How did you learn scales?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by yellowecho, Feb 28, 2008.

  1. yellowecho

    yellowecho Member

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    I find that I've learned them by memorizing the pattern/shape of the scale at each position across the neck. I've read that others learned it by different chordal theories. How'd you learn?
     
  2. Rapmaster

    Rapmaster Member

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    I'd try and stay away from relying on box patterns exclusively, you'll restrain yourself.

    My music education actually started before my formal schooling, so I actually have no clue. When I moved to guitar, I started out by finding notes (all along the fretboard) and finding their respective fifths all around as well. Once I was able to visualize where the fifths were, I could construct scales based on intervals (assuming, of course, I knew the intervals beforehand).
     
  3. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    I started with the CAGED system taught in the Fretboard Logic books.

    I practiced scales up and down only. Then my first guitar teacher got me to practice them in 3rds up and down and 1234 patterns at least. But I didn't go past that for a long time, due to lack of imagination on my part.

    I don't use the CAGED system any more. It's apparently helped a lot of guitar players learn their fretboards, but after a while, it comes down to knowing your intervals. That is why big name instructors who are known for their lyrical styles harp on intervals a lot (Scott Henderson, Brett Garsed, etc.) and not being stuck on positional thinking (CAGED is about dividing the fretboard into positions).
     
  4. topbrent

    topbrent Member

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    Finding the fifth is not a difficult concept for me, but understanding why knowing where the fifth is, and its importance...

    Let's see, my first guitar teacher, Sean Halley wanted me to learn the circle of 5ths 18 years ago....I couldn't grasp it then as an 11 year old. He is an associate and friend of Scott Henderson and Michael Landau now...maybe it's my time to grasp this concept.

    Any help from TGP land?
     
  5. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    Have a look here:

    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=358534

    IMO, just randomly learning shapes is going to lead to a lot of frustration.



    The cycle of 5ths is a little different from this I think. I can't speak for Rapmaster, but this is the way I look at it- if this is the root:

    1)
    2)
    3)
    4)
    5)5
    6)

    And this is a 5th up from that:

    1)
    2)
    3)
    4)7
    5)
    6)

    Then it's easy to know this:

    1)
    2)
    3)
    4)5
    5)
    6)


    ...is a 4th, and this:

    1)
    2)
    3)
    4)9
    5)
    6)

    ...is a 6th, etc. IMO, because of the way the guitar fretboard lays out it can be very helpfull to think in terms of octave shapes, and the 5th always falls naturally in those shapes. Also the 5th is a nice point at which to split an octave- it's just a good way to look at the guitar.
     
  6. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Three notes per string, through all seven "inversions". When I was a teenager an older player I met told me that was a good thing to do and it made sense...I couldn't find any books that detailed it so I wrote them all out on my own.

    The first formal lessons I took were classical lessons in my late teens and I learned the Segovia scale fingerings.

    I never learned CAGED until I started teaching at GIT and had to teach it as part of the curriculum - I still prefer my way*, but I've seen CAGED work, so I don't dismiss it at all.


    *Which is of course not 'mine' in the possessive sense, and is much more brilliantly and exhaustively explored in Mick Goodrick's "The Advancing Guitarist"
     
  7. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    Patterns/shapes are great. CAGED Chords, blues boxex, etc.
    The guitar is geographical by nature thus lending itself to "shapes".
    Something that does not really exist in other instruments such as
    woodwinds or even piano.

    The guitar is based in multiplication unlike the piano that is based in
    addition.

    But this must be balanced with a clear understanding the functions
    of the chord/scales, how do they get used??

    And all that must be forgotten and you just need to play by intuition/ear.

    Miles quoted Parker saying "Learn it and forget it".
    Parker explained in great detail but Miles alway new how
    to get right to the point.
     
  8. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    That CAGED thing is a great example of Miles "learn it and forget it"

    The CAGED Chords need to be a "behind the scenes" player.

    IT DOES NOT MAKE MUSIC, so many think that and say it
    Dumbs down theory and even music making.
    And I say, no way, not if you're using it correctly.

    Anyway, you brought up CAGED, I thought I'd add to it. :)
     
  9. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    to add, for the community,

    Those "three notes per string" and "seven inversions"
    are really only three physical "shapes" you would play on
    one string and then played in a pattern across the neck.
    these are the only shapes.

    |---3--5--7--|-3--5--6--|-3--4--6-|

    I'm only talking about the major scale

    The three note thing has really opened up for me lately
    much thanks to SOS.


    .
     
  10. JohnM

    JohnM Member

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    I took a pretty linear approach to learning scales once I really figured out what was going on in my playing. Sorry if this gets rambling...
    I think one of the worst things you can do is endless practice of the stock scale patterns (usually 2 and 3 note-per-string 'block' patterns) because if you practice them and think of them only in that way, when it comes time to use them musically, you're going to revert to those 'scaly' sounding patterns you practiced.
    They work fine for illustrating a scale's structure and interval pattern, but as far as endlessly running up and down them thinking you're 'learning' scales, I'm not so sure. You are creating muscle memory also, which you need to associate with a tonality, so when you are faced with a certain chord or chord progression to play over, you need to know how to make music, not just run the scale pattern. This is the biggest problem for players learning this stuff - How to go from notes to music.
    All a scale is in the simplest sense is a sequence of half steps and whole steps (sometimes 3 steps, etc..) but the most important thing to know is how those notes relate to the root or base tonality.
    For diatonic scales, I compare every scale to a major or nat. minor scale, whichever is closest in structure. Diminished, augmented, pentatonic, etc... are even easier, because they often have fewer notes and more stark tonal differences.
    I'm not saying don't learn the box patterns at all, because you need to 'know' them...but as far as practicing, I see people all the time spending way too much time running up and down them , wasting what could have been more productive practice. Sure, you might gain dexterity, but there are other ways to do that, and there is a ceiling you will eventually hit there. Learn the boxes, understand them, then move on.
    Once you are familiar with a scale's characteristic sound, find a song or chord progression that it works over, and learn/steal/transcribe/create licks and melodies that use the scale, then practice them in different positions, etc... Even playing scales on one or two strings at a time is a great way to learn them.
    You'll notice that most cool sounding licks or melodies are not long strings of scalular notes in one direction...so why train your fingers and brain to do that?
     
  11. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    I'm surprised nobody answered this. Perhaps you should ask it again it a new thread, perhaps with different wording.

    The Circle of Fifths is indeed a progression of 5th intervals in one direction, but it's also the Circle of Fourths in the other direction.

    Many, many songs have I-IV-V chord progressions. The significance of why songs move up and down in 4ths and 5ths can be partially explained by learning major scale harmony. 4ths and 5ths are heavily relied upon by bass players to add harmonic movement to a song instead of just plunking the root note in 8th notes all the time.

    Major scale harmony I think has been covered in this forum, by those who can explain it better than myself. If you can't find info on it by forum search, there are numerous online resources for learning it.
     
  12. gennation

    gennation Member

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    I learned scales in MANY block forms and create my own in the process by understanding they were all the same notes. So, I looked at "the vertical/position" of a scale but also "the horizontal/length" of the scale.

    So, as I learned and memorized the same I looked at it as "all the notes of the scale".

    But the more learned about music I learned these these aren't "ALL the notes you want to use" but that all of them are "all the notes you MIGHT want to use".

    So, from that point on I learned a lot more about how those scales work musically as opposed to physically.
     
  13. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    I'd like to add that the "3 note per string major scale pattern" follows the
    diatonic circle of 4ths.

    this is the first note of the 3 note pattern on each string
    It follows the Diatonic circle of 4ths
    -I'm leaving out the high E string so the 4ths will flow.

    G major
    |--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
    |-----------5---------7---------8---------10-------------12-------------13-------------15----|
    |---------4---------5---------7---------9-------------11-------------12-------------14-------|
    |-------4---------5---------7---------9------------10-------------12-------------14----------|
    |-----3---------5---------7---------9-----------10-------------12-------------14-------------|
    |---3---------5---------7---------8----------10-------------12-------------14-------------15-|
     
  14. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    I like the 3 note per string patterns, but have found lately that what works best for applying them is to play the patterns, but alternate between playing the chords that relate to the scale, and the patterns themselves. So, say I'm working with G maj with a root on the 6th string, I'll play a Gmaj chord (or maj 7, or whatever I might sub for the I chord), and work the patterns from there. this forces me across two of the 3-note per string scale 'shapes', and helps to prevent pure position playing. This helps to relate the scales to the chords.

    Another thing is to sing the scales...this helps you internalize the sound of the intervals in succession. Getting familiar with the 'sound' of the scale is as important as getting familiar with the shape (some would say that its more important).

    Cheers

    Kris
     
  15. Mike T

    Mike T Member

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    I was pretty much an ear player for 8 years or so before I seriously studied, and I don't know what I was using, but I was playing a lot. Once I went to Berklee back in '75 I learned some of Leavitt's method for position playing. There were 5 main "boxes" that I would go through the cycle of 5ths within a six fret span and move up a fret after going through the five patterns till I went up the whole neck. I'd do this with major, mm, hm, and some of the modes. Also with arpeggios and scales in intervals and triads and seventh chords. Mick Goodrick's idea, at least that is where I got it from, of playing on one string at a time opened my ears up and allowed me to tie these boxes together horizontally, or east/west as Pat Martino would say, on the neck, and let my ear take over and pretty much forget about boxes.
     
  16. rotren

    rotren Member

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    I learned scales by memorizing them. Play them over and over until they stick. Is there really any other way?
     
  17. Lammy

    Lammy Member

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    Your hands need to be intimately familiar with these patterns. Metronome+Scales. It takes time to absorb the physical information, as well as learning and understanding the theoretical information. Shed those scales.
     
  18. guitardr

    guitardr Silver Supporting Member

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    My first great teacher at Jack Cecchini's in Chicago.
    Followed closely by a great article in GP by Arnie Berle: as seen on a fretboard diagram, written on a clef, and corresponded to a relative chord.
    Then I got mentally tangled seeing Tal Farlow play....
    Oh well, back to the drawing board.
     
  19. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    This just gets you good at playing the scale up and down.

    You have to do other things to use the scale for writing songs, soloing...
     
  20. rotren

    rotren Member

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    GovernorSilver, I should have expanded my thoughts. I learned the scales by memorizing them, but l also learned how to use them. That is of course a must if a person intends to do anything useful with this knowledge of scales. I also did not mean that playing scales fast up and down is what you should do. Play them in as many different ways you can, make melodies out them, play them slow, fast, at different tempos and meters, use them to build phrases, learn them well and let them be your friends.

    Scales are to me not an isolated thing. I use chords, arpeggios, triads, intervals, etc - these things make up the "skeleton" we use to try and analyze and understand music. I also learned these things mentioned at about the same time. Once I understood intervals, I started understanding scales better, then I could build more inverted chords, etc, so I practiced (and still do) all these things together.

    It all comes together and ultimately, I hope we all want to create is music. I think scales and theory are ingredients that give us more room to express ourselves musically. I view this as our musical vocabulary. All this stuff doesn't necessarily translate into a good player though. There are plenty of blues legends who could play some of the best blues on the planet, yet they didn't have hardly any knowledge of scales and theoretic concepts. My point is we need both - the foundations of musical education, plus lots of ear training, transcribing and jamming with good musicians.

    Still, I maintain that it is a must to memorize a lot of things when we play the guitar. I don't have time to think when I need to improvise over II V I for example. I need to know which notes I can play over these chords, and most of that comes from memorizing scales and intervals that I know will sound okay over such a progression.

    Hope I made myself somewhat clearer... sorry for the rant and beyond-the-topic ramblings... :)
     

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