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The Music Staff | Rests | Dotted Notes | Tied Notes | Timing | Time Signatures | Music Notation | Chromatic Scale | Major Diatonic Scale
Minor Diatonic Scale | Scale Modes | Complimentary Scales | Pentatonic Scale | Blues Scale | Chord Theory | Circle of Fifths
Alternate Guitar Tuning | Finger Picking | More Fingers | Intonation

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Music Scales

  In music, a Scale is a group of musical notes placed in ascending and descending order that represents part or all of a musical work including melody and harmony. Scales are ordered in pitch or pitch class, with their ordering determined by intervals or musical distance called a scale step. Most scales in traditional Western music generally consist of seven notes and repeat at the octave. Notes in the commonly used scales are separated by whole and half step intervals and this scale pattern of steps will determine the type of scale you are using , Major Diatonic Scale, Minor Diatonic Scale, Blues Scale, etc. The Scales are derived from the Chromatic Scale, which contains all the notes plus their corresponding "sharps or flats". Learning, and practicing, the scale patterns, and the complimentary scale pattern of each, will greatly improve your ability to play and improvise. The Scale patterns can also be played in different "modes" which will define the starting/entry point of the individual scale.

Chromatic Scale

  The Chromatic scale is all 12 notes including # (sharps) and b (flats) and divides the octave into its semitones. There are twelve semitones, or half steps, to an octave in the chromatic scale.

The notes for the Chromatic scale are as follows:
A -- A#/Bb -- B -- C -- C#/Db -- D -- D#/Eb -- E -- F -- F#/Gb -- G -- G#/Ab

chromatic scale

The Major Diatonic, (Ionian Mode), scale consists of a series of whole and half steps following this pattern;

Whole – Whole – Half – Whole – Whole – Whole - Half

USING THIS PATTERN OF WHOLE AND HALF STEPS AND CYCLING THROUGH THE NOTES WE GET THE DIATONIC SCALES FOR EACH KEY OR SCALE ROOT


Key Signature

Major Scale

Whole Step

Whole Step

Half Step

Whole Step

Whole Step

Whole Step

Half Step

Complimentary
Minor scale

Natural

C

D

E

F

G

A

B

C

Am

1 #

G

A

B

C

D

E

F#

G

Em

2 #

D

E

F#

G

A

B

C#

D

Bm

3 #

A

B

C#

D

E

F#

G#

A

F#m

4 #

E

F#

G#

A

B

C#

D#

E

C#m

5 #

B

C#

D#

E

F#

G#

A#

B

G#m

1 b

F

G

A

Bb

C

D

E

F

D

Degrees

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

Intervals

Perfect Prime

Major Second

Major Third

Perfect Fourth

Perfect Fifth

Major Sixth

Major Seventh

Perfect Octave

 

The Major Scale has a complimentary scale which shares the same key signatures and is called the Minor scale and it begins with the sixth note of its relative major scale.

The Minor Diatonic scale, (Aeolian Mode), consists of as series of whole and half steps following this pattern;

Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Half - Whole - Whole

USING THIS PATTERN OF WHOLE AND HALF STEPS AND CYCLING THROUGH THE NOTES WE GET THE DIATONIC SCALES FOR EACH KEY OR SCALE ROOT.


Key Signature

Minor  Scale

Whole Step

Half Step

Whole  Step

Whole Step

Half  Step

Whole Step

Whole  Step

Complimentary
Major Scale

Natural

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

A

C

1 #

E

F#

G

A

B

C

D

E

G

2 #

B

C#

D

E

F#

G

A

B

D

3 #

F#

G#

A

B

C#

D

E

F#

A

4 #

C#

D#

E

F#

G#

A

B

C#

E

5 #

G#

A#

B

C#

D#

E

F#

G#

B

1 b

D

E

F

G

A

Bb

C

D

F

Degrees

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

Intervals

Perfect Prime

Major Second

minor Third

Perfect Fourth

Perfect Fifth

minor Sixth

minor Seventh

Perfect Octave

 

On the guitar fret-board a Whole Step is 2 frets, a Half Step is 1 fret.

On the guitar fret-board a Whole Step is 2 frets, a Half Step is 1 fret.

If we start with the natural C scale, (no sharps or flats), and move it up the fretboard one step at a time, we can easily see where the sharps and flats play their role in defining the scales signature.

D scale fret pattern

Scale Modes

 These scales can also be played in a variety of modes that allow for a wider range of improvisational techniques, thereby giving us the ability to produce a greater number of musical phrasings than would be possible with just the basic scales. Each mode of the scale uses a different starting point (or note) within the scale to lend a unique “flavor” to the melody being played. These modes are;   

Ionian (Major) -------played from the root, or first degree, to the octave of the scale.

Dorian -----------------played from the second degree to the octave.

Phrygian --------------played from the third degree to the octave.

Lydian ---------------- played from the fourth degree to the octave.

Mixolydian ----------played from the fifth degree to the octave.

Aeolian (Minor) ----played from the sixth degree to the octave.

Locrian -----------------played from the seventh degree to the octave.

Scale Modes

Complimentary Scales

The Diatonic Major Scales with their complimentary Diatonic Minor Scales are; 

C major / A minor, (natural-no sharps or flats)

G major / E minor, (1 Sharp-F)

D major / B minor, (2 sharps-F + C)

A major / F# minor, (3 sharps-F + C + G)

E major / C# minor, (4 sharps-F+C+G+D)

B major / G# minor, (5 sharps-F+C+G+D+A)

F major /  D minor, (1 Flat-B)

Major Scales 1

Major Scales 2

    The two most commonly used variations on scale patterns are the “Pentatonic” scale and the “Blues” scale.

   The Pentatonic scale has five notes. Each note in the major pentatonic scale is a fifth relative to another note. For example, the C major pentatonic scale starts with C, then goes to G, then D, then A, then E. Rearranging the scale in order from C, we get: C, D, E, G, A.

   The Major Pentatonic is the same as the major scale with the 4th and 7th notes removed, while the minor pentatonic has the 2nd and 6th notes removed, the minor pentatonic is relative to the major pentatonic. It is used frequently in Country, Rock and Blues.

   The most common Blues Scale has six notes, and may be considered a minor pentatonic scale with the diminished 5th added as a blue note. In a major blues tune, the minor 3rd is also considered a blue note. The C blues scales is C, Eb, F, Gb, G, Bb. Sometimes the raised 7th degree (B) is added to this scale but is most often only used as a passing note, much like the diminished 5th. It is used frequently in Blues and Jazz.

Pentatonic and Blues Scales

Next - Circle of Fifths

The Music Staff | Rests | Dotted Notes | Tied Notes | Timing | Time Signatures | Music Notation | Chromatic Scale | Major Diatonic Scale
Minor Diatonic Scale | Scale Modes | Complimentary Scales | Pentatonic Scale | Blues Scale | Chord Theory | Circle of Fifths
Alternate Guitar Tuning | Finger Picking | More Fingers | Intonation

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