Sequence And Rhythmic Variation

In last month’s lesson, we covered the various shapes or permutations that occur on the neck of our instrument by simply starting a scale from a different scale degree. Because I used the pentatonic scale for this example, consequently five shapes are constructed from this five note scale. We also employed the concept of sequencing the scale into groups of four. In this lesson, we will take a look at additional rhythmic variations to practice using the pentatonic scale as our vehicle. These rhythmic concepts can be practiced and applied to any scale such as the major modes, melodic and harmonic minor scales.

The first example of sequence starts on the downbeat and breaks the scale into logical four note groupings.


The next step is to slightly alter this exercise by beginning the four note sequence on the “e of one” instead of the downbeat. This will give the exercise- along with the lines that you create when applying this concept a different rhythmic flavor.


The next example starts the sequence off on the “ah of four.” This slight variation will also change the rhythmic flavor of the sequence of notes.


Make sure to take these rhythmic variations through all five pentatonic shapes.

Now you can begin working with five note groupings. Follow the same concept as four note sequences. Practice the sequence -- 1) starting on the downbeat 2) progressing to the “e of 1” 3) finishing with the “ah of 4”.


Follow this model through sequences of four, five, or even six note groupings and through all the permutations we learned about in the previous lesson. These lessons should be learned in all keys. Good luck!

Bassist James Rosocha is an educator, composer, and touring musician.

He can be heard on the last nine albums by jazz fusion guitarist B.D. Lenz or on his debut CD “Avalon.”

James Rosocha