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Scales Help

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by cnl83, Sep 13, 2008.

  1. cnl83


    Jan 30, 2007
    I have read several tutorials about scales, and I get hung up on this one thing. Take this tutorial for instance http://www.theorylessons.com/pentminor.html
    What dictactes what the root note is? Why wouldnt the second red dot be the root note?
  2. If you started the E minor pentatonic scale from the second note, it wouldnt be the same scale anymore.
    Its best if you keep it simple, and just think of it as "The Minor Pentatonic Scale" starting on E. If you want to play it in F. Move the entire scale up 1 fret.

    This scale can be used for playing along with songs in ANY minor key. You will just have to move the scale to the according place.

    Does that clear things up?
  3. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    That is called the slide-rule effect of guitar and why guitar and bass player know fingerings, but don't really understand scales. Many only know scales from root on low string up. A chord change and you hear them jump down or pause to think about how the next finger pattern lays out up to the string they are on. If you are going to learn via fingering patterns you have to learn where your roots are on all strings and learn enough patterns for each scale to handle whatever position or string you're on. Also how to connect all those fingering together to move up and down the fingerboard. It's a lot of work.

    Learn the theory of how scales are constructed with some basic fingerboard knowledge you start slower, but once you grasp it you can go anywhere from anywhere on the fingerboard. Then learning new scales and modes are easy because you just thing about which notes change. I say learning how to do it takes less time in the long run than learning via handfuls of finger patterns for every scale and mode. Also you end up playing more musically because you think notes and not connecting dots on the neck.
  4. Maybe I'm just an old man, but that "diagram" didn't help at all. The scales are constructed in a way that all the notes "lead" to the root. For example, if you play a C major scale and really listen to it you can hear the tension and resolution. The resolutions being at the root and octave the tensions in the middle. This stuff also becomes a little clearer when you investigate functional harmony, how the chords built off the notes of the scale direct a key through tensions and releases. I know this is probably unclear and maybe someone with a better way with words will come and do a better job of explaining.
  5. Well put.
    I completely agree. :)
    I think the contemporary way of playing over the chords them selves and maybe adding "scale tones" is much better then trying to think "X chord means X scale"
  6. cnl83


    Jan 30, 2007
    Ok, so how can I learn how scales are constructed?

    Also, how do these same scales apply if im in drop C? or Drop D for that matter?

    I appreciate all your input!!
  7. To learn how scales are constructed, i would recomend first learning some basic theory if you dont already know some.
    To start -
    Obviously learn the musical alphabet, and the interval system.
    With those 2 things under your belt im sure learning how to construct the major scale will be easy. Most scales are explained in relation to the major scale.

    google a few of those terms to get a bit of information.

    Let me know if anything isnt clear.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Scales all have mathematical formulas based on how many steps and half-steps are between each note. Each fret is a half step, and each two frets is a whole step.

    At this point, what you have to do is learn the names of all the notes on the fretboard and learn the scales as they relate to notes, not fretboard shapes. Then you'll understand how the scales apply when you're in drop C or D.
  9. Cernael


    Jun 28, 2008
    Really? It depends on how the song is constructed.

    Or actually, it depends on what purpose you have in defining the root.

    To explain; to the listener, there's usually one note that is set up, through chord structure, phrasing, and a bunch of other cues, as the "tonic". The listener need not be consciously aware of this - it works anyway. The tonic is generally the note of least tension - when it's played in a melody, or when the chord built with it as root, the listener feels that the music is at rest.

    As a musician, you might deviate from this, for mnemonic or other reasons. I tend to think of different riffs in terms of the mode they're in, and define the mode from the first note in the riff; other people might very well parse my music differently.

    And of course, playing with expectations, setting up one note as root, and then implying it's about to come again, but going somewhere else entirely, is an area where there's a lot of fun to be had as a composer. But that's another issue.
  10. mutedeity


    Aug 27, 2007
    OK the first thing you need to do is either get a teacher, make sure they teach you basic diatonic theory from the start and tell them that's what you want to learn, or get yourself a good beginner's theory book. Maybe someone else here has a recommendation on a good entry level theory book?

    The first thing you should learn is the major scale, and how you get it's modes, tertian triads and tetrads and how intervals relate to each other.

    Scales are tonal relationships. It doesn't matter what tuning you use as long as you are using a chromatic evenly tempered system of 12 notes.

    Also I would avoid that site if I was you. I already noticed one piece of inaccurate information there. The blues scale is a hexatonic (6 tone) scale, and while it has the same 5 degrees as the pentatonic minor, it also includes the tritone or b5. In other words in C the blues scale would be [C,Eb,F,Gb,G,Bb] whereas the minor pentatonic in C would be [C,Eb,F,G,Bb]. It's a small thing I know but it's things like this that will confuse you later when you come across the blues scale and wonder why there are two scales referred to as such.
  11. It's not a book, but I'd like to point you to www.studybass.com. This site explains quite clearly the basics behind scale contruction as well as a whole whack of other very pertinant information. And the absolute great thing about this site is that its all relative to the bass, and not a guitar. This might seem menial but actually ends up being quite useful when trying to understand our job as bassists regarding scales, chords and the works. Hope this helps!

  12. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    What do with students that teaches a few things at once is this.
    1. Teach how major scale is constructed via the C Major scale.
    2. Then show them how to play a C Major scale only using the E-string. That teaches fingerboard, shifting, use metronome to keep time, in beginning have them say the names of the notes out loud. This teaches them location of all natural notes on the neck.

    Have them do that for a week if beginner, if experienced then they can move to A-string and on. After a week of that now move to a scale on two strings. By time they get to three strings they really know the notes of the fingerboard, they see in scale fragments so they can construct a scale from anywhere and can make their own scale fingerings as needed. After that teach minors scales and modes by differences from major and they are off and running and navigating the fingerboard. They can run scales from the lowest available note on their instrument to the highest with no problem.
  13. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I wouldn't say that starting note changes the scale. What notes fall on strong beats and the notes you emphasize is what determines the scale. Like I think it Autumn Leaves that goes between the key centers of Bb and Gmi. Gmi is relative minor of Bb so all the notes are identical, but which notes you play on strong beats determine if you are in Bb or Gmi.

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