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shredder567

is major scale enough ??

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I realize that I have a limited world-view when it comes to playing the guitar. I've been playing for many years, and I'd say my main focus has always been rhythm.

But then I began learning how to play what I hear, and playing notes. It's been said many times that melody is king. Since most of us are primarily concerned with playing folk/rock/blues/jazz types of music, one needs to realize that the basis for these types of music is the major scale (when I say that, I say that with the idea that even though the blues uses a minor scale as it's archtype, the idea of the minor is that it is related to, has it's roots in, is a portion of, the major scale).

It's not the major scale as a scale to play, it's the major scale in a study of the intervals thereof. One can find all of the modes mentioned above in Fong's post as from the major scale intervals. The different modes just have a different starting point within the interval scheme.

So, is the major scale enough?? What a loaded question. How about this one--do you know the major scale and it's intervals? If you don't, you may as well forget about the rest. As Kirk said earlier, the major scale is a template for all the rest. We define the differences we hear in the other scales and modes to the major one.

Is the major scale enough as far as playing runs and scales? I have to tell you that the majority of lead lines I play come from the major scale and it's intervals. Basic major. Basic minor. Basic blues. Master the basics.

Steve

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There are 3 symmetrical scales.

Chromatic, Diminished & Whole Tone.

The Major, Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor are asymmetrical as are the Major and Minor Pentatonic.

There is a great deal of misunderstanding about how scales relate to learning an instrument. Scales are primarily a device to train a beginner how to develop dexterity and how to locate the notes in each key. Ask anyone who has ever had piano lessons. They first learn the 5 finger pattern in C. Then they add the rest of the scale and learn to play Mary Had a Little Lamb orTwinkle,Twinkle Little Star.

Modern rock is predominantly a scalar music. You can learn to play a lot of rock with pentatonic & diatonic scales. But if you ever decide to move into other types of music, scales won't cut it. Neither will modes.

The information needed to improvise competently and intelligently is found in scales but is not the scale itself.

Regards,

Monk

Would you please clarify what types of music where scales are not needed?

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Would you please clarify what types of music where scales are not needed?

Thats not actually what he said.

"the information needed to improvise competently and intelligently is found in scales but is not the scale itself."

It is correct, but it is also pretty obvious, if you play the Chord Em and then play the Em Pentatonic Scale, it will sound 'ok' nothing will sound wrong, but it certainly wouldn't be improvisation, since you are not improvising, you are just playing the set scale.

Picking out notes from a scale is improvising, knowing what notes will sound right and having a deep enough understanding that you know where you want to go next to get the sound you want, is improvising.

As for the deeper part saying scales and modes won't cut it, I don't know if you are right there Monk.

As far as am aware all that jazz encompasses, and this is the deepest of improv as far as I am concerned, is a better understanding of the scales and how they are built around chords, then playing those scales according to the chords being played behind it.

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Fong, monk will correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure he meant that it's chords that you must be totally familiar with those non-rock genres, such as jazz. By knowing chords inside an out, you automatically know scales/modes. Knowing all scales and modes won't be of any use unless you know what the chord structure of a piece of music, and knowing the chord structure (really knowing it) means you don't really need to think in modes or scales ... chords are enough. They contain all the scale/mode information needed.

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Fong, monk will correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure he meant that it's chords that you must be totally familiar with those non-rock genres, such as jazz. By knowing chords inside an out, you automatically know scales/modes. Knowing all scales and modes won't be of any use unless you know what the chord structure of a piece of music, and knowing the chord structure (really knowing it) means you don't really need to think in modes or scales ... chords are enough. They contain all the scale/mode information needed.

I have always found that to be a bit of a chicken and egg situation.

How do you build a chord?

By using the scales.

How do you play in scales?

By using the chords.

Very chicken and egg though in the sense of what you need first.

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Kirk's right.

As I mentioned in another post, swing jazz and bebop have always been about chords. The same is true of some types of country, R&B and blues.

Also previously stated is the fact that pianists & horn players learn scales to train their fingers to deal with the instrument, not to learn to improvise.

When you hear Django Reinhardt, Louis Armstong, Charlie Christian, Lester Young, Charlie Parker or Wes Montgomery you aren't hearing scales. When you hear Doc Watson play Black Mountain Rag or East Tennessee Blues you aren't hearing scales. When you hear T-Bone Walker or B.B. King you're not hearing scales. What you are hearing is melodies played from chords.

I've seen a half dozen articles in Guitar Magazines discussing the scales and modes Pat Martino uses. Yet Martino has stated emphatically on more than one occasion that he does not think in terms of scales & modes. Who are we to believe? The man or the magazine?

I'll end this with a quote from Pat Metheny:

The one beef I have with the "chord scale movement" is that it sort of suggests all seven notes are equally cool, when in fact that's really not the case. There really are usually four notes you want to land on that are the really, really, good ones. Then there are the others you want to get through and some you barely want to touch them. That degree of weight thing is usually not discussed because it is usually presented in the form of modal thinking rather than voice leading. My advice to people is yes, learn the chord scales but also make sure you can solo using just the chord tones. A big chunk of early jazz history was largely improvising using chord tones and improvising around the melody. Those are two valuable entry points.

Regards,

Monk

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I have always found that to be a bit of a chicken and egg situation.

How do you build a chord?

By using the scales.

How do you play in scales?

By using the chords.

Very chicken and egg though in the sense of what you need first.

I definitely agree that it can be a chicken and egg scenario when you look at it from a theory standpoint. But if you look at it from a mechanical standpoint on the neck, the basic shapes and their alterations are learned from a form standpoint. Learning the forms mean you are encompassing most all the chord tones and then you can discover the individual tones within and around the forms. I believe it's different for other instruments and that the guitar is unique in this way.

Steve

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In all the hundreds of sessions I've done over the years, it's always been a chord chart that's been put in front of me; never, not once, have I ever seen a scale chart or any heard any mention of what scale to use when asked to play a solo over something. ;)

The chords say it all. I really don't see any chicken/egg conundrum here. Melody, which is what music is, is not based on scales, it's based on chords ... or maybe I should say it this way: melody turns scales into chords, so if you want to learn how to play melody, concentrate on chords. They're crystallized melody.

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I've seen a half dozen articles in Guitar Magazines discussing the scales and modes Pat Martino uses. Yet Martino has stated emphatically on more than one occasion that he does not think in terms of scales & modes. Who are we to believe? The man or the magazine?

This is just confusing matters Monk.

Lets take a step back. Is there any mathematical equation to music, is there some set of rules, like Physics, that music adheres to?

No.

The entire back catalogue of Music Theory is just there to explain what we do naturally.

A major chord is only a major chord because our ears like it.

There is no reason a major chord should be 1st 3rd and 5th, beyond the fact that our ears recognise it. The only reason the flattened 3rd becomes a minor is because of the change it creates to our ears.

All this goes to the point that it really doesn't matter what Martino is thinking at the time he is playing, or how he is creating the sound he is creating, that has absolutely nothing to do with the value of the theory behind what he is doing.

The best way to explain this is to look at music before J S Bach.

Before Bach we didn't have equal temperment and music was played in a very different way.

Bach came along, invented an entirely new and better way of dealing with music.

Did any of the music created before this point change after this point?

No, because all that Bach did was create a better way of explaining what was already happening.

What Martino himself thinks is irrelevent. As long as the theory explains what he is doing correctly.

The idea that a Chord chart is put in front of you, thus proving any point, is just not right. Since you can play many many many different scales over any given chord it would be unrealistic to place a scale sheet in front of anyone.

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I think you're giving Bach too much credit there, Fong. He didn't invent equal temperament. He championed its cause and demonstrated, better than anyone else, its possibilities in his influential 48 preludes and fugues. (actually it was the very closely related 'well temperament' as true equal temperament didn't become technically feasible until a little later.)

There was no fundamental change in music before and after Bach's time, just a gradual expansion of the chromatic possibilities offered by the new tuning systems.

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There was no fundamental change in music before and after Bach's time, just a gradual expansion of the chromatic possibilities offered by the new tuning systems.

That was kind of the point I was making Fretsource.

That regardless of how the Theory changes behind the scenes, what we listen to doesn't change.

No matter how you describe a major chord, no matter what words you use or what mathematical system you use, it will always sound like a Major Chord.

The point of Bach was before him Keyboards had semi-tones, tones and tones and a half between each key (varying). Now each key has a semi-tone between them all.

Yet the music hasn't changed. The way you play it might have, but the sound created hasn't, it is exactly the same as it was before Bach did this.

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Lets take a step back. Is there any mathematical equation to music, is there some set of rules, like Physics, that music adheres to?

No.

Yes, there is. Music theory is math.
The entire back catalogue of Music Theory is just there to explain what we do naturally.

There is nothing natural about the harmonic minor scale, the diminished scale, the whole tone scale, the harmonic major scale, the augmented scale.

A major chord is only a major chord because our ears like it.

Pythagoras established the mathematical basis of the major chord 5,000 years ago.

What Martino himself thinks is irrelevent. As long as the

theory explains what he is doing correctly.

What and how any musician or composer thinks is very relevant.

You began your argument by stating that there are no rules for music. Then you say that theory, which are rules, explains everything.

It appears to me that you are trying to lick both sides of the lollipop.

Regards,

Monk

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I would like to correct an earlier statement I made.

Pythagoras lived 2,500 years ago. Not 5,000. Apologies to all.

Regards,

Monk

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I put it like this Monk, because I don't seem to be getting the point across very well. Mainly due to only wanting to make short comments.

A great way of explaining this is the melodic minor scale.

When going down the scale you use an unsharpened 6th and 7th, but when going up, you sharpen the 6th and 7th.

Chords have nothing to do with this, the Minor chords do not sharpen the 7th.

The only reason they are sharpened is because Musically when playing melodies it 'sounds' better.

Again, the theory is adapted to what we do naturally. Not the other way around. The theory fits what sounds good, not mathematically what is correct, because if we did that, the Melodic Minor scale would not sharpen the 6th AND 7th notes while ascending.

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Fong said "Is there any mathematical equation to music, is there some set of rules, like Physics, that music adheres to?

No. "

and Monk answered "Yes, there is. Music theory is math"

I think a compromise is needed here, guys.

The science of acoustics is math, but music theory properly belongs in the field of psycho-acoustics because it's describing an art form. Yes, it is highly mathematical but also includes US, with our conditioned responses, changing social attitudes and many other non mathematical elements as an essential part of the 'equation'.

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I put it like this Monk, because I don't seem to be getting the point across very well. Mainly due to only wanting to make short comments.

A great way of explaining this is the melodic minor scale.

When going down the scale you use an unsharpened 6th and 7th, but when going up, you sharpen the 6th and 7th.

Chords have nothing to do with this, the Minor chords do not sharpen the 7th.

The only reason they are sharpened is because Musically when playing melodies it 'sounds' better.

Again, the theory is adapted to what we do naturally. Not the other way around. The theory fits what sounds good, not mathematically what is correct, because if we did that, the Melodic Minor scale would not sharpen the 6th AND 7th notes while ascending.

The Melodic Minor scale was developed for the ease of singers. Melodies composed from the Harmonic Minor scale were awkward to sing due to the minor third leap from 6 to 7 ascending and descending. However, while singers found the ascending melodic minor easy to sing, descending downward proved problematic and the more easily sung natural minor was used when descending. Later this "rule" was adopted by the composers of instrumental music.

This rule is disregarded in modern improvising and the scale is practiced the same ascending and descending.

The Harmonic Minor scale was devised specifically to provide a major third for the Dominant chord which was a minor chord when harmonized from the Natural Minor.

Theory is not adapted to what sounds good or natural. Theory explains how music works.

Regards,

Monk

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However, while singers found the ascending melodic minor easy to sing, descending downward proved problematic and the more easily sung natural minor was used when descending.

Now you are talking semantics.

'proved problematic' 'minor was easier to sing'

These are just substitutions of the words I used, 'sounds better' with a bit of personal spin on them.

Instead of saying that the Melodic Minor defied the Mathematics because it sounded better, you are portraying that as being because it was easier or harder.

Regardless, it DID defy the mathematics, there is NO mathematical reason that the Melodic Minor should have had a Sharpened 6th and 7th while ascending, it was done for musical reasons alone.

Whether that is done using my terms of sounding better, or your terms of being easier, is not relevent.

This goes perfectly to my point that Music does not adhere to some mathematical rule. We have created some mathmematical rules to help us explain music and understand what it is about music that works for us, but that is all we have done.

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So much for my calls for a compromise. Oh well!

But you guys are saying basically the same thing.

"Music theory explains how music works" - correct

"Music theory is there to explain what we do" - correct

It's the same thing. Music is what we make it, so explaining how it works means the same thing as explaining how we make it work.

I left the word "naturally" out of "..what we do naturally" as it seems to have been misconstrued. Music theory explains everything that we do, (or at least it attempts to) whether we have been influenced by natural phenomena such as the harmonic series leading to the diatonic scale, or whether our natural curiosity leads us to experiment with contrived formulae, such as the whole tone scale.

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I have only given the latest comments a superficial reading, given lack of sleep over the past few days, but I must ask; is any scale actually 'natural' or merely a human construct? In this instance, a construct of European origin.

The method of dividing up the octave in said fashion is by no means consistent throughout the world, and the resultant theory of our musical heritage (assuming we are of western origin of course) does not deal with music from India, Africa, China or the Australian Aboriginals, etc.

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... Since you can play many many many different scales over any given chord it would be unrealistic to place a scale sheet in front of anyone.

You've aroused my curiosity now, Fong ... how many scales would you juggle to play melodically over, say, a 9th chord?

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No scale is naturally occurring, but some have originated as a result of natural phenomena such as the harmonic series.

The best example is the pentatonic scale. It is found in almost every culture and corner of the world dating back to prehistory (not sure about Australian Aboriginal music, though - I'd be interested to know if it occurs there too.)

Occurring independently among diverse ancient cultures suggests that the appeal of its note relationships is due to mankind's musical awareness being conditioned by the naturally occurring harmonic series present in all musical tones.

Of course it wasn't a scale at first, it was just an appealing series of five note relationships that could make pleasing melodies. It wasn't a scale until musicologists on noticing that there were only five note relationships used in their music, put the notes in order of pitch and called it the pentatonic scale.

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There was no fundamental change in music before and after Bach's time, just a gradual expansion of the chromatic possibilities offered by the new tuning systems.

My understanding is that there was a radical shift under Bach's innovations/adoption of the well-tempered tuning system. Bach demonstrated that modulation was in fact possible between key centres previously deemed impossible. This of course has had a profound impact on everything since.

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The best example is the pentatonic scale. It is found in almost every culture and corner of the world dating back to prehistory (not sure about Australian Aboriginal music, though - I'd be interested to know if it occurs there too.)

Occurring independently among diverse ancient cultures suggests that the appeal of its note relationships is due to mankind's musical awareness being conditioned by the naturally occurring harmonic series present in all musical tones.

Of course it wasn't a scale at first, it was just an appealing series of five note relationships that could make pleasing melodies. It wasn't a scale until musicologists on noticing that there were only five note relationships used in their music, put the notes in order of pitch and called it the pentatonic scale.

Now that is really interesting. I was aware of the use of pentatonic in Chinese and Japanese music, and had always assumed that its origins were to be found in Africa, and made its way to China/Japan via trade routes across central Asia.

Does the pentatonic scale receive much use in Indian music? I understand that their division of the octave is based on 22 increments, and I believe some Chinese music may even have a few more. The pentatonic scale is fairly easy to identify in Chinese music, but I have never noticed it in Indian music.

As an aside, I spent three months in India working on various World Vision projects and the like. Music is everywhere. I found it somewhat difficult to listen to, as it sounded out of tune all the time. Very interesting rhythmically though.

Aboriginal music is somewhat different. It uses less than 12 tones - maybe 7 (certainly open to correction on this), to divide up an octave. To my white ears it sounds out of tune as well - but in a different way to Indian music.

As another aside, I wonder how much concepts of tuning have to do with social conditioning? I would suspect a lot. I readily accept disscordant jazz as being quite normal, but I was exposed to jazz from a very early age. Once at school I was playing some blues, and a friend of mine who had grown up in a very conservative Chinese family, she had only ever listened to Western Art Music, specifically the Classical and Baroque eras according to the dictums of her father, freaked out when I ended on an altered dominant chord.

To me it was quite acceptable, but to Leanne it was verging on blasphemy!

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My understanding is that there was a radical shift under Bach's innovations/adoption of the well-tempered tuning system. Bach demonstrated that modulation was in fact possible between key centres previously deemed impossible. This of course has had a profound impact on everything since.

Not that radical, Scotty. Yes, the new tuning system meant that all modulations were now possible but musical style still didn't allow you to go modulating all over the place, just because you could.

Also, it's worth remembering that the previous inability to freely modulate because of the old tuning system applied only to instruments of fixed pitch such as keyboards. Singers and players of string instruments always had the ability to modulate to any key, because they could slightly change the pitch of the note to always be in tune in any context. But their repertoire didn't contain wild modulations either, because the accepted style of the day wouldn't have permitted it.

Bach's 48 preludes and fugues showed that you could now play separate pieces in every key on the same keyboard and you could also become more adventurous in your modulations but it still took time for such modulations to become acceptable.

His son Carl, developed a more ambitious musical form based on a hierarchy of keys with modulations between them, which eventually became sonata form, a feature of which, the development section, makes a point of wandering through remote keys just for the hell of it.

So it was more of a gradual process, and also an inevitable one. JS Bach wasn't the only composer, or even the first one, to expand the tonal possibilities of the tempered keyboard. It's just that, being Bach, he did it better and more memorably than anyone else.

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