#1
Sorry if this is a daft question but i'm gaining knwledge on theory for the first time since I started 'strumming' when I was 18 - and i'm now 52.

Ive got the major scale in 5 positions, and can see the pentatonic scales hidden with in it...

Ive got the minor scale in one position from it being within the aeolian section of the major scale...

Ive even got modes (a 'kerching moment' froma you-tube vid)

but - and here's the potentail daft part - if I peep at melodic or harminic minor scales they seem unique, and not derived from the major scale pattern - so I presume i'll just have to learn those patterns when i've got the fundemental ones ingrained in my bones?????

Ta for any advice.
Last edited by All bar one at Jul 18, 2014,
#2
hello your right the harmonic and melodic minor scales do not share the same shape as the major scales. When I learned those two scales I started with the major scale lets say C. The melodic minor is a major scale with a flat 3rd. C D Eb F G A B C. So adjust your major scale shape accordingly and there you have it. After practicing doing this a lot it will become easier just like learning the major scale. The harmonic minor has a flat 3rd and a flat 6th by the way.
The shapes the two scales make are pretty similiar you will get the hang of it.
#3
Something I would like to clarify about modes before I answer that. Noticing that the 7 modes contain each other will be a useful tool, particularly for finding your way around the fretboard, but realize that what mode you're actually playing in is dependent on what node your progression wants to resolve on. For instance, if you're using all of the natural notes, you're only playing in E Phrygian if the piece actually resolves on E.

I would also like to point out that even if you manage to do that, making the piece resolve on something other than what would make the major (ionian) or minor (aeolian) scale, you will not be playing modal music. The world of modal music frankly barely exists in the modern world, and it takes an amount of knowledge that you're not ready for to comprehend. Instead It'd be more appropriate to say something like, "I'm using the Phrygian scale," rather than "I'm using the Phrygian mode." This forum will tear you apart if you're wrong about playing modal music.

As for basically any scale except the 7 modes (and the pentatonic scale which you've noticed is just those scales minus a few notes), you're right, they are not derived from the major scale, and will basically have to be learned independently.

HOWEVER.

Teach yourself some theory in regards to scale construction. These box shapes may be working for now, but simply knowing what intervals build a scale (such as major being 1-2-3-4-5-6-7, and minor being 1-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7) will be more practical in the long run to getting around the neck and it makes the job of learning new scales easier. For instance, harmonic minor. You cooouuld take the effort to learn new box shapes to include it in your toolbox, or you could simply notice that it's just a minor scale with a major 7th, rather than a minor 7th, and instantly be able to play it anywhere that you already know how to form a minor scale.

Another thing I'd like to point out (though I'm not totally sure if other musicians will agree with my philosophy) is that scales are more or less a learning tool to learn what different intervals will sound like in certain contexts. After getting acquainted with enough scales, you'll stop thinking about things like, "oh, I guess I'll try the harmonic minor scale," and instead you'll think, "well, I'm in a minor key, so this is what a major 7th is going to sound like." You won't think, "I'm going to use mixolydian here," you'll think "this is what a minor 7th will sound like in a major key."
Last edited by Macabre_Turtle at Jul 18, 2014,
#4
To cut it down to the point: basically every scale that we use is derived from the major scale. All those "odd" notes are nothing more than major scale notes that have been sharpened or flattened. #4 is lydian, b3 and b6 is harmonic minor etc. etc. etc.

The real key is knowing when and where to use them effectively, and how not to abuse them.
#5
Quote by All bar one


but - and here's the potentail daft part - if I peep at melodic or harminic minor scales they seem unique, and not derived from the major scale pattern - so I presume i'll just have to learn those patterns when i've got the fundemental ones ingrained in my bones?????

Ta for any advice.


Don't learn the patterns.

Learn what they mean.

For example, the harmonic minor is just the natural minor with a raised 7th.

Do you know where your 7ths are in the minor scale? If not, then learn that.

Then instead of thinking in terms of a new pattern, when you slip into harmonic minor (which happens less often than you think) you just play major 7ths instead of minor 7ths.

You're going to have to learn this skill anyway. eg, I was in a similar situation last night. Jamming with a friend, in C major, over a C-Bb-F progression. Pretty straightforward stuff. But that Bb includes a non-diatonic note ... the Bb. So what I did was, when my buddy was playing the Bb chord, I played Bbs instead of B-naturals in my lead.

Same thing happens over secondary dominants. In C, if my buddy was playing a II-V-I, the probelmatic note is an F#, so over that D major chord, I play an F#, rather than the F I'd normally play in C major. But I only have to do it over that chord.

Learn your scale degrees. Learn to HEAR your scale degrees (that will make learning them on the fretboard much easier).

Everything Macabre-Turtle says is dead on.
#6
Melodic and harmonic minor are useful in certain situations like when you have a V7 chord resolving to a minor i chord. If you want to use them, find where they fit and learn them in their natural habitats.

They don't crop up all that often aside from the aforementioned context to be honest!
#7
The standard major scale is the basic palate for all "in key" harmonies (term for this is "diatonic", meaning "related to the root").

The melodic and harmonic minor are used when the harmony goes "out of key" momentarily, which is very common when you're in minor keys. If you're in, say, A minor, it's entirely normal to turn the progression around with an E7. Take a look at the notes in an E7 chord, and you'll see a G#, which, added to the key of Am, creates the A harmonic minor scale.

The names themselves are pretty suggestive: Harmonic Minor is the scale you use to harmonize certain situations in a minor key, and the Melodic Minor is the corresponding scale for melodies in those same situations.

It sounds like you're learning from a method or teacher - continue your progress, and when you get to harmonizing those scales, you'll have another "aha!" moment when you see the strong relationships between key, chord, and scale.
Last edited by cdgraves at Jul 18, 2014,
#8
Quote by All bar one
Sorry if this is a daft question but i'm gaining knwledge on theory for the first time since I started 'strumming' when I was 18 - and i'm now 52.

Ive got the major scale in 5 positions, and can see the pentatonic scales hidden with in it...

Ive got the minor scale in one position from it being within the aeolian section of the major scale...

Ive even got modes (a 'kerching moment' froma you-tube vid)

but - and here's the potentail daft part - if I peep at melodic or harminic minor scales they seem unique, and not derived from the major scale pattern - so I presume i'll just have to learn those patterns when i've got the fundemental ones ingrained in my bones?????

Ta for any advice.


That's awesome! Much respect. I'm not that far from you in terms of age!

You're right, and very insightful that you can spot the Pentatonic notes scale in a Major scale. That's great vision on your part!

The Harmonic Minor scale is derived from the Minor scale...hence the similarity in names. The main difference between one and the other, is how these two scales function. Have you ever played an E minor and then resolved it to Am. It does work, right? But it's not as powerful. Now, let's do something else. Play E Major, and resolve THAT to the Am. MUCH stronger, right?

So if you played an Em to Am and played the harmonic minor, that wouldn't sound so hot if you played the Harmonic minor scale, as it would if you played the Harmonic Minor scale over that E to Am change.

My point is, that its not just about the notes of the scale, but its how those notes interact with the chords in the song or progression you are playing. If you ever decide to pursue more understanding into scales and the chord relationships with those scales, (Music Theory stuff) then I think you'll be able to better make use of those other unique notes.

Good luck to you on your journey. Any questions, just ask!

Best,

Sean
#9
Crikey, what fantastic replies - thanks to all of you.

Off to practice and learn more!