# How long did it take you to learn just the major scales in every key?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by StrudelBass, Jul 15, 2003.

1. ### StrudelBass

Jul 6, 2002
California
I'd like to know because for me it seems like eternity for me to just learn the major scales in all 12 keys.

2. ### BIg O

Apr 3, 2002
Go to Pacman's practice method thread. This exercise will help tremendously in your understanding the patterns of each scale type, and make learning each scale in every key as simple as like learning in just one key (more or less...).

Pacman's practice method

3. ### Ba Gua Tiger

The easiest way (In my opinion) is to learn where the notes are. I am bad at explaining things so here this is what I mean

major scale in A

start on the 5th of the E string go down a whole step (two frets) to the seventh
go to the 4th on the A string, 5th, 7th
4th on the D, 6th, 7th

major scale in G

3rd on E, 5th, 2nd on A, 3rd, 5th, 2nd on D, 4th, 5th
get the pattern?
...if not then figure it out and that is how you learn where it is then just figure out what the notes are.

4. ### Bryan R. TylerTalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002Staff MemberAdministratorGold Supporting Member

May 3, 2002
Connecticut
Wow, I must have been doin' it wrong all these years. I've been playing in 12 keys....did G# go the way of the dodo and nobody told me?

The major scale can be played in a couple easy patterns, and changing the key doesn't change those patterns.

5. ### StrudelBass

Jul 6, 2002
California
I've been using Pacman's method. It works well.

I know theres a pattern but still, I'd like to remember every note within each key, not some pattern.

P.S. Oops you're right, 12.

6. ### Bassman_Spike

I didnt take me long to learn 1 octave and im learning 2nd octave now, i didnt find it hard becuase i used the same fingering patterns for each scale

I good way to practised is around the circle of 4th or 5ths.

7. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
Difficult to say. For me, the whole thing of learning keys/scales has happened over a period of years (and continues to happen, of course), just through playing and listening.

8. ### Bruce LindfieldUnprofessional TalkBass ContributorGold Supporting Member

I was going to say this - most of the Jazz players I've talked to as teachers, say you never stop learning about this and they are constantly discovering things that come out of the major scales - you never stop learning!!

I think the original question is evidence of a basic misunderstanding as well :

So it's not just like you learn a scale and that's it - that's just the beginning!

It's how you apply that knowledge to your playing, writing, improvising etc. - how you use those scales in musical contexts that is the hard part and which can take a lifetime of learning.

9. ### StrudelBass

Jul 6, 2002
California
I understand this Bruce, but I would really like to actually move on past major scales. I figure I can't start moving onto other scales unless I can actually conquer the major scales first.

Like say I want to learn the basic minor scale. That would involve flattening the 3rd of the major scale. So there you go, I'd have to learn a major scale before I can apply other rules to get other scales, right?

10. ### Bruce LindfieldUnprofessional TalkBass ContributorGold Supporting Member

Well that's my point - you never 'conquer' a scale - which is a good thing or Jazz improvisers would get very bored very quickly!!

It's not what you know, it's what you do with it!!

Just because a person can recite the alphabet, doesn't make them a good writer!

11. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
No. The major scale doesn't (necessarily) act as a parent scale for all other scales. You don't have to learn the major scales in order to learn the minors.

12. ### Howard K

Feb 14, 2002
UK
Well I only started learning theory about 1.5 years ago, buit i've been playing bass for much, much longer, so i can relate easily to your situation.

i'd say it took me a few months to learn the major scale in every key enough to be able to play it... but that's only because it uses the same pattern of intervals up & down the neck!

i still dont know all the notes in every key off the top of my head.. however i could figure them out quickly using my (basic) understanding of the circle of 5ths and of how scales are formed

As Bruce said you'll never know all there is to know about the major scale, or any scale for that metter. hopefully you'll just understand it better and better as you move on.

13. ### Mandobass

Nov 12, 2002
Raleigh, NC
hear the scales in terms of intervals between notes, and then it won't matter what key you're playing in.

14. ### brianrostGold Supporting Member

Apr 26, 2000
Boston, Taxachusetts
If you understand how the major scale is built (whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, half step) and you understand sharps and flats you can literally learn the names to the notes in all 12 major scales in a few minutes. If you use movable patterns with no open strings, you can learn to play any major scale in a few more minutes.

Being able to recall them and use them takes (a lot) longer but the mechanics are very simple.

15. ### Howard K

Feb 14, 2002
UK
Hmm

I know TTSTTTS like I know my mom

I also understand sharps and flats.

...but I dont think you can really say that thsi means you can learn all the notes of the major scale in a all twelve keys 'in minutes'! A slight exageration me thinks?

How would you approach learning this then?

I took the root of learning the circle of 5ths
C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G
then understanding that one flat is added every time you move down a 5th the circle and that the falt added is the next one in the circle, so
F has one flat, Bb: F G A Bb C D E
Bb has two flats, Bb,Eb: Bb C D Eb F G A
Eb has three flats, Bb,Eb,Ab: Eb F G Ab Bb C D

etc etc...

but I still dont know all the major scale notes in all twelve keys!

is there a pattern for the sharp keys I dont know about?

16. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
Well it goes the opposite way round the cycle.

G has 1 sharp, D has 2, A has 3, E has 4 etc.

17. ### Howard K

Feb 14, 2002
UK
Ah, what sharps then?

18. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
The order of the sharps is F C G D A E B. Which, as you'll notice is the reverse order of the flats.

So, the flat key signatures go:

Code:
```Bb                    (F Major/D Minor)
Bb Eb                 (Bb Major/G Minor)
Bb Eb Ab              (Eb Major/C Minor)
Bb Eb Ab Db           (Ab Major/F Minor)
Bb Eb Ab Db Gb        (Db Major/Bb Minor)
Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb     (Gb Major/Eb Minor)
Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb  (Cb Major/Ab Minor)
```
And the sharp key signatures go:

Code:
```F#                    (G Major/E Minor)
F# C#                 (D Major/B Minor)
F# C# G#              (A Major/F# Minor)
F# C# G# D#           (E Major/C# Minor)
F# C# G# D# A#        (B Major/G# Minor)
F# C# G# D# A# E#     (F# Major/D# Minor)
F# C# G# D# A# E# B#  (C# Major/A# Minor)
```

19. ### Howard K

Feb 14, 2002
UK
Now THAT is clever!

20. ### wulf

Apr 11, 2002
Oxford, UK
If you get a grip on various patterns, you can figure out the answers even where you don't always have them on the tip of your tongue... and then, the more you apply that knowledge, the quicker you'll reach the anwers.

For example, by learning a fingering pattern for playing a major scale over one octave, and knowing the names of the notes up and down the neck (or even enough reference points to figure them out). So, even if I can't name the third note of B major as being D# off the top of my head, I can visualise '1st finger, 6th fret, A string... Eb / D#... sharp key, so D#'.

Wulf