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steve25
post Apr 22 2007, 07:56 PM
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I have a question about scales, many of times I’ve been told scales are very important for learning the guitar but I don’t see how. They are patterns but how can they make you produce your own music? Because these patters are something everyone uses.
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Andrew Cockburn
post Apr 22 2007, 08:10 PM
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QUOTE (steve25 @ Apr 22 2007, 02:56 PM) *
I have a question about scales, many of times I’ve been told scales are very important for learning the guitar but I don’t see how. They are patterns but how can they make you produce your own music? Because these patters are something everyone uses.


Look at it this way - you need to learn English (or the language of your choice) before you can be a poet. Scales are the language of music, and don't worry, there are more than enough different ways to put them together to keep things interesting. Not knowing scales would be a little like trying to write a poem without using real words - in some cases it could work and be very cool, but the chances are better is you stick to a commonly understood medium, which is what scales/language are.

To push the metaphor a little further - there are many types of scales - minor, major, modes etc - think of this as increasing your vocabulary and learning different and more original ways of expressing your ideas.

This post has been edited by Andrew Cockburn: Apr 22 2007, 08:11 PM


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steve25
post Apr 22 2007, 08:15 PM
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QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Apr 22 2007, 08:10 PM) *
Look at it this way - you need to learn English (or the language of your choice) before you can be a poet. Scales are the language of music, and don't worry, there are more than enough different ways to put them together to keep things interesting. Not knowing scales would be a little like trying to write a poem without using real words - in some cases it could work and be very cool, but the chances are better is you stick to a commonly understood medium, which is what scales/language are.

To push the metaphor a little further - there are many types of scales - minor, major, modes etc - think of this as increasing your vocabulary and learning different and more original ways of expressing your ideas.


Still not seeing it personally sorry. I mean if you were to move away from the scale box you're in then you're playing out of key right? So you have to stay in that box otherwise the song won't sound right. But then the chances of making up something new that someone else hasn't used in a song before is going to be near to impossible.
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Tank
post Apr 22 2007, 08:36 PM
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There's a good quote from Andreas Segovia, who was deemed the father of modern guitar playing. He maintained that learning scales covers the most amount of technical ground in the shortest space of time. And if you think about it, when you are learning scales you are:

1. Learning how to effectively play one note after another.
2. Improving the dexterity of your fingers, in a useful context.
3. Teaching your ears to hear which notes go together in what sequences. i.e. What notes go into what scales. (This is of paramount importance).
4. Providing you with the muscle memory of how the regular notes and tones go from one string to the next.

It's true that by learning to play in a scale, you are effectively restricting the amount of notes you play. However this is what provides us with recognisable musical structure. If you learn what a large range of scales sound like, you'll be able to quickly select something that suits the mood of the piece you are trying to write. This saves a lot of "fumbling about" looking for notes in the long run.

However, I find that in practice it's useful to "make up a scale" by picking a set of notes out of the 12 chromatics available. You'll usually find though that if you research the set of notes you've chosen, that there's probably already a scale which has those notes, but by learning some licks in this new scale, you can jump from something, for instance minor pentatonic, into your new scale for a few seconds, before going back.
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Lurgen
post Apr 23 2007, 01:21 AM
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OK, newbie viewpoint alert...

Scales are tedious to learn. They're hard to memorise, for what initially seems like minimal value. Fortunately, there's more to it than this.

Scales teach what notes work well together. They show you ways to visualise the fretboard as sequences of sounds, instead of individual strings and frets. For the beginner (like me!) they are your first opportunity to build habits and muscle memory for how to string sequences of notes together.

Once you memorise the basic patterns, and get in the habit of working out which key a song is in, you can quickly adapt basic scales (blues and minor pentatonic in particular) to just jam over the top of other pieces of music. Which, while it won't lead to you writing any interesting songs of your own, is invaluable due to the fact that it's fun - enjoying playing is the whole point of it.

I've put a lot of time into learning scales, and have seen the rewards already. They give me a framework for developing finger speed and co-ordination. They've helped me learn to recognise the sounds of each note, to discover the interesting issue of voicing (the way a note might be the same on multiple strings, even down to being in the same octave, yet sounds subtly different depending on which string you generated it with).

As for not being able to come up with anything new while staying inside the box, don't worry about that - even if you only work with one scale (say the Minor Pentatonic scale) you still have literally millions on possibilities.

There is more to a tune than the individual notes. There is timing, emphasis, tone, sequence, all of which results in totally different music.


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steve25
post Apr 23 2007, 07:21 PM
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QUOTE (Lurgen @ Apr 23 2007, 01:21 AM) *
OK, newbie viewpoint alert...

Scales are tedious to learn. They're hard to memorise, for what initially seems like minimal value. Fortunately, there's more to it than this.

Scales teach what notes work well together. They show you ways to visualise the fretboard as sequences of sounds, instead of individual strings and frets. For the beginner (like me!) they are your first opportunity to build habits and muscle memory for how to string sequences of notes together.

Once you memorise the basic patterns, and get in the habit of working out which key a song is in, you can quickly adapt basic scales (blues and minor pentatonic in particular) to just jam over the top of other pieces of music. Which, while it won't lead to you writing any interesting songs of your own, is invaluable due to the fact that it's fun - enjoying playing is the whole point of it.

I've put a lot of time into learning scales, and have seen the rewards already. They give me a framework for developing finger speed and co-ordination. They've helped me learn to recognise the sounds of each note, to discover the interesting issue of voicing (the way a note might be the same on multiple strings, even down to being in the same octave, yet sounds subtly different depending on which string you generated it with).

As for not being able to come up with anything new while staying inside the box, don't worry about that - even if you only work with one scale (say the Minor Pentatonic scale) you still have literally millions on possibilities.

There is more to a tune than the individual notes. There is timing, emphasis, tone, sequence, all of which results in totally different music.


Kind of get what you're saying. Like, with say a major pentatonic scale or something there's different patterns up and down the fretboard which allows you to create higher and lower pitched sounds in your scales.and of course the pattern is the same for the whole scale until you start back towards the beginning of the fretboard. So for example a C major pentatonic can start on the 8th fret of the bass E string, to get a C# major pentatonic scale you'd move up 1 fret. And while soloing, you could change what key you're playing in using the same scale if you wanted to, depending and how the rhythm is being played have i got that right so far? If not then i dunno :/. Also you can include bends, slides etc to go into different scale boxes? So is it pretty much just all about learning the patterns so you get used to what they are and can make something out of them, and then remembering them
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wheeler
post Apr 23 2007, 07:47 PM
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I know it's a tricky concept to wrap your head around when you're first starting out, but see if this comparison helps:

"I'm going to make music by using whatever notes I want whenever I want, regardless of all established guidelines pertaining to harmony and melody (i.e., chords and scales)"

is roughly equivalent to

"I'm going to go into this junkyard and build a helicopter using whatever parts I feel like using, regardless of whether or not I know anything about helicopters, mechanics, aerodynamics, or physics."

It can be done...but it's a lot easier if you know what you're doing. smile.gif
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steve25
post Apr 23 2007, 07:51 PM
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QUOTE (wheeler @ Apr 23 2007, 07:47 PM) *
I know it's a tricky concept to wrap your head around when you're first starting out, but see if this comparison helps:

"I'm going to make music by using whatever notes I want whenever I want, regardless of all established guidelines pertaining to harmony and melody (i.e., chords and scales)"

is roughly equivalent to

"I'm going to go into this junkyard and build a helicopter using whatever parts I feel like using, regardless of whether or not I know anything about helicopters, mechanics, aerodynamics, or physics."

It can be done...but it's a lot easier if you know what you're doing. smile.gif


Ok yeah i think so. It's a matter of taking a scale pattern or patterns and experimenting with them and seeing what you can come up with, improvising type thing. I was just listening to the lick of the day and saw that he was using the C minor pentatonic scale which i get those notes were in that scale. But from looking at that i take it it's ok to add notes in that aren't in that scale pattern as long as it sound alright. I mean like he used a 10 on the E string which isn't in the pattern so does that means you can add some notes in if you want to?
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wheeler
post Apr 23 2007, 08:07 PM
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QUOTE (steve25 @ Apr 23 2007, 01:51 PM) *
Ok yeah i think so. It's a matter of taking a scale pattern or patterns and experimenting with them and seeing what you can come up with, improvising type thing. I was just listening to the lick of the day and saw that he was using the C minor pentatonic scale which i get those notes were in that scale. But from looking at that i take it it's ok to add notes in that aren't in that scale pattern as long as it sound alright. I mean like he used a 10 on the E string which isn't in the pattern so does that means you can add some notes in if you want to?


Exactly. Knowing scales, for a musician, is the equivalent of an architect knowing how to build the basic frame of a house. Once the frame is built, then he can do whatever he wants to the house...make it look like a boring brick square, or a giant octopus, or whatever. The frame, for us, is the scale. The giant octopus house is what you decide to do with that scale. So if you want to play a lick based on C minor pentatonic, go ahead and add in whatever notes you want, as long as it sounds good to you. The C minor pentatonic scale is just a framework for you to build on, or a lump of clay for you to mold.

How about this old saying....the reason for learning the rules is so that you know how to break them.

Scales are just tools...EXTREMELY USEFUL TOOLS.... that help you to reproduce the sound you hear in your head.

And yes, I DID talk about a giant octopus house in a thread about scales. laugh.gif laugh.gif
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brainlesswonder
post Apr 23 2007, 08:50 PM
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Andrew Cockburn
post Apr 23 2007, 08:54 PM
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QUOTE (wheeler @ Apr 23 2007, 03:07 PM) *
Exactly. Knowing scales, for a musician, is the equivalent of an architect knowing how to build the basic frame of a house. Once the frame is built, then he can do whatever he wants to the house...make it look like a boring brick square, or a giant octopus, or whatever. The frame, for us, is the scale. The giant octopus house is what you decide to do with that scale. So if you want to play a lick based on C minor pentatonic, go ahead and add in whatever notes you want, as long as it sounds good to you. The C minor pentatonic scale is just a framework for you to build on, or a lump of clay for you to mold.

How about this old saying....the reason for learning the rules is so that you know how to break them.

Scales are just tools...EXTREMELY USEFUL TOOLS.... that help you to reproduce the sound you hear in your head.

And yes, I DID talk about a giant octopus house in a thread about scales. laugh.gif laugh.gif


Great post wheeler, I totally agree. They key point is that music theory is there to try and explain what sounds good and why. It can be great if you want to get fancy, but half the time at least I suspect everyone comes up with something they think sounds cool and then works out the theory for it after the fact.

Music theory and scales are a great place to start becuse they train you in all of the ways Tank mentioned, but at a certain point you transcend the scales and play what sounds good to you and that is where the music really is, not in the theory itself.


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steve25
post Apr 23 2007, 09:33 PM
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Ok thanks for the help i think i get it now. I better get learning scales eventually then.
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Robin
post Apr 23 2007, 09:34 PM
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To be honest, you dont really need scale to make music. I never use scales when I make songs, but thats only for my metal band. When I'm making blues/rock stuff I usually use minor pentatonic blues scale, and I sometimes use a couple of notes outside of it.
But! When improvising scales are 1000000000000% needed, unless you have worked on your own pattern or something. When soloing I have to use scales, or else it just goes straight to hell.

This post has been edited by Robin: Apr 23 2007, 09:38 PM


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steve25
post Apr 23 2007, 10:23 PM
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QUOTE (Robin @ Apr 23 2007, 09:34 PM) *
To be honest, you dont really need scale to make music. I never use scales when I make songs, but thats only for my metal band. When I'm making blues/rock stuff I usually use minor pentatonic blues scale, and I sometimes use a couple of notes outside of it.
But! When improvising scales are 1000000000000% needed, unless you have worked on your own pattern or something. When soloing I have to use scales, or else it just goes straight to hell.


Is that because you play rhythm? I've heard for that you don't really need scales if all you're ever going to play on a guitar is rhythm personally i want to be able to play both
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wheeler
post Apr 23 2007, 11:00 PM
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QUOTE (steve25 @ Apr 23 2007, 04:23 PM) *
Is that because you play rhythm? I've heard for that you don't really need scales if all you're ever going to play on a guitar is rhythm personally i want to be able to play both


When you're playing metal rhythm guitar, dissonance is not considered a bad thing....and the best way to sound dissonant is to play outside the scales. For ANY rhythm guitar, though, chances are that you are going to want to play chords at some point....and what are chords built from??

You guessed it, SCALES. biggrin.gif
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Robin
post Apr 24 2007, 08:24 PM
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I'm the only guitar player in the band. It's all about the riffs. We dont use scales at all when making riffs.


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Andrew Cockburn
post Apr 24 2007, 09:04 PM
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QUOTE (Robin @ Apr 24 2007, 03:24 PM) *
I'm the only guitar player in the band. It's all about the riffs. We dont use scales at all when making riffs.


Sure you do - you just don't think about it in scales terms smile.gif

Not trying to be argumentative - I think this is a good illustration of a case where you play what sounds cool and creative and then you could fit a scale to it after the fact if you wanted to, because you have experience with scales. This is what I meant when I said "this is where the music is" - the scales don't enter into the process consciously at all - theory is playing catchup and trying to describe something that already exists, rather than driving its creation in the first place.


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Ryan
post Apr 24 2007, 09:50 PM
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Would some1 also explain "phrasing" with the scales and everything. Ive watched the video kris did, but I just want a further explanation of it please adn thank you biggrin.gif


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Andrew Cockburn
post Apr 24 2007, 09:55 PM
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QUOTE (Ryan @ Apr 24 2007, 04:50 PM) *
Would some1 also explain "phrasing" with the scales and everything. Ive watched the video kris did, but I just want a further explanation of it please adn thank you biggrin.gif

Scales are the notes you play, phrasing is more about how you play them. Phrasing could be anything from whether you use legato or alt picking, timing between the notes, or even the selection of notes.


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steve25
post Apr 24 2007, 10:11 PM
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While we're on this topic, is it important in guitar playing to learn every single note on the fret board. What i mean is should you know where every note is ie you could play 7th fret, g string and instantly know what that note is and likewise for all the other strings? If so for what?
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