Taking The Lead. Part 3

I'm going to be using "Taking the Lead, Pt. 3", to go over some of the characteristics of scales.

Ultimate Guitar
First off, all music is based on scales. No matter what it is. The rules a scale plays by varies from country to country and genre to genre. But none the less, no matter what the song or the genre, a scale is behind it. In Taking the Lead, Pt. 1, I explained a little about using scales to play a rough lead to any song. Let me expand on that further. The reason for using the bottom two strings to find the key is this; about 85% of all chords are based on one of these two strings. The best thing to do is before the song or performance, ask the main player, whether it be a pianist or guitarist, to play the key chord (the chord that represents the key of the song). Play that chord on guitar. If it doesn't sound quite right, try playing other chords that are close to it (if the pianist plays A, try Ab, Bb or B). Sorry I can't give a better description than that right now. I am working on a kind of cheat sheet to tell what key on a guitar is where, and how it translates to other instruments. When it is done, I will post it in a lesson. Another thing to go over is called variants. A scale is played in a specific key, but there are keys within that key, called variants. Let me give an example. Let's say that you are going to play a song in A. You use the A Major scale. There are five variants in the scale. You can base it on A, B, C, D and E. Sometimes these variants don't sound right, but usually they are okay. You can also mix them up a little bit. For example, if the song is in A, you would use the A scale. The A scale begins on the bottom E string, 5th fret. That's in the A variant. Now let's say you want to mix it up. Say, play high notes. You can move to the B or D variants of the A scale, both of which start on the A string, 12th fret. These variants is one reason why I recommend David Mead's Basic Scales for Guitar. It gives the variants for every key. Still confused? Well, let me share something else about scales that may help you understand what I mean by variants. A scale is all the notes in a single key. The A scale looks like this.
For any song in the key of A, these notes, or octaves of them, will be the notes used. Period. Unless a key change occurs, there are no notes outside this scale. The variants of this scale are different octaves of the same thing. The D variant of the A scale, starts on fret 12 of the A string. Bonus tip; the 12th fret of every string is an octave up of the open note. So that means that the D variant is just an octave above the regular A scale. Easy right? This rule of variants is true for any key and any type of scale. If you still don't understand, comment and I can try to cover your question in the next lesson. Dante

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    For any song in the key of A, these notes, or octaves of them, will be the notes used. Period. Unless a key change occurs, there are no notes outside this scale.
    First of all, that is not true. At all. I am not quite sure what you mean by variants. You mean like modes? Your description made absolutely no sense at all. Especially by saying the B and D "variants" both start on the A note. That makes no sense at all. Are you sure you know what you are doing?
    Dude C is on the 3rd fret of the a string. Also is this a major or minor scale? Looks like you were going for the a minor scale.
    i don't know why the d variant, or mode, whatever you call it, for this scale starts on a. this is just the way it's written in David Mead's book. he doesn't explain why, he just gives TABs of all the scales.
    Dude I really have no clue what any of this says and I actually understand music theory, I can't imagine how confused a biginner must be by this point.
    Popeye Doyle
    Your explanation of modes is very convoluted... So convoluted in fact that had I not read your comment, I would not have known that it was "modes" that you was talking about. Maybe you should list the modes available; Dorian, Phrygian, Mixolydian etc, and give information on which notes to flatten/sharpen in order to play that particular mode.
    i plan on using all the comments to write an overview of all the things i've said. i'm also going to try to insert some pictures of a book i have on scales to show better what i mean. i will also put together a comprehensive guide of all scales with modes, keys, etc.