Practicing scales - is there a fun way?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Big0range, Aug 18, 2006.

  1. Big0range

    Big0range Member

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    After years of playing, I have never been able to sit down and run scales. I find it one of the most mundane, boring, blah things to do with a guitar in my hands. Kinda like doing chores.:puh The result is I know several chops or licks that I've learned from different songs (because learning songs and solos is much more fun) that I can vary and manipulate to fit into what I'm playing, but don't have any real speed or consistency. I'm sure that had I spent a 1/2-hour a day practicing scales for the last couple of decades, playing Al DiMeola tunes would come naturally, but I've tried and can't stand it. Within a minute (literally, like 1 minute or less) I'm back to playing something instead of scaling.

    SO, has anyone out there found a fun yet productive way to practice scales?
     
  2. scottlr

    scottlr Member

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    Well, instead of going up then down, (I'm not gonna say this right) try doing 1, 2, 3, then 2, 3, 4, and so on, and sort of mix it up, but stay within the scale, but doing a pattern. Do 3 note patterns, then 4 note patterns, then do every other string, too. I hate working on scales, too. But it's like getting to know the roads in a town.
     
  3. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    A few ideas here...
    - Try skipping srings...say you have a 3 note per string scale pattern (my faves to work with), do 3 notes ascending on one string say the A string, then do 3 notes ascending on the G string. Then do 3 descending on the D string, etc....this kindof breaks down muscle memory and gets you solid on the patten of the scale itself.
    - Practice both legato and stacatto...
    - Play every 2nd note of the scale ascending and descending...then try every 3rd (now you're making arpeggios)
    -Play between scale positions...in the extreme you end up playing scales on one string only.
    -Play a chord that works over the scale/mode, the play a few notes of the scale, then back to the chord...try to find your standard chord shapes within the scale.
    -Pedal notes....every 2nd note you play is the root note of the scale, ascend, descend, then every 2nd note is the 2nd note of the scale, etc....
    -Move positions...run one position up and down, then move up 3 positions and do it again.
    -Harmonize the scale in 3rds and 4ths....

    Lots of ways to make it more interesting...but I don't think scales every truly become fun. I'm trying to work on all of the above...it's slow going though.

    Cheers,

    Kris
     
  4. scottlr

    scottlr Member

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    Yeah, that's the kind of stuff I was talking about. Mix it up. More fun, and you'll come up with some cool new licks, too!
     
  5. yZe

    yZe Senior Member

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    Here's a good one:
    say you have a seven note scale

    1-2-3-4-5-6-7

    Sart on the next note, then resolve to the one a scale tone BELOW it

    then go up to the next scale tone which is AFTER the one you originally started on and repeat the same pattern by resolving a scale tone in reverse

    do this on each scale tone:

    Ascending patterN:
    2-1/3-2/4-3/5-4/6-5/7-6/8-7/9-8

    descend:
    8-9/7-8/6-7, etc . . until 7-1
     
  6. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    A great, fresh way for me was to play two notes per string (instead of 3 or 4 like most people do). I got this idea from Mick Goodrich's "Advancing Guitarist" book. A C major scale would be:

    -----------------------------
    -----------------------------
    ---------------------4--5----
    ---------------5--7----------
    ---------7--8----------------
    -8--10-----------------------

    This really helped me open up the fretboard in a new way.

    Other ideas: Try to play each successive note on a different string, possibly using open strings, as well. Add octave displacement to every other note. You'll play the root, the ninth, the third, the eleventh, the fourth, the thirteenth, etc.

    I don't think practicing scales is much fun, but these ideas helped me think about the fingerboard in new ways.

    Hope that helps,
    Bryan
     
  7. MartinPiana

    MartinPiana Supporting Member

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    One I'm working on now, triplets(#s=scale tones): 312 423 534 645 etc. descending it goes 687 576 465 etc.... already copped some stuff of this pattern in a recent jam....

    Thanks for the other ideas here! After years of being a pentatonic punk, I'm sitting down and learning the fretboard and broadening my vocabulary. I'd really like to play more of the music I most enjoy listening too....
     
  8. Mullet Kingdom

    Mullet Kingdom Senior Member

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    Try playing the head of a Charlie Parker tune instead. You'll get a lot more out of it.
     
  9. anyone

    anyone Member

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    Another thing that might make it fun is to play all of the sequences with a metronome and log your progress. Kind of makes it a little competition with yourself. Other than that... Etudes can be kind of fun.
     
  10. Sub-D

    Sub-D Guest

    Kroepsch: 416 Progressive Daily Studies is a great clarinet book
    that is a wonderful for guitar as well, super melodic studies in all keys and
    the range of the clarinet makes you play these from one end of the neck to the other.....
    it is fairly inexpensive (maybe $10) It is standard notation, so
    keep that in mind. Great etudes to practice technique and scales in a
    very melodic classical way....
     
  11. Big0range

    Big0range Member

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    Eh... the jist I get it that there's not really a fun way unless you're playing some kind of tune (etudes, jazz runs). BUT, you guys are full of great ideas. I try to practice when I watch tv, just to get the muscle memory down, but I don't think I getting the technical benefit of the scales by doing that. That clarinet book sounds interesting, too - I can read music, but very sloooowwwwly, which should fit my scale playing!
     
  12. Mullet Kingdom

    Mullet Kingdom Senior Member

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    Ding ding ding!

    Practicing scales sucks! Play a tune instead. ;)
     
  13. gennation

    gennation Member

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    If you're looking for patterns, which it sounds like you are...and especially patterns that sound musical as opposed to scaley...

    Check out this Lydian Application tutorial I have at my site...

    http://lessons.mikedodge.com/lessons/Lydian/LydianTOC.htm

    It'll show you how to take all the modes "patterns" guitarist love to use and make them NOT sound like running scales up and down. You split them up into smaller scales ala Johnson, Vai, Mclaughlin, etc...Like "the scales within the scales". There's 3 parts to the tutorial. The fourth part can be found here:

    http://gennation.jconserv.net/viewtopic.php?t=9

    Those are a true example that less IS more.

    Here's another one where you strip out the common notes of a number of bigger Dominant sounding scales...so you can simulate a number of scales, the "Dominant" sound, using less notes.

    http://lessons.mikedodge.com/lessons/DomPent/DominantPentatonic.htm

    Mess with these and you'll see the fretboard COMPLETELY different and will enjoy running your scales...cause they won't 'sound' like scales, they'll have wider Intervals between the notes, allow for nice string skipping sounds, and they will feel "right" under your fingers.

    Enjoy!
     
  14. Big0range

    Big0range Member

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    Thanks for the link - I saw something you posted in another thread and bookmarked your page, but I haven't reviewed it yet.
    Thanks for the contribution! :AOK
     
  15. Swain

    Swain Member

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    Here's a fun way.

    Take a favorite lick, and find out what scale it is from. Then, learn to play that lick in every conceivable way.

    Say the lick starts on the A string, 7th. fret. You can play it along one string, then two. Then 3, 4, 5, or 6 strings. All starting from the A string, 7th. fret.
    Next, try starting at the same point, and play it using string skipping. Say, every other string.
    Then try it, with one of the notes transposed up, or down an octave. Do that with each note of the lick.

    Now, play the same lick, starting off of every E note. I say E, because that's the note I've been using as the example, so far. At each E note, put the lick through all of the previous processes.

    Now, play the lick starting on any E. When you finish, try to connect it to another E, and play it again. To connect it, you will have to use the scale that the lick originated from. Try using improvised connections. Also, try using connections with specific rhythmic subdevisions. Like triplets, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, etc. In these connections, you'll probably come up with some original ideas, too.

    Here's the important part, that makes it more fun, and musical. All of this should be played over the CD of your choice. Jam along with it. That way, you have to make it fit, in time. All of the "scale" connections, will be in "real time", so you'll be playing the scales. (Hopefully, in a musical way!) Not practicing them. I find that practicing scales this way, is a sure cure for stale "scale sounding" playing. Plus, since it's a lick you chose, you already know that you'll like it!

    I hope that if you try this method, this makes it more fun.
     

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