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Why Scales?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Dot Your Eyes, Aug 29, 2005.

  1. Dot Your Eyes

    Dot Your Eyes

    Aug 27, 2005
    I know there is more to scales than just an easy, non-musical finger exercises, but every book I've read so far gives the pattern for a scale and basically says "scales are good, learn scales". So, I learn the patterns to a few popular scales and that's it. I find them to sound pretty ugly, and most to be pretty technically easy to do (and I'm a beginner...). So why? Can anyone give me a practical reason as to the significance of these patterns? How do I apply them musically? I've looked everywhere on the net and in books, but can't seem to get an answer to that seemingly very basic question.

  2. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Scales and arpeggios are the basis of music. Sure, they sound dull by theirselves, but you're training your mind and hands to play interesting stuff.
  3. It'll help alot when someone tells you to walk a line "in key".

  4. Pruitt


    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    It'll make more sense to you if you research the relationship between scales/arpeggios and chord structure.

    Simply put, if you're playing with others and your guitarist/keyboardist is playing certain chords, the bass lines that work best under those particular chords are created from the scales/arpeggios based on those chords. If you don't know your scales/arpeggios, than you're never really going to know what to play to certain chords (except mindlessly playing the chord root note). ;)

    Best of Luck and Have Fun! :bassist:
  5. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Yeah, scales do not sound all that musical. If you want something more musical to practice work on your chord arpeggios, essentially every other note of the scale. For example CMaj scale arpeggios.

    CMaj7 (C E G B)
    Dmin7 (D F A C)
    Emin7 (E G B D)
    FMaj7 (F A C E)
    G7 (G B D G)
    Amin7 (A C E G)
    Bmin7b5 (B D F A)

    You can practice these a number of different ways, play the aprpegios ascending, descending, starting on different notes of the chord(inversions) play them in fourths starting with CMaj7...CMaj7, FMaj7, Bmin7bt, Emin7, Amin7, Dmin7, G7, CMaj7. Play the ii V I cadence Dmin7, G7, CMaj7. Just some ideas.
  6. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Sorry, but I disagree totally!

    According to the Harvard Dictionary of Music, basis of music is Harmony, Melody, Rhythm/Time, and Tone-color.

    You use scales and chords in conjuction with these 4 elements of music.
  7. Kurisu


    Nov 19, 2003
    Saskatoon SK
    Talk about pedantic. Keep going down that road and this thread will be closed, Kiwi.

    Anyway, for all intents and purposes, learning scales and chords will help you play music. Personally, I'm still trying to figure out how to connect the scales to the chords and turn that into music. But I guess that's called "learning to be a musician" and it won't happen overnight. :)

    As for specifics, I'm not sure I can give you any just yet. But there are others here with experience who can. First thing to do would be to read Jazzbo's theory article and Chris Fitzgerald's article of walking basslines. (In the articles section up top.) Maybe that will demonstrate how scales relate to being a musician.
  8. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    simply put, different scales played the same way give the music a different feel.
    a simple example might be to compare a song in A major to a song in A minor. The song in A major will most likely have an upbeat, happy feel to it, while the song in A minor will most likely remind you of something sad, edgy, darker even, then if you wanted to change that sad song in the middle you may wish to go to A minor's relative key, C major (same notes as A minor, but differnet root), which would change the feel and ambience of the song. Thats what makes for good song writing, understanding the direction of the song and how to get there.
    Scales and modes are the map.
    hope this helps you, if you have any question's PM me.
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I wish the internet had an butt-kicking function where if someone says something just for the sole purpose of being irritating, you could click on the butt-kicker and a giant foot would pop out of the computer and kick the offender squarely on the ass.

    Come on, even for you, that was pretty irritating.
  10. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    It might have been an insluting reply, but it's also partly correct. The bassis of music is harmony, melody, rhythym and tone color. Scales, chords and Arppegios are part of this, well not the rythym part.
  11. Netiquette, netiquette, netiquette, Kiwi.

    Dot, scales are very important, since most music is based on them. You want to have scale patterns memorized backwards and forwards so that if you have a brain fart and have no clue what notes you're playing you'll still know where you are in the scale, by feel. Also, most of what you'll play will largely use notes from one particular scale, and it's good to know what that scale feels like beforehand. Playing scales will also help build dexterity in both hands, and train your fretting hand to span a larger number of frets than most beginners can. Songs are more fun, but scales are nice since you can use them to practice technique without trying to be musical at the same time.
  12. Kurisu


    Nov 19, 2003
    Saskatoon SK
    Except that ideally you'd want to always make music when you practice (Mark Levine said so, and he knows more than I). So I try to add some rhythm and accents to the scales and imagine I'm playing music. Once you start playing scales in thirds and fours you get to make even better sounding music. :)
  13. Kurisu


    Nov 19, 2003
    Saskatoon SK
    Well, no-one said he was wrong. Just the reply added absolutely nothing to the thread and didn't answer any of the OP's questions. Just seemed like a "I'm smarter than you are, let me show you how" kind of reply, and it's getting tiring.
  14. Time Divider

    Time Divider Guest

    Apr 7, 2005
    Simply put, you are training your hands (via the musical part of your brain) to play the right things at the right time without having to think about them.

    This is the whole point of learning all of music theory - so you can forget it. Once you forget it, you will start to become "musical" - using all the tools you now have in your toolbox to express your emotion.
  15. Actually, scales and arpeggios are already *part* of those elements, not separate from them. An arpeggio, for example, is just a chord spread out in time, and a chord is harmony. A scale is nothing but a linear array of melodic ingredients.
  16. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    To make your scale studies more interesting and challenging, be aware that you can harmonize each scale. That means that each note in the scale has a triad chord built on it . But even more, depending on the scale degree of the note in the scale, the type of chord formed is different from the others and sounds different( major, minor, diminished). So when you are practicing a scale, don't just play the scale, play it up and down, then harmonize it, by forming the correct triad chord for each scale degree.

    Furthermore, you can take a major scale and create a mode for each degree of the scale by starting that same scale on a different degree. Thus if you start a C major scale on C, the mode is Ionian. Start on D, and the mode is called Dorian. Start the scale on E and it is Phrygian. Start on F and it is called Lydian. Start it on G and it is called Mixiloydian. Start it on A and it is called Aeolian. Start it on B and it is called Locrian.

    Thus you are playing the same notes, but as you change the order in which they are played, you will discover the scale takes on a different sound with each mode change.

    Modes and triads may be more theory than you already know. If you want a detailed explanation try:

  17. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Exactly what I said, but stated slightly different. ;)

    I still stick with the Harvard definition.
  18. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I think some people need to spend a few years at music college. And get a Harvard Dictionary of Music. You can't argue with Professor's of Music, can you?

    And cut that fighting talk JimmyM. You must have a small brain.
  19. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Welcome to the music business
  20. Try this transcribe or learn one of your favourite tunes and relate what scale he used then wah-la you now no why scales are important because everyone uses them but the best way of playing scales is first play the root note then before you hit the second note hum/sing the note before you play it so you get the scale in your ears then you can play what you hear in your head then magic happens