Bebop scales

Scales & modesWhat are bebop scales

Bebop scales are usually played in bebop. Contrary to the heptatonic scales (seven pitches per octave) they contains eight notes (octatonic scales) including chromaticisms (chromatic passing tones). They are derived for the most of them from modes of the major scale but also from the harmonic minor and melodic minor scales.

Bebop scales from the major scale :

Formula is 1-2-3-4-5-#5-6-7. This is the major scale including a passing tone (#5) between the fifth and the sixth.

Formula is 1-2-b3-3-4-5-6-b7. Compared to the dorian mode this scale has an additional note, a major third,  between the minor third (b3) and the fourth. 

Formula is 1-2-3-4-5-6-b7-7. This is the mixolydian mode including a major seventh.

Formula is 1-b2-b3-4-b5-5-b6-b7. It has an additional fifth between the flat fifth (b5) and the minor sixth (b6).

Other bebop scales :

  • The harmonic minor bebop scale :

Formula is : 1-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7-7 . This scale has a chromatic passing tone (b7) between the minor sixth (b6) and the major seventh (7).

  • The melodic minor bebop scale :

Formula is : 1-2-b3-4-5-#5-6-7. The melodic minor bebop scale is derived from the ascending form of the melodic minor scale, it has a chromatic passing tone between the 5th and 6th notes.

  • The Phrygian dominant bebop scale :

Formula is 1-b2-3-4-5-b6-b7-7. This scale is derived from the fifth mode of the harmonic scale, the Phrygian dominant mode.