Try This! Beautiful Bass Solo Chord Progression

I wanted to come up with something that got my brain and fingers moving in different ways and came up with this. I think you'll like it.

Key Centre

The chord progression is AMaj7/CMaj7/BMaj7/DMaj7. These chords are not linked to a common key centre so four different scales need to be played over them.

The good news is that it is the same scale that can be used each time. The Lydian mode works beautifully over unrelated major seventh chords and that's the focus of the chord progression.

Bass Solo Tricks

Bass players often find solos tricky as they're used to targeting root notes in bass line situations. That's absolutely the right approach and one that will serve you well in so many situations. When soloing however, avoiding the root is a good way to sound more musical.

Here's a cool trick over this progression:

  • Over AMaj7 play A Lydian
  • Over CMaj7 play A Dorian (which contains the same notes as C Lydian)
  • Over BMaj7 play B Lydian
  • Over DMaj7 play B Dorian (which contains the same notes as D Lydian)

AMaj7 to CMaj7 is a minor third and so is BMaj7 to DMaj7. Using the above approach means you can vastly simplify a potentially tricky chord progression. Just play the SAME things one tone apart (start on A for the first two chords, go up a tone and start on B for the next two chords).

This kind of playing makes things easier for you and avoids that constant temptation to jump back to the root note. 

Things To Practise

Here are some things to make your solos sound better:

  • Think in musical phrases. Use rhythms and organise your notes into fragments rather than playing continuous streams of notes.
  • Think in contours. Shape your lines by deliberately ascending or descending based on what you're playing. If you are ascending don't necessarily jump back down to the root. Find the nearest highest chord tone of the next chord and target that. This will give your lines a pleasing smoothness. 
  • Take the Lydian shapes below and use them over each chord of the progression to get used to the sound of the mode and the flavour of the progression.
  • Then use A Lydian/A Dorian/B Lydian/B Dorian.

Use the backing track to play along to.

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  • Nice article, will definitely give it a try this week. However, there’s a typo: I guess you wanted to write D Lydian instead of C Lydian in the list “Over DMaj7 play B Dorian (which contains the same notes as C Lydian)”

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