does the major scale really exist...

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almann1979
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does the major scale really exist...

Post by almann1979 » August 13th, 2009, 11:09 am

or is it just a practical joke??

The reason i ask is that when i search for soloing tips on the internet, in find a bazillion pentatonic and blues lessons, a few harmonic minor lessons - but a lesson purely on major scale licks (not major pentatonic) - seems to not exist.

I almost always use the blues scale to solo over major keys, but the guilt of my lazyness has made me want to get more familar with the major scale - why is it so hard to find good major scale licks??

is it simply that the blues scale is so much easier to learn??
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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by dhodge » August 13th, 2009, 12:01 pm

Hi Al

They definitely exist, maybe just not on the Internet or perhaps not in a "licks library" fashion. For example, I think the very first of our "Scales into Solos" lessons works with the differences between the pentatonic and major scales, but it's definitely a "hands on and see for yourself" sort of thing.

Books, on the other hand, can give you a whole bunch, particularly jazz books such as Jazz Guitar: Swing to Bebop by Doug Munro (excellent book - part of the "21st Century PRO METHOD" series by Warner Brothers).

The basic problem with "licks books" or even websites, is that they usually give you licks based on a certain single chord or tonality. The reality is that songs move in progressions and this is why the idea of having "targets" is so important. The scales are simply paths that you can use to get from one target to another. The major scale gives you a few more ways to reach a particular note than the pentatonic.

If you pick a song or a progression that has a strong pop feel, as opposed to a rock or blues feel, and noodle with the major scale, you'll soon find yourself with a lot of possible licks. Something like Under the Boardwalk or Stand By Me (just to use some (predictably) old and stale examples as I am so wont to do :wink: ), that use a strong IV chord and that the major seventh is more important than the flatted one. Don't be timid about coming up with your own. The whole point of the major scale is that it gives you the fourth and major seventh (as opposed to the major pentatonic), so play around with those particular notes and get them into your ears and head and fingers. Don't be shy about over-stressing them at first in order to help give yourself confidence about how they work into the scale.

As a rule (and maybe "rule" is too strong a word), the pentatonic and blues scales are easier for most guitarists but when you start using the major scale more, you might find you prefer the wider range of tones you get just with the two extra notes.

And I'll hunt around in my library next chance I get and see if I can't dig out some other sources for you.

Hope this helps.

Peace

almann1979
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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by almann1979 » August 13th, 2009, 12:20 pm

Thanks David - much appreciated as usual.
i feel like i am on the beginning of my journey with this scale, but i will take your advice and just dive in over different backing tracks and familiarise myself with how these extra notes sound and what i can do with them, while keeping target notes in mind.

it sounds so simple when i put it like that :lol: :lol:

thanks again. AL
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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by dhodge » August 13th, 2009, 12:28 pm

Seriously - the "simpler" you think things are, the more likely it is that you'll work at it and do well. I suspect that a lot of people stay away from the major scale because it isn't as easy or "guitar friendly" as the pentatonic scale, but when you get very comfortable both with the major scale and with trusting your ear and fingers for a target, you've got the whole concept of modes down without doing anything remotely hard! Quite the bonus.

You've made such big strides in the past year that I highly doubt this is going to keep you in the "beginning of the journey" stage for long.

Peace

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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by rparker » August 13th, 2009, 8:15 pm

I don't mean to hijack a good thread, but I do have a related question. The only scale that I know and use is the minor pentatonic. I decided to add another scale and chose the major pent. Should I just go ahead and do the major scale rather than the major pent scale?
Roy

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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by jason brann » August 13th, 2009, 9:52 pm

that's an interesting question. on the one hand, you can get the major pentatonic out of the minor pentatonic, so in a way, you already know it. just start on the second note of the minor pent and you have the major.
on the other, the major pentatonic is part of the major scale, so by learning the major scale, you'll also know the major pentatonic in a way. (major scale = major pent + 4th and 7th)
the best answer, of course, is to learn them both.

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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by Alan Green » August 14th, 2009, 2:09 am

Almost - if you're playing the A minor pentatonic (A-C-D-E-G) you're effectively also playing the C major pentatonic (C-D-E-G-A), in the same way as playing the A natural minor scale gives you the same notes as the C major scale; it's all a question of your starting point, relative majors and minors, and patterns of steps between the notes.


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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by cnev » August 14th, 2009, 5:53 am

+1 on David's comment on your playing Al you really have come along way from what I have seen and you are definitely a natural with the guitar. You have very good finger dexterity and seem to have a good command of your left hand.

With that said I've run into the same dilema myself. I could never seem to find a way to improvise with the major scale. When I use the min pent or blues and can get some decent improves at times but when I switch to the major scale it never sounds right. But I need to take's Dave's advice myself and go back and force myself to use it. I don't spend any time practicing this...gee ya think that might be why I can't do it well!
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almann1979
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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by almann1979 » August 14th, 2009, 9:11 am

Thanks cnev.

Actually, on the back of this thread i actually did something quite spontaneous today - i phoned up a guitar teacher and have just got back from a lesson on major scale soloing (seems he was quiet today) - we went over using different modal positions to track the chord progression and he was very firm and insistant and stopped me playing every time he thought i was dropping back into blues scale playing.

At first i actually couldnt come up with a single lick with these unfamiliar positions, but by then end of the hour i was playing melody in the major scale and the "between bits" were blues/pentatonic runs etc.

my playing sounded very different. i liked it. :D

i dont think i can afford the money or time for regular lessons, but once every school holidays might be a great way for me to get a playing check over and a nudge in the right direction.

thanks for all the replies guys
"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)

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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by jason brann » August 14th, 2009, 3:18 pm

Alan Green wrote:Almost
no, exactly.

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Coolnama
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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by Coolnama » August 14th, 2009, 4:11 pm

Different tonal center, I think that is what makes it an almost, no?

Exactly the same notes but doesnt sound quite the same
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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by jason brann » August 14th, 2009, 11:08 pm

never mind

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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by cpo » August 15th, 2009, 5:04 am

I have been listening to both Guitar Noise podcasts, and podcasts by Desi Serna in my quest to get back to basics. GN has been helping me tremendously with technique and Desi has been helpful with theory.

One of his free podcasts is specific to the major scale and songs that use the major scale. Not sure if you have heard it or not...but you can get it here: http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-37557/TS-72031.mp3

The list of the other free theory lessons are here: http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/ta ... 557&cmd=tc

One of the things I thought was interesting, just as dhodge suggested, was just taking a song and playing the major scale over the top of it. Desi gives examples of this in the podcast, and recommends songs to practice with too.

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Re: does the major scale really exist...

Post by HobbyPicker » August 21st, 2009, 1:26 pm

I may bring this thread way off with this, but I feel it's really important, and to the topic.

I've become really fascinated by Victor Wooten, have read his book "The Music Lesson" and also have his DVD "Groove Workshop", both have really widened my understanding of music, and somehow changed my approach and inspired me to listen more and think less while I'm playing.

Now, on scales, one of his statements is that it's only one scale you need to practice, the chromatic scale. Each and every note on the fretboard can be played against any chord, and adds a special color, some sound pleasant and consonant, and resolves the movement, some sound very dissonant and adds tension, wanting to go somewhere else. Now the exercise will be to play the chromatic scale against some music, backing track or whatever, listen to the sound, getting used to the feeling and sound of dissonant notes and learning what happens when you move to the next step. You are never more than half a step or one fret from a diatonic note (a note within the scale of the key).

Spending a few minutes every day playing to random music that you don't know, listening, locking into the groove and finding the good sounding notes is great ear training and builds invaluable skills for improvising and jamming. 8) :D

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