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(@theredd)
Eminent Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 44
03/07/2008 7:49 pm  

Im probably not ready to try playing scales yet, but they are often mentioned as an important part of learning to play; and so, I have been looking through various articles and such that discuss scales. I've run into a couple problems with this:

1) Maybe Im reading things wrong, but I cant seem to understand exactly WHAT a scale is. Is it a practice exercise? Is it a learning tool? I suspect it is something more important then that, but most of the article writers seem to go off to some metaphysical plane of reality when they discuss scales. No offense to said writers, but they go floating wayyyy over my head.

2) What is the best way to learn scales? One at a time? A related group all together? Pick and choose some scales and master them?

3) Perhaps there is a certain amount of music theory I need to understand before scales make any sense?

Scales are probably not even important for me, at my level of development. It's just my nature that, when something challenges me intellectually, I cant let it go until I get a grip on it-so now Im stuck fixating on scales.

(Now that I think on it, I realize that this is a question Ive been asking for a long time. When I was in school, I played trumpet in the band from age 8 or 9. By some good luck, we always had the same band director/music instructor, right up until my freshman year in high school, when that teacher retired. On the very first day with the new teacher, he started practice by saying "lets warm up with a scale of (whatever)". I had never heard of scales, had no idea what they were. After going through several scales, he moved on to having the band play several songs that I had never heard of and which I didnt have the sheet music for. Me and the other freshman trumpet players sat through the entire session with no clue.
At the end of practice, I approached the teacher and asked about the sheet music for those songs. His response was, "there is no sheet music, you are supposed to know them from memory". I asked about the scales, and his response was, "you have been in band for how many years and dont know what scales are?". Then he walked away. Needless to say, that was the last day I ever played the trumpet.)

Ooops, sorry for the lapse into repressed childhood trauma LOL.

Anyways, Im wondering where I can look for some straightforward answers to my questions . . . hopefully this will be the oddest question I ever ask on this forum! :shock:


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(@alangreen)
Member Moderator
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5358
03/07/2008 8:13 pm  

Scales are probably not even important for me, at my level of development. It's just my nature that, when something challenges me intellectually, I cant let it go until I get a grip on it-so now Im stuck fixating on scales.

In that case, don't touch them.

Except - learn the minor pentatonic in all five positions. Shift it up and down the neck to change key. Shift if three frets lower to change to the major pentatonic (A minor at the 5th freth, same scale at the 2nd fret = A Major).

Eventually, you'll want to do more with scales, and then you can look at the Major, Natural Minor, Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor scales, and then modes - but there's no point doing it until you feel you want to understand them.

Best,

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


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(@kblake)
Reputable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 323
03/07/2008 8:24 pm  

(A minor at the 5th freth, same scale at the 2nd fret = A Major).
Boinggggggggggg Alan a light has just gone off in my head for me ! :D
Thanks

Keith

I know a little bit about a lot of things, but not a lot about anything...Looking for people to jam with in Sydney Oz.......


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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5599
03/07/2008 8:36 pm  

Very basically put (I am not a teacher), scales are simply a series or order of notes that sound good over a particular chord, or chord progression.

The first scale you learn is the Major scale. It is said to sound "happy" or "lively". Play a G chord, then play this scale.

G Major scale
e--------------------------
b--------------------------
g--------------------------
d-----------------2--4--5-- E F# G
a--------2--3--5----------- B C D
e--3--5-------------------- G A

I think that sounds pretty happy. Now try this scale. I learned it as the "Gypsy scale". It may have an official musical name, some of the teachers here could tell you that. But again, play a G chord and then play this scale. Listen to the difference.


G Gypsy scale
e--------------------------
b--------------------------
g--------------------------
d--------------------4—5--- F# G
a--------2--3--5--6-------- B C D Eb
e--3--4-------------------- G Ab

Now, that sounds good too, doesn't it? But it sounds very different from the Major scale. I think it has an Eastern or Oriental sound to it.

And that is the basic idea of scales. You play particular scales over chords to create a particular mood or sound. As you can see, the scale you select can greatly affect the mood of a piece.

Now, I showed you both of these scales in order, starting from the Root note G, going up one octave to the next higher G. And you can play scales in order like this. But you can also mix up the order any way you wish.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@abcxyz)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 2764
03/07/2008 9:29 pm  

Nicely explained, Wes.

Liked that scale. It does have a cool sound.


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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5599
03/07/2008 10:32 pm  

Here is a great example of the Gypsy scale, Come Out and Play (Keep Em Seperated) by the Offspring. This scale is used for the cool little clean guitar riff played several times in the song (first time at 0:25 into the song). This scale is used for this riff only, the rest of the song is played in other scales. So you can use more than one scale in a song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zjnMzqoFZo

Just move that scale up to B and you can play this riff along with the video. :D

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@misanthrope)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 2268
03/07/2008 10:40 pm  

My favourite rock-out tune, Wes ;) (today at least, it battles constantly with Aerosmith's Eat the Rich)

ChordsAndScales.co.uk - Guitar Chord/Scale Finder/Viewer


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(@theredd)
Eminent Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 44
03/07/2008 11:04 pm  

Wes, you are a god amongst men . . . or at least a guitar deity . . .

If it had been explained as simply as that, I would have gotten it a while ago :-)

I played that first scale a few times, and it dawned on me why one of the places I looked (Justinguitar?) had fingering charts for scales.
Then I regressed to my childhood again, and started trying to work out how to play "Doe, a deer, a female deer . . ". Can't decide if thats good or bad . . .

As for the Gypsy Scale, I honestly cant relate that scale to the Offspring song. My ears are not practiced enough, no doubt.

Thanks for helping me end a crappy day (guitarwise) on a good note!


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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5599
03/07/2008 11:37 pm  

As for the Gypsy Scale, I honestly cant relate that scale to the Offspring song. My ears are not practiced enough, no doubt.

Well, it is the same scale, only in the key of B. What I mean by the same scale is that the intervals between the notes of this scale are the same.

Everything is based on the Major scale. The Major scale starts with the Root note, goes up one whole step, one whole step, one half step, one whole step, one whole step, one whole step, one half step. A half step is one fret on your guitar, a whole step is two frets on your guitar.

Numerically it's R, 1, 1, 1/2, 1, 1, 1, 1/2. In G that would be G, A, B, C, D, E, F# G.

Now, the Gypsy scale has a flatted 2nd. A is the 2nd note in the G Major scale, so you flat that down one half step to Ab (A flat). The Gypsy scale also has a flatted 6th. The 6th note in the G Major scale is E, so you flat that one half step down to Eb (E flat). Except for these two notes, the two scales are identical. But that changes the mood completely.

That Offspring song is in B. So you simply shift that scale up from the 3rd fret (Root note on the 6th string), to the B at the 7th fret. But you follow the same pattern and intervals.

So the B Major scale is B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B. To convert it to the B Gypsy scale, flat the 2nd and 6th notes. So the B Gypsy scale is B, C, D# E, F# G, A#, B.

As I said, you don't have to play the notes of a scale in any particular order. Just like the letters of our alphabet, you put them in various orders to create words. The notes of a scale are no different except you are creating melodies, not words. :D

So move that scale form up to the 7th fret and you have the notes for that Offspring riff.


Come Out and Play riff- B Gypsy scale
e------------------------------------
b------------------------------------
g------------------------------------
d------------------------------------
a--------6--7/-9-7--6---------------
e--7--8-----------------8--7-7-7-8-7-

Hang around here and read. Go to the Theory forum. You can get great information there. If you love an intellectual challange, music is for you!! :D

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@theredd)
Eminent Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 44
03/07/2008 11:54 pm  

Everything is based on the Major scale. The Major scale starts with the Root note, goes up one whole step, one whole step, one half step, one whole step, one whole step, one whole step, one half step.

Just making sure Im understanding this right; the Scale is simply a pattern, right? And you can move that scale anywhere on the fretboard, simply by changing the root?

Im thinking that this is a good example of how people take a simple idea and make it unbearably complex :lol:


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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5599
04/07/2008 12:08 am  

Yes.

See the G Major scale above. Move each note up one whole step (two frets) and now you are playing the A Major scale. Move each note another whole step (two frets) up and now you are playing the B Major scale. Go up one more fret and now you are playing C Major.

Works in reverse too. Move each note in that G Major scale down one whole step (two frets) and now you are playing the F Major scale. F is one whole step below G.

When you see those scale patterns, those are "user friendly" patterns. They usually show you how to play a scale in one position on the guitar without having to move your hand. But you can play a scale anyway you want. You could play the G Major scale on the bass E string only:

G Major scale
e-----------------------------
b-----------------------------
g-----------------------------
d-----------------------------
e--3--5--7--8--10-12--14--15--

Same scale, G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G. Same intervals, Root, 1, 1, 1/2, 1, 1, 1, 1/2

You can do this on any string. And you don't have to always go up a scale. You could start at the G note at the 15th fret on your bass E string and go down. You are still playing the G Major scale. It is the particular notes and their intervals relating to the Root note that determines the scale, not the order you play them. You can play them any order you want, you can play the same note 20 times if you want. :D

And you don't have to start on the Root note. You can start or end on any note in that scale you wish. You have complete control. :twisted:

But playing on one string is pretty difficult. It is far easier to follow the "user friendly" patterns. This allows you to play a scale quickly and easily.

Hope that didn't cause confusion.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@chris-c)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3460
04/07/2008 12:22 am  

Hi,

Discussion about scales, keys and chord building can get quite complex, but here's a general overview of how I see it.

Firstly, I think that you need to talk about both scales and keys together to understand what their purpose is. They are not identical terms, but they are related, and they have the same job in mind – working as a smaller team to make music easier.

There are 12 notes on offer in Western music – called the ‘Chromatic scale' – A, A#, B, C, C# etc up to G#. They're all equally spaced, and equally useable, but problems can crop up if you try and use all 12 together. There are less conflicts and difficulties if you just pick a smaller “Team”. If you're talking about Keys – i.e. whether a song is in C, or whatever - then that means 7 notes from the 12. Which 7 you pick depends on the job that you're doing – which usually boils down to what mood you want, and what range suits the instrument(s) and the voice(s) being used.

There are set formulae for picking the notes of the basic scales – in other words which of the 12 you'll put on the team today. Without spending pages going into detail, you can use scales to build up a set of chords that will always sound OK together. You can use these chords – either plain or flavoured up a bit – to write songs, confident that certain ways of combining them will always work, and will tend to produce predictable effects and results. Chord progressions in other words.

As Wes points out, you can then use the same scale to play melodies that fit with the chords and they have a much better chance of sounding good than if you used all 12 randomly. At this point, it becomes more about Guidelines than Rules – you don't HAVE to stick to the basic notes in the scales, or the usual chords for the key, but they are just easier to use in well known ways – safe ground as it were. You can also use numerous variations on the basic starting scales when you come to writing a melody. E.g. use a Pentatonic scale (which leaves out two of the original 7, leaving only 5) and so on.

At this point, it's probably best to head for the theory books, because the fine print can get pretty complicated, but the basic idea is simple – pick smaller teams to do the job more easily and with focus on a certain mood or outcome.

Chris


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(@slejhamer)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3341
04/07/2008 1:14 am  

There are many good articles on scales and music theory on the GN lessons pages:

https://www.guitarnoise.com/topics/scales-and-modes/
https://www.guitarnoise.com/topics/music-theory/

And be sure to check out David's excellent new series on turning scales into solos:

https://www.guitarnoise.com/lessons/turning-scales-into-solos-part-1/
https://www.guitarnoise.com/lessons/turning-scales-into-solos-part-2/

8)

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5900
04/07/2008 7:07 am  

Take any song you like and sing it. Now, go and get your girlfriend/wife/canary (OK, well, perhaps not the canary) and ask her to sing the same song. Her voice will be higher in pitch than yours, but the song will sound the same. Why?

The thing is, that you are both using the same sequence of intervals (semi-tone, tone, etc) between notes, but they start at a different place (i.e. root note). The scale is simply a template to show the pattern of notes in the scale, e.g. R-t-t-s-t-t-t-s (major scale). The root note (some people call it the "tonic") tells you which note to start on. So, Cmajor would look like this:

C-(tone)-D-(tone)-E-(semitone)-F-(tone)-G-(tone)-A-(tone)-B-(semitone)-C

For the sake of argument, let's say that you sing in the key of C, i.e. you use the Cmajor scale and that your wife/girlfriend sings in the key of G. Gmajor looks like this:

G-(tone)-A-(tone)-B-(semitone)-C-(tone)-D-(tone)-E-(tone)-F#-(semitone)-G

The sequence of intervals (number of tones/semitones between notes) is the same for both scales, they just start on a different note. By using this same template (scale), different people can sing the same song, but starting at a different note.

So, if you write a song for your voice (you still sing in C, for the sake of this argument, OK? :D ), how is your wife/gf going to cope? She can "transpose" your song from C to G (her favourite key) by moving every note in your song up by 7 semitones (C-(tone or 2 semitones)-D-(tone)-E-(semitone)-F-(tone)-G).

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?Greybeard's PagesMy Articles & Reviews on GN


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(@dagwood)
Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1029
04/07/2008 2:19 pm  

EDIT:

To Illustrate Greybeard's point even further.

My gutiar teacher showed me an illustration of a keyboard.

A piano keyboard pattern is laid out in the C-Major Scale pattern. Have you ever noticed why there sometimes three black keys (or sharps) a space then two black keys(or sharps) a space then 3 more interspersed amongst the white keys (whole notes)?

Here's a picture:

Now the C Major Scale would be like.. starting at the C then playing all the 'white' keys on the keyboard up to the next C.

The intervals determine the number of keys 'distance' played from the next (including the black keys)

An interval is the distance between two notes.

The smallest interval used in Western music is the half step. A visual representation of a half step would be the distance between a consecutive white and black notes on the piano (or fret to fret on the guitar).

There are two exceptions to this rule, as two natural half steps occur between the notes E and F, and B and C.

A whole step is the distance between two consecutive white or black keys (or two frets distance on the guitar). It is made up of two half steps.

source: http://library.thinkquest.org/15413/theory/intervals.htm

If it relates easier in standard notation then it looks like this:

"C-Major Scale"

source: http://library.thinkquest.org/15413/theory/intervals.htm#scales

Hope that starts to help :)

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. - Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977)


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