#1
Hey guys I know this topic is like beating a dead horse since it comes up frequently...

I know that the 5 CAGED positions are helpful with finding chord tones (I personally can't do it well enough since I can only practice for like an hour)

And the 3NPS is good for going up the neck octave to octave quickly.

But when looking at the patterns, what am I suppose to be seeing? I memorized the 5 pentatonic positions and CAGED positions, and as for the 7 3NPS positions I've up to 6 positions memorized...

When you play those patterns are you suppose to start on the root or does it really matter? Say for example POS 1 from low to high E pattern in the 3NPS Method is 124 124 134 134 246 246 and in the beginning the 2 on the thick E string is the root and the shape is that of a E chord from CAGED

so am I right in assuming that you're playing in ionian if you start at the root note on the 2nd note of the pattern and if I were to start from the first note, I would be considered in locrian?

I've been confused about this because i don't know if I'm practicing this correctly since when I try practicing this, I just go up and down the patterns from POS 1 to whatever position, I try skipping frets to find a Melody or something and I try combining the positions, but I don't know if i'm thinking about it correctly

I do go up and down the neck kind of robotically at first so that I get the shape down,but like I said I try to make it interesting so that I don't bore myself. All the positions sound exactly the same if done from the first note and then following the pattern (maybe they're idk)

I do this for about 15 min from my 1hr of practice before playing actual pieces.

I feel like I'm not seeing something that's suppose to be fundamental and it's like running at a wall that's transparent.

Sorry if I seem like I'm rambling, but hopefully I made some sense. If it helps I've only been trying to play guitar seriously for about 5 months now. (Been on and off for 2 years. Started learning theory this year when I got back into guitar seriously)

Any advice would be helpful!
#2
The thing is, you're not really meant to "play the patterns" at all - their primary purpose is simply to show you the notes that are available to you in a particular position. Decisions like what note to play next and where to play it? They purely boil down to your own musical ideas - what sound do YOU want to hear next?

Decide what note you want to hear next -> use the visual pattern to help you locate that sound on the fretboard -> rinse and repeat.

The primary benefit you get from drilling things is muscle memory - that works brilliantly for a piece of music, basically anything that always follows the same sequence. However scales aren't really something you play in that way, they're something you use but what's more important is understanding them. You'll rarely play more than a couple of notes from a scale pattern in sequence when playing music, so in that respect building muscle memory isn't much use and can arguably be counter-productive. What's important is learning what your options are from each note - where can you go and what sound will you get. Both CAGED and 3 nps are ways of seeing what your options are, but seeing in of itself isn't all that useful unless you also have an idea of what those options will sound like - that's the knowledge you're aiming to build here.
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#3
steven seagull I think I understand what you mean by scales not being used in that way.

Guess I'll just have to practice more and 'git gud' as they say. I was just curious on this because of my limited amount of time to practice, I want to make the most of my time so that I can play better and clean.

Thanks for the advice!
#4
Quote by Killjoy9

But when looking at the patterns, what am I suppose to be seeing?

The point of learning the patterns is that it's easier to learn the scale in smaller chunks than all at once. All of the shapes have exactly the same notes in them and they are part of the same scale. There are just seven different notes in the scale that repeat over and over again in different positions. Regardless of the position you are using, it's still the same scale.

When you play those patterns are you suppose to start on the root or does it really matter? Say for example POS 1 from low to high E pattern in the 3NPS Method is 124 124 134 134 246 246 and in the beginning the 2 on the thick E string is the root and the shape is that of a E chord from CAGED

so am I right in assuming that you're playing in ionian if you start at the root note on the 2nd note of the pattern and if I were to start from the first note, I would be considered in locrian?

No. It is the same scale, no matter what note you start with or what position you use. The 3nps and the CAGED shapes both teach you exactly the same scale and the positions overlap. They are just a bit different ways of "organizing" the scale.

I've been confused about this because i don't know if I'm practicing this correctly since when I try practicing this, I just go up and down the patterns from POS 1 to whatever position, I try skipping frets to find a Melody or something and I try combining the positions, but I don't know if i'm thinking about it correctly

I do go up and down the neck kind of robotically at first so that I get the shape down,but like I said I try to make it interesting so that I don't bore myself.

I think all of this makes sense if you are trying to get familiar with the different shapes. The point is to get the scale into your muscle memory. That's the whole point of practicing scales. When it's in your muscle memory, you don't need to think about it any more and you can focus on playing the sounds that you want to play.

All the positions sound exactly the same if done from the first note and then following the pattern (maybe they're idk)

That's because they are the same notes and they are supposed to sound the same. As I said, a scale has only 7 different notes in it that repeat in different octaves and positions. The listener doesn't hear the position you are playing in, they only hear what notes you are playing. The different positions are there to make your playing easier (so that you don't have to jump up and down the fretboard all the time).

I feel like I'm not seeing something that's suppose to be fundamental and it's like running at a wall that's transparent.

The point is to be able to navigate on the fretboard - to make it easier to find the notes that you want to play. It's also about muscle memory. When you have the scale in your muscle memory and you play a song that has a fast scale run, you don't need to think about every single note individually. It makes learning songs easier because your fingers are already familiar with the shapes that the song uses.
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#5
Killjoy9 Scales and chords are made from intervals ... intervals are the most fundamental component of music (outside of rhythhm).  In the context of a scale, such as major or natural minor, each interval made by the scale root and the other scale note creates a certain sound and a certain expectation in the listener.  

Learning to play a scale means learning how to use these, both setting expectations, and then maybe not satisfying them, by playing something different.  
Chords from the scale accomplish a similar purpose ... together, the chords and the melody typically work to bring focus to the scale root (the "tonal centre")

Where you find the scale notes on-instrument is another matter.  

Lots of ways of laying out a scale (CAGED, 3 nps, horizontally one or more strings ...).  

But just knowing these patterns without knowing the intervals in them and their effect is not very helpful.  You at least want to know how to find the root (tonic), (b)3 and 5th of the scale, wherever you decide to play these.  These can become landmarks, and important landing notes.

Intervals are trivial to learn, and once you know them, you can't help but see and hear them in any scale,any chord.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Dec 4, 2017,
#6
Trying to combine CAGED with 3nps is confusing because 3nps moves out of position once you hit the B string. CAGED has five shapes because two of those shapes are shared in a theoretical way. B and A are the same and F and E are the same. There are seven different positions. One for each chord shape. But they share a note between the B and G string. The C pattern is 013 023 023 024 013 013. And you can see that within that there is the C shape major chord. So basically, once you learn the seven natural keys in open position, you combine them going up the neck just like CAGED except it's CBAGFED. So each position has seven notes as well as seven different chord shapes. But the chord shapes will always be respective of each other so they can be used for any key just like CAGED. But remember CAGED is only for one chord. There is another CAGED pattern for the other two major chords as well as a minor version of CAGED for the minor chords and the diminshed chord, too.
Last edited by eddievanzant at Dec 5, 2017,
#7
Quote by Killjoy9
steven seagull I think I understand what you mean by scales not being used in that way.

Guess I'll just have to practice more and 'git gud' as they say. I was just curious on this because of my limited amount of time to practice, I want to make the most of my time so that I can play better and clean.

Thanks for the advice!

I think the most important thing to be aware of is that scales are a means to an end, not the end itself...and that goes double for scale patterns alone. If you're wanting to learn a song generally you'll start at the beginning and practice and practice until you've got it - in that respect the song is your goal. Scales aren't like that, they're not a set "thing" to learn, they're something you can use to create other things once you understand themm
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#8
A large part of the confusion about scales (why practice them, when and how to use them, etc.) for guitarists is that the guitar is a different kind of instrument from the others.

On other instruments (keyboards, brass, and woodwinds) each scale in each key has a unique fingering pattern that needs to be learned, for the fingers' sake, in order to play music whose notes are comprised of generally diatonic, chromatic, and intervalic spacing.

In other words, on these instruments one practices playing scales in all keys because the fingers need to learn the mechanics of moving from note to note - which mechanics is physically different for the different keys. In addition, depending on speed, direction, and phrasing, there are some different ways to finger the same notes that occur in different scales in the various keys, so one practices in order to learn which optional fingerings work best for different situations encountered in the movement of notes in the music.

With string instruments other than the guitar (violin family), a similar situation arises because of playing in specific positions on the neck, so scales in different keys are fingered in specific and different ways. Classical string players likewise practice scales in all keys to learn these specific fingerings for specific positions.

The guitar is different; once one moves above the cowboy chords, the positions are chromatic and the fingerings for any scale in any key may be used for any other key. This is to say that unlike the other instruments, fingerings are fully translatable for all keys. Once a fingering is learned it is not necessary to practice playing in all keys to learn those because the fingering is the same in all keys - only the conceptual mechanics of shifting it to other keys is needed to play in all keys.

On the guitar, one learns to finger and play types of scales and chords, and then applies those fingerings to a position in order to play a specific scale or chord. So one learns to finger a major scale and then apply that fingering to a location in order to play a Bb major scale. Scales as "types of scales" are movable, so are chords as "types of chords", and even a whole song progression may be simply moved to a different key.

When you understand the mechanics of the guitar as an instrument, you realize that all the other instruments don't learn "the major scale" like we do; they learn 12 differently executed major scales in order to play in all keys, but we just learn one. Same with chords on the piano; they learn 12 different ways to play a major triad in order to cover all keys, whereas on the guitar we learn one that can be moved to any key. I'm oversimplifying here because of inversions, enharmonics on different strings, and other stuff, but the point remains that when you play the guitar conceptually hearing scale and chord types, it is 12 times less complicated than the other instruments.

That is why the other instruments spend so much time practicing scales, and why so many instruction methods out of habit suggest doing so for the guitar, and why alert guitarists will discover that this is just not necessary in order to play in all keys and wonder about the emphasis on so much scale practicing. The mechanics of the guitar just begs for the player to bump up in abstraction to the level of conceiving things as types ("major", "minor7b5"), not instances ("Ab major", "Dbm7b5")...
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#9
MaggaraMarine jerrykramskoy PlusPaul steven seagull eddievanzant 

Thanks for the advice, each of you gave a pretty unique explanation as to what the purpose of scales/scale patterns/ muscle memory/  3nps/CAGED/ etc.

As for now I only practice my scales for about 5 minutes just to wake up my fingers and then I move on to practicing chord changes, picking/finger picking, string skipping, practicing songs, etc.

As for interval training, I think that's honestly what I've been needing to practice. I know the order of intervals and I know the formula for forming major, minor, maj7, min7, dom7 and whatnot, but i haven't practiced it while playing. Any advice on how you guys practiced your intervals or any other exercises that can help?

Once again, thanks for the help it's helping me want to play better and keep practicing.
#10
Killjoy9 To answer your main question directly, I would say to visualise the underlying chord that you are playing over. So if you are playing over an Am using A Dorian, visualise the Am chord in the same area of the neck. I expect you've already been doing this with the CAGED shapes. It's useful because knowing when you are or are not playing chord tones, helps (most of) us to use the scales more effectively. Playing non-chord tones creates some degree of tension compared to playing chord tones.

The problem, as I think you've noticed, is that using 3NPS shapes straddle two different chord shapes. For example, using Am 3NPS shape one starts on fret 5 of  the low E-string but ends up on fret 10 of the high high E-string. So to visualise the underlying chord, we need to visualise the Am bar chord CAGED shape1 (the one that looks like an open Em) AND the Am bar chord CAGED shape 2 (the one that looks like open Dm).

It takes a practice but it's very.

By the way, I'm not arguing against any of the other replies here. There are some good points there, and not all guitarists do things as visually as I'm describing. Good luck.
#11
Killjoy9 For me, and folk I've taught, the most effective way for familiarisation with intervals is a combination of directed ear-training / singing,  and visualisation.

Of these two aspects, the ear-training/singing has more utitlity (transferrable skill to other instruments, plus opening up melodic awareness, creativity etc, in a different way to visual knowledge.

Being a musician covers a wide spectrum of skills, some more developed than others.  Becoming familiar with core musical concepts, and hence awareness of the impact of different intervals in a given musical situation, can be achieved to a large degree visually ... and even if you can't hear the sounds in your head before you commit your fingers, you can still get a very long way musically like this (so long as you are listening to the outcome, and reacting to the music around you).  

To clarify, for example, if someone plays an open C chord, then, through developing awareness of musical concepts used in making music, you'll become aware that a G is a note you can happily land on for a musical breather if you like (I go into this below), whereas you wouldn't hold an F# for very long ... your ears and your listeners ears would strongly want that F# to be replaced by a G.

I'm only using note names above so you can try this for yourself, and hear what I mean.  In reality, I'm talking about the sounds of intervals ... two pitches found at various numbers of semitones from each other.

In reality, what I'm talking about is choosing pitches found at various semitones from a chord root, for example, regardless what that root is.

So, it's possible to gain familiarity with these concepts VERY quickly, and consequently be able to explore, with knowledge, to produce musical content WITHOUT being able to "pre-hear" this.  

Such knowledge lets you take intelligent chances, where you can mix the "unknown" with the "safe".  In one sense, this is an even stronger form of discovering creativity, as you don't have to pre-conceive everything before you play it, and so some wonderful, guided, surprises can happen which you then remember.

BUT ... utltimately music is expressed in sound, and your primary sense for dealing with sound is you hearing.  So, this can and should be brought into the learning journey, the sooner the better.

A great way to develop your ears is to really familiarise yourself with e concept that's given the term "pitch heirarchy".  For me (hopefully you) that's just saying, within a 7-note scale (e.g. major or natural minor), the first, third and fifth notes are the most important, and the rest of the scale notes are the next most important.  Any non-scale notes are the least important.  

You'll have heard this in practice every day ... songs rely on it, maybe instinctively, maybe deliberately, but they do.

Importance means these notes get more prominence ... louder, longer, placed on strong beats, wrapped in silence.   

Really good obvious examples are nursery rhymes, Xmas carols, national anthems.

So, ear training can be guided by familiarisation with the pitch heirarchy... basically by singing, and soon you'll start hearing these in your head.

For example, pick up your guitar, and play some pitch you feel comfy singing, and then play a pitch 5 semitones (5 frets) higher.  Then sing these two.  Choose somewhere else. Same idea.   Another way to play this is by choosing a fret on any string other than G string, and then playing the pitch at the same fret on the adjcacent higher (more treble) string.  Hum this in your head as you make tea. or are driving, whatever.

Then add to these two another pitch, found 4 semitones higher than the second pitch.  (For example, 6th string, fret 5;  5th string fret 5;  5th string fret 9 (or equivalently, 4th string, fret 4).  Familiarise yourself as above.  Then add an intermediate pitch, like so ...

6th string, fret 5;  5th string fret 5;  5th string, fret 7.  5th string fret 9

Now try and make these sound musical by varying the rhythm to sing these.

What's going here is that the most important pitch is actually the second one (5th string, fret 5) ... we call this the "tonal centre" ... it's being set up by the 1st pitch (this is mega-common ... this pitch is always found 5 semitones below, or 7 semitones above, the tonal centre.  In reality, the 5 semitones below example is itself found 7 semitones above another representative of the tonal centre, and octave lower.  In the major scale, ths pitch appears as the 5th note in the scale when written out ... we call it a "perfect 5th" or "5th" for short.  The pitch at 5th string, fret 9, is 4 semitones above the tonal centre.  It appears as the 3rd note on the major scale.  We call this the "major 3rd".  The other pitch between the tonal centre and the 3rd is often used as a connector between the tonal centre and the third, in either direction.  It appears as the second note in the major scale, so is called, not surprisingly, the "major 2nd"", or "2" for short.

Add to this lot another pitch 7 semitones above the tonal centre (i.e. the "5th") ... you know have a small palette of sounds to explore, mostly bearing the most important pitches (apart from the 2nd).  You've got two 5ths, one above and one below the tonal centre (whiich is usually written as "1" in scale formulas), and you have the 2 and 3.  Then you can the fourth note of the scale scale (the "perfect 4th).  This is found one semitone (fret) higher than the major 3rd, so at fret 10, 5th string in this example.  Try singing 5 (below) 1 2 3 4 3 2 1  ... notice how the 4 feels it needs to be followed by 3?  The important pitches are making their presence known, and the less important ones get drawn towards the important ones.  Similarly, 2 makes us want to hear 1 follow.


Practice the above ... LOTS ... make up little melodies.  

This is really simple to do ... in your spare time, but do focus .. do develop the ability to sing the above in relation to the tonic.  Hum a pitch, then think "now hum the maj 3rd", and do it.  Or hum the "maj 2nd" and do it.

The benefit of this is that you will soon be able to detect the tonal centre, and hence other intervals, in other people's music, and to turn melodies in your head into notes on the guitar (once you've fumbled around to find the tonal centre in your head, on guitar).

Combine this with growing knowledge of musical concepts, and you're onto a winner.

As for the interval shapes, see 

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/drastically_reduce_learning_time_with_intervals_part_2.html, 
https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/drastically_reduce_learning_time_with_intervals_part_3.html

and maybe

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/a_deep_look_at_guitar_shapes.html

Best of luck!
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Dec 7, 2017,
#12
Just a caution; when most guitarists use the term "intervals" they are really meaning "scale degrees"... which are generally more helpful concerning chords and scales on the guitar.  Understanding intervals requires some familiarity with reading standard notation; otherwise their definitions will be pretty incomprehensible.
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