How To Improvise In Jazz – Know the Dominant Bebop Scale

Do you enjoy listening to jazz? Do you play guitar and know some basics? Why not combine your love of jazz and your ability on guitar to learn jazz guitar? Jazz is a beautiful style of music that takes some degree of musical literacy and knowledge in order to pull off well, so if you love the way jazz players interact with one another and you’re looking for a new challenge, why not try your hand at playing it yourself?

If you’re fairly new to jazz, you may not know this but a lot of jazz is improvisational in nature. That means it isn’t planned out beforehand or memorized; a jazz player merely makes it up as they go along. But how are they able to do that without anyone even noticing they’ve never played that lick before? That’s simple: they draw on what they do know and they know what sounds good with what. If you want to be like that too, there’s one skill you need to have, and that is you need to know your scales.

With that said, there’s one jazz guitar scale in particular that you need to know, and that is the dominant bebop scale. It’s probably the most common jazz scale you’ll encounter, so it’s a good idea to start with this scale first before moving on to others. Here we’re including an example of this scale for your convenience.

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The dominant bebop scale is formed by taking the Mixolydian mode of the major scale and adding an extra note between the flat seventh and the root, so it’s got one extra pitch than the major scale would. This gives you some added flexibility to your playing as well. If you’re already familiar with the Mixolydian mode, then all you need to do is include that extra note to get more of a chromatic feel. It’s also great to use as a passing tone.


As mentioned above, jazz may take some extra-musical literacy and knowledge to really master, so it would be very helpful for you to study music theory as well as continue your daily exercises and practice regimen. You want to be as well-rounded a player as possible so that when the time comes to get together with some other musician friends, you’ll know how to communicate with each other and can create some great tunes, and the dominant bebop scale would be perfect for that.

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