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A little help with scales... and just in general


(@duke-of-prunes)
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Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 3
Topic starter  

Right, so I just started playing guitar again about a week ago after not having played for 2 years or so. I about 7-8 months of lessons, then just occasionally played around a little bit. I'd forgotten how much fun it was, I can't believe I ever stopped. It's just so satisfying...

So yeah, luckily enough I've found that I what I learned back then is still there, it even seems that things such as chord changes are better than before. I know, and can change smoothly between, basic chords - By which I mean, for example: A-Am-C-D-Dm-D7-G-E-Em-F-Fm, etc - basically, the point I'm trying to make is I've realized that I can pretty much look at a certain type of song and just play it, which I find boring.

So - what next? I need something to practice... Now, the question that will be asked is what do I want to be able to do/play? I was thinking something like Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix/Stevie Ray Vaughan). More importantly than a specific song, I'd like to learn something that will help me get a better 'understanding' of the music... I don't know how to best explain it, but at the beginning I needed the individual chords to be tabbed out exactly, and now both the forms and strumming patterns come naturally, something that will help/improve my playing in general.

What are some important/cool things to know how to do the guitar?

For one thing, I hear scales are good to know... specifically Pentatonic major, minor. I've looked into it(that means I typed those words into google) but as is so often the case, the Internet is so packed with information it's difficult to filter out the 'good stuff'. Or at least 'relevant' stuff. So can someone please quickly explain how to best practice these scales, and what's important to know about them? What's the blues scale?

Any form of comment/advice is greatly appreciated

Cheers,
DOP

Edit: while I'm at it, what's the difference between a mode and a scale? Thank you!


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(@alangreen)
Member Moderator
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5366
 

Pentatonic scales are the basic building blocks for soloing and building riffs, so they're incredibly useful to know. The regular major/minor scales (and, for the minor scale, all three variations) will add to your musical toolbox, but pentatonics are a good place to start.

I would suggest:

- Learn the A minor pentatonic in all five patterns

- Understand why the A minor pentatonic is also the C Major pentatonic

- Learn what keys you're playing in if you play the A minor patterns at any other point on the neck

Once you're comfortable with the shapes and patterns though, don't practise them as scales, practise them as musical phrases; there's nothing more mind-numbingly dull than drilling scales.

Other really useful things to know at this time - more chords - Major, Minor, dominant 7th, major 7ths, minor 7ths for all 12 notes is a good place to start

Even more useful - pick your three favourite songs and learn to play them. If you've done that, try turning on the radio and learning the first song you hear (that's what I'm doing for my Saturday morning music school students.)

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


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(@hbriem)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 646
 

Train your ear.

By that I mean, think of a recognisable melody or tune that you know well, say Frere Jacques, Whole Lotta Love or Happy Birthday. Then play it.

The ability to translate from brain to fingers is invaluable.

As for the chords, learn movable chord shapes, starting with the E and A shape barre chords, then Em and Am. This opens up a lot of doors.

--
Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com


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(@duke-of-prunes)
New Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 3
Topic starter  

Thanks for your quick replies.

@Alan Green - Looked up the A Pentatonic Minor Scale, and found one website with 20 different patterns... The other had 5. Just to be sure I'm doing the right thing (although I do feel somewhat bad with the entire internet at my disposal asking such basic questions):

Pattern 1:
A C D E G A C D E G A C
1 4 1 3 1 3 1 3 1 4 1 4
-------------------------------5--8---------------
-------------------------5--8---------------------
-------------------5--7---------------------------
-------------5--7---------------------------------
-------5--7---------------------------------------
-5--8---------------------------------------------


Pattern 2:

C D E G A C D E G A C D
2 4 1 4 1 4 1 3 2 4 2 4
-----------------------------------8--10----------
----------------------------8--10-----------------
----------------------7--9------------------------
---------------7--10------------------------------
--------7--10-------------------------------------
-8--10--------------------------------------------

Pattern 3:
D E G A C D E G A C D E
1 3 1 3 1 3 1 4 1 4 1 3
----------------------------------------10--12----
--------------------------------10--13------------
-------------------------9--12--------------------
-----------------10--12---------------------------
---------10--12-----------------------------------
-10--12-------------------------------------------

Pattern 4:
E G A C D E G A C D E G
1 4 1 4 1 3 1 3 2 4 1 4
-----------------------------------------12--15---
---------------------------------13--15-----------
-------------------------12--14-------------------
-----------------12--14---------------------------
---------12--15-----------------------------------
-12--15-------------------------------------------


Pattern 5:

G A C D E G A C D E G A
2 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 2 4 2 4
-----------------------------------------15--17---
---------------------------------15--17-----------
-------------------------14--17-------------------
-----------------14--17---------------------------
---------15--17-----------------------------------
-15--17-------------------------------------------

Obviously I'd play those up and down...

@Hbriem - Thanks, another good tip... will give it a shot, although it doesn't seem like the kind of thing I'd be good at :)

Used barre chords before for several different songs although I never really 'studied' them, so I'll take a look at that as well.

Also, I just realized the Blues scale is the same as the pentatonic with some notes added on... found the 'formula' as well, so that's all cleared up then.

Ah yeah, difference between scales and modes?

Again, thanks, this has already been massively helpful.

DOP


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(@hbriem)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 646
 

@Hbriem - Thanks, another good tip... will give it a shot, although it doesn't seem like the kind of thing I'd be good at :)
Neither am I. But it's very important. Playing what you want to and can think of is pretty much the definition of musician.
Used barre chords before for several different songs although I never really 'studied' them, so I'll take a look at that as well.

If you have the E shape barre down, you have 12 chords right there. E, F, F#, G etc.
Lift the middle finger off and you have 12 more, Em, Fm, F#m, Gm etc.
Lift off the little finger and you have 12 more, E7, F7, F#7, G7 etc.
Remove both middle and little finger and you have 12 more, Em7, Fm7, F#m7, Gm7 etc.
Move the middle, ring and little fingers around a bit and you have 12 more, Emaj7, Fmaj7, F#maj7, Gmaj7 etc.
That's 60 new chords for basically one technique. Lot's of bang for the buck.

Learn the A-based barre shapes and you have 60 more (yes, the same ones, but in a different position and voicing).
Ah yeah, difference between scales and modes?

None. Modes are scales. Just less useful than most unless you're a medieval monk.

Three are major in character. Ionian = major scale. Lydian = major with a #4. Mixolydian = major with a b7.
Three are minor in character. Aeolian = natural minor. Dorian = natural minor with a #6. Phrygian with a b2.
One is mostly theoretical and unusable because it lacks th 5th. Locrian = natural minor with a b2 and b5.

--
Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com


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(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1092
 

Ah yeah, difference between scales and modes?

None. Modes are scales. Just less useful than most unless you're a medieval monk.

Agreed. They are, simplistically put, displaced scales.

Ionian - Also known as the major scale;
follows the pattern W-W-H-W-W-W-H.

Dorian - Constructed from the second note of a major scale;
follows the pattern W-H-W-W-W-H-W.

Phrygian - Constructed from the third note of a major scale;
follows the pattern H-W-W-W-H-W-W.

Lydian - Constructed from the fourth note of a major scale;
follows the pattern W-W-W-H-W-W-H.

Mixolydian - Constructed from the fifth note of a major scale;
follows the pattern W-W-H-W-W-H-W.

Aeolian - Also known as the natural minor scale, constructed from the sixth note of a major scale;
follows the pattern W-H-W-W-H-W-W.

Locrian - Constructed from the seventh note of a major scale;
follows the pattern H-W-W-H-W-W-W.

I can't get my head wrapped around why I'd be concerned about playing with modes if I'm not composing or improvising.

To understand the mode you are using, F Phrygian, for example, you have to know your major scales. F Phrygian is made from the 3rd note of Db major:

Db major = Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C
F Phrygian = F Gb Ab Bb C Db Eb

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


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(@kopfschmerzen)
Trusted Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 62
 

I would suggest:

- Learn the A minor pentatonic in all five patterns

Good point. Didn't work for me, though. The problem is that if I learn something without a context, it doesn't get stuck in my head. I need to use all five patterns to memorize them, and I don't yet see a reason for that. Any ideas?


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(@alangreen)
Member Moderator
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5366
 

I would suggest:

- Learn the A minor pentatonic in all five patterns

Good point. Didn't work for me, though. The problem is that if I learn something without a context, it doesn't get stuck in my head. I need to use all five patterns to memorize them, and I don't yet see a reason for that. Any ideas?
Write a song in that key. Then create a solo for the middle bit.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


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(@tinsmith)
Prominent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 830
 

Minor pents are good, once you carve them into your brain.......Don't forget about key changes.

I had luck learning the board with A,D & E.

then there's Major, three frets down.....same deal.

It all hooks together pretty nicely at the end.


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(@scrybe)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2246
 

So - what next? I need something to practice... Now, the question that will be asked is what do I want to be able to do/play? I was thinking something like Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix/Stevie Ray Vaughan).
Having played Little Wingand much of Hendrix's back catalogue, I'd say it is one his trickier songs to learn. I'd suggest starting with something that uses similar Hendrix techniques but isn't as tricky to execute, like Hey Joe, and then working up to Little Wing.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


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