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When playing scales do you.......?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Squice, Mar 21, 2003.

  1. I´m just wondering about what you all are thinking when you play scale or are learning them... for instance when learning the C major scale are you thinking about every note you are playing or thinking about t-t-t-t-t-s-t and taking that knowlegde to learn all other major scales.. i´m just wonderin about it, becouse i find my self rather learning the position of my fingers in each scale so when i learn for instance c major i know every major scale and don´t have to think a bit when i play all the others.. do you think that it´s bad learning the finger postition rather then thinking for intance about every note in each scale...?
  2. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I think you should know both. You should be aware of the relationship between the notes of the scale, and their relationship to the root - but you should also know what actual notes you're playing.

    When you're making up a bass line, or improvising, or whatever - you'll probably mainly be thinking in intervals, or degrees of the scale. For example, you'll be thinking "and now I'm gonna play the 7th" or "now I'm gonna go up a minor 3rd"

    But you should also be aware of what actual note you're going to. So while thinking "I'm gonna play the 7th", you should know that the note you're playing is a B (or whatever).

    And when you learn scales, you should know what the notes are, and their position in the scale, and relationship to the other notes.

    I don't think it's a good idea to only think about the finger position. Not good at all, and not very musical. In fact, it's the difference between someone who just regurgitates riffs/licks/whatever like a trained monkey, just going by finger positions - and a *musician* who is genuinely aware of what they're actually playing, from a musical perspective.

    Personally, I tend to visualise it like piano, I guess. That'll be because piano is my first instrument, and it was on the piano that I really learned this stuff.
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    If I'm thinking at all, I'm trying to be aware of scale degrees, as MOPED alludes to above. The only time I worry at all about the name of the note I'm playing is when I'm reading. And when I'm doing my best playing, I'm not thinking about anything at all, just hearing sound and reacting to it.
  4. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    moley is right... it's not sufficiently musical to memorise scales by fingerboard patterns alone.
    ...but in my experince it is an essential start to the learning process.

    Fingerboard pattern really is the start.

    Learning a scale in terms of intervals in tones/semi-tones is more or less the same thing as knowing the name and tonal quiality of the intervals, but IS much more musical, IMO. In knowing flat 2nd, min3rd, maj3rd you know the distance in semi-tones, but are relating it the tonic and knowing it's major/minor quality, which is more musical.

    Also, being able to say a 'pentationic minor with a flat 2nd' or whatever is a lot easier than having to spell it out in semitones. It also gives you a reference point for learning other scales and modes.
    For example, lydian mode is the major scale with a sharped 4th (a tritone from the root). Some say Lydian is the true major scale.

    As moley said, knowing every note in every scale in every key in every position what you really want to be able to do....
    Sounds daunting doesn't it! ...but there are so many patterns and ways of learning this that it is really just a matter of understanding the relationship between keys in the circle of 5th and constantly thinking about it when you play... and when you dont.

    Also, I found that standard notation me learn a lot of this stuff... although I'm certainly not up to scratch on sight reading - i just understand the basics..

    waffle over... :)

    nearly.... I agree wth chris in that I tend to think in terms of intervals from the root or tonic rather than actual notes.
  5. I didn´t mean that i just only learn the finger position of that i´m playing any given time.. i know all the notes... and don´t have to think for along to to know what for instance is the 7th of A major/minor.. and i allways think about what notes i´m playing and what note i´m going to, so i was just wondering becouse it just seems like many here nearly just thinks tone/semitone.. so i find my self learning finger postitions so easy, but that doesn´t mean that i don´t know what note i´m playing or what i´m going for.. i was just wondering about those things.. some have said that is very good to say the notes upload when u are practising scales... the most headache for me now.. is that i better start what scales i can use for what chord.. becouse,, like when our guitar player comes up with some chord progress, most of the time i aint even thinking about if he´s playing c major/minor/7th just like. ok its a C. and then i improvise some bass line, with out having a clue of what i´m playing just doing some thing that sounds good... and it usually sounds very nice.. and it ain´t simply just beginners stuff... so my prob.... lies there... now i just wanna know why i should play this rather then that..
  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Actually, I agree with what PISS HITS GERALD is saying there about not thinking.

    Ultimately, you want to be in a place where you're not thinking, or using your mind too much.

    So, ultimately you're not actually *thinking* about the notes, you're just hearing them & playing them. This is where I'm aiming at.

    But, I think you have to know what the notes are, in order to not-care, if that makes any sense?

    What I mean is, you have to have gone through the phase of knowing exactly what the notes are in order to come out the other end - where you no longer need to think about the actual notes.

    I know some beginning musicians think that they don't need to know theory, and it's "all about feel" (etc. etc.) - and thus they think they don't need to learn what notes they're playing, etc. (BTW, I'm not accusing you of this at all, Squice - just by posting this question you've shown willingness to learn).

    My point is that to get the to point where you don't need to think about what notes you're playing - you have to come from a place where you've internalized it to the extend that you no longer need to think about it - rather than because you never thought about it in the first place.

    At least, these are my current thoughts on the subject.

    Chris, ideas?
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    that is totally true

    i tend to think of theory as a means to an end.

    just a way of training yourself to play anything by ear.
  8. I don´t know if my writing comes out a bit childish.. i´m from Iceland and my english writing maby isn´t ultra right at all times... But the main thing with me is.. i know every note, but only recently learned major/minor/diminshed/augmented and all those scales,, but before i learned those scales i had allready played them for a long time,, just without knowing what they are called. i have mostly just been playing covers, and i can play nearly every rock/pop/blues song out there, so it isn´t like i haven´t got talents,, I ain´t one of those who say that learning theory is bull**** and it´s all about feeling and you even don´t have to know what note you are playing... but also i think playing bass isn´t something every body can learn just by taking lessons and learning theory,, I think that those two elements have to be mixed, it isn´t about just standing there with the bass and wigling your fingers throwing out some like factory made scales and licks. you have to be bass player by heart, IMO.

    my best regards to you all,, and thanks for the responds guys... :)
  9. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    S'ok, like I said, I didn't think you were one of those :cool:
  10. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Learn the notes so you can forget them :)
  11. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah! :)
  12. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Hear the notes, so that you can play them. :D
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Well, MONEY, for the most part I agree, especially about the internalizing part. I think that the note names are important if you care anything about learning to read at all or want to gain theoretical knowledge of any kind. As far as playing, I know a few great players who don't appear to know **** about theory...at least not to the point where they can verbalize what they're doing at all. But what these people HAVE internalized is how to produce any sound they are hearing intervalically on their instruments. Myself, I have to get to that place by going through the channels in practice that you mentioned above so that I can internalize them (as you mentioned) and then play intervalically by instinct. And while I admit that it's possible for someone to get to this instinctual/intervallic place without going through the steps you outlined, I think it's a relatively rare phenomenon, and that people who have done that have actually taken the long road - but that's just my opinion.

    One thing I DO feel strongly about, however, is that I never take anyone's word for it that they have the ability to do this...the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Either someone can play something spontaneous and personal and meaningful, or they can't (yet). I only discover these "instinctual" types of folks by accident after I've heard them play (and like I said before, I only know a couple of guys like that), when I'm surprised to discover that they really have no verbal means to express what it is they just did or are just hearing even though they play great. On the other hand, those guys who say that they don't need to know any theory to play - but who can't really play because they are just too damned lazy to put in the time and effort required - are a dime a dozen, even by today's standards of inflation.
  14. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah, I'm with you Chris.
  15. dave_clark69

    dave_clark69 Guest

    Jan 17, 2003
    ooh well i like just like think about what type it is and think of the finger positions e.g for a normal startin on c i would think with my frettin hand
    1 2 4
    1 3 4
    2 4

    coz then you know all of that type of scale
    all u have to remember is where c is (fret 8) and what fingers to use
  16. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Well, the point we were kinda making above, is that it's a good idea to know what you're doing in musical terms, *not* just what fret/finger you're using.
  17. I think I concentrate more in positions and geometrical patterns, degrees and modes than in notes.

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