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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Major scale patterns in 3rd's & 4th's

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bluesmode - Posted - 11/01/2015:  21:36:03

I've been revisiting an old book called 'Patterns for Jazz'. I've memorized a few patterns in a few keys for 3rd's and now I'm moving on to Major scale patterns in Fourths. Here's what the author say's about these.

"Fourth intervals have become extremely popular among improvisers, in recent years, both because the interval interests them and because fourths tend to break away from the sound and rigid function of thirds heard in ordinary ruminations on chords built in thirds. Successive perfect fourth intervals will be discussed later, as they are applied to 'free form' improvisation. The following studies will help the student to play 'general' fourth intervals (sometimes perfect, sometimes augmented) as they are determined by the tones of the major and minor scales.


This book offers a dozen or more patterns each, for a plethora of, you know, jazz stuff.

Here is the first and simplest pattern for fourths, ascending in C


and as usual, C patterns can play over A aeolian, D patterns can play over E dorian, and so on. I don't play them straight put a swing lilt on 'em. I practice them up and down the ladder, but when jamming with them, I'll use 'portions' of them, mixing in and out of pents and blues scales. always works well over the IV chord.

I like these fourths a lot, as per the authors preface. 

bluesmode - Posted - 11/18/2015:  02:36:03

well, looks like there's no interest at all in these fourths, so I'll just report in on how I'm doing and leave it there. My muscle memory is starting to kick in on these, so much so that I'm fumbling around a bit when I go back to the 3rd's patterns, as I want to revert back to the fourths, so I'll have to make sure I run those thru often enough. 


I'm only doing these fourths in G, C, D for now, but these major scale patterns give my quite a few options with the modes. 

G = A dorian = E aeolian = D mixolydian

​C = D dorian = A aeolian =  G mixolydian

​D = E dorian = A mixoliydian


I'm slowly starting to work them in to the acoustic guitar jam that I go to several times a week for blues and folk. I'm quite fluent with the 3rd's and I would like to come as close as possible to that with the fourths. The fourths just seem to be more awkward as the fingering is both closer together and further apart as the patterns fall to hand. They do sound interesting though. 

boxbow - Posted - 11/18/2015:  04:25:25

A little esoteric for an old parlor fiddler like me.  Rock on, brother.

MikeM70 - Posted - 11/18/2015:  04:33:52

I'm a bit of a fan of thirds, a number of the tunes we seem to play with the folk orchestra are in 3rds. When I 1st saw this thread I tried doing some scales in 4ths and really struggled to get my head round them. Gave up in the end.

fiddlebut - Posted - 11/18/2015:  11:51:53

So, how often do you throw these 4ths in when jamming...?

I mean like I play scales in 3rds, I have done other intervals for the sake of practice.

But even too many 3rds in a row just sounds like you are practicing...


bluesmode - Posted - 11/18/2015:  21:07:41


Originally posted by fiddlechops


So, how often do you throw these 4ths in when jamming...?

I mean like I play scales in 3rds, I have done other intervals for the sake of practice.

But even too many 3rds in a row just sounds like you are practicing...


with the 3rds. I totally agree with you. This Patterns for Jazz book shows quite a few different patterns, ascending and descending, and also with triplets going from higher notes to lower notes as they ascend, and lower notes to higher notes as they descend. So you can do a few in one pattern and change to another pattern. Or stay on the same pattern and go three sets of triplets up and 2 back down & visa versa etc.


another thing that helps them not sound like you are practicing (and this is a bit hard for me to describe)  is not to play them in 'straight' time, but syncopate or swing them. Also, I never play 3rds against a Major chord cuz that really sounds like practicing, but I play them against the chords that go with the modes listed above, another thing I do is stop the runs on the 2nd note of the triplet, pause for a beat, and go into something else. I've had to learn where to start a run so it sounds better when I stop it. Besides throwing a few into folk, I really like them for the IV chord in Blues.


Everything I've said about 3rds applys to fourths, except it's a bit more tricky, and I'm still feeling this out. I still can't start and stop them instantly like 3rds. Sometimes I throw a few in and it sounds a little edgy but in a good way, and other times they just sound too 'out of place'.  and my reaction time for improv on the 4th's is still too slow.


For most of my playing life, I've been too linear. But for a few years now, I've been working on getting more vertical, both with those Maj7 & Locrian arps that I was yacking about, and also with these 3rds & 4ths. I'm the type that needs a certain amount of 'structure' for improv, and then try and make it sound like it's not structured.



fiddlebut - Posted - 11/18/2015:  21:13:39

Who is the author of this book 'Patterns for Jazz'......

bluesmode - Posted - 11/18/2015:  21:40:41


Originally posted by MikeM70


 When I 1st saw this thread I tried doing some scales in 4ths and really struggled to get my head round them. Gave up in the end.

@fiddlechops: There are 4 authors listed in this order. Jerry Coker, Jimmy Casale, Gary Campbell, Jerry Greene. It's an old book, but I believe you can still google it under 'Patterns for Jazz, but I don't know how far into it you can get .


@Mike: I know exactly what you mean about 'getting your head round them'. I took my first run at the 4ths about 6 years ago. The pattern examples were in C and I transposed them backwards to start on the open G string for D, C, G. and kept them in my note binder. I also had trouble getting my head around them, got as far as figuring, yeah, they sound cool, but are they worth the work, so I put them on the back burner. Quite a ways back as it turns out. But they are coming easier this time around, and I can't think of anything else that will give me more bang for the buck right now. The 3rds worked out pretty good for me, so I figure I might as well get a little further out there with the 4ths.    

fujers - Posted - 11/18/2015:  22:22:58

Are you mainly interested in Jazz fiddling. I was just wondering cause if you are a hoedown fiddler the things that you are learning will not do you any good until you learn the basics.

If you are truly interested in Jazz and you can already play these things that you talk about I would be interested in hearing you.

Jazz is very difficult for most of us to play. I mean like playing all those scales and stuff it really boggles the mind.

I noticed on your home page you said you play pretty good. If jazz is what you're after I can't hold that against you I like jazz.

Perhaps though you might want to check into western swing. Western Swing is kinda like jazz but a bit more subdued .

Western Swing we use just about the same chord patterns as jazz players do. I try to play jazz as you do but I have been playing for many years. You might want to try Western Swing before you try jazz cause jazz will take you a long long time to figure out. But hey do what you want. Jerry

fiddlebut - Posted - 11/19/2015:  01:49:20

I have studied ''improvising Jazz'' by Jerry Coker..

Which chapter are you reading from in ''Patterns For Jazz'' that pertains to this thread.


bluesmode - Posted - 11/19/2015:  03:27:34

@fiddlechops: The Table of Contents just calls it Major Scale in Fourths, page 139 to 141. They also list all the pattern numbers. this one is patterns 234 to 242. They show a total of 326 patterns over 35 categories. Umm, after looking at the book closer, some of what I was calling 3rds is actually patterns for Major Scale - Tone Triads.


@fujers: I don't fiddle: I play double stops and shuffle-ish bowing along to country music, along with the Major inversion of the blues scale for country (as has been previously discussed) and that's about the extent of my fiddleing. I'm not a jazz player either. I like scales for there own sake, like the scales in a minor 2 -5 -1 for instance... half diminished (locrian) to dominant 7+9 (altered scale)..resolve to minor. and a few other jazzy things. But I only do that as a hobby and for my own pleasure. But I do try every thing I can to jazz up my blues...on this site I'm called blues mode, on another site I'm called bluesviolin. But I use all and/or some of the stuff I've been talking about for blues - folk - country.


I can play Texas blues (ever hear of a group called ZZ TOP ?) but not Texas Swing. I've always said Texas swing is the jazz of country music. Too complicated for me and I don't have the bow hand for it. Just give me a 12 bar and let me loose. I spent a few years running around the blues bar jams, with my electric violin and Wah peddle, trying to out play the lead guitar players. Some I could and some I couldn't.


and, of course, I like the modes as I've said more than once, and I also like the sound of each mode for it's own sake. The people I jam with say 'Dave can play to anything' that is obviously not true, but playing the modes along with whatever else I play, enables to improvise over pretty much anything they can throw at me for bluesy - folky - Pop - Country etc.


Anyways, I'm 62 now, in a lot of ways I'm playing better than I've ever played in my life, but at this point I'll just try and hold on to what I've got, try and make a bit of progress, and keep playing as long as I can. 



fiddlebut - Posted - 11/19/2015:  12:23:53


Does it look anything like this link...?

Can you scan the pages we are discussing and post them here...?

bluesmode - Posted - 11/19/2015:  20:19:37

very sorry Henry, I'm scared to open any links cuz I don't have an anti-virus on my computer, and I don't have a scanner, or access to one.

fiddlebut - Posted - 11/21/2015:  19:53:03

Just something I was reading and thought relevant to this topic,  and this is where I am at now....


If you examine the work of the great innovators in jazz they all had one thing in common: They redefined, edified and expanded the so called jazz language. Sure they might have spent quite a bit of time copying other players and learning tunes and heads and so forth.

But they also did one other very important thing. They spent the vast majority of their time improvising (truly improvising) to find what they had to say as artists. In fact, many had to actually ignore the jazz language of their time. They needed to free themselves from it in order to find a more personal expression.

Miles Davis was famous for this. As was John Coltrane. So was Lester Young for that matter. They were constantly pushing back against the established jazz language of their day. And they were consistently finding newer, more innovative ways to express themselves through what we still call the jazz tradition.

How did they do this? Well, if we take Coltrane as an example, he spent a huge amount of time re-mastering and exploring the materials of music: new ways of stacking chords; new ways of thinking about scales and modes; new ways to imagine rhythm and its relationship to harmonic tension. He in essence stopped looking at jazz and started looking at music in the much broader sense.

It’s important to keep in mind that, if you’re an improviser, your also a composer. You compose spontaneously, but you compose nevertheless. So follow the path of great composers. Study the tradition. Absorb and understand what has been created before you. But get down to the business of finding out who you are.


bluesmode - Posted - 11/22/2015:  01:11:00

if this is where you are at now, then you are way beyond me, and more power to you. It's too late for me to get that far into jazz. besides, I'm not sure whether I'd want to. I heard a good one not too long ago on another forum.... " Rock is 5 chords played to thousands of people, jazz is thousands of chords played to 5 people" .....not that I'm that into rock, but the point is made. I dabble in jazz, and use some stuff to jazz up my blues playing, but truth be told I'd rather listen to and play to straight up blues over jazz. and I'm also interested in theory, but there's only so much theory for blues, and beyond that, you just play it.

There is enough for me to do with 3 chords and a 12 bar. We had a good jam the other day with a guitar player who knew what he was doing. I like to play fast when the mood strikes me, and I get a big kick out of flying seamlessly thru a 12 bar for 2 or 3 rounds. That's more where I'm at.

Dave S - Posted - 11/22/2015:  11:30:35

>very sorry Henry, I'm scared to open any links


Dave, it's just a pdf file from Can't get much safer than that. I snapped a pic of it:

Pic of major scales in 4ths


fiddlebut - Posted - 11/22/2015:  15:56:42


Originally posted by bluesmode


if this is where you are at now, then you are way beyond me, and more power to you.

Hey, no offense intended....I just meant that I have done all the jazz reading and study that I want, not to say there is plenty more to be read and studied....Like it says in the quote...I ignore the jazz language and get into finding a personal expression through my style of improvising...I am not saying I know everything about  playing jazz, but I know enough to develop and express my style... and like you said..''It's too late for me to get that far into jazz''....applies to me also.

bluesmode - Posted - 11/22/2015:  22:00:24

no offense taken Henry. I guess I sounded a bit defensive in my reply. Sorry about that. but anyways.....

Yes, these are the same fourths as in Patterns for Jazz, although these are different patterns. # 1, with the the 2 note intervals is a bit too bouncy sounding for me, and patterns 2 thru 4 are interesting, more melodic than what I'm working on.


I'm just working on the 3 notes as in the OP. I wish I could describe better the timing/cadence/rythym I'm doing, but it makes all the difference to me, in making them not sound like practicing. Syncopated might be the best word.

continuous 1/8 notes, first note starting on the down beat..... down up down, up down up, down up down, up down up. those are just beats, not bowing. So I dunno if that makes any sense for you. Also, and this may me stating the obvious, sometimes you hafta play the 3 notes on three different strings. I avoid that whenever the F,B,E sequence occurs.... second finger F on D string - 1st finger B on A string - fourth finger E on A string. Still just working on C, D, G, and venturing into A.... and I hafta visualize the major scale pattern over 4 strings for whatever key I'm in.


those 3rd's I was talking about, not sure if they are technically 3rd's, Patterns for Jazz calls them Major scale - Tone Triads, but they work the same as the fourths. Those patterns 2 thru 4 are interesting, I think they may be a bit harder to memorize. Patterns for Jazz also shows 4 note patterns.


Yeah, jazz is pretty crazy. it boggles my mind how a good jazz player on whatever instrument can weave in and out  of chord changes, split scales, mix arps, and do whatever else they do. and while they're doing it, they hafta be thinking ahead about what they are going to " compose" in the next few seconds. and then they say that you get to the point when the music just takes over, and you don't think about it that much!


A pleasure talking to you Henry. I think we're on the same page about a lot of things ie: Improvisation. It's the closest thing to flying.... what a rush.... even if I'm just a Sparrow and not an Eagle. 

Edited by - bluesmode on 11/22/2015 22:07:14

bluesmode - Posted - 12/12/2015:  01:05:25

well, I'm still at these fourths. I've expanded my major scale keys to G,D,A,E, C&F.

G,D,A,E, played in mixolydian pretty much covers everything for the I-IV-V for blues in A and E (mixo being used commonly for Dom7 chords in blues.

Cmajor scale is for F lydian, and F maj scale is for A phrygian. I have some nice Lydian & Phrygian backgrounds in my sequencer now.

I'm ascending in fourths and descending in 3rds, experimenting with several different phrasings, especially for Lydian & Phrygian.

I haven't discovered anything so interesting as this since since modal min7b5 arps.
working this stuff gradually into the jams.

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