Scales; Why You Should Stop Practicing Them

Scales; stop practicing

Scales; why you should stop practicing them

My view on scales and why you should stop practicing them as your primary focus to gaining an understanding of harmony, walking bass and soloing has been a long standing one and has been championed by much greater players/educators than myself although, at first, it may seem counter-intuitive.

Great educators such as Charlie Banacos, Garry Dial, Carol Kaye and Joe Hubbard espouse a view that is contrary to the popular model of becoming a “walking scales thesaurus” (often resulting in no real sense of how to apply those scales to the actual music being played).

Scales have their place

Of course they do but I feel the slavish focus on scales in music education can cause problems for the student down the line. I’m speaking from experience of the problems I have to “fix” for my students, some of whom have been playing for years.

The following example illustrates the problem and later, I will provide the solution to it.

The story is a very common one so you may relate to it.

I was teaching a student who is a pro player, classically trained and by all accounts, very solid and funky, playing with various function bands and pop artists for many years.

This player had come to me wanting to improve their bass line construction and soloing.

I admire and respect them for having the clarity to see what needs improving in their own playing.

We all need to be more self aware in that regard.

I certainly do!

Anyway, taking all this into account, I ask;

“Have you done much playing over chord changes in your practice?”

‘Not really. We covered scales and stuff like that in college but most of us were confused in the lessons and didn’t like to admit it at the time.The teacher was a great player and we were all blown away by his soloing but I, for one, didn’t understand how he got from the scales he was teaching us to actually playing the cool lines and phrases he was playing himself.

So I left college not really knowing how to tackle that stuff

Most of us did, actually…

…I figured that I just didn’t have what it took to be that kind of player so I stuck with what I was comfortable with.’

Sound familiar?

Now, this is just one student but I’ve heard this from so many students over the years…it’s not only a problem for novices.

I heard a top pro bassist and educator speaking about practicing scales at a recent “bass guitar show”.

He said that in college, he had become a veritable encyclopaedia of scales and modes in the hope of improving as a soloist and creating cool bass lines.

But practicing scales didn’t work for him

He would still go to jam sessions and suck like an Electrolux because, despite his encyclopaedic knowledge of scales and modes, he always found himself hitting notes that were… let’s say poor choices for the line or solo.

So it became clear for him that practicing scales was NOT the answer.

The “secret”, he found, was to focus on…

Practicing chord tones!

Let’s look at why this is the case;

Legendary bass guitar pioneer Jeff Berlin put it succinctly.

Scales only IMPLY harmony, whereas;

Chord tones SPECIFY harmony.

1. Lets look at a major scale (in the key of C for simplicity as there are

no sharps or flats (Sharps and

flats are also known as accidentals).

On the piano, the C major scale is played on the white keys only.

C D E F G A B C

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (1… the scale begins again an octave higher).

As you can see above, each scale note has a corresponding number assigned to it so we can construct chords using a formula.

This formula will allow us to work with the same scale type in any key (for example, F# major, B major, Eb major, etc).

There are other formulae for other scale types. (minor, augmented, diminished, etc).

Basic chord construction consists of the formula 1 3 5 7 . The first note, (first degree or 1) is also known as the root.

With that in mind, you could also write;

Root, 3, 5, 7 ).

The above formula represents the strong tones of the chord. These are the

notes that “spell” the chord out to our ears in the simplest, clearest way.

The formula comes from using every other note of the scale.

Below, you can see the full scale with the chosen notes from the formula in BOLD;

C  d  E  f  G  a  B

1       3       5       7

You can also use the notes in lower case (also known as tensions) to solo when the chord is played but the results are less clear in spelling the chord.

For example, playing the note f on a strong beat (down beats are strong beats, up beats are weak beats) in your solo (while the chord C E G B is played) will create a certain kind of tension in the solo; it will feel unsettled.

For most of us, it will sound like a “wrong” note.

In fact, f in the C major scale (the fourth note in the scale) is often

called an “avoid note” in this context.

In other words, a scale can offer the soloist almost too much choice in finding notes to play with the chord that give us consonance; a feeling of resolution, of coming home.

(Using notes that create tension isn’t necessarily a bad thing by the way…but that’s a subject for another post).

Would you rather use an approach where your chances of playing a “good” note are clouded by the options of other notes that might not “work” or would you rather go for a system that offers you the certainty of playing a note that “works” with the chord?

No brainer?

2. As the name suggests, chord tones are the exact notes that spell (make up) the chord.
If you focus on playing these notes, they will always sound good with the chord.

With this method, you essentially only have two jobs;

a) Familiarise yourself with playing the strong tones of each chord on the strong beats of the bar (down beats).

and

b) Explore various ways of approaching those strong chord tones. (Many ways of studying approach notes, including transcribing the great masters of improvisation from recordings).

So, where do I start with practicing chord tones?

Let’s look at a single chord to begin with.

If we take a Cmaj7 chord (no sharps or flats) and play the chord tones one at a time;

C  E  G  B

If we play this chord on piano, into a looper or similar recording device, we will have a harmonic backdrop with which to compare our note choices.

By the way, on a 4-string bass guitar, we only need play the chord as C E and B because G (the 5th) doesn’t have to be played in the chord voicing in order to state the quality of the chord.

Now, just play the root (C) and listen to where it sits within the chord.

The key here is listening. How does that sound make you feel? Is there an emotion you could clearly ascribe to the sound of C on a Cmaj7 chord?

What does that sound remind you of?

Questions like these will help you remember that sound and recognise it when you hear it played elsewhere.

This, by the way, is the beginning of ear training.

Now follow the same process with the third of the chord (E).

Is this giving you a different feeling than the sound of the root played with the chord?

How would you describe that feeling?

(How you describe it is personal to you, by the way. There is no single right answer).

Now, do the same with the fifth (G) and seventh (B) of the Cmaj7 chord.

With each of the chord tones, really take your time and focus on the feeling each sound evokes for you.

Now that you’re comfortable with the maj7 sound, let’s add two more chord types to the mix;
minor 7 (or min7, as in Dmin7) and dominant 7 (or just 7, as in G7).

Dmin7 = D  F  A  C

G7= G  B  D  F

These two chords sound noticeably different from the Cmaj7 chord but all three chords are derived from notes extracted from the C major scale.

The Dmin7 comes from every other note of the C major scale starting from

the 2nd note (or degree) of the scale so it’s also known as the II Chord.

c   D   e   F   g   A   b    C

I   II  III IV  V  VI  VII  I

The formula for min7 is;

1,  b3,  5,  b7

Apply the process we used for playing each chord tone with the corresponding chord played on a keyboard or looper. Remember to describe the feeling that each tone gives you when played with the chord. This is important because we associate feelings to the sounds we hear in music, not dry, technical terms.

Music is a listening art and often, it’s easy to forget that.

So should I stop practicing scales entirely?

As I mentioned earlier, scales have their place in the practice room, I simply suggest that a focus on chord tones on strong beats will help you achieve a clearer result in less time.

In art class, specifically life drawing, we are advised to focus on the subject’s skeleton (chord tones) first, in order to give the figure its foundation. We can then “hang” the muscles, flesh etc (scales, scale fragments, etc), on that frame to build a clear representation of the body we are drawing.

The figure will appear “grounded” because we built a strong frame to place the “decorations” on.

Once we clearly represent the skeleton of the chord (academically), the next task is to search for different ways to approach these chord tones.

This is where academia meets artistry

Once we’ve looked at the fundamental approaches (derived from passing notes and chromaticism, along with a healthy dose of transcription), our personal taste and artistry kick in to eventually give us our individual sound.

Do you agree with the focus on chord tones before scales?

I’d love to hear your views so please leave a comment or question below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave A Reply (62 comments so far)


  1. Adam Glasser
    2 years ago

    100% agree! This is word for word the approach I have used for the last few years teaching jazz
    improvisation and applies to all instruments but especially on chromatic harmonica – you have to be
    able to hear 1 3 5 7 chord tones like steel joists through a chord sequence. So I get students ( and myself in my own practise!) playing a simple melodic pattern on those chord tones linking all the changes until fluent…

    Then you can later play off them or only imply some of the chord in incrementally more advanced lines of improvisation ( including the tensions and chromatic approach notes etc) The actual scales derive easily and intuitively from the chord tones .. Once integrated and memorised naturally in the memory


  2. Charlie Evans
    2 years ago

    Hey Michael,

    Totally agree with what you’re saying here. I need to get that into my playing way more! Time to open the real book and get chord toning!

    Charlie


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks, Charlie!
      Get in there!
      Give me a call if you need any help with it.

      best,

      Mike


  3. Scott Devine
    2 years ago

    On the money mate! Love ya x


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Cheers, Mate!
      Thanks for posting a link to my blog to your Facebook fanpage the other day.
      Some of your community have come over (crashed, read the post AND signed up
      for my free ebook “The 7 Worst Mistakes in READING MUSIC(And How To Fix Them)”.

      Hoping the ebook can help your community (and others!) get through the barrier of
      being “non-readers”…especially if they are already quite strong players.
      It’s a big psychological thing, not just a matter of finding the right method.

      It was for me, anyway..

      thoughts?

      talk soon, Mate,

      Mike http://www.michaelmondesirbass.com


  4. Freddy Samsonsonstuen
    2 years ago

    Great article! In my opinion it is more to learn from this article than from most of the books on the market that is covering theory and the use of scales.


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Wow, Freddy!
      Thanks so much for the positive comment!
      So glad to hear that the post is helping in the way I’d hoped.

      all the best,

      Mike


  5. Rob Mullarkey
    2 years ago

    Preach! Beautifully explained Mike.


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Cheers, Rob!
      See you soon, Mate!

      Mike


  6. Andrei Busuioc
    2 years ago

    Great article Michael, thanks! One of my teachers always said: if chords last for a bar or two – think chord tones, more than that – chord scales, but I guess it is a healthy combination of both that makes solos interesting.


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks, Andrei,
      to be clear, I’m not “anti-scales” per se, I’ve just found over time, starting with
      chord tones then looking at various ways to approach them.

      Thanks for the positive comment,

      take care,

      Mike


  7. Dave Allott
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much for explaining this so well. I was advised a while ago by a great bassist to make more use of chord tones in my solos, but have struggled with understanding how. This has really helped 🙂


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Happy you enjoyed the article, Dave!
      Give it a go and let me know your progress in a few weeks…or even months.
      Patience and consistency are good things to develop.

      all the best,

      Mike


  8. Patrick Sans-Arcidet
    2 years ago

    Hi Michael. Just found your publication on face book.
    I live in Paris France. Any chance to read you in French somewhere on the net or on e book?
    Your post is very interesting,never my English is not too bad, I may miss a lot of little tips.
    Amicalement. Very best regards .
    Patrick


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Hi, Patrick and thanks for the comment…and your English is better than my French! 😉

      Unfortunately, I’m currently only writing in English.

      Thanks,

      Mike


  9. hemi
    2 years ago

    Very practical and mature article, very helpful for me, I will apply it for sure..thanks a lot!


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks, Hemi,

      Let me know how you get on.

      Mike


  10. Rafa Zago
    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your point of view. I’ll surely be experimenting this kind of practicing.
    That’s something I’ve always thought “problematic” about scales, but never found a solution myself.


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks, Rafa,
      work on it a couple of months and let me know if you can hear the improvement.

      best,

      Mike


  11. Riccardo Andreotti
    2 years ago

    Great! Thank you very much for the post, Its the “hands on” approach that I was looking for for many years, being basically a “practical” player not rally excited by theory. I Heard about Karol Kaye and Jeff Berlin using a “different teaching philosofy” but never rally understood what was. Now I feel I have a consistent method to learn how to improvise more “wisely”. Thank you again Riccardo


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks, Riccardo!
      Carol Kaye would say that this approach is what the jazz players of the
      50’s were using…so it’s not even “alternative”, really. It’s just that
      the school system seems to have gone the scale route.

      Let me know how the journey goes for you.

      all the best,

      Mike


  12. Luis Eduardo
    2 years ago

    Thanks for this great lesson, I feld so identified whit it, I’ll apply your advices, thank you very much, greatings from Colombia.


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks, Luis!
      Glad you enjoyed!
      Colombia is a great place. I really enjoyed playing there.
      My first time was in 1991 at Teatro Libre with Django Bates.

      Fantastic memories!

      all the best,

      Mike


  13. Stewart
    2 years ago

    I’m not so much a bass guitarist as I am just a regular boring guitarist, however I felt that this article really helped me re-evaluate how I approach practicing scales and soloing and is a great way of linking the theory side of music -which greatly interests me- with the artistic side that I know and love. I study music at college and do not think that enough time is put into reinforcing the fact that music is an art form and that our theory knowledge gives us the tools to create art.


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Hi, Stuart,
      this approach isn’t a bass-specific thing, it really is a musical
      concept that can apply to any pitched instrument so you’re onto a winner there 🙂

      glad to help,

      Mike


  14. KNOBZ Athey
    2 years ago

    This concept sounds spot on to me ,Thanks


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      So good, you commented twice! 😉
      Fantastic!

      cheers,

      Mike


  15. KNOBZ Athey
    2 years ago

    Yes we get tired of hanging around route notes this concept sounds spot on to me


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks, Frank,

      Mike


  16. Dave Leggett
    2 years ago

    Thank you.

    Great article.

    I’m looking forward to incorporating the information into my practice.


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      That’s great, Dave!
      Maybe you could come back here and post updates on how the chord tone approach is helping you improve?
      That would be a big help for the other readers.

      thanks,

      Mike


  17. bassdeshi
    2 years ago

    I’ve been playing mostly classical in an orchestra around 10 years and reading this just clicked something into place for me. I’ve seen the material before, but the way you put it together is great. Thanks!


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks for the positive comment, bassdeshi!

      Glad you got some value from it!

      Mike


  18. Piet Hermans
    2 years ago

    Yes, I agree, it´s like scales would be great training for racing, but chords get you dancing. 🙂


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Good way to look at it, Piet!

      Thanks,

      Mike


  19. Jona
    2 years ago

    I seriously love your site.. Pleasant colors & theme.
    Did you make this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own site
    and would like to find out where you got this from or what
    the theme is named. Kudos!


  20. Mauricio
    2 years ago

    Wow, it really make sense and clarifies a lot. As soon as I get home I will plug ny bass and look at the chord tones. Would yoy suggest me another progression, in addition to I-ii-V?


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Hi, Mauricio.
      Thanks for the comment.
      This approach works with any chord but I would say start with the ii-7, V7,
      I progression, just as it is a very common progression and will help
      you navigate a wide range of music if you master it. The progression is
      deceptively simple but a lot can be made of it, if you listen to
      the master players negotiating it.
      Rather than suggesting another chord progression, I’d suggest
      practicing different chord types (maj7, min7, aug, dim, etc) so
      you can get the sound of each of them in your ears.

      good luck,

      Mike


  21. Frank
    2 years ago

    I will right away clutch your rss as I can’t to find your email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service.
    Do you’ve any? Please let me realize so that I may just subscribe.
    Thanks.


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Hi, Frank!
      Thanks for the comment.
      On the right hand side of my blog,
      if you subscribe for my free ebook

      “The 7 Worst Mistakes in READING MUSIC
      (And How To Fix Them)”

      then you’re automatically subscribed to
      my email list and I can keep you updated.

      Plus the ebook, I’m told is very cool. It’s helped a lot of players who didn’t read music at all…and even some who did!

      I’ll look into the RSS thing…
      to be honest, all this new fangled interweb thing is a work in progress for me so thanks for the suggestion.

      All the best and let me know what you think of the ebook.

      Mike


  22. Jhonatan Souza
    2 years ago

    Beatifully explained, something that I realy needed to know. I”ve been playing bass for years and most of the time my main focus was on scales practicing. I now give it a try on chord tones and see what happens, but I pretty sure it’ll help a lot.

    Thanks Michael, God bless!


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks, Jhonatan,
      Let me know how it goes for you.

      all the best,

      Mike


  23. Greg von Seeger
    2 years ago

    This is a great article! I love the analogies. You make total sense and it is a more logical and ’emotional way’ in approaching bass line accompaniment. My teacher and I were just starting to explore this approach and he found your article. Thank you!


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      My pleasure, Greg!
      Glad you enjoyed!

      Mike


  24. stefano
    2 years ago

    I’m a young bass teacher, this article is super clear and tricky for both my own bass study and my teaching approach. Thanks Michael for fixing in a clear way an issue that sometimes makes some confusion in the bass players.


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      My pleasure, Stefano!
      Thanks for reading and also for the
      positive comment.

      All the best,

      Mike


  25. Graham Young
    2 years ago

    I totally agree with this. Our reliance on the classical conception of scale practice is less than helpful in many regards and I’ve been teaching what I call ‘Harmonic Scales’ for many years now. Moreover I introduce the concept as early as possible for all students regardless of whether they have an interest in jazz or not.
    Here’s an example
    http://leedsguitarstudio.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/harmonic-scales-hearing-chord-tones.html?m=1


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks, Graham,
      Although your term “Harmonic Scales” can be confusing for people who are
      already “schooled” in harmony, as you mentioned in your video, the approach
      of playing the tones in thirds is a good way for musicians to get used to
      hearing the series of tones within a chord.

      good stuff!

      Mike


  26. Martin
    2 years ago

    Great article and wholeheartedly agree! I’m sure I’m not the only one to have spent countless hours practicing scales only for all that information that I’ve tried to hammer into my memory to simply disappear once I get into a playing situation. This leads to frustration and makes the idea of sitting down the next day and practicing scales again much harder to have any enthusiasm for, I almost become scared to practice. Add that to fact that there are a seemingly endless number of scales to learn and the realisation that it would take many years just to learn them. Working with chord tones gives a faster return for those practice hours and a feeling of progression. You’re so right about the importance of hearing what you play as well!


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Spot on, Martin!
      It’s essential that we learn to hear the things we play. It’s the
      object of the game, as far as I’m concerned.

      Academia gives names to these sounds but ultimately it’s about hearing and recognising them.

      best,

      Mike


  27. David Mortara
    2 years ago

    Exactly right, Michael. A bassist who cannot “follow the changes” (playing notes that belong to, and define, each chord in a progression) is not going to fit. That said, a bassist who always plays root notes on a set of changes is going to sound dull. I would say to be careful playing the seventh degree on a chord as a bass note. Playing a C# on D∆ (D Major 7) say could make sense if you were “walking down” from D Major to the relative minor, B minor. That choice would fit the progression. Another time, that choice may not be appropriate, say on the I of a ii V7 I progression. So, a good bass player (as you well know) will also look ahead and be aware of the harmonic direction in which the changes are moving and choose accordingly.


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks, David!
      I think it’s good that you are, as a percussionist, studying the theory/harmony side too. In classical this is normal, by the way, as percussion in that world includes tuned percussion from marimba to tympani and everything inbetween. My brother, Mark Mondesir is a drummer and yet he has the biggest natural ears for harmony, he plays the drums according to the music he’s hearing, not just the rhythms. It’s very important to take in the full picture. ?


  28. Edward Mowat
    2 years ago

    This is excellent! You’ve articulated the approach of singing and ‘meditating’ on chord tones that I’ve been teaching to my primary school pupils and to myself, of course! I thank you for making aware of a very simple procedure during one of your lessons some years ago – sing the notes. Sing and play every F on the fretboard and sing it’s name. This exercise was like a musical syringe for my ears. Simple and effective; nothing sounded ‘vague’ anymore. My ability to transcribe from memory then approach the instrument already knowing a piece was down to that bit of brilliantly simple, invaluable advice. Later, applying the same approach to singing chord tones, extended and altered tones over a sequence has demystified the workings of more complex harmonies in a simple and painless way. 🙂 Another upshot of this is it has made me take singing more seriously as I can hear my voice in harmony with the instruments. When I get the kids to take this idea and run with it the possibilities are very exciting. How many more Jacob Colliers can this country produce? So, thank you, Michael. For me, your succinct advice was the E=MC2 of harmonic awareness.


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Wow, Ed!
      Thanks for the comment. I’m so happy
      to hear about the benefits gained
      from my short time with you.

      It was
      (and continues to be!) my intent to
      give people small but important concepts
      to run with and hopefully they can
      wring out every ounce of
      goodness from them.

      It seems you’ve succeeded in that
      regard and, better still, you’re passing
      the focus on “ears first” to your
      young charges.

      Jacob Collier is a great musician because of what he hears first, then executes.
      The “knowledge” comes later.

      Thanks again, Ed.

      Mike


  29. Adrian Emanuel
    2 years ago

    Great advice Michael !.This is a good strong approach to playing / improvising. I am a guitarist and it applies to me just as much as a bass player. Scales are useful in understanding chord construction ( for example, The melodic minor scale chord created on 7th of the scale = the altered dominant chord)
    So I think a good knowledge of them is useful along with the chords that can be constructed from them , but as you point out should not be the total focus when playing as they can sound linear and less tuneful and too much like simply playing through a scale ( Ive gone down that road in the past myself ! ) .
    But using the concept you described ( use of arpeggios) certainly helps the improvisor sound more melodic / strong harmonically and tuneful. … Mixing in some scale tones/ chromatics in the right places expands the improvisation further but the base really should be the chord tones.
    Maybe good to expand a little with a 1 – 6 – 2 – 5 – 1 chord sequence example ?….
    Thank you for a great article.


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Adrian.
      Exactly the point I’m trying to make.
      The focus on chord/scales over and above chord
      tones have, in my experience of teaching, confused
      students and left them quite often feeling
      inadequate because they couldn’t “connect”
      the music with the scales method.

      The chord tone approach, provided it is combined with
      proper rhythmic focus, actually “tunes the ear” to the sounds
      of the chords and increases the recognition and understanding
      of chord function.

      Adrian, when you suggest an example of I VI ii VI sequence,
      which format were you thinking would help you and others most?
      Written as the rest of the post? Musical notation Video?

      Let me know what you think.

      Thanks again and much appreciated,

      Mike


  30. Tyler
    2 years ago

    Gary Willis’ fingerboard harmony has a great section on constructing bass lines using strong/weak beat concepts, chord tones, approach notes. Recommend that book as well and great job with this article though I’d recommend not, uh, bolding as much text.

    Thanks,

    Tyler


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks for the comment, Tyler.
      Gary Willis is a great player
      and, from what I hear from
      friends who have studied
      with him, an outstanding
      teacher too.

      I’m certainly not the first
      or only person to advocate
      this approach so if you
      and others can get it
      elsewhere and use it,
      That’s wonderful.

      Sorry it took so long
      to reply. Glad you got
      value from it.

      All the best,

      Mike


  31. Patrick Longmore
    2 years ago

    Important info for us low-end players ..love it


    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Thanks, Patrick!

      All the best,

      Mike


  32. D J Duquemin
    2 years ago

    Hi Michael, I met you in London at the apollo with Sandrina at the Mandoki soulmates show, I have just read this article and it is quite inspirational, thank you for publishing it, I will use this in both my guitar practice and bass practice, thanks Dave.


    • Mike
      1 year ago

      Hi, Dave! Yes, I remember meeting you at the Apollo!
      That was a great show with so many amazing people on stage!
      I’m happy if my writing can help someone progress and improve.
      It’s why I do it, after all 🙂

      Take care and catch up soon,

      all the best,

      Mike

About

MICHAEL MONDESIR

Michael is a freelance Bass Guitar player, who studied at the much lauded

Bedroom School Of Music.
(just means he's self-taught, don't panic!)

He began his professional music career in 1983, playing Bass Guitar with his brother, drummer Mark Mondesir
(John McLaughlin, Jethro Tull,
Glenn Hughes),
forming a trio with guitarist

Hawi Gondwe
(Amy Winehouse/
George Michael).

Since then he has performed with
artists as diverse as;
Jeff Beck, Billy Cobham, Ginger Baker, Eddie Harris, Jack DeJohnette, John McLaughlin, Oumou Sangare, Usher, Whitney Houston, Imogen Heap, Sir George Martin, State of Bengal, Hermeto Pascoal, David Garibaldi, Jan Hammer, Ty, Zoe Rahman, Jim Mullen, Ronnie Wood, John Serry, Andy Summers, Django Bates, Gary Husband, Chante Moore, Lulu, Nitin Sawhney, Lenny White, Chad Smith, Courtney Pine, Jocelyn Brown, Jason Rebello, Brice Wassy, Neneh Cherry, Nikki Yeoh, Bernard Purdie, Iain Ballamy, Bill Bruford, Julian Joseph, Leni Stern, Mory Kante, Keith More, Trilok Gurtu, Aster Aweke, S-Club 7, Talvin Singh and Pee Wee Ellis.

Michael entered the Pop, R&B, Funk and Dance music world, composing tracks on albums by funk trombone legend Fred Wesley and singer/songwriter, Lewis Taylor.

In September 2009, Michael joined the
Thriller Live world tour.
He is currently part of the visiting faculty of various education establishments including the Royal Academy of Music, Rhythmic Conservatory of Copenhagen and British Academy of New Music as well as teaching privately at home
(schedule permitting).

Michael Mondesir uses:
Yamaha Basses, Costalab Pedals and Elixir Strings.