How do I learn all 12 major scales.
For various reasons I have decided it would be useful if I were to learn, off by heart, all major scales.
Ultimately I want:-
- to be able to form a mental picture of each scale
- to know instantly the letter name of each note in the scale
- to know instantly the number of each note in the scale
- to play sequences of notes when given the numbers
I'm willing and able to put in the time and effort but what I'm looking for is tips tricks and techniques.
One method of learning your scales is to play every scale starting with the lowest note in that scale on your bass all the way up to the highest note on your bass. For example, if you want to learn the C-major scale, you'd start with your open E string. This forces you to think of the scales outside of normal patters ("start with this finger on this fret, etc..."). Do this in whole, half, quarter, eighth, triplet, sixteenth note subdivisions. Sing the scales, sing the arpeggios within the scales, play the arpeggios, play the scales in 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, octaves, sing the scales in 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, octaves, etc...
There's so many ways to play scales and still make music out of them - have fun.
Learning scales on their own is only half of the story. Learn to harmonise the major scale. This is one of the most important things IMO.
Learn how chord tones are derived from scales and why some chords are minor, some major, diminished etc.
All major scales have the same structure, i.e. whole tone to half tone. So once you have the WWHWWWH thing down it's pretty simple after that. I use the major scale box pattern and let the pattern place the correct notes under my fingers. But, first let's see how the notes develop. Seeing all this on one screen for some reason is hard to find. Seeing it all together on one page helped me.
That little exercise works on any major scale.
The mental picture of any major scale is the major scale box pattern.
Major Scale Box.
G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
Place the box's R on the name note of the chord or scale and then play the spelling of the chord or scale, for example: Cmaj7 chord; find a C on the 3rd or 4th string place the R over that C note then play the spelling for the Cmaj7 chord, i.e. R-3-5-7.
From any note where is that note's 3? Its always up a string and back a fret. Where is the 5? The 5 is up a string and over two frets OR down a string same fret. Get where all eight of the notes can be found, it will do wonders for your playing.
Now to your question to know the number of the notes in the scale. We use Arabic numbers for notes and Roman numbers for chords. So the notes in the C major scale are:
1-2-3-4-5-.6-7-8See how that fits into the major scale box pattern above.
Roman numbers for Chords:
I...ii.....iii....IV.V....vi..vii...... IYour question about being able to play sequences of notes if given the numbers -- I think the above answers that. Let's see:
I think that gets everything you asked, if not let us know someone will jump on it.
Brilliant. Thank you all. Comprehensive and concise. Many thanks.
I get the 'formulas' but up until now have understood and played scales by fretboard patterns and the sound they make - it's just that I've not got the mechanics "off pat".
For example, if someone was to say to me what's the fifth note in the scale of D major? or what number is the note of E in the scale of B major? I want to be able to instantly come up with the right answer. At the moment I can work it out (eventually) but find myself doing the same mental and physical calculations each time. (In other words, I don't remember).
That's why I am seeking 'tricks and techniques' or drills -call it what you will, exactly like as MalcolmAmos' memory pegs, but yes maybe it's just down to developing a more agile brain and keeping at it.
Need the 6th note in the C scale. Nothing wrong with counting on your fingers. Later on you will just know that the 6th note in the C scale is the A.
Like I know the F is the 4th note and the G is the 5th. It'll all come this is a journey we are on............
There are more... I think.
A good way to pratice scales....
Play the 1 note to the 4 note then go back to the 2 note and play the next 4. If we where playing in "C" it would go like this
and so on.
There is basicaly only about 3 finger patterns that make up all the major scales. Playing the exercise I showed you will get you confortable with all of them.
Learn it once then move it around as necessary. That ^ diagram is E Major scale - 3 notes per string - and all her inversions. If you want to play G Major move the 1st pattern up to the 3rd fret. Let's not over complicate things. The more you practice this the more the fretboard opens up and the more you will 'see' it the way you described.
If you need an explanation beyond the obvious feel free...
may I suggest that after you get comfortable with all the major scales that you practice the relative minor scale of each major scale? And continue to practice them in the cycle of 5ths.
Good post! I call this the "Master Pattern" and have been teaching it to guitar students for many years. Because it not only works for the major (Ionian) scale in ANY key (if you move it up or down the neck), but also for the minor (Aeolian) scale and all the rest of the modes. It's enabled me to envision the entire fretboard for improvising in any key and mode and truly sets you free. Why think of scales and keys as each one being different, when you can envision ONE master pattern (with seven sub-patterns or boxes) and just slide it up and down the neck to change keys and modes.?
Here's my diagram of the Master Modal Pattern and each member box (just subtract the top two strings for bass of course). To change keys/modes, just slide the whole pattern to the left or right. For instance, to get A Major, just move everything to the right two frets.
*** My apologies for this being on six strings. I haven't done one of these up for bass yet. ***
As a followup to my post above, if you look you can see that scales/modes are just a series of whole and half steps. If we base them off of the major scale, we see that the major scale is this series of steps (W=whole, H=half): W W H / W / W W H. I separated the "W W H" on each side with a / to show what are called "tetra-chords". If we look at the Dorian mode, we see it to be: W H W / W / W H W. So it's tetra-chord is W H W. And so on.
Nicely put, Red.
I'm all for being as lazy err... efficient as possible as far as having to memorize junk. Hence my diagram. Learn that and by default you'll know all 12 major and minor scales, the dom7, etc. Learning staff will be much easier as well because you'll be able to wrap your head around it with the visualization of patterns.
For the new guys, music theory is not a bottomless pit. There is a finite amount of stuff to learn and one can make a career out of knowing not much more than a couple patterns if desired.
Wow. Lots to digest. I liken my musical journey to looking through a fence - sometimes you see it and sometimes you don't. Other times you get just a tantalising glimpse. Thanks for the glimpses, can't wait to get home tonight and pick up my bass.
For example, if someone was to say to me what's the fifth note in the scale of D major? or what number is the note of E in the scale of B major?
This where the symmetry of the bass finger board is very handy. Once you can visualize your entire fingerboard, this is an easy exercise.
The fifth note a major scale is either up one string and up two frets, or down one string same fret. For example, take the D on the fifth fret of the A string. The fifth note is on the seventh fret of the D string or the fifth fret of the E string. Both are A notes, so when someone asks "what's the fifth note in the scale of D major," you visualize and say "A."
The process works in reverse. For example, take the B on the second fret of the A string, and then consider nearby E notes, which are on the second fret of the D string and the open E. Up one string (same fret) and down one string, down two frets are always the fourth note. So E is the fourth note of the B major scale.
Most people find it easier to think going up, but you should get familiar with up and down intervals. Also, remember that an interval and its inversion add to nine, so up a fifth is octave of down a fourth. Perfect stays perfect. Minor changes to major and vice versa. For example, up a major 6th is the octave of down a minor third.
EXACTLY what I was looking for and is what I meant In the OP by tricks and techniques. This approach is easy for my addled brain to cope with. I've learnt so much today from all the contributors - the penny is beginning to drop. A big thank you.
I played piano for about a decade before starting on bass/guitar ...
from my point of view ( 50 years on keys ) ... I think all the keys/scales are a bit easier to actually see on a keyboard ...! on fretted instruments , they're patterns ..
they don't look like that on the piano ... therefore , maybe that might help you visualize the notes better ..!?
then maybe it would help learning the basic natural Chords for each key ... in C ( the # I chord ), triad would be C E G ... so C=1 , E=3 , G=5 ... however you can visualize the notes of all the scales ... we all have our own methods to our madness ..!! and maybe the easiest way isn't the best way for you to remember things ..!?!?
getting the stuff into your head is One thing ,... being able to access that info quickly takes practice just like everything else ..!
I'm learning them as we "speak". Here's how I'm doing it, chewing down four at a time playing and saying the notes as I go.
Good luck, it's not that hard but it is a great idea to learn this as early as possible.
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