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Jazz Studies With Bill Harrison: Lesson 9 – Using Melodic Minor on the ii/V/i



The last two lessons I’ve presented in Bass Musician Magazine have hopefully made it clear that you can use the harmonic minor scale for the ii/V/i cadence. One of the benefits of harmonic minor is that you can use the same scale form for all three chords, the same way that we use the major scale to play through the major ii/V/I.

Click to Download: Using the Melodic Minor

As your ears grow more sophisticated, it’s very likely that you’ll want to expand your harmonic/melodic palette to include some of the sounds that musicians have made part of the jazz language in the last few decades. One of the most interesting devices you can learn to use is the melodic minor scale.

Construct melodic minor by simply flatting the third degree of the major scale. Another way to think of it is as a minor scale with both a major 6th and major 7th. * So D melodic minor (to be consistent with the key of our last two lessons) is spelled D E F G A B C#. (Fig. 1) This scale has a lot of cool applications on a variety of chord types, including some altered dominants and the wily M7#5. But let’s stick to our main task, using the sound of the melodic minor on the minor ii/V/i cadence.

Here’s the chord progression: E-7(b5) / A7alt / D-(M7) It turns out that only the tonic chord (spelled D F A C#) exists within the D melodic minor scale. Neither of the other two chords can be extracted from that scale (there’s no Bb, for one thing). If we really want to use melodic minor as our harmonic basis for this progression, we will have to figure out which melodic minor scale contains each of these chords.

If we were still using the major scale system, E-7(b5) (E G Bb D) would shout locrian, the 7th mode in the key of F: E F G A Bb C D.  Do you see how the scale tones fill in the missing spaces between the chord tones? By making one small change in these “in-between” notes we’ll be able to generate a melodic minor sound that embraces E-7(b5). If we raise the F natural one half step to F#, we create this scale; E F# G A Bb C D. With some quick calculating, we can see that this “locrian #2” scale is the 6th mode of G melodic minor. (Fig. 2)

What about this A7alt chord? The designation “alt” is short for altered, and it generally translates to any dominant chord containing both the 5th and 9th degrees altered (b5 and/or #5 AND b9 and/or #9). These sounds are quite common in contemporary jazz, and our old friend mixolydian doesn’t work at all with these altered intervals. Melodic minor to the rescue!

Let’s construct a dominant type scale that includes ALL those altered 5ths and 9ths starting on the root A (keeping in mind that dominant chords are defined by the combination of M3 and m7):

A Bb C C# Eb F G (root, b9, #9, M3, b5, #5, m7). This scale is a thing of beauty. The first half alternates between half and whole steps while the second half contains all whole steps. This scale goes by a few names, most commonly the altered or diminished/whole tone scale. This scale is also the 7th mode of the Bb melodic minor. (Fig. 3)

So the chord/scale matchups for this ii/V/i go like this:

E-7(b5) – G melodic minor.

A7alt – Bb melodic minor.

D-(M7) – D melodic minor.

But what does this mean for us when we’re constructing walking bass lines? As long as you have at least 4 beats for each chord you can make good use of some of the spiced up flavors of the melodic minor. The F# from the G melodic minor is a delightful passing tone on the E-7(b5), for instance. The presence of the altered 5ths and 9ths on the A7alt are also noteworthy (pun intended). And the inclusion of the B natural on the D-(M7) is a welcome change from Bb, the flatted 6th.  See Fig. 4 for some examples of walking lines that use the colors of the melodic minor.

The uses of melodic minor are well documented in recordings and books. Check out pianist Mark Levine’s excellent Jazz Theory in this regard. Start incorporating these sounds into your lines and you will discover some pathways through these changes that might not occur to you otherwise.

* Note that the only difference between natural, melodic, harmonic and dorian minor scales is whether the 6th and 7th degrees of each scale are major or minor.


Bass Videos

Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan



Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

Bassist Adam Sullivan…

Hailing from Minnesota since 2012, By the Thousands has produced some serious Technical Metal/Deathcore music. Following their recent EP “The Decent”s release, I have the great opportunity to chat with bassist Adam Sullivan.

Join me as we hear about Adam’s musical Journey, his Influences, how he gets his sound, and the band’s plans for the future

Photo, Laura Baker

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Bass CDs

Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents



Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

Mark Egan, Cross Currents…

It is exciting every time I get a new album from Mark Egan as he is such an amazingly versatile player and I never know what to expect (except for excellent artistry!) In his latest release, Mark has teamed up with Shawn Peyton on drums and Shane Theriot on guitar to bring us “Cross Currents”.

This collection of eleven tracks transports me to the Gulf Coast (New Orleans specifically). Mark’s fretless basses lay down a solid groove and lots of juicy solo work for this rootsy collection of funk, ambient, swamp-rock, second line, ballads, Cajun and even Indian Raga.

This trio is super-tight and the musicianship is flawless as each member has ample opportunity to shine. Even though each player is very talented in their own right, I feel that the collective energy is greater than just the sum of the players on this album. Each musician contributed to composing music for this project but the lion’s share are Mark’s original pieces.

I spent the summer of 1981 in New Orleans and this wonderful music takes me back to those fond memories. I participated in a wacky raft race on Lake Ponchatrain and this opening track elicits images of fun, sunshine, music, and great food.

This is another superb album that everyone will enjoy. Get your copy today! Cross Currents is available online at Visit Mark online at

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp



Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.


Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.


At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.


True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.


The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.


While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.


In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram



TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @cb_basses @alesvychodilbasses @odiengcustom @ramabass.ok @mauriziouberbasses @mgbassguitars @capursoguitars @thebassplace @adamovicbasses @ishguitars

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Bass CDs

New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album



New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce "Kingdom of Shred" Album

ALBERTO RIGONI’s New Project NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album, Feat. Super Talented Guests Such as Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner + Many Others

Worldwide known Italian bassist and composer ALBERTO RIGONI (soloist, BAD As, Kim Bingham, Vivaldi Metal Project, etc.) announces the new album “Kingdom of Shred” of his new project NEMESIS CALL. 

Alberto says: 
“Even if my latest album “Unexpected Lullabies”, dedicated to my newborn Vittoria Parini Rigoni, was released on June 4th 2024, I felt the need to compose new music (yes, I really can’t stop!). This time will be quite challenging because I’m willing to release an instrumental shred/prog/rock/metal/melodic album, that will feature many talented top-notch musicians such as drummer Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner, Alexandra Lioness, Aanika Pai (11 years old!), Keiji by Zero (19 years old!), SAKI and many others TBA/TBC). It won’t be easy to manage all such great musicians but I will make it! Are you ready to face a new prog experience? The album will be released in Digipack CD and in high-quality digital format approximately at the beginning of 2025 or maybe for Christmas!.”

As an independent artist, Alberto Rigoni has launched a fundraising campaign to support the project. Support at 20% of the income will be donated to Lega del Filo d’Oro (, an Italian association that helps deaf and blind children!

Visit online at | | |

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