# Tones or intervals?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by burntgorilla, May 27, 2005.

1. ### burntgorilla

Jan 24, 2005
Belfast
I was looking through the article on scales on TB, and I began to wonder something. Is it better to learn scales as a series of tones and semitones, or by what sharps and flats their degrees have in C? I find it a bit easier to remember minor by flat third, sixth and seventh, but then I also think knowing the structure of the scale in terms of steps would help, especially in ascending and descending. What would you recommend? I suppose both is the easiest option, but I don't really see the point in giving myself extra work.

2. ### Tash

Feb 13, 2005
Bel Air Maryland
Whichever one comes easiest is what you should pursue, though ultimately it helps a lot to be able to thinking of them either way.

3. ### leanne

May 29, 2002
Rochester, NY
I agree. Once you really learn a scale, assuming you really internalize it, the other way of looking at it will probably just come to you. But eventually, you should be very comfortable with both. It's not really extra work, it will make everything so much easier!

4. ### jazzbo

Aug 25, 2000
San Francisco, CA
Well, in my personal experience, I learned scales by learning how many sharps or flats there are in the scale. But as I've been playing music, the way that I think of, and more importantly, hear, scales, is by intervals. When it comes down to it I'm thinking major 7th vs. flat 7th, minor 3rd versus major 3rd, etc.

5. ### burntgorilla

Jan 24, 2005
Belfast
To me, remembering a scale, as say, "flat 3rd, 6th and 7th" seems more intuitive than t-s-t-t-s-t-t. I suppose, though, I may as well try and learn them as both, and try and reinforce the connections.

6. ### Richard Lindsey

Mar 25, 2000
SF Bay Area
IMO both is best. It's not "extra work," it's two ways of looking at something--*either of which may be useful or necessary, depending on the situation*.

7. ### BoplicitySupporting Member

Learning the intervals in each scale, mode, chord is what worked best for me.

8. ### Red Wonder

I believe that its important to know both concepts. The memorization of certain notes obviously has its practicality (when your running all up and down on the board; coupled with neck awareness) and the memorization of say, the third, from a given note. The major third, for example, is 4 half steps away. Making three frets "exposed"...its easy to remember the THIRD is THREE. Just as easy, however, is instantly knowing that all the E's are your major third (in the key of C of course). At first I memorized all the scale degrees for every key, then devoted time (ummm lots of it) to the interval practices. For me, memorizing scale degrees and knowing all the notes on the fretboard is easier. Then again, with experience, the intervalic studies weren't too daunting at all. Just make little mental notes like the Thirds is Three example above.

I think it boils down to the individual as to which way is best at FIRST. But both methods are crucial and the other method you didn't choose will become easier due to sheer experience.
This is one of the most important fundamental questions in theory today.

9. ### burntgorilla

Jan 24, 2005
Belfast
I think I understand what you're saying, or maybe I don't. If I'm working out an interval, I find it very simple to just picture a fretboard, and the distance the interval is from whatever note. I suppose I should really do it the traditional way, but I find my system works fine, and I can't really think of any situation where it won't work, even not playing bass.