Minor scale

RhodesRhodes Posts: 1,584Member
In various books I have seen mention of three different types of minor scale - natural, harmonic and, er, the other one. Is there any particular scale that guitarists should concentrate on, in particular?

Even more basic, perhaps, but what is the point of scales? I practise doing a version of the minor pentatonic and of the major scale, and I enjoy doing that, for the sake of coordination, but is there any other good reason to learn them? Is it just to be able to do a solo over chords...?

Comments

  • Options
    STOP NOW!

    Don't get trapped in scale limbo. I did this when I was about 17. I started to learn scales and modes and couldn't get out of it for about a year.

    I generally feel that there's a lot of people out there who deliberately play scales all the time. These people know what they're "supposed" to play over cetain chord progressions, but do all their playing on autopilot instead of putting their heart and soul into it.

    Most great rock and blues based guitarists don't actually know what scales they're playing because they've learned to play rather than just following textbook styles.

    Learn songs and steal the licks that you like. The more you play them, the more you'll gradually change them and make them your own. Take what SRV did with the licks of Albert King, or what Slash has done with Angus Young's style, or even what Nuno Bettencourt has managed to come up with from EVH and Brian May's rhythm styles. It'll take a while, but will be all the more rewarding in the end and you'll end up with a style all your own.

    Just my two cents.
  • Options
    That said however. It all comes down to the style of music you play. The learning methods behind a lot of Jazz and country music is rather more "academical" in nature.

    If you want to play like Martin Taylor or some of the Nashville session boys, get your head in those books. And by the way. Major, Minor pentatonics and harmonics etc. won't even get you to novice level with these styles, so there's a lot of work to be done.

    Good luck, and stick at it. \:D
  • SwoopSwoop Posts: 680Member
    Minor scales:

    pure
    harmonic
    melodic.

    T = Tone (2 frets)
    ST = Semi-tone (1fret)

    Pure:

    1-2 (T) 2-3 (ST) 3-4 (T) 4-5 (T) 5-6 (ST) 6-7 (T) 7-1 (T)

    Harmonic:

    1-2 (T) 2-3 (ST) 3-4 (T) 4-5 (T) 5-6 (ST) 6-7# (T1/2) 7#-1 (ST)

    Melodic:

    1-2 (T) 2-3 (ST) 3-4 (T) 4-5 (T) 5-6# (T) 6#-7# (T) 7#-1 (ST)

    I have been told that the pure form can be ignored. It is just used to get the other two. Harmonic, I believe are the most important (they are the ones my tutor makes me practise most). Melodic are a pain because you go up the scale in the melodic pattern and then come back down in the pure pattern (so I guess it does get used).

    Scales are the notes that are supposed to be used in a certain key.
  • RhodesRhodes Posts: 1,584Member
     Quote:
    Originally posted by Swoop:


    Scales are the notes that are supposed to be used in a certain key.


    Very many thanks. And to Big Paulie, too. It strikes me that it is a good idea to learn the main scales, as long as you don't get too restricted by them. Is there any way of knowing which variaton of the minor scale to use in a certain context, or is it just a matter of what sounds right? The pentatonic scales simply miss out a few of the less common notes. Is that about it?

    Dare I also ask what harmonics are? They talk about them all the time in guitar magazines and talk about touching the strings with the right hand (that's left to you, La Fleche!) 12 frets or so up the fretboard. But what are they in this context? Is it meant to make a funny noise or something? Is it something that's just restricted to plugged-in electric guitars, or does it also work on an acoustic?

    Thank you again. \:\) \:D \:\)

    [ 21 January 2003: Message edited by: Rhodes ]
  • Options
     Quote:
    Originally posted by Rhodes:

    Dare I also ask what harmonics are? They talk about them all the time in guitar magazines and talk about touching the strings with the right hand (that's left to you, La Fleche!) 12 frets or so up the fretboard. But what are they in this context? Is it meant to make a funny noise or something? Is it something that's just restricted to plugged-in electric guitars, or does it also work on an acoustic?


    Hmm. I have two explanations. One requires breaking out some physics, and I don't have the pictures handy.

    In simple terms, when you pluck the string, the two ends are fixed at the nut and the bridge. The middle of the string, at the 12th fret, wiggles up and down the most.

    If, though, you lightly touch the string over the 12th fret, then pluck, the string must be stationary at the 12th fret as well - make sense? So the string wiggles halfway from the 12th fret to the nut and to the bridge (over the 5th and 17th frets, I think). So the note is double the frequency - an octave higher than the open string.

    Similarly, if you pluck the string while your finger is over a point 1/3rd of the way along the string, the note produced is 3 times the frequency - an octave and a fifth above the open string. That corresponds to the 7th fret (or the 19th).

    If you pluck 1/4 of the way from the nut, the note is 4 times the frequency, or 2 octaves up.

    In theory this would work at 1/5th, 1/6th and so on, but by this point you tend to damp the string too much to get any volume out when you pluck, so the main harmonics are at the 12th, 7th and 5th frets.

    Essentially, a harmonic is a note that is a multiple of the original frequency, and restricting the string's movement allows you to get these notes to ring out. There's a lot more to it than just what I've put here though, if you really get down to it.
  • Options
    A lot of people approach 'learning scales' as if it is some seperate entity, a little area you can perfect all on it's own to make you a 'great guitarist'. That's like learning flawless grammar whilst having a vocabulary of all of 10 words, you're still not going to be able to communicate very well.

    Having a good grounding in music theory allows you to communicate in a more efficient manner with other musicians. No, you don't have to have any knowledge in this, any more than you have to have basic reading and writing skills, but it sure makes life easier \:\)

    Scales in themselves are relatively pointless to play up and down in sequence. It's good co-ordination practise but not particularly musical. Interval exercises are a little better, but still not really 'tuneful'. But the central idea is valid: When you're playing with other musicians in a given key then certain notes sound good and certain notes don't sit so easily. It's very useful to know which notes you can play to sit easily, which create forward momentum, which sound edgy and which sound like a bag of poo. As a rhythm guitarist, I can see that this knowledge might appear to be of no use, as you'll be playing chords, but for a bass player or melody player (like a lead guitarist) it's really good to know what will sound good without having to play it to see!

    As for which styles require more music theory, I'd say Jazz, Prog Rock, Fussion, and Math Rock tend to be theory laden, but it does depend on the band. And 'pure' minors not being used? Err .. well, I guess it depends. I make considerable use of both the Aeolian and Dorian scales (so, the 'pure' minor and a pure minor with a sharped 6th) but then I play a lot of minor key jazz rock type stuff. Kind of. \:\)

    If you have the time and inclination then I'd suggest learning the principals but not falling into the practise of running up and down scale patterns for three hours a day like so many metal guitarists in the late 80's ;\)
  • HerbieHerbie Posts: 893Member
     Quote:
    Originally posted by andira:

    Essentially, a harmonic is a note that is a multiple of the original frequency, and restricting the string's movement allows you to get these notes to ring out. There's a lot more to it than just what I've put here though, if you really get down to it.


    If you apply that from a technique perspective then you can then create some rather interesting sounds...

    Natural harmonics - just rest a finger on the string over the 5, 7 or 12 frets (there are others but these are the strongest) and pluck... as you pluck release the left hand and you get a natural harmonic.

    Tapped Harmonics - (always get confused by the names, but anyway)... if you're fretting on say the 2nd fret and you want an octave harmonic, then you can get this by tapping the same string 12 frets higher... so in this example, tap the 14th fret and you'll get a harmonic.

    Pinch Harmonics - take practice and need a nicely overdriven sound. Fret with the left hand as usual. With the right, you need to find one of the nodes (frequently over the neck pickup)and pick the note but dragging the side of your thumb over the string immediately following the pick. If you get it right, you get that trademark ZZ Top squeal.. Rock and Roll!!

    There are also Artificial harmonics, but I can never remember how to do these!

    [ 21 January 2003: Message edited by: Herbie ]
  • RhodesRhodes Posts: 1,584Member
    Thanks very much all. On scales, I enjoy practising them a bit, though am still not very proficient at all. I really need to improve my coordination, so that my right hand is plucking the string that my left hand is fretting. Pretty fundamental stuff!

    I shall now spend more time trying to work out what harmonics sound like. I think I had (mis)read that you plucked the string, and then touched it at the 12th (or whatever fret and I just damped the sound. Plucking and then releasing the string sounds like it might work a bit better.

    Wht a superb forum this is! \:\)
  • HerbieHerbie Posts: 893Member
     Quote:
    Originally posted by Rhodes:
    I shall now spend more time trying to work out what harmonics sound like. I think I had (mis)read that you plucked the string, and then touched it at the 12th (or whatever fret and I just damped the sound. Plucking and then releasing the string sounds like it might work a bit better.


    I think that's right... its one of those things that becomes second nature after a while, and harder to remember how its done than actually doing it.

    [ 21 January 2003: Message edited by: Herbie ]
  • Options
     Quote:
    Originally posted by Rhodes:
    I shall now spend more time trying to work out what harmonics sound like. I think I had (mis)read that you plucked the string, and then touched it at the 12th (or whatever fret and I just damped the sound.


    It's possible to do it the way you describe, but a lot harder; it takes a much lighter touch. Worth practicing that too, but get used to the easy way first.
  • Options
     Quote:
    Originally posted by Rhodes:

    Dare I also ask what harmonics are? They talk about them all the time in guitar magazines and talk about touching the strings with the right hand (that's left to you, La Fleche!)
    [ 21 January 2003: Message edited by: Rhodes ]


    Merci!! \:\)
  • Options
    well when i first had a guitar teacher when i first got a guitar he got me to play a scale (dunno which one but it was at the bottom of the fretboard with open notes)and play about with it, moving up and down differetn bits adding in a chord or two in the middlefor fun

    i have been intending to learn some scales for ages but have never got round to it, so i can play em for fun and try and get my speed up so i can zip over the fretboard like a rocket and so i can pick up a little bit of proper music and hopefully be a better guitarist and be able to make up some parts of my own using differetn scales

    David
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    at the moment though i just do thingds by ear, i play differetn chords in an order then play about with them till they sound 'right'

    i do the same when trying out riffs, ill make up a bit then keep trying using differet note untill it sounds 'right' to me

    David
  • GuitarwolfGuitarwolf Posts: 1,987Member
     Quote:
    Originally posted by StickMan:


    If you have the time and inclination then I'd suggest learning the principals but not falling into the practise of running up and down scale patterns for three hours a day like so many metal guitarists in the late 80's ;\)


    < Wolf wonders if Stick has been peering into his kennel for 3 hours a day :p >

    I have only really started taking an interest in scale patterns and Modes more as I have really gotten in Fusion ( Frank Gamabale in particular) but realise that my poor old brain can only absorb very small bits of info at a time ).

    Wolf ;\)
  • RhodesRhodes Posts: 1,584Member
    Those fretboard diagrams you dsee for modes are really scary - I can't imagine I'd ever undertand those! I think the Ionian is the same as the major scale, but with a fancy name to scare people. That right?
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    Famous quote from Charlie Parker:
    "Learn the scales and music theory, then forget all that s**t and just play"
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    Quite right, Ionian is the same as the major scale. The others all use precisely the same notes are thier parent scale but starting on a different note.

    So, C Major

    C Ionian = C D E F G A B
    D Dorian = D E F G A B C
    E Phrygian = E F G A B C D
    ect

    The key to understanding this isn't the notes themselves but the pattern of intervals between them. For this reason I think learning through intervals is far superior to learning note names or specific patterns.

    If you haven't already check out the 'Basics' posts I did last year (gah .. so long ago) which cover a little about modes and using them.

    Ta
  • Options
    Rhodes, Old Mate,
    Get "10 Minute Guitar Workout" by David Mead. Everything you need to know about scales, chords and practice schedules, but most importantly, ALL YOU NEED to know about scales. Best £20 I ever spent
  • Options
     Quote:
    Originally posted by The Enema:
    at the moment though i just do thingds by ear, i play differetn chords in an order then play about with them till they sound 'right'

    i do the same when trying out riffs, ill make up a bit then keep trying using differet note untill it sounds 'right' to me

    David


    Good idea, David. Trial and error is great.

    If you just learn from books, then you limit yourself.

    If you make mistakes some of them may even sound good, so you can play something which isn't technically "correct" but sounds good for some reason.

    The way I see it. If it sounds right, then it is.
  • RhodesRhodes Posts: 1,584Member
     Quote:
    Originally posted by Baudinot:
    Rhodes, Old Mate,
    Get "10 Minute Guitar Workout" by David Mead. Everything you need to know about scales, chords and practice schedules, but most importantly, ALL YOU NEED to know about scales. Best £20 I ever spent


    I have that book, but I am curious to understand why he suggests what he does. I am only on the 2nd exercise at the moment, but I do go through it every day, so I'll get there in the end, I hope.

    The thing something like:
    ----------------7---------------------
    --------------7---7-------------------
    ------------8-------8-----------------
    ----------9------------9--------------
    ------10-----------------10-----------
    -8-12-----------------------12---------

    is a pain. It tangles my fingers. \:\(

    [ 21 January 2003: Message edited by: Rhodes ]
  • Options
     Quote:
    Originally posted by Rhodes:


    I have that book, but I am curious to understand why he suggests what he does. I am only on the 2nd exercise at the moment, but I do go through it every day, so I'll get there in the end, I hope.

    The thing something like:
    ----------------8---------------------
    --------------8---8-------------------
    ------------9-------9-----------------
    ---------10-----------10--------------
    ------10-----------------10-----------
    -8-12-----------------------12---------

    is a pain. It tangles my fingers. \:\(


    Ah sweep picking.

    How I'm reminded of years gone by.

    I don't even know how good I am at sweeping these days, probably thoroughly crap, no doubt.
  • RhodesRhodes Posts: 1,584Member
     Quote:
    Originally posted by Big Paulie:


    Good idea, David. Trial and error is great.

    If you just learn from books, then you limit yourself.

    If you make mistakes some of them may even sound good, so you can play something which isn't technically "correct" but sounds good for some reason.

    The way I see it. If it sounds right, then it is.


    That is certainly all true. But I tend to get curious about these thigs, and think that it is better to know which 'rules' I am breaking.
  • RhodesRhodes Posts: 1,584Member
     Quote:
    Originally posted by Big Paulie:


    Ah sweep picking.


    No, actually David Mead insists on the exercises being played with alternate picking. I think that's what it's called, anyway - down pick followed by up pick and so on all the way through. The idea is to play it a certain number of times in 2 minutes, and there are 5 exercises under each section, hence 10 Minute Guitar Workout.

    Some of the exercises are much easier (to me) but the aim is to do more of those within the 2 minutes, such as working up to playing frets 2, 3 , 4, 5, 4, 3, 2 over and over again on the 5th string. At the the top level in the book, you have to play that 100 times. That's 8 notes in 1.2 seconds. \:\(
  • Options
    Re 10 minute workout, fingers do have memories (or so it seems). The exercises develop strength, endurance, elasticity, and give you knowledge of where everything is on the fretboard and where to pick without looking. Stick at it. You and me are doing it together, and already my flexibility is improving.
    Re scales, see top of page 56 - go from there. You will go through Minor pentatonic, major, minor and major pentatonic. 4 in all. Then blues scale.
  • RhodesRhodes Posts: 1,584Member
     Quote:
    Originally posted by Baudinot:
    Re 10 minute workout, fingers do have memories (or so it seems). The exercises develop strength, endurance, elasticity, and give you knowledge of where everything is on the fretboard and where to pick without looking. Stick at it. You and me are doing it together, and already my flexibility is improving.
    Re scales, see top of page 56 - go from there. You will go through Minor pentatonic, major, minor and major pentatonic. 4 in all. Then blues scale.


    Thanks. I have to say that a few weeks ago when I bought the book I thought I'd never be able to do the first exercise (where the first to fourth fingers are on frets 7 to 10 and then you have to swap the first and fourth fingers) at all, let alone at the speed demanded at the highest level. But it did eventually come together, just about. What I particularly like about the book is that it's good for demonstrating progress, which can otherwise be difficult.

    I must go back to page 56 as well! ;\)
  • Options
     Quote:
    Originally posted by Rhodes:


    No, actually David Mead insists on the exercises being played with alternate picking. I think that's what it's called, anyway - down pick followed by up pick and so on all the way through. The idea is to play it a certain number of times in 2 minutes, and there are 5 exercises under each section, hence 10 Minute Guitar Workout.

    Some of the exercises are much easier (to me) but the aim is to do more of those within the 2 minutes, such as working up to playing frets 2, 3 , 4, 5, 4, 3, 2 over and over again on the 5th string. At the the top level in the book, you have to play that 100 times. That's 8 notes in 1.2 seconds. \:\(


    That all sounds incredibly athletic, rather than musical.

    Whatever floats yer dinghy.
  • Options
    Well, a lot of times you need to have the tools available in order to play how you want to, but I agree that music presented on the basis of how fast it's played rarely does much for me.
  • RhodesRhodes Posts: 1,584Member
    David Mead does emphasise the musical side of things, but also that it is imnportant to get the coordination, timing and strength built up to enable you to do the musical bit - which is what it's all about, of course, unless the only aim is to show off. And then repeatedly playing the same few notes over and over again isn't really going to net a gaggle of screaming admirers.
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