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!  

Learning scales

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by jostego, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    There. I fixed it.

    Also, yes.
  2. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    It's not an arpeggio at all, but it is desperately trying to resolve itself! ;)
  3. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Only regular chord tone arpeggios!
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Actually, metal is often classical-based, and scalar playing is more respected in classical. So I'd say if your metal's more classical influenced, that would be a good application for knowledge of scales.
  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Take some Bach, add a guitar, bit of sustain, bit of grease and you have......well listen to early Malmsteen Albums and you will hear what is what.



    And back to

    ......music is great, and as i say "its the same 12 notes for all".....its all how you are prepared to hear at them.;)

  6. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I see scale being used in many style of music and most of them are derived from classical ( which is my favorite ).

    In jazz arpeggio are more useful but I think that a mix of arpeggio and scale make a more interesting solo or improvisation especially when you use a Am7b5 arpeggio or scale over a Cm7 chord. Only using chord tone/arpeggio or only scale isn't good enough, it sure is a very good start but at one point you want to go somewhere else.

    Check that out by Adam Nitti

    And then you can go very over the top :p
  7. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    this is why I'm starting to think to go to the dark side and go with the guitar or another high pitched instrument since I play a lot of classical music on bass lately and it is hard to make it works on a multi voice piece like a Messiah
  8. bzytzo


    Jan 21, 2013
    Hi all! I just got a bass guitar so here I am.

    I haven't read all of this thread (yet) but I've read stuff in it about scale notes being better to outline the chord with than chord tones.

    How can this be true?

    Take a C major chord. The C major scale has an A, a D and an F in it, but using just those wouldn't outline a C major chord. Good for outlining D minor, though.

    The chord's tones outline the chord. Other notes of the scale can be used, and the chromatics between all of them, but they cannot outline the chord.

    Is this a dangerous first post?

    Back to the thread to find out :).
  9. bzytzo


    Jan 21, 2013
    What a crazy thread!!

    All this stuff about scales and chord tones and nothing I saw (apologies if I missed it in my quick skip through) mentioned.....


    That's what it's all about, not endless lists of major scale notes in C and D and whatever and endless debate about the best way of learning them.


    For Americans, the major scale step code is WWHWWWH (Wholestep/ Halfstep).

    For the British, it's TTSTTTS (Tone/Semitone).

    A Wholestep is two frets on guitar, as is a Tone. The rest is easy to figure out :).

    So you take any note as root and apply the step pattern to it. So for A major you get A B C# D E F# G# A. The chord tones are the odd-numbered notes and are used when playing arpeggios.

    Apply the step pattern to the fretboard by fingering major scale notes, calling out the note names as you go.

    There is a minor scale step pattern, too.

    So you just memorize two step patterns and can then figure out all the major and minor scales all over the fretboard.

    Easypeazy, just takes time and effort.
  10. bzytzo


    Jan 21, 2013
    Then learn the step patterns of the rest of the scales, and apply to the fretboard.


    A word to strike fear into the hearts of the mods here, judging by this thread.

    It's an Italian word (as are adante and largo and pianissimo) and means "harplike", or "to be played in the style of a harp".

    Which is a bit dumb, really, since you can play chords on a harp :). But is generally understood to mean playing notes in succession rather than simultaneously.

    I am ducking as I submit this post :).
  11. bzytzo


    Jan 21, 2013
    Chord tones or scale notes for bass lines?

    Well, as in all music it's all about the sound.

    Try playing a bass line to a 12-bar blues with no chord tones in it.

    Er, the root is a chord tone :).

    Then try a line with only chord tones in it. Then one with both chord tones and scale notes.

    End of discussion, really.

    Or should be.
  12. bzytzo


    Jan 21, 2013
    Oh no!

    There are 1,948 members online - I'm doomed!

  13. bzytzo


    Jan 21, 2013

    I've been going back over the thread and this jumped out in the OP's opener,

    Why is it "not good enough"?

    Scale step patterns are very simple, do the job and are what music is all about. I suspect the OP is looking around for shortcuts, which generally waste time and are less effective than properly learning simple diatonic theory.

    The best shortcut is to learn and apply scale step patterns to the fretboard, and enjoy the rewards of knowing the fretboard notes and how to pick out any chord/scale/arp at will.

    I know - I wasted time looking for shortcuts and couldn't play ****. I figured out the step patterns and within a year I know what I'm doing. I am now free to concentrate much more on rhythm.

    Re learning scales - it's very easy to think that running fast scales is impressive. That isn't difficult, you just keep doing it until the speed is there.

    The slightly more difficult part is making them musical. That comes down to putting the silent parts into it - rhythm.

    No silences = no rhythm = no music.

    Practicing scales rhythmically is a good idea, I found. And not just up and down, but in thirds, fourths, sixths etc, mixing up the sequences.

    The upward sequence in thirds in, say, A major, is:

    A C# B D C# E D F# E G# F# A G# B A

    Learning scales in this way gives you instant music. Just running up this sequence sounds musical even without any rhythmic nuances. Try running up to halfway, throw in a tripletty trill and skip back down to a resolution. Very little effort, lots of music!!!

    Bingo - scale practice.
  14. jostego


    Jan 4, 2013
    It's good enough. All I meant to say was that I can't transfer the knowledge. It's not as easy to apply the scale pattern for whatever tonic and position when you really don't know how the fretboard i constructed. That's why I've chosen to focus on familiarizing myself with the fretboard chromatically and work on interval before nerding out on scales.

    I'm not looking for shortcuts, I just want the best approach for learning lots of stuff as quickly and effectively as possible. That's not shortcuts, that's just common sense :)
  15. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    I can hardly believe how this thread has such an extended life, but I guess that's TB.

    Unless the bassline is written out most music presented to a bassist is a lead sheet that may have melody and chords. The bassist should have some interest in outlining the harmonic structure with their choice of notes -- generally chordal tones on strong beats.
    So you have to know what notes the chord symbol designates.

    Chords exist in context. They provide harmonic backing to a melody line. Some great work has been done with reharmonizing certain standard melodies, eh? Melodies and chords are based on scales, but when the goal is to outline the harmony (chord tones on strong beats) there's a 'natural' inclination to using chord tones, but sheesh the two are related.
    The chord/scale approach has been used to teach theory for a while. It threw me off when I first came across it, but it's just common sense. The chord serves as an indicator of the scale in use if the key center is properly identified. (There can be alternatives, but if you're in key of C and the chord symbol is Gdom7, the scale in use is mixolydian -- you need that scale to get to those chord tones, duh.)
    What I haven't seen much in this discussion is noting key centers and how common chord progression move within a key and pivot to other keys. The way chords do this and the way chord/scales do this is pretty much what somebody charged with outlining the harmonic structure should be interested in. Not getting to the next target root too soon or too late (avoid notes) , the way leading tones generally resolve and how it all sounds.

    All of which has something to do with chords and scales, but just about every approach I've seen taught spends about equal time with chordal and scalar patterns.
  16. That has more to do with chords than scales and harmony vs melody, but, here is my understanding of how chords move with in a key.

    First we must point out that chords have two functions. The first is to harmonize the melody. To do that the melody line and the chord line need to share some like notes. How many? One per measure will do it. Two per measure is better and three per measure is not really necessary as two got you harmony. As was mentioned in the above post about chord tones on the strong beat --- see where root and root-five enter and fit into the picture.

    The other function is to move the verse along from rest, to tension, to climax and then return to rest to resolve the progression and end the verse, phrase, whatever. To do that we get into how chords like to move to each other in that rest, tension, climax and resolution journey they take. The verse's lyrics begs for a V-I cadence so it can end the present thought and bring up another thought in verse number two.

    For example:

    The tonic I chord can go anywhere it wants to as it is the tonal center of the key, but, be aware when you move to the I chord you relieve all the tension you have built - as you have returned to the tonal center of the key. Question; are you ready to resolve back to rest.

    The ii chord is a sub-dominant chord and it's task in life is to move to a dominant chord.

    The iii chord is the mediant chord, i.e. kinda in the middle, it and the other minor chords are the flavor chords in a major progression, you normally find the vi used the most followed by the ii and the iii chord sparingly. The iii chord likes to move somewhere and is found in a turn-a-round quite often.

    The IV chord a sub-dominant chord, like the ii, and then like the ii it's task is to move to a dominant chord. As the two have the same function they can and do sub for each other.

    The V chord is the dominant chord, it's task in life is to move to the tonic chord. When you make the V into a V7 you increase the tension in this chord and I call it the climax chord, i.e. anything other than a trip to the tonic chord is anti-climatic.

    The vi chord is the relative minor chord in the key, it's task in life is to move to a sub-dominant chord. The iii chord will normally drag the vi chord with in on the iii's journey. I find that a lot in Praise music, i.e. if you have a iii chord the vi is coming.

    The vii chord is the diminished chord, now this chord is also a dominant chord and it wants to move to the tonic chord, however, it is in no real hurry to do that and is often used as the traveling chord leading into a turn-a-round, i.e. Vii-iii-vi-ii-V7-I. So if you are in a hurry to resolve and return to the tonic chord use the V7 chord and if you want to get to the tonic chord, however, do not want to do that right now, instead feel the need to move somewhere else - use the vii chord. I'll leave modulating to a new key for others to talk about.

    If we let those chords do what they like it normally turns out for the better --- IF --- you also have taken into account the other function of the chord which is harmonization. So it's a balancing act between movement from rest, tension, climax and return to rest and in doing that sounding good. The sounding good comes from 1) all chords made from the same scale are going to sound OK with each other and then 2) the melody line and the chord line should share like notes so we harmonize both lines.

    Little off topic as this is a scale thread, however, chords are made from the scale notes....... Have fun with that.
  17. bzytzo


    Jan 21, 2013
    Good plan with the fretboard assault tactic!

    This is how music theory goes - in a line for a while, with the info piling up like pizza crumbs on my slippers. So you go back to the start and end up on another line, with the info piling up........

    Eventually, maybe after several months or even longer, there's enough info settled in your brain to let you start thinking about how to approach the study of music theory. :)

    Been there, done that.

    You, specifically jostego rather than the general 'everyone', have learned enough to realize it's all a waste of time if you don't nail the fretboard note names.

    I remember seeing the fretboard nailing as a huge task, something perhaps beyond me. The trick is to keep at it, on a daily business. I did it on classical guitar. Stick at it, and it gets done.

    Some recommend starting with just the octaves all over the neck. A bit dull perhaps, so maybe add the 1 3 5 task to that to get the major chord tones. Then 1 b3 5 for the minors, and then b7 for the seventh flavour. With all these nailed, the diminished and augmented scales etc don't present too much trouble.

    It's important to know that all scales come from the major scale - just variations of the major scale step pattern.

    I like to think of the scale step patterns as the ultimate in shortcuts.
  18. bzytzo


    Jan 21, 2013
    This an excellent resource:


    You can read half a music professor's book for free.

    It looks like a commercial site full of ads, because it is. The guy is promoting and selling his book.

    Peppered with often-corny humour, which I love, the content is ideal for beginners. Be prepared to read sections more than once if you are new to music theory, well written though it all is.

    The author is Wayne Chase, who answered my thank-you email. If you like what you read, send him some kudo. Everyone likes getting that.
  19. TotteryManx


    Jan 15, 2013
    This whole thread is really confusing me on what I thought an arpeggio is/was.

    Lets say I'm jamming with a guitarist and he is playing a Amaj chord. I usually outline the chord by playing a bass line with the A major arpeggio, A-C-E notes to make it more "pretty." Is this wrong? What am I hearing in this thread? What is the difference between a regular arpeggio and a chordal tone?
  20. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    There is no difference. An arpeggio is made of chord tones. Once non chord tones are added, it's no longer an arpeggio.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.