1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

chords and scales

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by Brahim, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. Brahim


    Apr 9, 2004
    I am starting to learn diffrent chords and scales. I know what they're made out of and how i can figure it out . But why is the Do major scale made out of a Mi, a Sol and a Si? Is it because they sound good together ? Is there a scientific reason of why a major chord is made out of a major and a minor interval and why they sound good together?
  2. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    The Major scale is the name of a particular sounding scale that is the result of western minds and ears creating music over a period of time in history. There were not a bunch of scientists who got together and forumlated a scale to create a particular feeling. All of the "rules" that you will learn about scales and chords are simply interesting facts about how to describe something that already existed before the "writers down of" or the "describers of" type of people came along.

    From another post I wrote:

    The major scale formula is wwhwwwh, as shown below for an example c major scale:

    c d e f g a b c


    W is a whole note step

    H is a half note step

    H, half note is one fret

    W, whole note is two half steps or two frets

    Look at the piano keyboard, and see that there are not any black keys between the e and the f, or between the b and the c, because there is only one half step between those notes. So if you start a major scale on any other note, you end up with a mixture of white and black keys, but you use the same wwhwwwh formula to get the same do re mi fa so la ti do sound.

  3. Brahim


    Apr 9, 2004
    I know what a scale is made out of what i wanted to know is for exemple why is there half a step betwen the Mi and the Fa and not the Do and the Re. Why did musician make up those rules in the first place. Why not keep things simple and make all the note intervalls full steps?
    I also wanted to know what frequency do the open strings vibrate to?
  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Musicians didn't make up the rules. They codified what was already being done. It was a way to explain the music that people were making. The major scale, for example, is unique to western harmony. In other cultures, ithe major scale sounds as odd as their scales sound to us.

  5. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    It is a cultural thing
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes, it's a shame that Japanese classical music, for example, is dying out - as young people in Japan hear so much Western music that it makes their own ethnic music sound very weird and dissonant by comparison! :(
  7. suicas


    Mar 12, 2004
    Just out of interest, does this music still consist of whole and half tone scales, or does it use something altogether different?
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The main difference is that Japanese music uses "Just Temperament" as opposed the Western "Equal Temperament" and they don't have the same ideas of harmony and rhythm - here's an extract from encyclopedia.com :

    "The Japanese use two basic types of scale, both pentatonic. The first, used in sacred music and common to all of East Asia, has two modes— ryo, the male mode, and ritsu, the female mode. The more frequently used scale, found also in Indonesia and S India, emphasizes semitones and exists in three modes, all used freely within the same composition— hirajoshi, the most important, roughly represented on the piano by the series ABCEFA; kumoijoshi, second in importance, approximated by EFABCE; and iwato, approximated by BCEFAB.

    Japanese music is of uneven phrase length, and the fourth is a particularly important interval. Ornamentation depends on the type and purpose of the piece. The rhythm is almost invariably in duple meter, with ternary or irregular passages occurring rarely. However, the independent drum rhythms, when these are present, tend to obscure the basic beat to Western ears. The music is primarily monophonic, although heterophony occurs in orchestral music and in pieces for voice and koto."
  9. Mel Monihan

    Mel Monihan

    Mar 30, 2004
    And most importantly of all..How else would they have done "The Sound Of Music"
    Truck the scales, learn your chords and how they work,it's much easier and faster (and your playing will sound much better).
  10. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    If you don't know what scales to play over a particular chord, you are stuck playing roots or arpeggios. This only makes your playing predictable and possily boring. There is no excuse for not learning the appropriate chord scales and modes.

    Each technique, each theoretical concept that you learn is a "tool" in your musical toolbox. If you "Truck the scales" it is like using a hammer to drive a screw.

  11. This link has a fairly complete history of the tempered scale that we use, from Greeks, to Mideval times, to the Renaissance, etc:

    I'm not sure if I got it from that link, but I do know the diatonic scale that we use (WWHWWWH) derives from the notes in the I, IV, and V chords. In church music, these chords form the most common sequence, also called a cadence. In the key of C, these would be the C, F, and G triads.

    If you take the 3 notes in each of these triads, they form the 7 different notes of the diatonic scale. Do!
  12. megiddo


    Apr 5, 2003
    Houston, Texas
    I'm still a newbie, so please forgive my ignorance, but what do you mean when when you say do / don't "truck the scales"? I haven't run across that term yet. ???
  13. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I believe that the orignial poster of that phrase "truck the scales" was advising that we "disregard learning and practicing scales". Using the term "truck" to mean "dispose of".

    When we have the opportunity to create original musical lines, we basically play what we practice. Many less experienced musicians just run scales up and down when they are first trying to create original musical lines. Because of this, some experienced musicians recommend that we do not learn or practice scales.

    But, just as "real music" is not just scales, it is not just chord tones either. You need a balance of practicing scales, intervals, arpeggios, and musical lines created by others so the original lines you create will sound like real music. If you look carefully at any simple melody, or even complex improvised solos, you will find small scale runs, intervals, chord tones, and arpeggios.

    So, lets take this the next step. Not only do beginning players often run up and down the scale, they remain fixed on thinking about the KEY instead of the CHORDS. Many books and teachers even teach how to look at a series of chords and determine the one KEY that all the chords share, and then teach that you can just run up and down that KEY scale all day long. You can do this and avoid playing wrong notes, but you will not be doing what the great players of the past did when they created their original improvised lines or what the great writers of the past did when they created great melodies.

    Take some time going through some song books that have melodies and chords. Look at the melody notes and determine if those notes are in the chord for that measure. Where the melody notes are chord tones, write the chord tone numbers above those melody notes. You will quickly find that there are places in each measure where the melody uses chord tones in a way that is not random. In a way that a beginner just blowing through the key scale would never have played.

    In the following lyrics: [i have Often walked, down this Street before, but the Pavement always Stayed beneath my Feet before, all at Once am i, several Stories high...] you will notice that I have put a capital letter in very very very strong places where I would expect important chord tones to be in the melody. If I was playing that song in "chord melody" style, I would play single note lines for all of the other words, and chords where the capital letters are, with the chord inverted in a manner that would provide the melody note as the higest note in the chord. We say, the melody note "on top".

    You need to think about this and listen for this so it gets into your ears as you listen to music. You also need to think about the difference in creating bass lines where you have a supporting role, and creating improvised melody lines where you are playing an improvised solo.

  14. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    Hey, a truck scale: