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Are scales necessary to learn???


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#1 OFFLINE   jimmypageownz

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 04:00 PM

well ive been playin for about 7 months n can improvise pretty decent without any scales. i was just wonderin if itd be better to just sit down n learn about 4 thousand scales :brickwall: . so should I???

#2 OFFLINE   karcey

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 07:08 PM

G'day Jimmy, welcome to the forum.
You don't learn the whole 4 thousand ... you just learn the ones you need.
My rule for myself is "Never learn anything unless you know you can use it." or something along those lines.
Keep in touch
"The music matters more than the instrument on which we play it." Jason W. Solomon

#3 OFFLINE   X4StringDrive

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 08:58 PM

Welcome Jimmypageownz, You might/should look into Kirk's book and dvd... PT {Plane Talk} in it, he gives you a totally different way at looking at improvising and creating melody without all the memorization associated with learning scales. Not saying scales, modes and such are a bad thing to learn, but that there is an alternative{and imo a much simpler way} than trying to remember which scale or mode you 'should' be in...can't give away his thought process here, but look into it when you find a chance, he even has a private forum for PT members where you can ask or discuss it more thoroughly. Just a thought and again welcome to the GFB&B Forum!!!

#4 OFFLINE   tomg123

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 10:02 PM

Depends what your shooting for, speed? music career? Scales are tied to theory, but are useful also for finger training. Karcey's suggestion feels good

#5 OFFLINE   Kirk Lorange

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 11:38 PM

Hi, jpo, I learned them all, never could turn them into real music and forgot about them ... decades ago. I just keep track of the chords nowadays and see all those scales and modes in a new way ... through the chords ... and I never have to think about them. The only time I ever play a scale is when I want to play a scale, but melody is what I love, and melody can be found in the chord tones.

#6 OFFLINE   scotty_b

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 02:03 PM

Learn the theory behind the scales, and you can then know when to use a b6 instead of a natural 6 over a dominant chord, for example.
Kirk's book is also an excellent way to approach playing and learning how to connect up the chords for stronger melodic lines, so it is well worth checking out.

#7 OFFLINE   lorsban

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Posted 20 October 2009 - 09:41 PM

jimmypageownz said:

well ive been playin for about 7 months n can improvise pretty decent without any scales. i was just wonderin if itd be better to just sit down n learn about 4 thousand scales :brickwall: . so should I???

First off, I think you know that there's only one set of scale shapes for all the modes or all the keys. All or most of the chords and other scales (pentatonic for example) are based on that same set of shapes.

Still, even if we're only talking about a drastically lower number of scales, is it necessary to learn all of them inside and out? In my opinion, no. In the end, we all use what we're comfortable with, which, in my case are the standard major/minor, pentatonic major/minor scales and chord tones. For some, it's only pentatonic that matters, for others it's chord tones and chromatic etc...

It all depends on what you like listening to and playing. If you're comfortable with what you've got, then keep at it. But, if you find yourself wanting something different, or new, then you could try out these different scales like the chromatic scale, pentatonic, or the chord tone approach.

#8 OFFLINE   scotty_b

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Posted 20 October 2009 - 10:04 PM

lorsban said:

First off, I think you know that there's only one set of scale shapes for all the modes or all the keys. All or most of the chords and other scales (pentatonic for example) are based on that same set of shapes.

Still, even if we're only talking about a drastically lower number of scales, is it necessary to learn all of them inside and out? In my opinion, no. In the end, we all use what we're comfortable with, which, in my case are the standard major/minor, pentatonic major/minor scales and chord tones. For some, it's only pentatonic that matters, for others it's chord tones and chromatic etc...

It all depends on what you like listening to and playing. If you're comfortable with what you've got, then keep at it. But, if you find yourself wanting something different, or new, then you could try out these different scales like the chromatic scale, pentatonic, or the chord tone approach.

I am not quite sure what you mean about only one set of scale shapes, but that isn't quite accurate. There are many permutations of scales, not just in position but also along the neck.

#9 OFFLINE   hb

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 10:20 PM

jimmypageownz said:

well ive been playin for about 7 months n can improvise pretty decent without any scales. i was just wonderin if itd be better to just sit down n learn about 4 thousand scales :brickwall: . so should I???

I've been playing the guitar for about 3 years now, and feel like, for a self-taught player, that I have progressed somewhat decently. Although, I'm far from good, the only scale I know of, is the one you stand on to weigh yourself!
Maybe I've just hung around this site too long ! ! !
Just my opinion,
hb

#10 OFFLINE   solidwalnut

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 10:50 PM

If you're going to spend time and learn a scale, then learn the most important one: the major scale and the intervals. All other ones come from that.
Steve Cass
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Becoming a great guitarist has less to do with fancy moves than it does becoming a master of the basics and learning musicianship.
It's not what you can't do. It's how you play what you already know.


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#11 OFFLINE   lorsban

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 10:54 PM

scotty_b said:

I am not quite sure what you mean about only one set of scale shapes, but that isn't quite accurate. There are many permutations of scales, not just in position but also along the neck.

I apologize for being ambiguous.

I'm talking about the 7 scale shapes. Take for example A Major, starting from the 5th fret on the low E string - let's say that's first position. 2nd position starts on the 7th fret and so on.

Now, if I want a B Major, I just take those exact same shapes or scales of A Major and move them forward two frets.

If I want A minor, I just move the scale 3 frets up. So, I use the same first position scale of A Major that's on the 5th fret and move it up to the 8th fret.

Modes are no different. Major is simply your Ionian, Minor is your Aolian. A Minor = A Aolian.

To get to the rest of the modes and keys, you just have to find the right position and shift the scale forwards or backwards.

Most of the other scales derive from the shapes above. Such as the pentatonic scale, japanese, egyptian, or whatever, but I honestly see these as still being derived from those same scales above, except with some notes added/removed.

Now, you obviously have those scales which have little to do with the major shapes like chromatic, iwato, six tone symmetrical, whole tone etc, but I honestly haven't tried them (except chromatic) to form an opinion on how useful they are. That's why I added that most are derived from the major scale.

#12 OFFLINE   scotty_b

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 02:48 AM

I have seen that approach taught a lot, but personally I believe it is somewhat limiting. All modes are contained withing all scale boxes on the neck, and I believe we need to break free from thinking in terms of box patterns and learn to connect the whole neck as one continous pattern, be it an arpeggio, mode, or scale.
To decide that a scale or mode is locked into a fret postion lead to solos that sound like a scale or mode being played in that box position. Not that those patterns are not useful for somethings, but most guitarists do not seem to go beyond those patterns and think of how the notes relate to the chords.
Some time ago I read a very useful book by Mick Goodrick called 'The Advancing Guitarist'. Mick discussed that the best improvising guitarists (McLaughlin, Metheny, Satriani, Vai, Carlton for instance) tend to play along the strings rather than across. Doing so offers a freedom to the improviser that is not found in box shapes.
The various scales you mention at the end are more common on jazz, specifically in relation to playing over altered dominant chords. Even then, it still comes back to the chord in question being played over at that point in time, or where the chord progression is leading.

#13 OFFLINE   lorsban

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 04:06 AM

Oh yeah, I totally agree with you there. I just wanted to show that there really aren't that many shapes for you to work on, if you want to learn scales that is. Simply put, you just learn one set and you've covered most if not all of the major/minor/modal scales in all keys. I find this way of looking at it far far simpler than using one scale and flattening/sharpening a note here or there to get to the key/mode I want.

Another way to break out of the box mindset is to link up scales, or by creating a super scale that spans practically the entire fretboard. Or you could use chromatic passing notes to get from one to another. Arpeggios also help a lot in making things less predictable. Many other musicians use licks and phrases to make things lively, like the solo ending for Freebird, where you have two guys soloing practically in the same scale position for about 4-5 minutes or something.

#14 OFFLINE   hubbabubba

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 05:53 AM

You at least need some form of basic knowledge of how scales are combined.

#15 OFFLINE   Kirk Lorange

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 05:42 PM

hubbabubba said:

You at least need some form of basic knowledge of how scales are combined.
I don't have that, hubbabubba, and yet I have no problem coming up with melody lines.

Once again, the term 'improvisation' needs to be defined. If you see it as meaning 'play scales over a piece of music', then yes, you need to learn scales. If you see it as meaning 'create melodic lines over a piece of music', then no, scales are not the easiest way to go. To me, anyway.

#16 OFFLINE   deltabluesman

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 09:40 PM

I've been playing roughly 30 or so years, taught myself how to play with a Mel Bay Chord catalog and some old T-Bone Walker recordings, I still have yet to learn a scale, when I play a lead break or a fill I just remember the chord I'm in and I use that chord from the different places on the neck it can be played, I know it sounds convoluted but I guess after you get the hang of it, it starts getting easier.
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#17 OFFLINE   Kirk Lorange

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 08:30 PM

deltabluesman said:

I've been playing roughly 30 or so years, taught myself how to play with a Mel Bay Chord catalog and some old T-Bone Walker recordings, I still have yet to learn a scale, when I play a lead break or a fill I just remember the chord I'm in and I use that chord from the different places on the neck it can be played, I know it sounds convoluted but I guess after you get the hang of it, it starts getting easier.
That's how I do it too, dbm. The beauty of doing it this way is that it doesn't matter how many times the tune changes key or how many 'outside chords' come into play ... so long as you're locked into the chord, you'll always be right on the money.

It sounds like you've read my book PlaneTalk! :winkthumb:

#18 OFFLINE   wkriski

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Posted 08 November 2009 - 04:03 PM

I have Kirk's DVD which shows how you can improvise without scales. Too many guitarists get hung up on scales and modes and over-analysis. :)
Will Kriski
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#19 OFFLINE   solidwalnut

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 07:04 PM

wkriski said:

I have Kirk's DVD which shows how you can improvise without scales. Too many guitarists get hung up on scales and modes and over-analysis. :)

That's right. I think the bottom line is that people who want to learn to play guitar also need to think a bit about learning to become a musician, not just some guitar player. If your goal is to play music, then learn the basics and learn to expand from there. The guitar and music is much simpler when you break them down to their basic components, and that's what Kirk does.
Steve Cass
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Becoming a great guitarist has less to do with fancy moves than it does becoming a master of the basics and learning musicianship.
It's not what you can't do. It's how you play what you already know.


View my lessons here at GfB&B


"Rhythm guitar is a trip that alot of people miss" -- Tom Petty


#20 OFFLINE   rubendiaz

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 07:47 PM

Hello
I would like to ask you,which scale or scales are more practical or you prefer to use while improvising,say in normal songs or pop style,is it Pentatonic?,or more modal scales?...

thanks so much!

all the best

Ruben Diaz.





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