# Knowing the names of scale tones..

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Suckbird, May 21, 2005.

1. ### SuckbirdBanned

May 4, 2004
Sweden
I found out that some people say i should not know scales by patterns, so i'm supposed to be able to know the tones of the scales by thinking not by pattern?

I dont think i can memorize all the 7modes of a major scale and the
3different minor scales + blues scale and pentatonic and so on in all
12 different pitches by heart...

any tips how to remember? I learned the notes in a D and C major scale today =)

2. ### Tash

Feb 13, 2005
Bel Air Maryland
Practice.

Learn the patterns first, they come easier, but always try to relate them to notes. It will come in time and its far better to know all the notes that work in scale X than just knowing a certain pattern.

Another suggestion, it is easier for most people to learn scales according to the cycle of fifths rather than by going C, D, E, etc. The cycle of fifths relates scales in terms of the number of accidentals in the scale, and is the bassis of key signatures in written notation.

Basically you start at C, then move up one 5th for the next key center in the cycle: C-G-D-A-E-B-F-C#. Each time you move up you have 1 additional sharp. C has none, G has 1, D 2, etc.

Which notes are sharp? You can figure this out yourself very easily by simply creating the scale. A major scale is comprised of the following intervals: Whole step, Whole Step, Half Step, Whole Step, Whole Step, Whole Step, Half Step. For C major that gives you CDEGABC. For G major you get GABCDEF Sharp and G.

It may seem harder to do this way, but you have a much greater understanding of the different scales this way.

3. ### BoplicitySupporting Member

The reason you may have been told not to rely on patterns is that some players who do never know what notes they are playing or the names of the notes. They just play in a robotic fashion using the appropriate pattern for any situation, chord, scale or mode without a full understanding of what they have played.

There is really nothing wrong with patterns if they are not allowed to become a crutch and a substitute for thought. But even the modes do have patterns.

I don't know how long you have been playing, so I don't know how deeply engaged in music theory you have been. The advice given immediately above by Tash is excellent. I really began to undertsand keys much better once I had a grasp of the Circle of Fifths discussed by Tash and countless other times here at TalkBass over the years. (Do a search for complete information.)

There is another way besides patterns that helped me. By pattern, I mean and assume you mean a fingering pattern as played on the bass itself. But another thing that helped me was knowing the "formulas" of scales, modes and chords. Knowing that, you can figure out a pattern, even if you start a scale (chord, mode)at a different fret or string than usual.

Example: A major scale has the root, major second, major third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, major sixth and major seventh plus octave formula. The mixolydian mode has the root, major second, major third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, major sixth, flat seventh and octave. The only difference between these two scales is the flat seventh in the mixolydian and the major seventh in the major scale. Another way to think of this is that the mixolydian mode is just like the major scale except for the lowered seventh scale tone (flat 7), meaning the seventh scale tone has been lowered one half step.

Formulas really helped me a lot. Yes, there are many formulas, but you won't be playing ALL every day. You will probably be playing many of the same ones much of the time, so you will get used to them and with time learn more and more as you need them.

Another way to look at formulas is that they define the intervals between scale tones in any particular scale. Again intervals have been discussed here many times and I think formulas have, too. Use the TalkBass search function to find threads that explain these important concepts.

4. ### Tash

Feb 13, 2005
Bel Air Maryland
The important thing to remeber about all the info available here and on the web is not to be intimidated by the volume of it. There's a lot to learn, but you don't need to digest it all at once. Start in small chunks and practice, eventually a light clicks on and you just know whats going on. Then you move on to another chunk. The more pieces you know the faster that moment of understanding comes and the easier it is to learn new stuff.

Always try to learn new stuff.

5. ### Bruce LindfieldUnprofessional TalkBass ContributorGold Supporting MemberIn Memoriam

This is the thing - you need to get into the patterns of music!