-one or something like that, you almost get freaked
out by the chords changing so much that you can’t really think about your
phrasing. You’re too busy thinking, ‘Oh, that chord. Oh, that chord. Oh,
that chord.’ They’re just coming at you too fast.
So this is why this little trick I’m going to show you is going to
alleviate a little bit of that for you. Now, the two-five-one that we’ll be
talking about is D minor to G7 to C major 7. And that’s a two-five-one in
the key of C major. Now, if you don’t know what a two-five-one is, if that
makes no sense to you at all, I’ll just explain it now. The C-major scale
sounds like that, and it’s got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven
notes, and then it goes to the octave. Sorry, I’ve got a hair in my mouth.
It’s probably dog hair or something like that. So it’s got seven notes and
an octave. So every one of those notes has a chord attached to it, right?
So the C, the root of that scale, that’s the one chord. The two chord,
which is a D minor… Sorry, the two chord. The second note, that’s where
the two chord is built from. The third note, that’s where chord three is
built from. Fourth note, chord four. Fifth note, chord five. Sixth note,
chord six. You get it?
So when I say a ‘two-five-one in the key of C’, think to yourself, ‘Okay,
two, so that’s the second note of C major.’ That’s D. And the second chord
in any key is always minor, so it’s a D minor. And then we’ve got a five
chord, so count up five notes. One, two, three, four, five. That’s a G. The
five chord in any key is always a dominant seven chord in any major key, so
that’s a G dominant seven chord, and then we’ve got a one chord, the C
major. So we’ve got a two-five-one. And this chord progression is so
common. It’s in classical music. It’s in Christina Aguilera tunes as well.
It’s in everything. It’s completely across the board. So it’s really
important that we understand how to play over it as well.
Now, this little trick I’m going to show you is, basically, you’re shifting
in arpeggio. And if you heard me talking about chord tones before, you know
what I’m talking about. I really like people, when they start to solo, to
really hone in on those chord tones before you start getting into scales
and stuff. Scales are cool, but the chord tones, they’re the ‘meat and
potatoes’ of the sound. They’re the main sound of that chord. So when you
play the arpeggio, it’s really easy for the listener, who’s listening to
you solo, to think, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s playing over in minor chord’ instead of
it being ambiguous, which we don’t want that.
So, over the two chord, we’re just going to play D minor chord tones, which
will be D minor arpeggio, D, F, A, C, and D. And remember, these are all
over the neck. I always talk about this. Make sure you learn your arpeggios
in at least three different fingerings. There are tutorials about this on
ScottsBassLessons.com, so if you want to check that out, go for it after
this lesson. But, yeah, I talk about how you should learn them from your
first finger, your fourth finger, your second finger. And this means that
when I think, for instance, D minor, I’m not just thinking… I’m
thinking… Oops. I’m hopefully not thinking that note. So I can see over
the entire neck. So that’s the D minor.
Now, the trick is on the G7, when it goes two-five-one… We’ve got a full
bow of D minor, by the way. When it goes to that G7 dominant chord, we are
not going to play G7 arpeggio notes. We’re going to just move up exactly
what we played on the D minor, a minor third. We’re going to move it up a
minor third okay? So, for instance, I’m going to take you through three
different melodies, so you can apply this and then you can come up with
your own melodies and try that out as well.
So the first melody will be… Now, this is over D minor. So there’s the D
minor sound. And all I’m doing is sliding into the minor third with my
little finger, then fifth, then flat 7 here, root. So… And again… So
really slowly… Now for the G7. Now it goes to the G7 dominant chord. All
I want you to do, and this is why the phrasing sounds so cool when you do
this, because you just repeat what you did a minor third up. So a minor
third up, so there’s your D.
A minor third up will be F if you go up your minor scale. D, E, F. So
that’s your minor third. So you put your first finger on F and you play the
same thing. So, essentially, we’re superimposing an F minor over the G7
dominant chord. And we play the same thing in F. So the first one…
second… and then we resolve to the C major, and the fifth’s right there.
First one, D minor over the two chord. Over the five chord, F minor. But
I’m not really thinking F minor. I’m just thinking I’ll play the same thing
up a minor third. Now it works because… Let’s look at an F minor
superimposed on top of a G7. There’s the G7, but here we’ve got this sound,
which leaves an F minor. What it does is it gives us a flat 7, which is the
F. Now, the minor third of the F is the flat 9 of the G7. So it instantly
gives us that altered vibe. Then we’ve got an 11. Then we’ve got the sharp
5, another altered sound there. And then, again, to the flat 7 of the G7.
So the first melody that we’ll play is… of the D minor. Then over the G7,
the same thing again, up a minor third on there. And then we just resolve
into C major. And that’s C major there.
Now I’m going to play it with the backing track, so you can hear exactly
what it sounds like and hear the timing I’m using. Really try and get this
into your… Try and get the correct timing as well because that’s an
important thing. You need to have that strong timing as well.
If you want to download the backing track for this particular tutorial, if
you’re watching this on YouTube, hit the link below this video right after
the tutorial. It will take you through to the page, and you can just
download it completely for free from there. Or if you’re watching this on
my website, it’s down there right below this video. Just click it and
So let’s listen to this in action over the backing track, which is a two-
Okay, so let me just talk you through the chords. Here we’ve got chord two,
chord five, chord one. Two bars, chord one. And once more. Chord two, chord
five, chord one for two bars. On chord one, you can just play any C major
chord tones, C major scale, anything like that. Experiment. See if you can
get a bit fruity with it. You never know.
Okay, let’s listen to the melody we’ve been working on, on the D minor…
over the G7… How cool does that sound? C major… D minor… Up a minor
third… Once more… Mess around with the timing of it. Same note. It’s
just changing the timing. Again, I was changing the timing there.
Now let’s look at a different melody. We’re going to get a little bit more
complex with this one, and then with the next one, we’ll get even more
complex. Okay, so now I’m expecting you to start hearing that altered
sound, and you’re thinking, ‘That sounds really nice.’ And it’s working
because it’s got the correct altered tones within the F minor arpeggio. But
remember, I’m not particularly thinking F minor after the D minor 7. I’m
just thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll play exactly what I just played a minor third up.’
So let’s look even more into that. Let’s add a few more… Let’s play
something a little bit more complex. And then we’ll just, again, push it up
a minor third. Maybe let’s play…
Oh, that’s nice. I’ll try and remember it. Oh, I can’t remember it. Let’s
choose something that I’m going to remember. Yeah, let’s do that one. And
then I’m just going to move that up a minor third… and then resolve to
the C major… Again… and then resolve to the C major. Once more…. So
let’s look at what I’m playing there. Over the D minor, I’m just going…
So going down the D minor scale. Well, I am using the D minor scale there,
but you could think of it as the arpeggio as well, just with the ninth
added in. Here’s the… I’m going minor third, nine, root, 7. So, slowly…
Then to the fifth, then the minor third again, so just down the D minor
arpeggio. And then 9, 11, 3… 9, 11, 3. E, G, F.
When I’m playing it, I’m trying to be musical. I’m not barking the notes.
I’m trying to… what’s the word? You know there’s dynamics in my right
hand there. Always remember to use these dynamics. When you’re playing,
don’t… You don’t talk like that. Always try to… I kind of think the
dynamics, when I’m trying to do solo, I use a lot of swells. So I might
start quieter, then get louder, and then quieten off.
So then I’m going to move up a minor third. Sorry, I went off-topic a bit
there. Move up a minor third. Play the same thing over the F minor. Now,
remember this is still over a G7 chord, so we’re just superimposing the F
minor over the G7 chord. So in the F minor, it would be… The notes would
be A flat, G, F, E flat, C, A flat, G, B flat, A flat. So it’s resolving to
the flat 9 and the G7, which is so cool. And then we just resolve it in C
So let’s listen to that over the backing track. Just one more thing, it
goes… I just want to do it once more before we go. Now, let’s listen to
it over the backing track. So here we go again. Just listen to the chords.
Two… five… one… And we will be playing D minor, then up a minor third
to F minor, but I’m just thinking up a minor third, and then resolving to C
major, okay?. Now, let’s try it. Try and remember the line. C major… D
minor… F minor… And now I’m changing the timing of that, that little
phrasing we worked on. Always try and learn a phrase, then use different…
phrase it differently…
So now let’s look at the third and final melody we’ll be looking at today.
Again, it’s over a D minor. It’s going to be a little bit more chromatic in
nature, this one. I’ll just play you it now. So… So we’re actually over
the D minor here. We’re using A. We’re using a D flat or a C sharp, which
isn’t actually in the D minor chord, but I’m kind of using it just as a
little chromatic note. You can do that. I couldn’t probably resolve on it,
or maybe I could. I’ll have to give it a go. But I’m using just more of a
chromatic sort of like tension note just to give us a bit of spice in
there. So here we go. So it’s going to be… So F. So that’s a minor third
of D minor, right? So F… then we’ve got that C sharp… then E… then
the C sharp again… and then resolve to the D. So… And in… I can’t
speak. In relation to chordal tones, that would be minor third, major 7
there, major 7, 9, major 7, root. So… to the D. And then we’re just going
to go up the D minor scale to the fifth, and then we’re just going to do a
chromatic run all the way to the flat 7. So… Really slowly… So the top
bit is just A, B flat, B, C. And then over the G7, again, we just move this
same… we just move it up a minor third, the D minor. So D minor up a
minor third will be F minor. We know that by now. And then we play the same
melody that we’ve just played over the D minor over the F minor. Okay. So
that’s… Really slowly. It’s over the F minor. And then we resolve to the
C major, which could be here.
Let’s try that over the backing track. Let’s listen to the chords once
more. It’s chord two for one bar. Chord five for one bar. And then chord
one for two bars. Now, let’s play the melody… and resolve to C major. And
again… Again… And now I’m starting messing with the rhythm… So now
let’s listen to all three of them back-to-back if I can remember them.
Okay, here we go. So the first one, I think… First one, again…- my dog
there. Second one… second one… third one…
So, hopefully, there you can see how this little trick is so flexible, and
it just ties your phrasing together. It gives you that continuity within
the line. It gives you a little bit of time to think, ‘Not D minor, G7, C
major.’ You’re thinking, ‘Okay, D minor, and then just up a minor third.’
I’m going to play the same thing. I might play it exactly the same: the
phrasing, the timing, everything. But I might mess around with the timing.
It’s really up to you, but it’s just going to tie everything a little
bit… It’s going to tie it together a little bit more. And the other cool
thing as well is it gives it that out sound, because if we substitute, in
this case, the F minor over the G7, it’s giving us some naughty notes. It’s
giving that flat 9 and the sharp 5, which is great.
Now, what should you do now? Well, you should go and practice this in as
many different keys as possible, because what you’ll find is you’ll be
really fluent with it in one key after a while, and then you need to get
used to moving it around the fretboard and just getting it under your
fingers like that.
But other than that, you’re going to be a winner, man. So hopefully you’ve
enjoyed this lesson. If you have, and hopefully you have, if you could
click that ‘like’ button under there, that would be… I will love you
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learning together. Other than that, hopefully I will see you soon. There’s
more lessons coming your way, so take it easy and get in the shed.