#1
I'm a semi-beginner, been playing for about a year. I've read a lot into music theory but haven't figured out exactly what scales are used for. I mean, I've learned the notes you need to play for some scales...and can play them easily...but what are they for?

I have a feeling that it's a really simple thing, but as a self learner with only the internet as a resource, I'm either looking at the wrong articles or overthinking it.
#2
In simplest terms, a scale is used to play a melody over a chord (rhythmic) progression in the same key. Ie: play a melody using the d major scale over a progression of D, G and A. Of course there's way more to it than that but that's at least somewhere to start!
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#3
So scales basically give you certain notes that you can play in a progression that will the same 'feel'?

So scales are to chords as chords are to notes?
#4
Quote by matttheonly
So scales basically give you certain notes that you can play in a progression that will the same 'feel'?


Yes, if you break it down all the chords that make up a standard major key progression are built from the notes from that major scale. Look at D for example, the chords of a major progression would be D, Em, F#m, G, A, Bm, and C#dim. If you break down each of those chords, they will be constructed from only notes of the D major scale: D, E, F#, G, A, B, and C#. Because of that, any note you play in the scale is going to sound "correct" over those chords.

Quote by matttheonly
So scales are to chords as chords are to notes?


Not sure exactly what you mean by this, but hopefully what I said above will answer it for you!
The devil tuned this guitar, that's why it sounds like hell.

Check out my blog at TheDevilTunedThisGuitar.BlogSpot.com
#5
You don't need chords to play notes in a scale. A scale is just a collection of notes. And most music is based on the major scale. You find notes a lot easier on the fretboard if you know some scales. It helps in improvising and composing (easier to find the notes you are looking for - but don't let the scale write your solos or music, it's just a good tool to find the notes you want to play).

^ I wouldn't say any note in the C major scale will sound "correct" over any diatonic chord in C major. Some notes are more dissonant than others. For example not emphasizing the chord tones sounds bad, even if you play C major scale over a progression in C major.
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Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Aug 3, 2013,
#6
scales are used for masturbation
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#7
They're used for weighing

More specifically, weighing how much time you have / will waste

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#8
A scale is a set of notes spanning one octave put in order of lowest to highest. Use them however you want.
#10
Quote by Xiaoxi
They're used for weighing

More specifically, weighing how much time you have / will waste


lol. Not far from the truth. I don't find thinking scalarly (so to speak) is particularly useful in creating good music.

But generally, someone will choose a chord, and then choose a scale to play over it. Sometimes there will be a 'parent' scale and then they will choose to make chords based off of it. That's the forwards and backwards of it.
#11
Quote by MaggaraMarine
^ I wouldn't say any note in the C major scale will sound "correct" over any diatonic chord in C major. Some notes are more dissonant than others. For example not emphasizing the chord tones sounds bad, even if you play C major scale over a progression in C major.


Maybe correct wasn't the right word, but in key, at least. And really the only rule is if it sounds good, then it's right. I had just assumed the question was a basic theory query and not a request for opinions on scales... whoops.
The devil tuned this guitar, that's why it sounds like hell.

Check out my blog at TheDevilTunedThisGuitar.BlogSpot.com
#13
Well from a practical angle they are used primarily to give a "guide" for improvising. Obviously this is a bastardisation of what they "really" are, but if you are looking for a reason to learn them, that would be it.
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#14
Quote by matttheonly
I have a feeling that it's a really simple thing, but as a self learner with only the internet as a resource, I'm either looking at the wrong articles or overthinking it.
A scale is a set pattern of musical intervals. This is measured in "semitones".

First you have to learn what the "chromatic scale" is.

Then, you learn what a "major key" is.

In keyed music, the scale is the framework for forming the chords that comprise the key.

It's a reciprocal. If you know what the chords to a song are, you can determine the "key". If you know what scale is being played, then by extension, you should be able to determine which chords go where.

But, you need to learn the pattern of a "major scale", and how to name the notes in it, and also extract the chords from the scale.

You've asked your question in a very broad sense, and it makes it very difficult to limit the answer to anything other than a lengthy discourse on basic musical theory.

Wikipedia can help, if you use the keyword search terms I have already put inside quotation marks above. At the very least, it should help you to refine your questions quite a bit.