In this lesson, we look at a great tip for learning scales by adding the tonic arpeggio to the end of the line. This gives you a better understanding of how scales relate to the harmony

Finding Arpeggios Within Scales

In this exercise, we will take some different scales, play each one up and down, land on the tonic and play the relevant arpeggio for that scale.

To find a triad within a scale, you simply need the root, third and fifth. In simple terms, you take every other note after the root.

6  7

C E G 
1  3  5

Now we can see that the tonic chord in the C major scale is C major and consists of the notes C, E and G.

We can apply the exact same process to any scale. Let’s try it with the C minor scale:

C D Eb F G Ab Bb
b3 5 b6  b7

C  Eb  G
1   b3   5

Extended Chords

We can extend basic triads by including one extra note – the 7th. This is a third above the fifth and can be minor or major depending on the scale. Let’s look at the C major scale again:


If we count up the scale to the 7th, we can see that it is major.

1  3  5  7

If we do the same to the natural minor scale, we will end up with a minor 7th in the chord.

C D Eb F G Ab Bb
b3 5 b6  b7

C  Eb  G  Bb
1   b3   5  b7

Why Is This So Important?

Bass players often think too melodically. It is the role of the bass to ‘glue’ the band together by acting as a link between the drums and the melodic instruments (guitars, keys etc.). This is achieved by emphasising the rhythm and outlining the harmony. Therefore, arpeggios give us a way to get straight to the point and play the essential chord tones that will enforce the harmony. It is important to know scales as they are an essential part of music theory and teach us how harmony is formed, but you shouldn’t rely on them all the time as you could risk overplaying.

Modes/Chords Of The Major Scale

This last exercise works through the modes of the C major scale and should help you understand how they are all related. Again, each scale ends with the arpeggio so you can see how to apply it to a chord.