101: Poly-rhythmical Pentatonics

Applying polyrhythms to the pentatonic scale making your lines more groovy and syncopated. I am going to provide a few exercise examples for each polyrhythm and a few musical examples – however i encourage you to make up your own exercises and musical ideas.

I’ve written a free e-book [Accents & Syncopation] from which you can take rhythmical inspiration. Take a look here.

Basic Exercises

4 against 3:

Musical Examples

Examples 3&2

Examples 2&3

Examples 4&3

Examples 4&5:

Building Funky and Melodic Bass Lines

Here are a few bass-line concepts that can be used to expand your funky and melodic vocabulary, when you are improvising/composing your own bass grooves. We can sometimes as bass players get stuck in your “old ways” of playing – especially when we feel limited by changes – so a few new ideas will never hurt.

Remember to improvise with the material – and come up with your own stuff.

Bass line idea 1

A very cool trick in order to be funky and melodic at the same time is to incorporate the 16th note off-beat.

In the example above the bass line is started by an octave movement and then a 16th note off-beat pattern utilizing the third, 9th, fifth, seven/sixth and the second. It sounds like this:

You can use this as concept for building your own lines on other chord-progressions by “diatonically transposing” the lines onto other chords. Here is an example on a few minor chords:

Exercises in minor

Minor Bass Line 01
  1. Play “Minor Bass Line 01” in Am, Abm and Bbm
  2. Practice the bass line in 60 bpm, 90 bpm and 120 bpm.
  3. Improvise with the concept and have fun! πŸ™‚

Question: How would you approach this bass line – when you have to play on a MinorMajor7 chord or the III-degree with a flat 9?

Exercises in major:

Major Bass Line 01
  1. Play “Major Bass Line 01” in A, Ab and Bb
  2. Practice the bass line in 60 bpm, 90 bpm and 120 bpm.
  3. Improvise with the concept and have fun! πŸ™‚

This bassline work well on the I- and IV-chord. However the major7 interval sounds very dissonant on the V-chord. Try replacing the 7th with a 6th – it gives a smoother and less dissonant sound.

Dominant7 bass line

Bass Line Idea 2:

Another way to make funky and melodic bass lines are to a “longer downbeat”. An example could be the following:

This pattern consist of a minor and major pattern. Practice each pattern in different keys.


Transpose and practice the pattern above in Am, Bbm and Abm


Transpose and practice the pattern in A, Bb and Ab.

All the bass grooves above leaves space on beat 3 and 4. Try to come up with fills and variations that utilize the space. Here is an example – which makes for a very busy bass groove.

Bass Line Idea 3:

Another idea is to use a pedal note – this gives kind of a disco-variation effect. You can try to play the notes both legato and stacato.

This bassg-roove is pretty stale rhythmically, so i encourage you to leave out some notes or syncopate some of them. An example would be to syncopate the 4th beat – here is an example.


Practice the following line in Am, Bbm and Abm.


Practice the following line in A, Bb and Ab.

Combining the ideas

Try to combine the different bass grooves – here is two of my examples.

I hope this helps motivate and incorporate some new ideas into your playing. Try to think about the following when you improvise on the concepts:

How can differentiate the rhythms? How does it sound not to start on the downbeat? How can i change the notes and keep the rhythm?

All the best!

How to play in 7/8 time? A quick way to wrap your head around it!

A great way to play in odd time signatures is to think about playing within a rhythmical pattern of short and long “quarter” notes. By thinking of short and long rhythms, you are able to feel the time signature rather than counting it.

In 7/8 we can divide the bar into 2 quarter notes and 2 dotted eight notes – like shown below.

This gives us a rhythm with 4 downbeats being different lengths – long,long,short,short. Try to jam along to a clicktrack – i’ve uploaded one below.

YouTube player

Try to come up with some different basslines exploring the groupings of 4 and 3. Here’s a few examples of my own.

Bass line A

Bass line B

Bass Line C

Try to figure out your own bass lines – and see if you can play the ones i wrote down for you!

Other groupings and further exploration:

There are obviously more ways to group 7/8 – and there are endless possibilities for being creative. Here are some other ways to go about it..


Quarters over the barline:

2 over 7

I hope this is useful to you – if you want examples on how to feel comfortable in a odd time signature then check out my free book Introducing 5/8 time here.

Also check out my methodical approach to improvise within a bass line here.

Convert your rhythm exercises into bass lines.

Hey world. I’ve done countless of rhythm exercises – especially reading through exercises for snare drum etc. It’s great to be able to read rhythm well – but we don’t spend time doing that as bass players. We play the rhythm with notes. So for me the key to really make these exercises work on bass, is to orchestrate them on the instrument.

Here is my process going from rhythm to bass-line. I’ve composed this rhythm tackling some nice 16th note groupings and exploring triplets within them.

Rhythm A:

Bass Line A:

I set myself limitations – use the Eb major scale – and try to be melodic and simple with the ideas.

Try to compose your own bass line using Rhythm A – and see if you can play the one i composed.

Rhythm B:

Bass Line B:

In this bass line I’ve tried to be funky. I’m exploring playing the same notes with different rhythms – and a cool diminished trick in the end.

Try to compose your own bass line using Rhythm B – and see if you can play the one i composed.

Bass Lesson: Melodic Minor Scale

What is the Melodic Minor scale?

The melodic minor scale is a great tool for exploring sounds that are non-diatonic. The scale structure is very similar to a diatonic major scale – there are 8 notes and there is either a whole or a half step in between all of them.

In C-major you have the notes as shown above C-D-E-F-G-A-B – which corresponds to the scale formular in scale-degrees 1-2-3-4-5-6-7.

The melodic minor scale in C is very similar to C major. You only have to change one note – you have to lower the major third to a minor third. The note E becomes an Eb.

The scale formular is 1-2-b3-4-5-6-7

It’s useful to be able to think of this scale in different perspectives – when you visualize your fretboard try to think of the scale as a major scale with a low third or for an example a dorian scale with a major 7.

  • Try to play the melodic minor scale in one octave in every key on your instrument
  • Improvise with a practice drone to internalize the sound


1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
1 2 3 4 5 6 b7
1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 Β 
Major modes

Just like you have the modes Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian in the diatonic system – you also have scale modes in the melodic minor scale.

They are closely related to the diatonic modes as there only is a one note difference between melodic minor and the major scale.

The modes are different perspectives of the same notes – a song in minor may have the exact same notes as a song in major, however they feel and sound completely different. I cannot stress the importance of learning the modes enough – some of the best use cases of the melodic minor scales stems from exploring the modes.

Melodic Minor Modes:

I’ve written out every mode of the melodic minor scale out – I’ve chosen to write them out all in the same key, so that you clearly can hear the difference between them.

Melodic Minor

Scale formular: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 7

Dorian b9

Scale formular: 1 b3 b3 4 5 6 b7

Lydian #5

Scale formular: 1 2 3 #4 #5 6 7

Mixolydian #11

Scale formular: 1 2 3 #4 5 6 b7

Mixolydian b6

Scale formular: 1 2 3 4 5 b6 b7

Locrian #2

Scale formular: 1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7

The Altered Scale

Scale formular: 1 b2 b3 3 b5 b6 b7

  • Try to find all the melodic minor modes in the same key by starting the scale from every note!
    • Can you do it in all 12 keys?
  • Improvise with a practice drone to internalize the different sounds of all the modes.

How can I use the melodic minor scale?

Here are just a few tips!

  • Explore playing the altered scale on dominant chords leading towards a minor chord
  • Try playing the melodic minor scale instead of the dorian
  • Try playing Mixolydian #11 on dominant chords leading towards major

Remember to improvise – and have fun!

Bass tip: Stealing Rhythms

Hey internet!

I’ll share my process on writing my own cool bass lines by stealing other peoples rhythms. I’ve chosen a tune called Man vs. Nature by Mathias Heise.

YouTube player

I’ve transcribed the initial bass-line and here are 3 bass line ideas derived him.

Bassline 1:

Bassline 2:

Bassline 3:

I encourage you to do the same. Find a tune that you like – transcribe the rhythm, fool around with it and compose your own stuff!

All the best! πŸ™‚

Blues Walking Bass in Bb

Here are two cool walking-bass lines on a B-flat Blues – I really enjoy the melodic descending line in the last two bars on walking 1. The descending line starting from C on walking 2 is also really cool!

Try it out for yourself – and obviously compose and transcribe your own lines!

Walking 1:

Walking 2:

Hopefully these lines are useful to you and you can find inspiration in them! πŸ™‚