This week we’re looking at an exercise that helps you to learn all the notes on your bass neck, the cycle of 4ths AND the major scale. All at the same time!! Enjoy!

 

This exercise involves playing a major scale from every chromatic note through the cycle of fourths starting on one string. We are going to need to know the major scale, the cycle of fourths and the notes on the neck.

For an extra challenge, try doing the exercise with arpeggios, intervals, bass lines or pretty much anything else you can think of.

The Major Scale

Play a C Major scale starting from the 3rd fret of the A string.

Get this fretboard pattern under your fingers and then try playing it through different keys.

The Cycle of Fourths

The cycle of fourths is a sequence of notes that we get by building consecutive perfect fourth intervals. Along with the cycle of fifths, it is an important part of understanding key signatures, chord progressions and harmony in general.

First of all, a perfect fourth is an interval four consecutive notes apart in a diatonic scale.

Now we can move on to the cycle of fourths by beginning with the perfect fourth we just practised. Starting from the C, we count up a fourth to the F and then keep adding fourths to find each next note. Eventually, we will end up back at C.

C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G C

A lot of things will be easier once you have this memorised as it is one of the main building blocks of music theory.

The key to memorising this cycle is to remember the word BEAD. We will also add a G on the end to get BEADG. This order of notes is repeated twice in the cycle, the first time with flats and the second time without. The only other thing to remember is that the whole thing starts on a C and F.

C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G C

Applying this to the bass

To contextualise the cycle of fourths, first try to play it slowly and one note at a time in a familiar area of the neck. Keep reciting the notes to yourself until you feel confident about the notes in the cycle. Then try these exercises to really get the notes into your head:

Exercise #1 – Play each note of the cycle on any familiar fret

Exercise #2 – Play each note of the cycle on the E string only

Exercise #3 – Play each note of the cycle on the A string only

Exercise #4 – Play each note of the cycle on the D string only

Exercise #5 – Play each note of the cycle on the G string only

Exercise #6 – Play the Major Scale from each note of the Cycle (root note on the E String)

Exercise #7 – Play the Major Scale from each note of the Cycle (root note on the A String)

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