Harmonising The Major Scale For 5 String Sweep Picking

Using the degrees of the major scale to create sweep picking sequences utilising different degree tonalities.

Ultimate Guitar
Intro In this lesson I hope to outline how we can use the principles of the major scale and how each degree of the scale has a particular tonality which we can use to create sweep picking exercises. Firstly we must understand some terminology Degree - a particular note of a scale. Interval - the musical gap between two notes. For scales they are usually measured in tones (full steps) and semi-tones (half steps). If there is a difference of a tone between notes they are two frets apart, for a semi-tone it is one fret. The Major Scale The first things to understand are the degrees of the major scale, which are as follows (from the first to 8th): 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and the Octave (8th). This NEVER changes. Every major scale has the same degrees, whether it starts on C, D, F sharp, any note. Next we must recognise the interval between each note: 1st -(tone)-> 2nd -(tone)-> 3rd -(semitone)-> 4th -(tone)-> 5th -(tone)-> 6th -(tone)-> 7th -(semitone)-> Octave (8th). Again, this is the same for whichever note you start on. Here's where it gets complicated! Each interval of the scale has it's own feel' to the tonality of the piece as a whole (this is often called the key' of the piece) and this dictates which type of sweep you have to play over it. Here are the relative feels of each (and so which sweep you play): 1st Major 2nd Minor 3rd Minor 4th Major 5th Major 6th Minor 7th Diminished 8th (octave) Same as first. As you may know a major feels happier', whilst a minor feel sadder'. The Sweeps I will now tab out the entire sequence for a D major scale starting on fret 5, string 5, going up the scale using 5 string sweeps, corresponding to the tonality of each degree of the scale. From this you should be able to pull out the patterns for major, minor and diminished sweeps.
1st - D (fret 5,string 5)


2nd - E (fret 7)


3rd - F sharp (fret 9)


4th - G (fret 10)


5th - A (fret 12)


6th  B (fret 14)


7th  C sharp (fret 16)


8th (octave)  D (fret17)

Same as the first.
The Application You will notice that all the major sounding degrees use the same pattern for their sweeps, likewise for the minor degrees, and the same is true for diminished. The sweeps I have tabbed will apply for any major, minor or diminished sounds. Therefore they also apply to any scale. Once you have learnt these 3 patterns you can go up and down any major scale, starting on any degree of the scale and play the harmonised sweep behind it. If you know how to harmonise a minor scale then you can apply it to that too etc. Not only that but it is also a great way to practice different sweeping patterns whilst applying them to a scale. Remember to start slowly and I'd practice in semiquavers (4 notes per beat) and take off the repeated starting root note of each sweep
ie I play - 

(notice how i dont repeat the fret 5, 5th string). Etc etc. Have fun !

12 comments sorted by best / new / date

    ha, i figured all this out and i honestly dont know/understand theory, as in, i only lernt the major scale formula a few weeks ago. But i did only figure out how to harmonise sweeps like, 2 days ago. so if i didn't you would have thought me something cool. 10 10 101 10010010111011001010100110101000101011101010101001
    i have a doubt. the 1st lick looks like a d maj chord with rearranged notes. however the 2nd one looks like an e min chord... why is that happening?
    no lolage
    I did it in D major because if you start in C then the first sweep is off the third fret on the fifth string which means you have to use open 3rd and 1st strings which can get messy. And also I have showed you some minor sweeps in there so it is pretty much covered for the minor you just start on a different degree of the scale really.
    Haha I get it u just add a hammer on / pull of to the e string and u have yourself a sweep arpeggio. Cool!!!