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Do you know the C scale?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Fergie Fulton, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Do you know the C scale?

    A simple enough question but a mis-leading one it seems.
    A lot of players can play the C scale but it seems a lot of players don't know it.

    I gave an impromt clinc on it to some bass player students while in a music workshop. It seems if you ask players who know the C scale to identify notes and intervals within it... they can't. They can play it and play it fast with great techniques,they can improvise over it and other scales and keys....... but the don't know it.

    Has scale study nowadays become just about going up and down the neck to give the fingers something to do and see how fast you can become?

    I was taught to play scales slowly and HEAR the notes, HEAR the intervals, HEAR the triads, HEAR the arpeggios.
    I can now see why some people on TB put the point that scales are a waste of time. If played like that then yes, they're just finger exercises and have as much value as any good finger exercise.
    I believe in them, because when taught properly,they will train the ear as well as the hand.

    So if someone says they know the C scale, and can't identify intervals within it, i would assume that is the case for all the scales they "know".

    Are they in some way being cheated of information or is this now the norm?
  2. bigbassman8342


    Apr 4, 2009
    i know i sound stupid and uninformed but whats an interval? I probably know it but by another name.
    I learned all my notes and scales playing stand up and had to be able to quote the note in each scale and tell how many sharps or flats and so much other stuff because I learned in middle/high school but i never actually learned to listen and hear the music just read it and play it and it's killin me now. Now i'm starting to try to learn how to play by ear and it's hard but i'm learning to just play what feels and sounds good (a duh move right). It's just hard to find where it sounds good.
    but to answer your question it's probably the new norm my brother learned from a bass guitar teacher and he can't tell you a note just where the scale is played on the finger board.
  3. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Scales are never a waste of time if you really want to play bass, and not just be the human jukebox.

    However, I don't think they're for everyone either. Some people can play simply by ear with no training in scales at all, they don't need it.

    Different strokes for different folks, it just depends on what you want to do with the bass.
  4. Don't need it? Who doesn't need more fretboard identification?:confused:

    Even the best players alive today would more than likely say they need to improve on their fretwork.:eyebrow::meh::)
  5. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    To me "knowing" a scale means that I know how it's constructed, the intervals in it, I can spell it in any key, I know what it sounds like, and I can physically play it.

  6. Mikio


    Feb 21, 2009
    Santiago de Chile
    well, people just doesn't care about being a serious Musician anymore [well, most people not all], so they just "play" and don't really care about what they're playing, in a way... I used to be like that, but I decided to study Music and I listen to music and understand it very differently now, everybody should learn things the propper way
  7. crayzee


    Feb 12, 2009
    Mississauga, ON
    While my theory isn't as good as it used to be, in high school we did a lot of interval training. I played percussion at the time but I still took it seriously. It paid off later on when I switched to the tuba and also with the bass.
  8. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I didn't say anything about notes on the board. I said scales.
  9. derekd


    Feb 16, 2009
    An interval is the space between 2 notes. So from C to E is a major 3rd, from C to A is a major 6th, etc. Guys can certainly play by ear, no problem, but with the HUGE amount of information readily available, it seems a bit self limiting imo.

    Optimally, we would do some reading up on theory so we know how it all works together, learn the fretboard so we have command of the instrument, and play a ton to work on our ears and tie all the above together.
  10. Oric


    Feb 19, 2008
    Lexington, Kentucky
    For me knowing a scale means being able to sing the scale when given the root note (within your vocal range, of course). I hardly play scale exercises anymore without singing along.
  11. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    I think you're saying that players should know not only which notes are in the scale (identified by a fretboard pattern) but should know what notes they are playing and why
  12. bigbassman8342


    Apr 4, 2009
    thanks. i've seen videos where ppl where jabbering on and on about major 3rd and minor 3rd and that sort of thing but never really understood them. But now it seems so simple idk why i couldn't figure it out myself.
  13. wildhorse


    Mar 15, 2009
    C scale is easy... C D E F G A B C or whole step whole step half step whole step whole step whole step half step. But now ask me to name the other keys off the top of my head and I'd have to stop and think. Playing scales even if you don't know the info you asked is a great way to improvise lead lines and bass runs. Knowing the scales as triads and appegios certainly helps a guitar player with chords and jazz chops but for simple bass? It is not now the norm, it's been the norm ever since someone picked up an instrument and learned it by ear. I wouldn't look down on others just because they don't have the knowledge of theory that another may have. Some of the greatest musicians in the world don't have much of a clue about theory. Does it help, sure sometimes but it can take away from the soul of music for some. Are you selling a theory course?
  14. I used to make make students sing the notes with the scales (C - D - E - etc ), sing the step interval between them (root - whole - whole - half - etc), and then sing the relative pitch (root - second - major third - etc).
  15. If you'd said you were talking to a group of school music students and they couldn't name the notes of a C scale (major or minor), I'd be concerned.

    But I could easily swipe my hand through a crowd of "typical rock 'n roll guitar/bass players" (ones who didn't go through a typical school instrumental music program) - I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find the same level of music illiteracy.

    Comparably, I believe "rockers" have a higher incidence of 'music illiteracy' than "jazzers" or "classical players" simply because a higher percentage will have come to play their particular instrument without the benefit of any sort of formal instruction.

    In other words, you're more likely to find a guy with an electric guitar who decided, "Hey, I wanna ROCK!" and taught themselves than you will a tuba, clarinet, flute or other (typically) non-rock instrument who would have more than likely gotten a formal music education.
  16. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    I disagree with that as anyone who plays for a decent amount of time and cares enough to make themselves and good player has paid enough attention to get "a clue" about theory

    to say you don't need to arpeggios for "simple bass" is an insult to bass players. All decent basslines are based on arpeggios whether the player knows it or not.
  17. Audiophage


    Jan 9, 2005
    A lot of musicians these days think they can get by being completely ignorant to theory. To me that's like talking without knowing what words mean.
  18. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    You are referring to what's commonly called the C major scale, yes?
  19. More like being able to speak a language but not being able to diagram a sentence.

    You'll get along in 'lay-life' just fine - even thrive - but if you want to "go pro" (where you may be called upon to actually name the note/chords your using), you'll more than likely fall short.

    We all learned to speak before we learned to write (well, most of us, I assume). Only a few of us actually went on to embrace learning the fundamentals of grammar. While most of us can put together a well-formed sentence, less of us will be able to break it down and identify it's grammatical components.

    This certainly doesn't prevent any of us from communicating rather effectively, however. But if you want to become an language teacher or edit a newspaper, you'd better have a little more than a passing ability to speak the language.
  20. Fergie-
    Just look directly to the left of your post at the ad for the PCA. There's your answer.

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