Jazz Ukulele - Scales

Learning to play jazz on a ukulele. What are the scales need to explore this form of music?

What is a Jazz Scale?

uke_band_jazzThe term Jazz Scale is somewhat misleading as there are no scales that have exclusive use in jazz. However there are scales which are so commonly used in jazz as to make their study valuable to any jazz musician.

A scale is not really a “Jazz” or “Blues” or “Rock” scale. A scale is just a collection of notes using in a particular style or styles of music.

Scales are typically where one starts when learning to improvise. They are the heart and soul of improvisation. In fact, ALL music comes out of scales – chords and chords progressions can be traced back to and understood through scales.

Six Essential Scales

For rock, blues, country, and bluegrass you can get away with six (6) essential scales:

  • Blues or Minor Pentatonic* ( C, Eb, F, G, Bb, C’ )

    My QuickStart Scale Fingerings for Ukulele, the Blues Scale book is available as a FREE download.

  • Pentatonic or Major Pentatonic ( C D E G A C’

    And the QuickStart Scale Fingerings for Ukulele, the Pentatonic Scale books is available as a FREE download.

  • Dorian ( C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C’ )
  • Mixolydian or Dominant ( C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb, C’ )
  • Aeolian or Natural Minor ( C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C’ )
  • Ionian ( C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C’ )

    the Major scale is one of the first scale a lot of musicians learn. Especially on the piano where C major is the white keys only.

Recommended Books and Lessons

These Six Essential Scales are covered in the QuickStart Scale Fingerings for Ukulele books available in C, G and D tunings.

icon-PDF(38x49)Here is a ukulele lesson on the Six Essential Scales. The six essential scale are shown in their open position form in C and as a movable form.

Essential Scale for Exploring Jazz

Contemporary Scales

All scale examples are shown with a C root for comparison.

Modal Scales

  • Ionian ( C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C’ )

    the Major scale is one of the first scale a lot of musicians learn. Especially on the piano where C major is the white keys only.

  • Dorian ( C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C’ )
  • Phrygian ( C, Db, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C’ )
  • Lydian ( C, D, E, F#, G, A, B, C’ )
  • Mixolydian or Dominant ( C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb, C’ )
  • Aeolian or Natural Minor ( C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C’ )
  • Locrian ( C, Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, C’ )

Traditional Scales

  • Major ( C D E F G A B C’ )
  • Natural Minor ( C D Eb F G Ab Bb C’ )
  • Harmonic Minor ( C D Eb F G Ab B C’ )
  • Jazz Melodic Minor ( C D Eb F G A B C’ )
  • Diminished ( C D Eb F Gb Ab A B C’)

    Here is a FREE download of the Diminished scale using the QuickStart Series Scale Fingering format.

  • Whole Tone ( C D E F# G# A# C’ )

    Here is a FREE download of the Whole Tone scale using the QuickStart Series Scale Fingering format.

Alterted Scales

  • Mixolydian +4 or Lydian Dominant ( C D E F# G A Bb C’ )
  • Mixolydian -2, -6 ( C Db E F G Ab Bb C’ )
  • Mixolydian -2 ( C Db E F G A Bb C’ )
  • Mixolydian -6 ( C D E F G Ab Bb C’ )

Suplemental Scales

  • Inverted Diminished ( C Db D# E F# G A Bb C’ )
  • Super Locrian ( C Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb C’ )

* There is some overlap with these essential scale, with some just alternate names for the same set of notes.

DERIVED SCALES - From these essential jazz scales other scales can be derived for use in the jazz idiom.

Recommended Books

Several of these essential scales are covered in the QuickStart Scale Fingerings for Ukulele books available in C, G and D tunings.

The Blues Scale

The Blues scale is most associated with the musical style known as Blues. Since Blues was enormously influential in the development of jazz, it's a great place to start. The Blues scale, also known as the Minor Pentatonic, is a five note scale consisting of a root, b3rd, 4th, 5th, b7 and octave. In C, these notes would be C Eb F G Bb C’. Wes Montgomery once told Chuck Anderson that the Blues is responsible for the fire in jazz. 50% of Wes’ original songs used the Blues scale in the melody.

Here are a few great jazz guitarists to check out that would be consider to be influenced by the blues and very bluesy players.

Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery

3/6/1925 - 6/15/1968 ) Wes Montgomery was born in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Links

Listing Info click here to show or hide more info

from the Wes Montgomery web site

According to jazz guitar educator Wolf Marshall, Montgomery often approached solos in a three-tiered manner: He would begin a repeating progression with single note lines, derived from scales or modes; after a fitting number of sequences, he would play octaves for a few more sequences, finally culminating with block chords. He used mostly superimposed triads and arpeggios as the main source for his soloing ideas and sounds.

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Kenny Burrell

Kenny Burrell

Detroit, MI USA

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from the Kenny Burrell web site

The Detroit-born Kenny Burrell reigns as the dean of jazz guitarists. He’s combined Charlie Christian’s prebop fluency, Django Reinhardt’s Old World touches, and the rhythmic drive of Nat King Cole’s guitarist, Oscar Moore.

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