Why should i learn scales?


japplekc
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Joined: 07/08/23
Posts: 2
japplekc
Registered User
Joined: 07/08/23
Posts: 2
07/09/2023 2:03 am

Hi!  I'm a 1.5 out of 10 on my guitar skills.  I understand chords and keys and all of that.  I think my question is not properly worded.


As a relative newbie, why do i want to go through scales?  these are part of the early lessons.  when i was learning piano, i had the same problem.  I think knowing some context would help.  The issue is that lessons just start doing this stuff, and I just don't know the intent.


I don't want to brush off something important.  Any details to fill in would be helpful.


# 1
William MG
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Joined: 03/08/19
Posts: 1,643
William MG
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Joined: 03/08/19
Posts: 1,643
07/09/2023 10:39 am

Here is a real world example that is happening in real time with me, and how knowing scales allows me to push through. 


I am currently working on SRV and much of his material is a cover of Hendrix or Buddy Guy. Current song being Voodoo Child. 


Intro, verse, chorus all fine. But if you know the song, either SRV or Hendrix version, the solo bits (scales) ramp up to a level that frankly I can't realistically ever seeing myself being able to play. A combination of lack of talent combined with age and arthritis are conspiring against me.


So, I could just give up and look for a song where my fingers don't have to fly so quickly,  or I can take those solo bits, which are just pulled from a pentatonic scale and keep what I can play and fill in what I can't play with my own lick until it's time to jump back into the verse. And the band keeps playing.


Some music, like Rammstein who I was just listening to is all rhythm chords. No lead parts. No scales.


So obviously you don't need scales to play songs, knowing some chords will take you far when it comes to playing your favourite tunes. But some music, again Hendrix and SRV, the chords take you to the meat of the song which were their extraordinary licks.


There are more examples that others will add, but this is one simple example of how knowing a scale allows me to play even though it is a variant from the original. 


edited

This year the diet is definitely gonna stick!

# 2
japplekc
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Joined: 07/08/23
Posts: 2
japplekc
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Posts: 2
07/09/2023 1:19 pm

TY for the info!  Good tip.


# 3
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,348
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,348
07/09/2023 1:56 pm
#1 Originally Posted by: japplekc

Hi!  I'm a 1.5 out of 10 on my guitar skills.  I understand chords and keys and all of that.  I think my question is not properly worded.


As a relative newbie, why do i want to go through scales?  these are part of the early lessons.  when i was learning piano, i had the same problem.  I think knowing some context would help.  The issue is that lessons just start doing this stuff, and I just don't know the intent.


I don't want to brush off something important.  Any details to fill in would be helpful.

Thanks to William for the great reply! 


Scales are important for 2 general reasons.

1. Conceptually, they are the basic building blocks of music, the raw materials of melodies & chords.

2. Physically, it is a valuable skill to be able to isolate one note at a time. It is a skill that requires lots of practice & the sooner you start working on it, the better.


There are many applications:  playing single note lines (not just soloing but melodies), isolating individual notes in chords for arpeggiation, for ornamentation of chords, for walking in & out of chords by isolating alternating bass lines, for understanding how chords are built from scales to illuminate your understanding of what you are playing.

It will help you understand that the most important component of music is melody & how any series of notes that form virtually unlimited numbers of melodies can be grasped as ways of manipulating & using scales.


Hope that helps!

It can vastly improve your aural skills (ear training), which is your ability to hear a piece of music & know how to play it.


 


Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 4

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