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Old 01-28-2015, 05:31 AM   #1
jomorgan582
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Question Help With Understanding Scales

So I understand how to play the major (ionian) and minor (aeolian) scales on my guitar as well as the modes (lydian, mixolydian, dorian, phrygian, and locrian), pentatonic, and blues scales. But I have a couple concerns.

1.) How come in most guitar instruction videos regarding scales, they play two whole octaves? Why do they have to use all six strings?

2.) I cannot make sense of the positions. It makes sense to, for example, play Major scale in the G position, but in most videos, the instructor lists the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th position of a scale. WTH??

Thanks,
Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 01-28-2015, 07:32 AM   #2
steven seagull
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If you don't use all 6 strings what's the point in having them?

A guitar has 6 strings and a minimum 21 frets - that's 126 place to play a note.
There's only 12 discrete notes in the whole of the chromatic scale, and indeed most scales only have 7 notes.
Therefore a bit of simple maths tells you that there's going to be lots of places to play the notes of any given scale on the guitar.

The thing is you don't play scales for the sake of playing scales. Scales are, put simply, a set of sounds we think work well together. How you use those sounds is up to you, and factors like the tone you want and what else you're playing will determine the most practical and convenient place to play those sounds.
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Old 01-28-2015, 07:37 AM   #3
Captaincranky
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First, ignore the modal breakdown of scales for now. They'll only pump your head full of too much information for the time being/

Every time you change position, you ultimately get a higher absolute note than the position before it.


If you use the same shape and change position, you change the key.

Let's take the Em pentatonic scale in the open position.

E-6 0 E, 3rd fret G
A-5 0, A, 2nd fret B
D-4 0, 2nd fret E
G-3 0, 2nd fret A
B-2 0, 3rd fret D
e-1 0 3rd fret G

So, Em pentatonic AND G major pentatonic are essentially the same scale. In simplests terms, in you keep resolving back to Em, the song is in E minor, if you resolve to G, the son is in G major.

Let's say we want F# minor or A major pentatonic. You would move up the whole mess to the 2nd fret, and start from there. Only difference, all the notes marked "0", would have to be fretted on the 2nd fret. The fretted notes of the scale would simply move up two frets from where they were.

The notes in F#minor pent and A major pent are A, B, C# E, F# A
The notes in E minor pent and G major pent are G A B, D, E G

That goes to changing key.

When you change to a different position, but maintain the same ket, all you do is raise the highest available notes, (and cut off the lowest available notes).

This also allows you to build a solo around the chords at that position.

Consider raising the Em pentatonic scale to the 5th fret. You would now have Am pent, or C major pent. There is an A minor barre chord at the 5th fret, (derived from E minor form open, and a C major barre chord, at the 3rd fret, (based in A major form open. So, you could play a solo or melody open in said 5th position, and always have those chords available at hand...

You could also maintatin the same key, and simply change the position. Were you to play G major pent at the 2nd position, ("position" always indicates the lowest fret of the "shape"), but you would now have easy access to the A on the e-1 string at the 5th fret.

Notice the note positions have now switched strings. For example, instead of the B being the open 2nd string, it now on the 4th fret on theG-3 string below it.

So, instead of trying to ingest hugs stacks of fret board diagram, just learn the notes on the board, and the names of the notes in the scale you're trying to learn. Eventually, you will have built up the position "shape(s)"/

Once upon a time, or perhaps until today. Beginners to "lead guitar" would learn the basic pentatonic shape open, and at "X" fingered fret.

So, take for example a E, A, B rock progression. You take the same basic pentatonic shape, use it open over the E chord 1st fret, then go to the 5th fret to solo aver the A, and another 2 steos up to the 7th, to solo over the B chord.

Yes, that's quite basic, but it was done allt he time.

Last edited by Captaincranky : 01-28-2015 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 01-28-2015, 04:42 PM   #4
jerrykramskoy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jomorgan582
So I understand how to play the major (ionian) and minor (aeolian) scales on my guitar as well as the modes (lydian, mixolydian, dorian, phrygian, and locrian), pentatonic, and blues scales. But I have a couple concerns.

1.) How come in most guitar instruction videos regarding scales, they play two whole octaves? Why do they have to use all six strings?

2.) I cannot make sense of the positions. It makes sense to, for example, play Major scale in the G position, but in most videos, the instructor lists the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th position of a scale. WTH??

Thanks,
Any help would be appreciated.



In standard tuning, a 12 fret block of the neck can be broken into 5 regions by octaves. Then it all repeats in the next 12 fret block.

e.g. below the example shows F in different octaves. The red circle is an F in some octave. Just shift everything right 2 frets for G, for example.



Using a scale musically, and playing a scale as an exercise, are usually different.

An exercise may want you to play in 2 octaves across all 6 strings, or equally play the scale horizontally along 1 string, or 2 strings etc.

Musically, that's where you need to learn about tone tendencies, and how to use the notes in a scale to bring out the tonality its centred around (e.g. make a melody based on G major sound like it centres around G), such as emphasising the 1, 3 and 5 of the scale (the notes of its tonic triad).

cheers, Jerry
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Old Yesterday, 09:47 AM   #5
reverb66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jomorgan582
So I understand how to play the major (ionian) and minor (aeolian) scales on my guitar as well as the modes (lydian, mixolydian, dorian, phrygian, and locrian), pentatonic, and blues scales. But I have a couple concerns.

1.) How come in most guitar instruction videos regarding scales, they play two whole octaves? Why do they have to use all six strings?

2.) I cannot make sense of the positions. It makes sense to, for example, play Major scale in the G position, but in most videos, the instructor lists the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th position of a scale. WTH??

Thanks,
Any help would be appreciated.


I recommend learning shapes from one octave to the next - keep them small and simple ( across three or four strings. These extended patterns are not a good way to learn the intervals - focus on small clusters and always be aware of where you root notes are.

It helps to learn the shapes staring from every octave on every string - then you can combine them for larger patterns if required.

I found it more productive to come up with my own patterns - you'll be more engaged that way. Print out a scale diagram from a website with the whole fretboard and draw in the pattern that you find works best with a highlighter.
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Old Yesterday, 12:11 PM   #6
aerosmithfan95
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I'll help you clear up your concerns. As the others have said, forget the modal naming for now. Modes are more of an "advanced" theory concept. Many teachers use them to refer to other positions of the major scale, and this can confuse people when it comes to learning theory.

1) Hopefully, you know that there are 12 notes within music, and they repeat in every octave. Instructors show off all six strings on the guitar to show where the notes (in that particular scale) lay on the neck.

2) This also ties into the first question, and other people have mentioned it. You can play one note on multiple places on the fretboard, so that's why other positions come into play.
The instructor just shows you how you can play the same scale in multiple spots on the fretboard.


Some of the other user have also came up with some great ideas on learning scales on the neck. What you should do is to begin to learn the notes on the fretboard; there are sites that help you with this. Once you are familiar with the fretboard, learn the notes and their respective interval of the scale you want to learn (major, minor, pentatonic).
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