Though he is best known for his Fusion playing, studying Allan Holdsworth’s playing can also be beneficial for more traditional players who are looking to modernize their soloing concepts, or just add a new angle to their approach to Bebop and Post-Bop soloing.
One of the concepts that Allan has mastered, and that jazz guitarists from all styles and backgrounds need to have under their fingers, is the Bebop scale.
The Bebop scale is an essential tool for any jazz guitarist and while this scale usually conjures up images of Wes Montgomery and George Benson, you can also gleam a vast amount of knowledge on the subject by studying how more modern players, such as Holdsworth, use this classic sound in their playing.
First let’s review the normal Dominant Bebop Scale, which is a Mixolydian mode with an added major 7th interval. Here is a one-octave fingering for that scale, nothing fancy but it sounds great and sits well on the guitar.
If this scale is new to you, check out my article on “Dominant Bebop Scale Fingerings for Guitar” for a little refresher on these must know scales.
Have a question or comment about this lesson? Visit the Allan Holdsworth Bebop Scales thread at the MWG Forum.
Now we’ll take a look at Holdsworth’s version of the Bebop scale. Here, he not only adds a major 7th interval to the Mixolydian scale, but he also throws in a blue note, the b3rd, for good measure, producing a nine-note scale.
Here is the same fingering as above only with the extra note, b3rd, added into the scale.
Play around with this for a while. Improvise with it over a static chord, take it into different keys, apply any/all scale patterns you like to this fingering.
Getting the fingering down is a good start, but once you get the sound of this scale in your ears and internalize it, that’s when the real fun starts.
Here is the one-octave scale in the key of C.
When I was checking out his version of the Bebop scale, I noticed that I could build a cool, 3-octave fingering that not only covered most of the neck, but was also very easy to play and sat well under my fingers.
Here is that fingering for you to check out.
Notice that there are a ton of 4-note chromatic groups in this fingering, which you can finger 1-2-3-4 for ease of use.
These sections not only make it easy to memorize this scale, but when you start to add in slurs to this idea, you can really get that Holdsworth legato sound happening in your playing.
Here is the three-octave scale in the key of F.
With the Allan Holdsworth Bebop Scale under your fingers and in your ears, it’s time to take it to the woodshed.
Here are some ways you can practice this scale in order to maximize your time in the practice room.
Though Holdsworth isn’t known as a Bebop player, his command of the Dominant Bebop scale, and any scale for that matter, is without a doubt.
Because of this, you can take his fingerings and apply them to your own playing to modernize your dominant 7th chords and get a little bit of that Holdsworth flare into your solos.
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Do you have a favorite Allan Holdsworth lick or scale fingering? Share it in the comments section.
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