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which scale


Lynden

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When I'm playing a scale, I've noticed that other people play them differently. for instance,my E major scale begins on the big E string and ends on the B string. Are there names for the different ways to play scales.
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Well, there are a lot of different ways to play the same scale and there's a system called the "CAGED System" that I use in my lessons that gives different scale shapes letter names. Which makes them a little bit confusing, but is really helpful in remembering minor/relative major and that.

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Hmm, I don't know whether there are different names for them (I don't want to say 'no' and end up looking stupid). Actually, I feel pretty safe in saying that each scale has a name. And even though you play them in a different way, it's still the same scale.

 

You can make scales extend past octaves, so you don't have to end on the B string (you end it on the 5th fret of that string though, right?). And since there are an amount of enharmonic notes on the guitar, you can play scales different ways vertically, and horizontally. It's an advantage to know how to play a scale across the entire fretboard. So don't stop once you learn how to play a scale one way.

 

Case in point, I used to only know one 'box' way to play scales, so if I wanted to play in E flat, I'd have to plop my finger down in a barre at the 11th fret and jam out from there. I've grown up a bit since then ;)

 

bass247, I never had lessons, and your system seems to be a good, efficient way to learn them (by how you describe it anyways). I learned in a completely unstructured way. Or I've been learning, as I'm working hard on blindly venturing into incorporating chromatic, non-scalar notes and making them sound like not-crap.

 

Err, how does everyone else approach the fretboard? A series of boxes? Does anyone play by identifying the note names on the guitar reflexively and memorizing the order of flats/sharps in each scale and keeping this in mind while playing?

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Um, are you talking about the quote in my signature? I confess, I don't know where that man in my quote got the software.

 

But you don't need software, in any case.

 

A chart of a guitar fretboard, showing the letter name of each note at every single fret, is all you need.

 

So in the E scale, you have four sharps: F, C, G, and D. If you know what every fretted string on the guitar translates to as a note, you can write out your own giant chart of the E major scale covering the breadth of the fretboard.

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There are I 4-5 octaves on a typical guitar and multiple ways to play any given note, so there isn't just one E scale. I've never counted but there must be quite a few ways to play an E scale, you can finger things so many different ways.
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Some of this is probably explained in detail in the music theory thread at the stuck to the top of the main page.
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If you are playing a major scale, and starting on the e and ending on the e, you are in the Ionian (major, root) mode of the e maj scale. You can play an e scale in seven other modes when starting and ending on different notes. Look up major scale modes. They do have names, and shapes if you want to learn the fretboard by shapes. There are countless web pages and music theory books dedicated to it so I won't get into it here.

I don't suppose there is any law that says if you start on e you have to end on e, but generally, you need to make sure you resolve at the end and your solo might sound better if you resolve to the root, e in this case, especially if the chord progression resolves in the same manor. But whatever sounds good.

bbach

 

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You should get very familiar with the fretboard so that you can start with any note of a scale on any string and continue playing the scale from there. Once you've accomplished that you'll find that you have learned all seven modes in all 12 scales, then you just have to learn their names! :-)
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Thanks for your precision, Bbach, but I think they're all talking about fingering differences for the E major scale that are possible across the fretboard. Same notes in different octaves or starting in the same octave from different strings.

 

I don't know if this is what Maisie described as the "caged" system, but guitar fretboards offer a flexibility unattainable by keyboards and many other instruments when playing the major scale in different keys. Other stringed instruments share this to some extent.

 

I'm speaking of the ability to the physical geometry of fingerings being constant for a particular type of scale so long as you begin the root on a specific string.

 

For example, you can play this geometry for a single octave of a major scale with the root note anywhere on the low E or A strings. The following graphics show bass fingerings that are the same as the lower 4 guitar strings. The first is an F#major scale and the second {edit: I was asleep.. B {end edit} major scale:

 

http://www.harmony-central.com/Bass/Articles/Running_with_the_Bass/Docs1/major-scale-fingering.gif

 

http://www.harmony-central.com/Bass/Articles/Running_with_the_Bass/Docs1/a-major-scale-fingering.gif

 

You could play {edit: B end edit} major using this fingering beginning on the low E string at the 7th fret and F# an octave up by starting on the A string at the 9th fret. Either way, the fingering is identical no matter what root note defines the key, so long as you play from a root on the E or A string.

 

It's only because the third to second string tuning is a major third (four half steps or frets) rather than a perfect fourth (5 half steps or frets) that you must shift the geometry of the fingering between these strings up a fret, yielding this:

 

http://img455.imageshack.us/img455/4317/majorroot4thstringgi4.jpg

 

Move up another string for your root and it further changes to this:

 

http://img455.imageshack.us/img455/3192/majorroot3rdstringon8.jpg

 

Once you learn these three fingerings you can easily play a full octave major scale, beginning from any root on any string, without shifting your hand position. From there, you can use your knowledge of these fingerings to move from position to position.

 

This isn't possible on a keyboard because of how the white and black keys are setup. Most musical keys on piano require you to learn a new fingering.

 

While these are easy box fingerings for major scales, there are many ways to combine parts of these geometric patterns for major scales, as well as different patterns for minor, wholetone, modal, pentatonic and other scales. In each case, once you learn a fingering it can be moved to another root on the same string and yield that scale type in another key.

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I had a jazz guitar teacher who taught me the modal fingerings where you can play an E major scale all over the neck, starting on each of the notes of the scale. It was very helpful, and I need to review it. I'm looking at learning a similar thing for the mandolin.

 

The idea being that if you're playing a tune where the tonality changes, you don't have to jump up to a different position just 'cause you don't know the scale right where you're at! Ideally we should be able to play in any key in any position without having to think about it... of course, we all know we don't live in an ideal world!

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There is only one "E major" scale, as Phil W points out. From the theory thread, I believe, there is a post on circle of fifths or something, and somewhere in there is the order of sharps/flats. The key of E is going to have sharps (because it's not F nor a flat), so we start reciting the order of sharps: F, C, G, D, ... But we can stop there, because we know the last sharp is going to be on the note just below the key we want (D being just before E). [These are just little rules to learn, like learning grammar.]

 

Most scales are written starting from the root pitch and ascend to an octave above. The octave is actually redundant, since it is the same note as the root. So, starting with just the note names and ignoring the accidentals, we have:

 

E F G A B C D

 

Now add the accidentals from above:

 

E F# G# A B C# D#

 

It's like a nice, ordered list.

 

Ok, on what octave, or actual pitch, does the E major scale start? Well, human hearing is generally said be able to detect sound frequencies between 20Hz-20kHz. So, I guess you could say that E0 at about 20.6Hz is where the E major scale starts. That's an octave below the lowest E on a bass guitar, or two octaves below the lowest E on guitar. Gonna be kinda hard to play that. Likewise there are E's that are at higher frequencies than what a guitar is capable of. So there's no "official" starting and ending pitch for any scale.

 

In practice, scales are usually initially taught only to one octave in a relatively easy range for whatever instrument you're playing. At least for wind instruments. On guitar it's pretty easy to play two octaves without having to shift (one octave for 4-string bass). On piano there are typically eight octaves that are equally easy to play. As you progress, you should practice scales to as many octaves as your instrument/technique allow. (On wind instruments, you're limited by technique; on guitar, you're limited by frets [assuming standard 6-string and tuning]).

 

Instruments like guitar are able to sound the same pitch in different ways. For example, 5th fret on the lowest-pitched E string results in the same A as the open A string. (Many wind instruments can do this, too.) Which is the "correct" A to play for the E major scale? Well, typically you'd play whichever is most economical in terms of motion, i.e. is easiest to play. Other factors may come into play, like a preference to avoid open strings. So there's no one correct answer. The "shapes" Maisie mentions are usually based on economy of motion.

 

For example, you could play a one-octave E major scale entirely on one string. Most people don't do this because it is limiting. However, it could be useful as an exercise, especially in learning all the notes on the neck.

 

There are so many goals you can have for practicing scales. For beginners, it gives them something to build up basic technique: fretting, plucking, posture, speed, rhythm, etc.

 

It also helps associate note names with string/fret combinations. It's a lot easier when somebody like a keyboard player -- who may not know how to play guitar -- can just tell you to play an A because he won't be able to say "play 5th fret on the top string".

 

If you're learning to read standard music notation, you also associate the note symbol with string/fret combinations.

 

It also helps build your muscle memory. It's helpful to be able to play any scale anywhere on the neck without having to consciously think about every note.

 

It's a basis for music theory, too.

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Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

Originally posted by Ricardo.:

Didn't I already say everything Ric said?

Yeah, pretty much. :eek:

Sometimes I just like to hear myself talk. :D:D:D

Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

Most scales are written starting from the root pitch and ascend to an octave above. The octave is actually redundant, since it is the same note as the root.

As, apparently, is Ric. :P

 

(Like I can talk... those edits in my post above were courtesy of a wake-up call from Ric. :o:freak: )

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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Hey Lynden, welcome to the best guitar forum on the internet. You can learn a lot here.

 

I wouldn't think of "scales" as a bunch of places on the guitar, but more so as an abstract concept. A C major scale on clarinet is the "same" as on guitar essentially. What you're asking about really are fingerings and patters and there is basically an infinate number of patterns you could use to play an given scale.

 

I don't know "where" you are in your guitar learning, but I'd think of it like this: there are "open" position scale patterns like the Carcassi ones, there are single string scale patterns which are really worth spending some time with, there are "three note per string" patterns which really help with improvising while playing in a single position (ie hanging out at third fret or whatever), and then there are patterns that get you up and down the neck like the segovia scales. I used to practice patterns that ascended the scale but decended the neck.

 

If you're not fully fluent with open scale patterns the I'd work on those. You can see the open chords in the patterns and the can be worked in to all sorts of playing with the open chords. The first etude in Carcassi's opus 60 is a great use of them and he gives those scale patterns in his method. Maybelle Carter's guitar playing uses them a lot. Every one should know them.

 

The single string patterns are probably good to work on next, followed by the three note per string patterns. When working on single string scales piture and work in chords, eventually octaves and finally cross string trills on to the adjacent string. The three note per sting patterns are a going to be your "work horse" patterns if you do any improvising. These are essentially single octave movable patterns stitched together, (or you can break them up into single octave patterns form the bigger two and a third octave patterns as some people learn them first). You'll spend you life breaking these up and swapping things in and out to fit songs you're playing and finding the arpeggios in them.

 

Lastly IMHO would be things like the the Segovia Scales which are meant to get you up and down the full range of the guitar. I wouldn't start with the segovia scales, but I would definately get to them. I play the C, G, E, A minor, E minor ones everyday. The Bminor is a good one too. There is a definate "how" and "why" to the Segovia scales, though there are other ways of tackling them that might be better.

 

Also, you should tackle arpeggio patterns in the same way you tackle scale work.

 

I agree with Caprae that good patterns should be found in the theory sticky post at the top of the thread listing page.

 

 

Also, the graphics posted by FantasticSound is execellent! Thanks for sharing it Neil.

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