Trying to understand scales

Guitar Tricks Forum > Music Theory > Trying to understand scales

snpfarm

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Joined: 07/16/21

Posts: 42

In my on again off again guitar history which I'm determined to never be "off" again thanks to GT. Until I joined GT I've been 100% self taught. I never paid much attention to scales until now that I've found GT. I have a couple of questions. So when looking at different scales like the ones in the GT Tool Box. Like for example the Blues Scale with "C" as the root note. It shows the various notes of the scale across the strings/fretboard. So here are my questions

1. Each note is indicated by a circle with a number in the circle. I know the "Red 1" indicates the root note but what about the other circles with numbers?

2. Does it matter in which order you play the notes of the particuliar scale or just put something together that sounds good? I guess thats where improvising comes in so I may have just answered my own question.

3. I would think that once you start you should at least start with the root note.

Thanks,

Scott

This trying to get my left hand and right hand to work together is driving me crazy!

#1

In my on again off again guitar history which I'm determined to never be "off" again thanks to GT. Until I joined GT I've been 100% self taught. I never paid much attention to scales until now that I've found GT. I have a couple of questions. So when looking at different scales like the ones in the GT Tool Box. Like for example the Blues Scale with "C" as the root note. It shows the various notes of the scale across the strings/fretboard. So here are my questions

1. Each note is indicated by a circle with a number in the circle. I know the "Red 1" indicates the root note but what about the other circles with numbers?

2. Does it matter in which order you play the notes of the particuliar scale or just put something together that sounds good? I guess thats where improvising comes in so I may have just answered my own question.

3. I would think that once you start you should at least start with the root note.

Thanks,

Scott

This trying to get my left hand and right hand to work together is driving me crazy!

William MG

Full Access

Joined: 03/08/19

Posts: 1242

I can give you some help here.

I am looking at the same scale with the drop down box selcted to "Display Scale Steps". I believe this is just sequential. Personally I never use this option, only because I start sounding like I am playing scales when I really just want to try and play licks. So I select "Display Notes". Once I have the notes down I can try and do something with it, like try and write a lick using some or all of those notes.

Which leads to your 2 question. I don't like scale practice and hardly ever do it. What is much more fun for me is to pick a scale, put on a jam track - and try and write licks - or improvise. The only issue I have with improvising is that if I am going along and think "that sounds ok", I can't remember what I played most of the time. So I like to break it down on a sheet of paper a few notes or steps at a time.

Question 3. Nope. Sometimes you get a real cool sound if you slide into the root or depending on where you want to come in on a jam track, you may not start at the root at all. A good piece of advice I had from Christopher early on was to try and think of the chords and augmenting them via notes. When its done well you will be quite happy with how it sounds.

I think the more you experiment and play around the more you will find things that sound good. Those are the ones you want to keep and have written down so you can go back to them. Another good piece of advice I had from another teacher not on GT, was to build a repertoire of licks so when I was in a given key I would know I had a lick(s) for it that would be my go to. If you want to play with other players and aren't strong on improvising this will keep you playing along and having fun.

"If it sounds cool, it is cool!"

Mike O

Works for me!

#2

I can give you some help here.

I am looking at the same scale with the drop down box selcted to "Display Scale Steps". I believe this is just sequential. Personally I never use this option, only because I start sounding like I am playing scales when I really just want to try and play licks. So I select "Display Notes". Once I have the notes down I can try and do something with it, like try and write a lick using some or all of those notes.

Which leads to your 2 question. I don't like scale practice and hardly ever do it. What is much more fun for me is to pick a scale, put on a jam track - and try and write licks - or improvise. The only issue I have with improvising is that if I am going along and think "that sounds ok", I can't remember what I played most of the time. So I like to break it down on a sheet of paper a few notes or steps at a time.

Question 3. Nope. Sometimes you get a real cool sound if you slide into the root or depending on where you want to come in on a jam track, you may not start at the root at all. A good piece of advice I had from Christopher early on was to try and think of the chords and augmenting them via notes. When its done well you will be quite happy with how it sounds.

I think the more you experiment and play around the more you will find things that sound good. Those are the ones you want to keep and have written down so you can go back to them. Another good piece of advice I had from another teacher not on GT, was to build a repertoire of licks so when I was in a given key I would know I had a lick(s) for it that would be my go to. If you want to play with other players and aren't strong on improvising this will keep you playing along and having fun.

"If it sounds cool, it is cool!"

Mike O

Works for me!

snpfarm

Full Access

Joined: 07/16/21

Posts: 42

Originally Posted by: William

I can give you some help here.

I am looking at the same scale with the drop down box selcted to "Display Scale Steps". I believe this is just sequential. Personally I never use this option, only because I start sounding like I am playing scales when I really just want to try and play licks. So I select "Display Notes". Once I have the notes down I can try and do something with it, like try and write a lick using some or all of those notes.

Which leads to your 2 question. I don't like scale practice and hardly ever do it. What is much more fun for me is to pick a scale, put on a jam track - and try and write licks - or improvise. The only issue I have with improvising is that if I am going along and think "that sounds ok", I can't remember what I played most of the time. So I like to break it down on a sheet of paper a few notes or steps at a time.

Question 3. Nope. Sometimes you get a real cool sound if you slide into the root or depending on where you want to come in on a jam track, you may not start at the root at all. A good piece of advice I had from Christopher early on was to try and think of the chords and augmenting them via notes. When its done well you will be quite happy with how it sounds.

I think the more you experiment and play around the more you will find things that sound good. Those are the ones you want to keep and have written down so you can go back to them. Another good piece of advice I had from another teacher not on GT, was to build a repertoire of licks so when I was in a given key I would know I had a lick(s) for it that would be my go to. If you want to play with other players and aren't strong on improvising this will keep you playing along and having fun.

Thanks for the response. I'm still a bit confused about the numbers in each circle. If I change the drop down box to "notes" instead "steps" it makes sense because it of course tells you what note you're playing is. The numbers though...??? Maybe that's why I never focused much on scales...lol.

This trying to get my left hand and right hand to work together is driving me crazy!

#3

Originally Posted by: William

I can give you some help here.

I am looking at the same scale with the drop down box selcted to "Display Scale Steps". I believe this is just sequential. Personally I never use this option, only because I start sounding like I am playing scales when I really just want to try and play licks. So I select "Display Notes". Once I have the notes down I can try and do something with it, like try and write a lick using some or all of those notes.

Which leads to your 2 question. I don't like scale practice and hardly ever do it. What is much more fun for me is to pick a scale, put on a jam track - and try and write licks - or improvise. The only issue I have with improvising is that if I am going along and think "that sounds ok", I can't remember what I played most of the time. So I like to break it down on a sheet of paper a few notes or steps at a time.

Question 3. Nope. Sometimes you get a real cool sound if you slide into the root or depending on where you want to come in on a jam track, you may not start at the root at all. A good piece of advice I had from Christopher early on was to try and think of the chords and augmenting them via notes. When its done well you will be quite happy with how it sounds.

I think the more you experiment and play around the more you will find things that sound good. Those are the ones you want to keep and have written down so you can go back to them. Another good piece of advice I had from another teacher not on GT, was to build a repertoire of licks so when I was in a given key I would know I had a lick(s) for it that would be my go to. If you want to play with other players and aren't strong on improvising this will keep you playing along and having fun.

Thanks for the response. I'm still a bit confused about the numbers in each circle. If I change the drop down box to "notes" instead "steps" it makes sense because it of course tells you what note you're playing is. The numbers though...??? Maybe that's why I never focused much on scales...lol.

This trying to get my left hand and right hand to work together is driving me crazy!

Music_Maestro

Full Access

Joined: 10/12/11

Posts: 161

Try asking Christopher Schlegel. Mr Schlegel is very knowledgeable about music theory.

Epiphone SG 400 Pro, Fender Squier, Flying V for shredding. Celtic fusion,rock, blues & Metal. From Wales, GB.

#4

Try asking Christopher Schlegel. Mr Schlegel is very knowledgeable about music theory.

Epiphone SG 400 Pro, Fender Squier, Flying V for shredding. Celtic fusion,rock, blues & Metal. From Wales, GB.

dmitry.digi

Full Access

Joined: 04/13/18

Posts: 1

Numbers indicate notes in the sequential order, starting with the root note. E.g., CDEFGAB == 1(C) 2(D) 3(E) 4(F) 5(G) 6(A) 7(B). The idea is that the intervals between notes in any key is the same and numbers give you a way to think in intervals and patterns no matter what key you're playing. E.g., if your minor triad is C Eb G, then you "phrase" it as 1 3b 5 and it means that in any key root, 3rd note flat and 5th note will be the minor triad

Hope it makes sense

Dima

#5

Numbers indicate notes in the sequential order, starting with the root note. E.g., CDEFGAB == 1(C) 2(D) 3(E) 4(F) 5(G) 6(A) 7(B). The idea is that the intervals between notes in any key is the same and numbers give you a way to think in intervals and patterns no matter what key you're playing. E.g., if your minor triad is C Eb G, then you "phrase" it as 1 3b 5 and it means that in any key root, 3rd note flat and 5th note will be the minor triad

Hope it makes sense

Dima

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 7371

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
1. Each note is indicated by a circle with a number in the circle.[/p]

I know the "Red 1" indicates the root note but what about the other circles with numbers?


The numbers are scale degrees. Those numbers are incredibly important because every scale is made from an interval formula: the distance between each note. Those intervals are labelled with numbers 1-7 for diatonic scales, 1-5 for pentatonic.[/p]

The interval formula & resultant scale degrees are why the scale sounds the way it does.

Learning this & internalizing it is the process of ear training & how you learn to play "by ear" or how you subconsciously automate sounds in music to memorize them.

These tutorial covers the basics of scale degrees. They are from my older GF course.

C major scale for beginners

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=363

A minor scale for beginners

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=445

Pentatonic scales

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=296

After that I have tons of other tutorials that go much deeper into scales: how to use, understand, apply, practice, etc. But for now, just start with those beginner tutorials.

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
2. Does it matter in which order you play the notes of the particuliar scale or just put something together that sounds good? I guess thats where improvising comes in so I may have just answered my own question.

Yes, it matters very much because each scale degree has it's own unique sound within the scale. So in order to play a certain melody, lick, riff, musical phrase you have to know which note makes that sound.

The simplest example is if you want to play Mary Had a Little Lamb, you have to start on the major 3rd, or it will not be correct.

Thereafter the entire melody is determined by scale degrees:

3-2-1-2-3-3-3

2-2-2

3-5-5

3-2-1-2-3-3-3

2-2-3-2-1

Those are the scale degrees for that melody. Any other, or different notes, are wrong & will make the melody sound incorrect. If you understand that concept & how to apply it on the guitar (i.e. scale degrees on the fretboard), then you can play the melody in any key all over the guitar.

This principle works for any & every lick, riff, song. All of them, everytime, all the time.

It's how some people can "play by ear", or pick up licks or songs quickly. They are seeing scale patterns on the fretboard & understanding that certain shapes consistently create certain, specific sounds. Even when self-taught players say they don't understand music theory or they don't necessarily know the scale degrees work. Scale degrees are exactly what they are using & relying on.

Scale degrees are also important because they are the basis for building chords: how they are formed & played.

Scales & chords relationship

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=426

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
3. I would think that once you start you should at least start with the root note.

When you first start learngin & practicing scales it can help to start & end on the root note so you can keep them physically & conceptually organized. But eventually you should start on different notes of the scale, while keeping the root note & all the scale degrees in mind.

This is because when you play actual music a melody, riff, lick or song might start on any given note of a scale!

So, yes, scales degrees are extremely important. :) Hope that helps! Please ask more if necessary. Best of success!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#6

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
1. Each note is indicated by a circle with a number in the circle.[/p]

I know the "Red 1" indicates the root note but what about the other circles with numbers?


The numbers are scale degrees. Those numbers are incredibly important because every scale is made from an interval formula: the distance between each note. Those intervals are labelled with numbers 1-7 for diatonic scales, 1-5 for pentatonic.[/p]

The interval formula & resultant scale degrees are why the scale sounds the way it does.

Learning this & internalizing it is the process of ear training & how you learn to play "by ear" or how you subconsciously automate sounds in music to memorize them.

These tutorial covers the basics of scale degrees. They are from my older GF course.

C major scale for beginners

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=363

A minor scale for beginners

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=445

Pentatonic scales

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=296

After that I have tons of other tutorials that go much deeper into scales: how to use, understand, apply, practice, etc. But for now, just start with those beginner tutorials.

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
2. Does it matter in which order you play the notes of the particuliar scale or just put something together that sounds good? I guess thats where improvising comes in so I may have just answered my own question.

Yes, it matters very much because each scale degree has it's own unique sound within the scale. So in order to play a certain melody, lick, riff, musical phrase you have to know which note makes that sound.

The simplest example is if you want to play Mary Had a Little Lamb, you have to start on the major 3rd, or it will not be correct.

Thereafter the entire melody is determined by scale degrees:

3-2-1-2-3-3-3

2-2-2

3-5-5

3-2-1-2-3-3-3

2-2-3-2-1

Those are the scale degrees for that melody. Any other, or different notes, are wrong & will make the melody sound incorrect. If you understand that concept & how to apply it on the guitar (i.e. scale degrees on the fretboard), then you can play the melody in any key all over the guitar.

This principle works for any & every lick, riff, song. All of them, everytime, all the time.

It's how some people can "play by ear", or pick up licks or songs quickly. They are seeing scale patterns on the fretboard & understanding that certain shapes consistently create certain, specific sounds. Even when self-taught players say they don't understand music theory or they don't necessarily know the scale degrees work. Scale degrees are exactly what they are using & relying on.

Scale degrees are also important because they are the basis for building chords: how they are formed & played.

Scales & chords relationship

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=426

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
3. I would think that once you start you should at least start with the root note.

When you first start learngin & practicing scales it can help to start & end on the root note so you can keep them physically & conceptually organized. But eventually you should start on different notes of the scale, while keeping the root note & all the scale degrees in mind.

This is because when you play actual music a melody, riff, lick or song might start on any given note of a scale!

So, yes, scales degrees are extremely important. :) Hope that helps! Please ask more if necessary. Best of success!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

snpfarm

Full Access

Joined: 07/16/21

Posts: 42

Originally Posted by: dmitry.digi

Numbers indicate notes in the sequential order, starting with the root note. E.g., CDEFGAB == 1(C) 2(D) 3(E) 4(F) 5(G) 6(A) 7(B). The idea is that the intervals between notes in any key is the same and numbers give you a way to think in intervals and patterns no matter what key you're playing. E.g., if your minor triad is C Eb G, then you "phrase" it as 1 3b 5 and it means that in any key root, 3rd note flat and 5th note will be the minor triad

Hope it makes sense

Dima

Well duh!! Why didn't I think if that?!? Thanks for the explanation.

This trying to get my left hand and right hand to work together is driving me crazy!

#7

Originally Posted by: dmitry.digi

Numbers indicate notes in the sequential order, starting with the root note. E.g., CDEFGAB == 1(C) 2(D) 3(E) 4(F) 5(G) 6(A) 7(B). The idea is that the intervals between notes in any key is the same and numbers give you a way to think in intervals and patterns no matter what key you're playing. E.g., if your minor triad is C Eb G, then you "phrase" it as 1 3b 5 and it means that in any key root, 3rd note flat and 5th note will be the minor triad

Hope it makes sense

Dima

Well duh!! Why didn't I think if that?!? Thanks for the explanation.

This trying to get my left hand and right hand to work together is driving me crazy!

snpfarm

Full Access

Joined: 07/16/21

Posts: 42

Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel
Originally Posted by: snpfarm
1. Each note is indicated by a circle with a number in the circle.[/p]

I know the "Red 1" indicates the root note but what about the other circles with numbers?


The numbers are scale degrees. Those numbers are incredibly important because every scale is made from an interval formula: the distance between each note. Those intervals are labelled with numbers 1-7 for diatonic scales, 1-5 for pentatonic.[/p]

The interval formula & resultant scale degrees are why the scale sounds the way it does.

Learning this & internalizing it is the process of ear training & how you learn to play "by ear" or how you subconsciously automate sounds in music to memorize them.

These tutorial covers the basics of scale degrees. They are from my older GF course.

C major scale for beginners

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=363

A minor scale for beginners

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=445

Pentatonic scales

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=296

After that I have tons of other tutorials that go much deeper into scales: how to use, understand, apply, practice, etc. But for now, just start with those beginner tutorials.

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
2. Does it matter in which order you play the notes of the particuliar scale or just put something together that sounds good? I guess thats where improvising comes in so I may have just answered my own question.

Yes, it matters very much because each scale degree has it's own unique sound within the scale. So in order to play a certain melody, lick, riff, musical phrase you have to know which note makes that sound.

The simplest example is if you want to play Mary Had a Little Lamb, you have to start on the major 3rd, or it will not be correct.

Thereafter the entire melody is determined by scale degrees:

3-2-1-2-3-3-3

2-2-2

3-5-5

3-2-1-2-3-3-3

2-2-3-2-1

Those are the scale degrees for that melody. Any other, or different notes, are wrong & will make the melody sound incorrect. If you understand that concept & how to apply it on the guitar (i.e. scale degrees on the fretboard), then you can play the melody in any key all over the guitar.

This principle works for any & every lick, riff, song. All of them, everytime, all the time.

It's how some people can "play by ear", or pick up licks or songs quickly. They are seeing scale patterns on the fretboard & understanding that certain shapes consistently create certain, specific sounds. Even when self-taught players say they don't understand music theory or they don't necessarily know the scale degrees work. Scale degrees are exactly what they are using & relying on.

Scale degrees are also important because they are the basis for building chords: how they are formed & played.

Scales & chords relationship

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=426

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
3. I would think that once you start you should at least start with the root note.

When you first start learngin & practicing scales it can help to start & end on the root note so you can keep them physically & conceptually organized. But eventually you should start on different notes of the scale, while keeping the root note & all the scale degrees in mind.

This is because when you play actual music a melody, riff, lick or song might start on any given note of a scale!

So, yes, scales degrees are extremely important. :) Hope that helps! Please ask more if necessary. Best of success!

Chris, in regards to your answer to question #2. I'm confused again. I decided that if I'm going to get better I'm going to at least understand scales. If I understand correctly you're saying that I have to follow the pattern of the scale. Hitting notes in the pattern on the 6th string to the 5th string etc. I understand if you're actually playing the scale following the "pattern". I thought if you wanted to improvise or make up your own riff the scales were like a suggestion...all the notes sound good when used together. Meaning you can improvise as long as you play the notes in that particular scale no matter the order???? Now I remember why I got frustrated with scales all those years ago...lol

This trying to get my left hand and right hand to work together is driving me crazy!

#8

Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel
Originally Posted by: snpfarm
1. Each note is indicated by a circle with a number in the circle.[/p]

I know the "Red 1" indicates the root note but what about the other circles with numbers?


The numbers are scale degrees. Those numbers are incredibly important because every scale is made from an interval formula: the distance between each note. Those intervals are labelled with numbers 1-7 for diatonic scales, 1-5 for pentatonic.[/p]

The interval formula & resultant scale degrees are why the scale sounds the way it does.

Learning this & internalizing it is the process of ear training & how you learn to play "by ear" or how you subconsciously automate sounds in music to memorize them.

These tutorial covers the basics of scale degrees. They are from my older GF course.

C major scale for beginners

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=363

A minor scale for beginners

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=445

Pentatonic scales

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=296

After that I have tons of other tutorials that go much deeper into scales: how to use, understand, apply, practice, etc. But for now, just start with those beginner tutorials.

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
2. Does it matter in which order you play the notes of the particuliar scale or just put something together that sounds good? I guess thats where improvising comes in so I may have just answered my own question.

Yes, it matters very much because each scale degree has it's own unique sound within the scale. So in order to play a certain melody, lick, riff, musical phrase you have to know which note makes that sound.

The simplest example is if you want to play Mary Had a Little Lamb, you have to start on the major 3rd, or it will not be correct.

Thereafter the entire melody is determined by scale degrees:

3-2-1-2-3-3-3

2-2-2

3-5-5

3-2-1-2-3-3-3

2-2-3-2-1

Those are the scale degrees for that melody. Any other, or different notes, are wrong & will make the melody sound incorrect. If you understand that concept & how to apply it on the guitar (i.e. scale degrees on the fretboard), then you can play the melody in any key all over the guitar.

This principle works for any & every lick, riff, song. All of them, everytime, all the time.

It's how some people can "play by ear", or pick up licks or songs quickly. They are seeing scale patterns on the fretboard & understanding that certain shapes consistently create certain, specific sounds. Even when self-taught players say they don't understand music theory or they don't necessarily know the scale degrees work. Scale degrees are exactly what they are using & relying on.

Scale degrees are also important because they are the basis for building chords: how they are formed & played.

Scales & chords relationship

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=426

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
3. I would think that once you start you should at least start with the root note.

When you first start learngin & practicing scales it can help to start & end on the root note so you can keep them physically & conceptually organized. But eventually you should start on different notes of the scale, while keeping the root note & all the scale degrees in mind.

This is because when you play actual music a melody, riff, lick or song might start on any given note of a scale!

So, yes, scales degrees are extremely important. :) Hope that helps! Please ask more if necessary. Best of success!

Chris, in regards to your answer to question #2. I'm confused again. I decided that if I'm going to get better I'm going to at least understand scales. If I understand correctly you're saying that I have to follow the pattern of the scale. Hitting notes in the pattern on the 6th string to the 5th string etc. I understand if you're actually playing the scale following the "pattern". I thought if you wanted to improvise or make up your own riff the scales were like a suggestion...all the notes sound good when used together. Meaning you can improvise as long as you play the notes in that particular scale no matter the order???? Now I remember why I got frustrated with scales all those years ago...lol

This trying to get my left hand and right hand to work together is driving me crazy!

Music_Maestro

Full Access

Joined: 10/12/11

Posts: 161

Look up Joseph Alexander on Amazon. He's written books about Guitar Theory (scales) and about the Circle of Fifths.

They're written extensively and worth reading.

Epiphone SG 400 Pro, Fender Squier, Flying V for shredding. Celtic fusion,rock, blues & Metal. From Wales, GB.

#9

Look up Joseph Alexander on Amazon. He's written books about Guitar Theory (scales) and about the Circle of Fifths.

They're written extensively and worth reading.

Epiphone SG 400 Pro, Fender Squier, Flying V for shredding. Celtic fusion,rock, blues & Metal. From Wales, GB.

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 7371

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
If I understand correctly you're saying that I have to follow the pattern of the scale.

It depends on what you are trying to do.

At the beginner stage of learning it's best to play one octave of any given scale straight up & down from root to root in one area of the neck. This helps you start to learn to integrate the pattern & the sound in your fingers, with your eyes & ears.

As you progress you should try playing the scale in various patterns to get used to it. Play it in more than one octave, play it in various areas of the fretboard, play it in various patterns (3s, 4s, pedal point, starting on different notes). This helps you develop your skills & understanding even further.

So far all of that is merely practice, working out, but then . . .

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
Hitting notes in the pattern on the 6th string to the 5th string etc. I understand if you're actually playing the scale following the "pattern".

Yes, and that is a helpful part of the process to build your physical dexterity & ear. But you're not playing music yet.

When you start to play actual music you need to play the notes of the scale in the order that you want in order to create specific sounds. That's why you practice the scales in the first place: to get used to how the notes of any scale sound in relation to each other while building the physical dexterity to play them.

But then, when we play music we use scales to understand why the notes of a song, riff, lick, solo, etc. sound they way the sound. And organize our own thinking about them, and to communicate to others about it.

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
I thought if you wanted to improvise or make up your own riff the scales were like a suggestion...all the notes sound good when used together.

Yes, when you are making up your own music you are not required to play the notes in any given order. You can make up your own order. Ultimately when you find you like the sound of some group of notes it's because of the specific order you choose. In this case the scale is like the alphabet & you are making different words with the basic raw materials.

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
Meaning you can improvise as long as you play the notes in that particular scale no matter the order????

Let's use the alphabet analogy again.

If you want to spell "cat" you have to use 3 specific letters in a specific order. You can use those letters to spell "act" if you want to instead. And that's fine if you want the result of the word "act". You're free to use whatever letters you want. But it's wrong if you wanted the result to be the word "cat". Only those 3 letters in that order will get that result.

So, you can use the scale degrees in any order you want. But it helps to know how they sound & why & when to use them. That's why we practice scales in the first place. So when we want to make music (copy a song, or make our own) we know which notes to use in which order.

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
Now I remember why I got frustrated with scales all those years ago...lol[/p]

If you are going to play music you don't have any choice about using scales. They are the basic raw materials of melodies, licks, riffs, chords. If you play music, then you will be implicitly using scales. The only choice you have is how well you choose to understand them, so you'll know what you are doing.

Make sense?

What are you trying to do with scales?

You might want to have a look at these tutorials on improvisation. I explain how & why understanding scales is helpful in the context of these tutorials.

https://www.guitartricks.com/collection/learning-to-improvise

This tutorial cover the same ideas but in a blues style context.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=217

Hope that helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#10

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
If I understand correctly you're saying that I have to follow the pattern of the scale.

It depends on what you are trying to do.

At the beginner stage of learning it's best to play one octave of any given scale straight up & down from root to root in one area of the neck. This helps you start to learn to integrate the pattern & the sound in your fingers, with your eyes & ears.

As you progress you should try playing the scale in various patterns to get used to it. Play it in more than one octave, play it in various areas of the fretboard, play it in various patterns (3s, 4s, pedal point, starting on different notes). This helps you develop your skills & understanding even further.

So far all of that is merely practice, working out, but then . . .

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
Hitting notes in the pattern on the 6th string to the 5th string etc. I understand if you're actually playing the scale following the "pattern".

Yes, and that is a helpful part of the process to build your physical dexterity & ear. But you're not playing music yet.

When you start to play actual music you need to play the notes of the scale in the order that you want in order to create specific sounds. That's why you practice the scales in the first place: to get used to how the notes of any scale sound in relation to each other while building the physical dexterity to play them.

But then, when we play music we use scales to understand why the notes of a song, riff, lick, solo, etc. sound they way the sound. And organize our own thinking about them, and to communicate to others about it.

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
I thought if you wanted to improvise or make up your own riff the scales were like a suggestion...all the notes sound good when used together.

Yes, when you are making up your own music you are not required to play the notes in any given order. You can make up your own order. Ultimately when you find you like the sound of some group of notes it's because of the specific order you choose. In this case the scale is like the alphabet & you are making different words with the basic raw materials.

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
Meaning you can improvise as long as you play the notes in that particular scale no matter the order????

Let's use the alphabet analogy again.

If you want to spell "cat" you have to use 3 specific letters in a specific order. You can use those letters to spell "act" if you want to instead. And that's fine if you want the result of the word "act". You're free to use whatever letters you want. But it's wrong if you wanted the result to be the word "cat". Only those 3 letters in that order will get that result.

So, you can use the scale degrees in any order you want. But it helps to know how they sound & why & when to use them. That's why we practice scales in the first place. So when we want to make music (copy a song, or make our own) we know which notes to use in which order.

Originally Posted by: snpfarm
Now I remember why I got frustrated with scales all those years ago...lol[/p]

If you are going to play music you don't have any choice about using scales. They are the basic raw materials of melodies, licks, riffs, chords. If you play music, then you will be implicitly using scales. The only choice you have is how well you choose to understand them, so you'll know what you are doing.

Make sense?

What are you trying to do with scales?

You might want to have a look at these tutorials on improvisation. I explain how & why understanding scales is helpful in the context of these tutorials.

https://www.guitartricks.com/collection/learning-to-improvise

This tutorial cover the same ideas but in a blues style context.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=217

Hope that helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory