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Old 01-15-2013, 08:11 PM   #1
ch1ng_chung
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How the heck do you remember scales?

So, I'm gonna get right to the meat of it. Been playing 2 and a half years, this summer I just learned all the modes and could play them off the top of my head, in my sleep, and could "see" all the degrees of the scale and even other scales that would fit nicely in with the key and scale in my head. I could connect them semi-perfectly, and I could switch different modes of different keys and make it sound really nice. And that's after 2 weeks of practice, before which I completely disregarded modes as dangerous Jazz territory.

Today, I felt like improv with modes, so I tried, but I found out that I didn't even remember the modes. I had to spend freaking 3 hours re-learning how to "see" the modes, the corresponding scales, and the degrees, and so far all I have down is playing the right mode shapes and seeing some degrees. Something is clearly wrong here. People should not forget stuff this easily, especially not guitar, and I should not have to sit down and revise my information every damn day just to remember what the hell a mode is.

Look at those people, Eric Johnson, Guthrie Govan, Malmsteen, Friedman, Becker, when's the last time any one of them seriously sat down and played through the modes...

"Alright EJ, you got this, alright, you gotta play through this, alright here we go! An Ionian, Dorian! Phagarian! Lydian! Mixolocrian! Aeolian! Locrain!"

In fact, when's the damn last time ANY one of them even practiced a scale? Johnson doesn't ever practice scales; I can tell from his playing, and Govan doesn't even need to practice scales, he somehow has managed to memorize every note on the fretboard in his head and play it. I have no idea how Friedman remembers all his weird Egyptian scales, but it's obviously not through repetitive repetition because he's a pro.

Now that I've discounted practicing the modes over and over as a method for the weak willed, how the hell do you memorize these modes? It took me a whole f**king 2 weeks to learn this, and I forget it when the season changes? Ridiculous.
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:09 PM   #2
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Learn the modes individually and then connect them into the major scale across the whole neck. Do a bit of improvising for a few weeks and you will find yourself moving up and down the neck constantly. It's by far the easiest and best way to break out of the "minor pentatonic box".

Once your ear is trained you won't even need to pay attention to where notes are located, you'll simply be able to know by ear what interval comes next, or where to find the root. If you ever get lost, it's never hard to go back to familiar territory, and if you practice you can get to the point where if you ever do make a mistake, play a wrong note, etc. you can cover it up immediately in a way that is organic and even sounds good (i.e. turn it into a chromatic idea).

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Old 01-15-2013, 09:26 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ch1ng_chung

"Alright EJ, you got this, alright, you gotta play through this, alright here we go! An Ionian, Dorian! Phagarian! Lydian! Mixolocrian! Aeolian! Locrain!"



Wow I gotta be honest and say i've never even heard of a few of those "scales" so there's a good chance your better then I am. That being said I use to try all that scale stuff and beyond the basics it was just giving me a ****ing headache. You should stop stressing about at least for a bit and try to learn more by ear.

Mentioning Marty Freidman you should watch this video if you haven't seen it (I watched it many many times) At first I thought it wasn't much help and just got frustrated but if you really take the effort to understand what he is trying to explain it can be helpful. It was for me.

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Old 01-15-2013, 09:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ch1ng_chung
So, I'm gonna get right to the meat of it. Been playing 2 and a half years, this summer I just learned all the modes and could play them off the top of my head, in my sleep, and could "see" all the degrees of the scale and even other scales that would fit nicely in with the key and scale in my head. I could connect them semi-perfectly, and I could switch different modes of different keys and make it sound really nice. And that's after 2 weeks of practice, before which I completely disregarded modes as dangerous Jazz territory.

Today, I felt like improv with modes, so I tried, but I found out that I didn't even remember the modes. I had to spend freaking 3 hours re-learning how to "see" the modes, the corresponding scales, and the degrees, and so far all I have down is playing the right mode shapes and seeing some degrees. Something is clearly wrong here. People should not forget stuff this easily, especially not guitar, and I should not have to sit down and revise my information every damn day just to remember what the hell a mode is.

Look at those people, Eric Johnson, Guthrie Govan, Malmsteen, Friedman, Becker, when's the last time any one of them seriously sat down and played through the modes...

"Alright EJ, you got this, alright, you gotta play through this, alright here we go! An Ionian, Dorian! Phagarian! Lydian! Mixolocrian! Aeolian! Locrain!"

In fact, when's the damn last time ANY one of them even practiced a scale? Johnson doesn't ever practice scales; I can tell from his playing, and Govan doesn't even need to practice scales, he somehow has managed to memorize every note on the fretboard in his head and play it. I have no idea how Friedman remembers all his weird Egyptian scales, but it's obviously not through repetitive repetition because he's a pro.

Now that I've discounted practicing the modes over and over as a method for the weak willed, how the hell do you memorize these modes? It took me a whole f**king 2 weeks to learn this, and I forget it when the season changes? Ridiculous.

If you spend 2 weeks learning a "scale" and then forget it, you probably shouldn't worry too much about it anyway, since you weren't even using it enough to remember it.

Also, did you ever consider that maybe all those guitarists you listed are just naturally better than you? You might never be anywhere near as good as those guys, even if you practiced as much them and used every exercise they used. Such is life. Some people are just extraordinary at somethings.
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:46 PM   #5
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I'm someone who is inherently poor at remembering sequences. Scales, dates, math formulas, whatever, I'm crap at 'em all.
The way I tricked myself into actually remembering scales was to break them down into pieces of songs. I finally memorised the G Major and E Minor scales by playing Wonderful Tonight, Little Wing and Knockin' On Heaven's Door; I don't 'see' the scales as scales, I see them as a collection of phrases and riffs from several versions of those songs.

It's very lazy and a terrible habit for anyone that can actually remember scales and theory properly, but for those of us that can't get a grasp on these things to save our lives, remembering things at least by context is better than not remembering them at all.

I wouldn't advise anyone gives up on learning music 'properly', but if you get to a point like me where you're five years in and still can't point to a fret on the fretboard and name what note it is right away, chances are you may be best off taking the lazy way out
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:48 PM   #6
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How did you learn them, and how do you apply them? When I play the major scale on my guitar, I don't think boxes. I think 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, the scale degrees. I know what patterns the unison, minor and major second, minor and major third, perfect fourth, tritone, perfect fifth, minor and major sixth, minor and major seventh, and the octave all take. If you give me a set of scale degrees, I can play that scale perfectly the first time anywhere on the neck in any key.

I would say to learn different ways to play each interval. I'd say learn them in this order: 1, 8, 5, 4; then 3, 7 and 6; then b3, b7 and b6. And b5. Once you learn the major scale as 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, you'll know lydian dominant will be 1 2 3 #4 5 6 b7 and can play it instantly; you just alter a few notes of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. And so on and so forth for any scale you can think of. 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 for minor, 1 b3 4 5 b7 for minor pentatonic, 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 for phrygian, et cetera...
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:54 PM   #7
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I just learn a scale and improvise the shit out of it. And spend time with the previous scales I've learned. I also remember them using licks and do a lot of call and response stuff. I remember the scale from the root, remember what connects to those roots and then go from there. You'll find there's always a common pattern that you just need to see. I'm not at a stage where I can remember it based on the notes in the scale. I can for some stuff, but I do need the root and then I go from there. I'm getting better though.

I don't know about Eric Johnson but Steve Vai does know his shit. I've heard him talk fondly of Dorian in X key, he knows that stuff.

I'm pretty sure Guthrie does too from hearing him talk. They've practiced it all a hundred million times, it's second nature to them. I'm pretty sure they know it all, they're virtuosos, they know everything.

Just because they don't actively need to practice, it doesn't mean they haven't. You and I need to practice it. Maybe one day, if we focus really hard on it we won't have to anymore.

Maybe you should just relax a bit, focus on technique and just try to get to grips with the first and second mode. Or Major and relative minor. Then in a few months move on.

It's not a race, you've got plenty of time.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W4RP1G

Also, did you ever consider that maybe all those guitarists you listed are just naturally better than you? You might never be anywhere near as good as those guys, even if you practiced as much them and used every exercise they used. Such is life. Some people are just extraordinary at somethings.



I have looked into this argument time and time again, and have found it to be largely wrong. It is not so much that they are naturally extraordinary at some things, its just that they have put in an extraordinary time practicing those things. I don't have good bassoon technique because I was born with it, I have good bassoon technique because I practiced it. The same can be said for anyone in any field. Its just the amount of time.

Furthermore, there is the "10,000 hours hypothesis." which states that the threshold of time required for someone to become truly excellent at something is about 10,000 hours. This number was determined by surveying conservatory students, classical soloists, some truly skilled guitarists, and by extrapolating numbers from they lives of Mozart, The Beatles, and others. I guarantee you that Govan, Friedman, and Becker all put in their 10,000 hours before people started calling them guitarists.

TS, can you tell me what a mode is without using the word scale? If you can't then you have no use for the modes. They really aren't all that important anyway. That said, I always find that playing arpeggios (with an added seventh) help when memorizing new patterns.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by will42
I have looked into this argument time and time again, and have found it to be largely wrong. It is not so much that they are naturally extraordinary at some things, its just that they have put in an extraordinary time practicing those things. I don't have good bassoon technique because I was born with it, I have good bassoon technique because I practiced it. The same can be said for anyone in any field. Its just the amount of time.

Furthermore, there is the "10,000 hours hypothesis." which states that the threshold of time required for someone to become truly excellent at something is about 10,000 hours. This number was determined by surveying conservatory students, classical soloists, some truly skilled guitarists, and by extrapolating numbers from they lives of Mozart, The Beatles, and others. I guarantee you that Govan, Friedman, and Becker all put in their 10,000 hours before people started calling them guitarists.

TS, can you tell me what a mode is without using the word scale? If you can't then you have no use for the modes. They really aren't all that important anyway. That said, I always find that playing arpeggios (with an added seventh) help when memorizing new patterns.



I'm not saying someone is "born with good technique". I'm saying that some brains are able to do some things better than others, which is pretty obvious in many areas of life. Also, I haven't looked into the "10,000 hour hypothesis", so I can't really comment on it, but I will have to check that out. It is intriguing to think that I might be able to play like the guitar gods out there if I just practice more, but it would suck to dedicate much more of my life to playing only to discover that it was really just wishful thinking after all.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:02 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by W4RP1G
I'm not saying someone is "born with good technique". I'm saying that some brains are able to do some things better than others, which is pretty obvious in many areas of life. Also, I haven't looked into the "10,000 hour hypothesis", so I can't really comment on it, but I will have to check that out. It is intriguing to think that I might be able to play like the guitar gods out there if I just practice more, but it would suck to dedicate much more of my life to playing only to discover that it was really just wishful thinking after all.

I agree with you. It's for the same reason not 'anyone who puts the time into sports make it to the big leagues'. In this case, it's more mental vs. physical. I don't think everyone has the mind set to see music the way PG or Allan Holdsworth do.

OP,
What you are probably doing is learning scale patterns and boxes. What others do, is learn the intervals and sounds.

No, EJ wouldn't think I'll play scale X on position Y, but maybe he wants the sound of scale X, with his music knowledge, he can construct that sound while playing a line.

Getting stuck in the box is a tough place to be, but once you break out, you'll have a much easier time with how you view music.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sea`
Learn the modes individually and then connect them into the major scale across the whole neck. Do a bit of improvising for a few weeks and you will find yourself moving up and down the neck constantly. It's by far the easiest and best way to break out of the "minor pentatonic box".

Once your ear is trained you won't even need to pay attention to where notes are located, you'll simply be able to know by ear what interval comes next, or where to find the root. If you ever get lost, it's never hard to go back to familiar territory, and if you practice you can get to the point where if you ever do make a mistake, play a wrong note, etc. you can cover it up immediately in a way that is organic and even sounds good (i.e. turn it into a chromatic idea).



+1. Great post.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:15 AM   #12
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Wow, now I realize how dumb of a post this was. I got half the intervals of the scales down already, and I can connect them no troubles at all. Just got a little too freaked out over this.

Now how do I close this thread?
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:20 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by ch1ng_chung
So, I'm gonna get right to the meat of it. Been playing 2 and a half years, this summer I just learned all the modes and could play them off the top of my head, in my sleep, and could "see" all the degrees of the scale and even other scales that would fit nicely in with the key and scale in my head. I could connect them semi-perfectly, and I could switch different modes of different keys and make it sound really nice. And that's after 2 weeks of practice, before which I completely disregarded modes as dangerous Jazz territory.

Today, I felt like improv with modes, so I tried, but I found out that I didn't even remember the modes. I had to spend freaking 3 hours re-learning how to "see" the modes, the corresponding scales, and the degrees, and so far all I have down is playing the right mode shapes and seeing some degrees. Something is clearly wrong here. People should not forget stuff this easily, especially not guitar, and I should not have to sit down and revise my information every damn day just to remember what the hell a mode is.

Look at those people, Eric Johnson, Guthrie Govan, Malmsteen, Friedman, Becker, when's the last time any one of them seriously sat down and played through the modes...

"Alright EJ, you got this, alright, you gotta play through this, alright here we go! An Ionian, Dorian! Phagarian! Lydian! Mixolocrian! Aeolian! Locrain!"

In fact, when's the damn last time ANY one of them even practiced a scale? Johnson doesn't ever practice scales; I can tell from his playing, and Govan doesn't even need to practice scales, he somehow has managed to memorize every note on the fretboard in his head and play it. I have no idea how Friedman remembers all his weird Egyptian scales, but it's obviously not through repetitive repetition because he's a pro.

Now that I've discounted practicing the modes over and over as a method for the weak willed, how the hell do you memorize these modes? It took me a whole f**king 2 weeks to learn this, and I forget it when the season changes? Ridiculous.

1 - you're trying to learn an awful lot of crap that you

a- don't need
b - don't understand properly no doubt due to being given the wrong information. Ignore the word modes for the time being and ignore those fancy greek words, they're not going to help you one bit at this stage, they'll only serve to confuse you.

the second part of the problem is the word i've highlighted in bold.
Because before you can worry about whether or not you can "see" something on the guitar you first need to be able to hear it.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:04 PM   #14
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I know three scales: Minor Pentatonic, Major, and Harmonic (and the "Blues" scale which is just the Minor Pent with blue notes). For a vast majority of guitar music types, these three are all I've needed.
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steven seagull
1 - you're trying to learn an awful lot of crap that you

a- don't need
b - don't understand properly no doubt due to being given the wrong information. Ignore the word modes for the time being and ignore those fancy greek words, they're not going to help you one bit at this stage, they'll only serve to confuse you.

the second part of the problem is the word i've highlighted in bold.
Because before you can worry about whether or not you can "see" something on the guitar you first need to be able to hear it.



But this info is useful, because now I understand the chord relations between scales and the chords, like a Dorian is a minor seven, and a Lydian is the jet plane chord, and that Diminished and Lydian work really well with each other

I have no idea how to apply this information though, unless it's within the realm of:
  1. writing music
  2. adding something extra to your improv
  3. playing jazz or you hear something that sounds like the mode

How else can I apply this info? And what about those people who pride themselves over you because they can play a "major 7th add 10, minor third, plus two, imperfect 13th, over the (whatever)"?
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:15 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by kangaxxter
I know three scales: Minor Pentatonic, Major, and Harmonic (and the "Blues" scale which is just the Minor Pent with blue notes). For a vast majority of guitar music types, these three are all I've needed.


Harmonic? Is that the version when you use a major but use a sharp five and emphasize the six, like a different version of a minor? The YJM scale?
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:39 PM   #17
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I think he means the Harmonic Minor. Emphasize?

It's the same as the natural minor but with the 7th degree raised by a semitone.

You've been playing 2 and a half years. While it's good that you're keen, it's very good, I've seen your videos and you should really be focusing on technique much more than theory. You play some fast stuff but it's not clean. I fear that this pursuit of speed and theory is leaving your technique by the wayside.

You seem to be really confusing yourself too. Focus on improving technique and take steps so that you fully understand what you've learnt.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:02 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
I'm someone who is inherently poor at remembering sequences. Scales, dates, math formulas, whatever, I'm crap at 'em all.
The way I tricked myself into actually remembering scales was to break them down into pieces of songs. I finally memorised the G Major and E Minor scales by playing Wonderful Tonight, Little Wing and Knockin' On Heaven's Door; I don't 'see' the scales as scales, I see them as a collection of phrases and riffs from several versions of those songs.

It's very lazy and a terrible habit for anyone that can actually remember scales and theory properly, but for those of us that can't get a grasp on these things to save our lives, remembering things at least by context is better than not remembering them at all.

I wouldn't advise anyone gives up on learning music 'properly', but if you get to a point like me where you're five years in and still can't point to a fret on the fretboard and name what note it is right away, chances are you may be best off taking the lazy way out


Little wing is in Eb
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:19 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by macashmack
Little wing is in Eb


all maj/min scales are the same if they dont have the extra stuff , just moved up or down depending on note
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:23 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mephaphil
I think he means the Harmonic Minor. Emphasize?

It's the same as the natural minor but with the 7th degree raised by a semitone.

You've been playing 2 and a half years. While it's good that you're keen, it's very good, I've seen your videos and you should really be focusing on technique much more than theory. You play some fast stuff but it's not clean. I fear that this pursuit of speed and theory is leaving your technique by the wayside.

You seem to be really confusing yourself too. Focus on improving technique and take steps so that you fully understand what you've learnt.


For now I'm going to leave speed technique to the wind, because as I learn more theory I will be able to play really fast classical violin pieces, which will require me to work exclusively on technique. I feel that now's just not the time to learn speed.

I am learning other technique, like I'm doing Manhattan by EJ right now, and it's taught me a lot about chord progressions and fingerpicking technique, and the solo has taught me cleaner bends.

Right now I want to focus on improv, because I have to speed to improv like Govan, minus his really fast runs; I just don't have the knowledge to know what notes to play
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