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Question about chromatic scales and whole tone scales

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Vacume, Dec 30, 2006.

  1. Vacume


    Jan 11, 2006
    if chromatic scales are just half steps until they reach the octave, they use every note, so dos this mean basicly ANYTHING could be from chromatic scale since it uses every note:help: i must have something wrong here

    and whole tone scales are also just whole steps until they reach the octave right? but why r there only 2 possible whole tone scales?
  2. That is true. However, in general, people use chromaticism in combination with other scales such as the Mixolydian mode. There's one song that my band does where I play strictly chromatically for a large part of the song (an improv section) with few jumps more than a half-step.

    Actually, there are 12 possible scales. One for each note in the chromatic scale. It so happens that when you overlay them, you get the same notes such that there are only 2 possible sets of notes to play. However, a scale also has degrees which are relative to the root so thinking of them purely in terms of what notes on the fretboard you can play will lead you in the wrong direction. You should be thinking in terms of what chord you are playing over and what key you are in. When you do, you will understand that the whole-tone scale contains the scale degrees of the 1, 2, 3, #4, #5, and b7. This is very important when you are choosing which notes to play and how you play them.

    - Dave
  3. Music isn't actually "from" a scale. Music describes a scale with the notes it uses. If a piece uses the notes C D E F G A B then it probably isn't trying to describe a chromatic scale. All those notes do appear in the chromatic scale, but to conclude from that the the song is chromatic rather than in C major would be looking at it backwards.
  4. vcs700s


    Nov 17, 2006
    Stephenson, VA
    I am pretty new at this but I believe the major chromatic scale is not half steps. It is W W H W W W H, all hole steps with two half steps. The minor scale is different but it has many whole steps also. I am sure someone who understands this better than I will chime in, hopefully.
  5. studentaccount1


    Nov 14, 2006
    What you described is a major scale.

    Chromatic is just playing all 12 chromatic tones.
  6. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Amen.... a thousand times amen. Music comes first, understanding of the scale comes second. A lot of boring music comes from getting this backwards.
  7. There's no such thing as a major chromatic scale. There is only one chromatic, as studentaccount1 described.
  8. Actually, I think that in any formal music education, you will learn not only scales and chords but voice leading and many other musical techniques before you ever even create your own music.

    I think the point you are making is actually that a musician who knows scales and has internalized them is not thinking in terms of what scale they are going to play but what music they are going to play. This I would partially agree with. The scale knowledge is there it's just so well known that the musician doesn't have to really think about it. Wen you're driving your car, you don't really think about how much you're going to turn the wheel or how hard you're going to hit the gas or brake. This has been internalized to the point where you don't have to think about it too much. You just do it.

    This internalization takes many many years for a musician to do well. New musicians should be thinking about what the appropriate scale to play over a particular chord is otherwise they will not last long in any band. It's only after years of practice and experience that a musician will be able to "forget" about the theory and just play music. The theory is still there but I think it is only being applied at a sub-conscious level. You need the theory first though otherwise it will take much longer to become a competent musician and your playing ability will be more limited. What will happen in this case is that you end up learning the theory on your own through trial and error. It's much better to learn it up front.

    Of course, artistic license trumps all theory. If it sounds good then it is, of course, appropriate. That's the difference between craft and art, I think. I had my artistic license suspended for having too many accidentals. :D

    Check out:

    for tons of scales and chords.

    - Dave
  9. PaulYeah


    Mar 1, 2004
    Dallas, TX
    I believe that scales built with the W W H W W W H pattern are usually referred to as diatonic. A chromatic scale contains all twelve tones in half-step intervals.

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