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rank the scales!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by GeezerEntwistle, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. Im woodshedding the scales and was wondering about the progression I should take on them. so what is the ranking of importance for scales? In other words, how would you progress learning the scales?
  2. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    They are all important. Even if you play in a certain collection of keys (A,E,D,G) or whatever, its worth your time to know all the scale major and minor and know everywhere they can be placed on the neck.

    Rock and country usually (but not always) use scales with sharps in the key signature. Jazz usually (but not always) uses scales with flats in the key sig. There's no particular reason for that, just how things came to be. Start with the ones you know and move to the one you aren't as familiar with.

    The biggest issue IMHO is to know what note you're playing as you practice. You can play all the keys with one or two different patterns. That's a blessing and a curse. Don't just fiddle about with patterns and assume you're learning all you need. Know the notes.
  3. I would start with pentatonics. Then Major scale, then modes: Ionian, Mixolidian....etc....
  4. themarshall


    Jun 26, 2008
    cochrane wi
    dm is the saddest, of course.
  5. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Diatonic major. All the others can be seen as variations of this. More importantly the diatonic major will help you learn harmony, the key point of learning scales.

  6. flats


    May 23, 2013
  7. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I would "rank the importance of scales" based on the actual songs and music that it is my goal to play. For most music, the best place to start in my opinion is the 12 major scales and the 12 minor scales. :)

    It is also very important to learn 1) how the scales are constructed (patterns of half steps and whole steps), 2) the sound of the scale degrees (do-re-mi etc.) so you are training your ear. Don't just learn the finger patterns by rote muscle memory!
  8. well... to be honest Im starting that way. Im starting to play with folks again and need to get my fingers in shape.
  9. have that one nailed!
  10. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    the major scale - most of western music is based off of it. Then the natural minor scale followed by the harmonic minor scale and then major and minor pentatonic scales.
  11. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    This. 12 notes, and now you know everything. Or you could make your life unnecessarily hard. Up to you.
  12. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Well... yes and no. Depends what you mean by 'most' and 'based off of'.
  13. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Pretty sure Am is the saddest key, Dm is the key of death...
  14. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Personally, I would learn the most common chord forms including chord tones (maj7, min7, dom7, etc pp). Then you just need to add a few notes here and there (2nd, 4th, 6th in their scale-specific variations) and voila, you know your scales with the added benefit of hanging around the chord tones more often which will lead to a more musical application unless you know what you're doing.
  15. I think chords were next on my list. The bass playing chords is a beautiful thing and is underdone.
  16. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    The bass is always "playing chords!" Even instruments that are normally monophonic (like the bass, human voice, saxophone, etc.), establish some kind of harmony with their single notes. If you are just playing one note all by itself, then I guess you can say that note is probably the root or "one" note. Once you have selected a root, then it is your "home base" and all the other notes get numbered in relation.

    What Nashrakh was getting at, is that the scales derive from the chords.

    For example CMaj7 chord is C, E, G, B. Fill in the gaps and you get C Major scale C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.

    An example of how you can practice this concept is:

    CMaj7 ascending: C, E, G, B
    Dmin7 descending: C, A, F, D
    Emin7 ascending: E, G, B, D
    FMaj7 descending: E, C, A, F
    G7 ascending: G, B, D, F
    Amin7 descending: G, E, C, A
    Bmin7b5 ascending: B, D, F, A
    CMaj7 descending: B, G, E, C

    Hear how that is much more musical that just practicing C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, B, A, G, F, E, D, C over and over again?

    If that is way over your head then here is a simpler example of the same concept. Chords are built around the interval of a 3rd. A 3rd is created by skipping over one note in the middle. So C to E (skip D) is a 3rd. F to A (skip G) is a 3rd. Got it?

    Now the exercise, going up C Major in 3rds

    C, E
    D, F
    E, G
    F, A
    G, B
    A, C
    B, D
    and when you get to C octave, then come back down.

    Now learn this 3rds exercise in all 12 major keys and all 12 minor keys. You will know your scales real well, but you will also hear the 3rds within the scales, so you understand how chords and scales fit together.
  17. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    The purpose of all this is so we can play the songs we play. It's good to know scales, but danged if I sit around much just practicing playing them. But, since I do know them and understand them I understand songs better and can also take a solo when needed based on that understanding. Studying theory is the best thing I've ever done to improve my playing.
  18. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Yes there is. Keys with flats are very convenient keys for most horns to pay in, since they are transposing instruments, and keys with sharps in them often fall on frets with markers, making them convenient for guitars.

    OTOH as a jazz guy, you see all twelve keys very regularly so I think you're a bit off on your estimation there. But yeah, rock and country for sure are saturated with tunes in E and A.
  19. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    And D and G!

    But yes, for Jazz, flat keys are common. Billy Strayhorn (wrote for Duke) wrote a whole slew of tunes in Db. Tenor and trumpet are thus in Eb and altos are in Bb.
  20. I would start by learning diatonic harmony in each mode.... i usually start my students off in Ionian working through each key in 4ths focussing on key signatures. You can then build your pentatonics from each scale within the key. I then work through minor, jazz minor, harmonic minor and diminished harmony in each mode. Usually the dominant modes are the more popular to work on as their harmony is almost always present; Ionian, Lydian and Myxolydian. Takes a lot of work but it's soooo worth it!!!!