#1
I'm starting to learn scales--Starting with c major. I've learned it in all 5 positions. But i keep reading stuff like: "scales aren't music" and "you need to know how to incorporate them in a musical way". That makes sense to me, because i feel like i'm more or less just memorizing notes at this point. But i don't know how to incorporate them into anything? i want to fully master the c major scale before moving on to any other scale. if you understand what i'm asking, please help! i don't want to get stuck
#2
Good question. When I took piano from a ph d he said yea don't spend to much time practicing scales but learn to make music. So I never practiced scales. And I made music. Now I find I can play the scales easily and guess what, I never practiced them and I still dont on piano. On guitar I did but I don't much anymore. I think scales are useful because they show you how you construct harmony, practice thirds and sequences, tonic relationships and their sound but practicing them alone is like saying the alphabet ad infinitum. Have fun and learn music but practicing scales for too long will burn you out not to mention is boring as hell
#3
try to create a backing track in a certain key and just jam over it, that's how i learnt the scales, and your improvising shall improve!
F*ck Chuck Norris ... SpongeBob grills under water
#4
Make music with the scale. Youtube "backing track in C major" and just play.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#5
I just practiced scales enough to memorize their shapes on the fretboard. I didn't focus too much on what notes were called or what order, just improvised the shapes. I later went back and learned my notes across the fretboard and connected how they all fit.
you're never as free as when you are lost
#6
I like to do my scale warm ups in a musical fashion by playing with the accents and staccato/legato phrases.

You should also practice scales in a continuous fashion - up one position and right back down the next, up the next one, and so on. Try to use accents and dynamics to make the sound like musical scale runs.
#7
I find that playing patterns through a scale is the best way to learn them. You start to think in terms of the shape of the phrase you're playing rather than a sequence of notes.

Start with something simple, like the Frere Jacques phrase:
CDEC
DEFD
EFGE

And so on, through C major.

When I do that, all I think of is the starting note. The rest just follows.

Once you get good at that, try it with longer phrases.
Learning a new cover song? Feel like recording it? And have people listen to it? See the CATPM thread in the Pit. Here's the user group
#8
study melodic patterns (search for 112 melodic patterns) if done in every key..it will improve your playing many fold..and you wont have the boring and predictable sound of scales..

you will be able to incorporate many of these patterns in your improve lines and with established melodies..

the real key to these patterns is hearing the intervals and how they enhance melodic lines.

play well

wolf
#9
Quote by tall011
I'm starting to learn scales--Starting with c major. I've learned it in all 5 positions. But i keep reading stuff like: "scales aren't music" and "you need to know how to incorporate them in a musical way". That makes sense to me, because i feel like i'm more or less just memorizing notes at this point. But i don't know how to incorporate them into anything? i want to fully master the c major scale before moving on to any other scale. if you understand what i'm asking, please help! i don't want to get stuck



I'd disregard that advice to a point.

Things like "a musical way" are certainly subjective, that's why. A descending major scale IS musical. There have been song melodies that utilize this!

What I'd suggest, is to play against a backing track and learn to get comfortable with the scales as a pitch collection, making things that sound good to you. Try to get to the point where you hear in your head what you want to play and then are able to play it in almost real time. This is a process that takes time...months and even years, but in the meantime, keep progressing.

There is no "fully mastering" anything really, and that's an ideal that I think is overly used for marketing. Heck even I use that claim on my own site (which somewhat makes me feel like a hypocrite now), but I'm trying to convey the immediacy that you can use what you learn, without worries or question; the confidence in your knowledge. But in truth, there are just varying degrees of progress. Let that all or nothing idea go, because it will be of no use.

Play, enjoy yourself, love what you do, and find that inner voice. Find things and people that inspire you, and have fun.

Best,

Sean
#10
Quote by tall011
I'm starting to learn scales--Starting with c major. I've learned it in all 5 positions. But i keep reading stuff like: "scales aren't music" and "you need to know how to incorporate them in a musical way". That makes sense to me, because i feel like i'm more or less just memorizing notes at this point. But i don't know how to incorporate them into anything? i want to fully master the c major scale before moving on to any other scale. if you understand what i'm asking, please help! i don't want to get stuck


There are a few things you could do. What your talking about is developing your ability to create melodies using the scale.

This depends on

1. technique- being able to find the notes

linking to

2. ear - being able to imagine melodies in that scale which you intend to play


I would focus on
1. Learning to copy melodies you hear by ear - listen to famous tunes in the major scale and try to copy them

2. Improvise using the major scale over a drone - Try to develop an ear-relationship with each note in the scale - learn the sound of the tonic, major 2nd, major 3rd, etc.. Improvise melodies which rest on these notes and get a feel for their sound

3. Improvise over a very simple diatonic chord sequence (this means a chord sequence that uses only the chords of a single key - a simple example from jazz would be a ii-V-I. From pop you could use I-vi-IV-V, or any other diatonic chord sequence).

If you would like further details about any of these exercises let me know.
Luke Mosse Guitar Teacher in Bristol, UK
#11
Quote by afromoose
There are a few things you could do. What your talking about is developing your ability to create melodies using the scale.

This depends on

1. technique- being able to find the notes

linking to

2. ear - being able to imagine melodies in that scale which you intend to play


I would focus on
1. Learning to copy melodies you hear by ear - listen to famous tunes in the major scale and try to copy them

2. Improvise using the major scale over a drone - Try to develop an ear-relationship with each note in the scale - learn the sound of the tonic, major 2nd, major 3rd, etc.. Improvise melodies which rest on these notes and get a feel for their sound

3. Improvise over a very simple diatonic chord sequence (this means a chord sequence that uses only the chords of a single key - a simple example from jazz would be a ii-V-I. From pop you could use I-vi-IV-V, or any other diatonic chord sequence).

If you would like further details about any of these exercises let me know.


i'd be intested in more detail on everything you just said, especially 2 & 3 lol.... no pressure though i know i'm asking for a lot
#12
You could also study classical etudes. They're made to be studied to improve your technique.
And we will weave in and out of sanity unnoticed
Swirling in blissfully restless visions of all our bleary progress
Glowing in radiant madness
#13
Quote by tall011
i'd be intested in more detail on everything you just said, especially 2 & 3 lol.... no pressure though i know i'm asking for a lot


Ok

2. Improvise using the major scale over a drone - Try to develop an ear-relationship with each note in the scale - learn the sound of the tonic, major 2nd, major 3rd, etc.. Improvise melodies which rest on these notes and get a feel for their sound

Ok so to do this, take a low, held note - you can find drone notes on youtube, or you can generate them yourself with one of the low strings, or find whatever method suits you. The drone acts as a constant centre, a comparison which all the other notes will stand against. The drone note should be the same as the tonic or root of the major scale you are practicing. So for E major, pick an E drone.

Then start to improvise. What I mean by this is, try to construct expressive phrases. There is no right and wrong, just aim to give them a start and an end, so there should be pauses between phrases.

In the major scale, your scale tones are 1, major 2, major 3, perfect 4, perfect 5, major 6, major 7. So to formalize your improvisations a bit, you can start to deliberately construct melodies that centre on these different notes. To do this, make that note the main resting note in your melody. Then actively listen to the sound - how does that interval sound in relation to the tonic?

Eventually through this kind of playing you build an awareness of the sound of each degree of the scale. This automatic 'sense' will start to come out in your improvisations. It's a bit like learning to identify different colours. Eventually, the way a colour looks and the name of the colour are inseparable, they don't require thought. In this form of practice, the 'colour' or emotion of the scale tone, the name of it, and the physical technique of playing it all become deeply associated and instinctive.

You need to persevere with this exercise and you will experience it working. It's not the kind of thing to do for one afternoon and then say 'I don't get it'. If you want to take my advice, then bear in mind all these things work only when you stick at them for a while and they will work in a way that is in some ways beyond explanation.


3. Improvise over a very simple diatonic chord sequence (this means a chord sequence that uses only the chords of a single key - a simple example from jazz would be a ii-V-I. From pop you could use I-vi-IV-V, or any other diatonic chord sequence).

Ok so for this one, if you want to improvise over chords in the key of C major, then your diatonic series would be
I - C major
ii - D minor
iii - E minor
IV - F major
V - G major
vi - A minor
vii dim - B diminished (which I recommend to leave out for this exercise)

All these chords contain only the notes of C major, so you can play a chord sequence involving these chords only and your C major scale will fit very well over them.

My recommendation would be to pick a simple sequence like ii V I, which would be
| Dm | G | C | C |

Record it, with any strumming pattern you like, and then play over the recording using the C major scale.

In the process, try again to remember to put pauses into your playing if you can. Also, see how different notes in the scale sound when different chords are played. If you are just learning how to make things fit, then melodies which use the chord tones of chords as they are played will definitely sound 'in'.

An example would be strongly hitting a D, F, or A while the Dm is playing, as the chord tones of Dm are D, F and A.

Of course, you don't have to hit the chord tones, really many different notes can be used over any chord apart from just the chord tones. But the chord tones are a good starting point. During the process of ongoing improvisation and experimentation, you start to learn experientially how different notes work.

All improvisers go through this experimentation to come to their own tacit understanding. There is no substitute for this practice and no one can 'download' the theory into you so that you can execute a theoretically good melody. You have to just play around with it and you will improve. So the exercises I've outlined here are a bit like games which you should try and play as much as possible, and eventually you will understand why they work and how they develop your playing.
Luke Mosse Guitar Teacher in Bristol, UK
#14
Learn some major scale melodies and learn to play them in as many different places across the fretboard as possible in a single key.
Si
#16
I wouldn't worry about learning all the shapes of the C maj scale because scales are all congruent with each other. A C maj or C Ionian, is simply the first mode out of the 7 modes with the tonic (main or 1st note) as C. I would learn all the Modes starting with F Ionian. And work on those first 7 scales untill you know can hear the differences in each mode. Once your ear can hear the different modes then you can play any scale as long as you know where the first note is.

I used to think the same way as you and I would practice trying to learn all the scales one by one. Once I learned the modes, and did it this way it all became quite clear to me and i had an "Ah Ha" moment.

Keep on Playing Man!
#17
Quote by Kyle Sousa
I wouldn't worry about learning all the shapes of the C maj scale because scales are all congruent with each other. A C maj or C Ionian, is simply the first mode out of the 7 modes with the tonic (main or 1st note) as C. I would learn all the Modes starting with F Ionian. And work on those first 7 scales untill you know can hear the differences in each mode. Once your ear can hear the different modes then you can play any scale as long as you know where the first note is.

I used to think the same way as you and I would practice trying to learn all the scales one by one. Once I learned the modes, and did it this way it all became quite clear to me and i had an "Ah Ha" moment.

Keep on Playing Man!

No that doesn't sound right. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're saying but sometimes box shapes are given modal names because people don't understand the difference between the lowest note and the root note. Just making sure you're not making the same mistake...

Si
#18
I think playing some songs with shredding on all 6(or seven even better) strings is effective way to memorize scales. I myself think of basic major/minor scales as a stream. If guitar had 7 strings with interval of 5 semitones between them(standard tuning has just 4 between G and B) the position would contain all possible 3-note streaks per string. I see the basic form with that kind of tuning as 1-3-4 1-3-4 1-3-5 1-3-5 1-3-5 2-4-5 2-4-5 when rising up the scale. If guitar had 14 strings in such way, from 8th string the form would be repeated with secons fret as root. When one sees how this works both up and downwards, this can be applicaple to any position, just thinking of from which phase of this stream the phrase begins from. Minor scale would start from first, major scale from fourth. Of course when playing in standard tuning hand must be moved one fret up between G and B strings to compensate lesser interval between.
#19
C major has a lot in it. If you are just running up and down the scale, yeah it's not that big of a deal. But C major has 7 naturally occuring arpeggios in it and those are just the triads. Learn D Dorian 5-note arpeggios with the 9th and 13th (D-E-F-A-B-D), for instance, and play around with those over different C major voicings. There's hours of music right there.
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#20
I think the original poster's brain is full by now. Exposing one's self to a lot of information can be eye-opening, but it can also make it more difficult to boil things down to something that can be practiced methodically and applied in a straightforward manner.
#21
great explanation! my teacher tries to get me to sing the notes i'm going to play before i'm gonna play them it seems to help my improvising sound better.
#22
It is important to use scales musically as you learn them. An app like 'Band in a box' or 'iRealb' will generate instant backing tracks for you. If you want to practice you C major scales, you could type in a progression like this:

C C Dm7/C G/C

(or any other chords from the key of C) and improvise away. You'll gradually develop a sense of what 'works' and what you like during your improvising. There whole lot more theory you could get into too, but in terms of making use of your scales this is a good place to start.
#23
You could try working out by ear some childrens nursery rhymes, most of those are major scale. You'll quickly start improvising little embellishments and alternative phrases but the original theme is easy to return to. Try mess around with The wheels on the bus, itsy bitsy spider (sounds wicked in a minor scale) and shred your way through Old mc donald. Its actually surprisingly useful