In isolation, they can be dead boring. But if you take a little time to understand how scales are constructed it will help you enormously with finding the right chords for a song, and allow you to use the easiest and most fluid fingerings when playing.
And there are ways to bring them alive by adding a bit of swing, or playing the notes in a different order to vary the scale patterns.
So – what is a scale. Very simply, it’s a group of notes, usually starting with the tonic note, played in ascending or descending order, and finishing on an octave of the tonic note. If you play a C major scale then C is the tonic note, a D minor scale will have D as the tonic note.
These are scales that may include intervals greater than a whole step such as the pentatonic scale and the blues scale – much loved by guitarists.
There are thousands of possible scales but we’ll start with the most useful and basic one – the Major scale.
The Major Scale
If you’ve ever sung Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Te-Do then you are already familiar with the major scale. It’s a diatonic scale with a pattern of whole and half steps in the following order (where W = whole step, and H = half step)
The C Major scale is the easiest to remember as there are no sharps or flats, just the natural notes.
The pattern of intervals is W-W-H-W-W-W-H (see the piano keyboard in Lesson Three where all the notes are on the white keys)
A C Major chord is formed using the tonic, the third and the fifth notes of the C Major scale.
More about scales very soon!
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