Dominant Bebop Scale Video Lesson

jazz scalesIn today’s jazz scale lesson we’re going to explore a very sweet jazz scale.

You’ll be able to add it into your playing right away when we’re done.

This powerful scale is known as the dominant bebop scale.

This 8 note scale can actually can be thought of as a chord and a scale at the same time if you use it properly. Pretty interesting concept right? :)

This is a follow up lesson to our major bebop scale lesson. (video lesson, tips, and notation below.)

Let’s learn how to add this scale into your  jazz improvisation right now!

The Dominant Bebop Scale Action Plan

To get started learning first watch the video below so you can best understand how to use this jazz scale and hear it in action.

Then scroll down and check out the notation and extra tips!

Jazz Scale Theory

dominant scale

The passing note makes all the difference! Keep reading to learn how to use it effectively.

7 Bebop Scale And Jazz Improvisation Concepts

1. This scale is essentially the mixolydian mode with 1 chromatic passing note between scale degrees b7 and 1.

2. A measure of 4/4 has 8 eighth notes in it. The mixolydian mode has 7 notes in it. Bebop scales have 8 notes.

3. By adding this chromatic passing note, bebop scales will always have chord tones happening on the strong beats (beats 1, 2, 3, 4).

4. Passing notes happen on the off beats (the &’s of the beat).

jazz improvisation5. You can also use this scale over the II and V chords in a II-V-I chord progressions (2-5-1).

6. So, in the key of G you could play a D dominant bebop scale over the Amin7 and D7 chords

if the chord progressions was Amin7 -D7 – Gmaj7.

7. Check out about 2/3 of the way through the video where I demonstrated the dominant bebop scale over a II-V-I chord progression.

Notice how it almost sounds like a lick? Pretty cool right? There are so many little permutations of vocabulary you can get out of the scale too.

Using This Scale In Other Styles Of Music

One of the cool things about the dominant bebop scale is that it’s found it’s way in other styles of music too. Here are just a few places you can find this scale being used.

– You could also play this scale over a 1 chord dominant groove. For example, if you were soloing on a James Brown tune.

(James Brown will often times hang out on a dominant 7th chord for extended periods of time so this scale is a perfect fit.)

– You can even hear this dominant bebop scale in the playing of many jam bands.

– I’m talking about guys like Trey Anastasio from Phish, Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead. They sound great!

– The jam band guys tend to use the bebop scale playing over modal type chord progressions.

– You’ll also hear this scale being used in bluegrass music too.

More Jazz Scale Resources

– If you want to learn more about some advanced jazz scales I recommend you check out this altered scale lesson.

If you need more of a refresher I also have a whole lesson where I teach more about the mixolydian mode and major chord scales.

If you enjoyed this lesson and found it useful please leave a comment below.


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  • TromboneAl

    Something I figured out with bebop scales: Because they work best with eighth notes, I don’t need to worry about learning to play them blistering paces. IOW, I’ll never use them with triplets, and probably never with sixteenths, so even if the tune is played at 200 BPM, it isn’t too hard to play a bebop scale for that tune.

    • Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Cool Al. Good observation for using it in your own music.

  • Carl Craven

    The whole point of this scale is that it adds the extra note to make it fit into 8 or 16 note patterns, that was it’s fundamental purpose. When you look at the scale in terms of what is happening, the ‘extra’ note functions as a passing tone, which when you think about it was generally played at fast tempos and any dissonance completely unnoticeable. It also tells you that in reality you can play any note you want, you just have to make it work for you (resolve it well)

    • Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Yeah right on Carl. That’s a good point. Music needs tension and release otherwise referred to as consonant and dissonant.
      Chord tones still need to happen on strong beats though in order for this scale to be most effective.

  • Jsdesatoff

    This an awsome site. Just what I need to learn at home at my keyboard. The instructor is very cool. Easy to learn from and makes it interesting and fun. Thanks very much. 

  • Lesley Tham

    Did you accidentally say e7 instead of D7? and in that set….. how many A minors ( ii ) and how many g7s ( V7)s did you play before your reached G?

    • Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Hi Lesley! I did not say E7 but there was one time that the piano was playing at the same time I was talking…it may have been slightly harder to hear there. Also, I played 2 Am7’s but I didn’t play any G7’s…just D7’s (2 of those)…So, the Am7 is for 1 bar and the D7 is for 1 bar.

  • edmond

    Hi steve, I need you to talk about playing out of scale chords, please

  • Alan Perlman

    When I play a solo, I’m creating a melody, rarely just playing scales. So how does the bebop scale work when you’re not playing it as a scale?. And how about when your’e playing multiple RH notes together — do you use the passing tone?,

    • Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Hi Alan,
      You can use little pieces of the scale and break it up. Conceptually what matters is you land chord tones on strong beats.