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Sep 29, 2011 - 7:14:04 PM
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BillyH

USA

1479 posts since 10/24/2004

Ron Blocks intructional DVD that you can get from John Lawless at Acu tab REALLY goes into scales and how Ron practices them then applies them to everything He's playing.. This is a VERY good dvd...

Nov 8, 2011 - 10:04:28 PM
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1242 posts since 7/15/2011

Wow! I just want to be able to play Cripple Creek.

Nov 11, 2011 - 10:11:07 AM
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6446 posts since 8/31/2004

quote:
Originally posted by pearcemusic

getting scales (the sounds and the knowledge of) into your playing is the only point to studying scales.

scale study for me has a couple of different focal points.

1. simply being able to "visualize" major, minor, pentatonic(S), etc scales both horizontally and vertically across the fingerboard, while "hearing" the scale in my head.
I sometimes will "play" a scale in my head while facing the banjo ... "seeing" the notes on the fingerboard and "hearing" it in my head, while "knowing" the note names of the notes being played.
It works your brain a bit ... and "ear trains" you to instinctively be able to find the melodies you hear ...
I do it in all keys.

2. as you study different scalar sounds, you broaden your ability to hear all music and immediately KNOW what that scalar or harmonic sound is. You begin to recognize things that you previously might not have recognized.
This extends to chord types as well ... every type of scale has harmony that it implies, and you start to see the scales as harmony ... or chords/arpeggios.

i.e. a Cmajor scalar sound is
CDEFGABC, but breaks out into
CEGB Cmaj7
and DFA or Dmin ... so you begin to see that a Dmin chord stacked on top of a Cmaj7 is a fully extended Cmaj chord. That chord or arpeggio has a sound to it that is unique in music.
each mode of major
each mode of harmonic minor
each mode of melodic minor
... and many others ...
each has it's own unique flavor in music.
some are more usable than others.

scales are not the end, but the means to an end for me ...

on a side note ... the chart you linked has some fairly unusable fingerings for scales, but can be used as a primer for a scale shape. It can get you started.

recognition of scales has definitely helped my bluegrass playing ... as well as reading piano music ... understanding modern harmony ... modern jazz .... whatever ....

Yeah, scales, play 'em like you mean 'em.  This is good stuff and practical advice.

Dec 21, 2011 - 8:59:32 PM

4 posts since 12/21/2011

quote:Do you play the different scales in open G tuning?  Are there any other tunings you play them in?  I've been learning the scales in open G, however it doesn't seem applicable for clawhammer since the strings always resonate in G, clashing with whatever scale I'm playing in (if it's other than G)
Originally posted by pearcemusic

getting scales (the sounds and the knowledge of) into your playing is the only point to studying scales.

scale study for me has a couple of different focal points.

1. simply being able to "visualize" major, minor, pentatonic(S), etc scales both horizontally and vertically across the fingerboard, while "hearing" the scale in my head.
I sometimes will "play" a scale in my head while facing the banjo ... "seeing" the notes on the fingerboard and "hearing" it in my head, while "knowing" the note names of the notes being played.
It works your brain a bit ... and "ear trains" you to instinctively be able to find the melodies you hear ...
I do it in all keys.

2. as you study different scalar sounds, you broaden your ability to hear all music and immediately KNOW what that scalar or harmonic sound is. You begin to recognize things that you previously might not have recognized.
This extends to chord types as well ... every type of scale has harmony that it implies, and you start to see the scales as harmony ... or chords/arpeggios.

i.e. a Cmajor scalar sound is
CDEFGABC, but breaks out into
CEGB Cmaj7
and DFA or Dmin ... so you begin to see that a Dmin chord stacked on top of a Cmaj7 is a fully extended Cmaj chord. That chord or arpeggio has a sound to it that is unique in music.
each mode of major
each mode of harmonic minor
each mode of melodic minor
... and many others ...
each has it's own unique flavor in music.
some are more usable than others.

scales are not the end, but the means to an end for me ...

on a side note ... the chart you linked has some fairly unusable fingerings for scales, but can be used as a primer for a scale shape. It can get you started.

recognition of scales has definitely helped my bluegrass playing ... as well as reading piano music ... understanding modern harmony ... modern jazz .... whatever ....

 

Jun 17, 2012 - 2:20:32 PM
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4 posts since 6/18/2007

I have Janet Davis scale book, it is great!

Jul 30, 2012 - 10:16:10 AM

465 posts since 12/29/2011

It's pretty easy in my somewhat simple mind. If I want to learn a new scale, I simply play the "Do Re Mi" song from sound of music in whatever key I am interested in studying, mixing in I, IV, and V chords where appropriate, and when I have it down pat, I know the scale. Minor scales are derived from these.

If you can't "hear" the scale in this simple song, you may have other issues such as being tone deaf. (I'm not being an ass here, it is possible though improbable.)

May 1, 2013 - 11:18:44 AM
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27 posts since 4/5/2013

Hi
Is anyone interested in pentatonic scales?!

I've just written a book called "Patterns on Your Banjo - Unlock the Secrets to Blues Improvisation" Its all about scale patterns , no music or tab reading. Just need some Blues backing tracks which you can easily download off the computer for free. I teach just enough music theory to allow people to be creative and stop them worrying that they don't know enough music theory!

My web-site is www.jenniewilliams.com The download of my free sample function is just being fixed so should be able to have a look at it in the next couple of days.

All the best, Jennie

May 11, 2013 - 9:34:49 PM

1 posts since 5/11/2013

I think scales on any instrument are essential in gaining fluency on the fret board. We often avoid them because they are either boring, not much fun, and they can be extremely challenging. Memorizing scales is next to useless. Instead; play a couple scales every day and let your muscle memory take over and you'll learn them that way.

Jun 1, 2013 - 1:13:04 AM

3 posts since 3/17/2012

Just found this thread. Brilliant!

I'm getting going with banjo and a variety of music and a bit of theory is just what I (think) I need! Thanks all.

Aug 8, 2013 - 3:33:35 PM
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1310 posts since 7/8/2013

Billyshake, you asked "How deep into scales should my knowledge go in order that I might play a little Old time or Bluegrass..." Can I say, less than an inch deep? The minute you start playing "Whiskey before breakfast" you're going up and down a scale, in fact, a lot of the simpler tunes are not much more than scales, even a more sophisticated Bluegrass tune like Jerusalem Ridge walks right up and down the A minor scale for most of the first two sections.I think people get scared of the word scales because it sounds like something else you have to do before you can start playing, lets call them "note ladders" instead. How wet do I have to get before I can start swimming? They"ll both be happening at the same time, don't make it seem harder by making two different things out of one.When people start explaining how they think they are thinking, that's when they wake up the monster....I was going to say something about trombones too, but I decided to let it slide.

Edited by - swamplunker on 08/08/2013 15:41:39

Aug 14, 2013 - 5:13:06 AM
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46 posts since 1/20/2009

    I think of scales as a musical road map.  Within a tonality, they define the harmony and "what people like."  The physics comments are correct, and understanding that will help you understand "what people like", at a basic level, which, with nearly everyone, is harmony. 

    Singing is of the essence here; not everyone can sing well in the key of G-some better higher, some better lower.  Your vocalist's abilities will best determine which key, with the appropriate harmonies, chords, and thus scales, are appropriate for the piece you wish to learn. A melody is a unique sequence of notes and rests, and nearly always involves a key, harmony, chords, and scales which are appropriate to that melody.  A song or melody can be performed in any key, but within any key, the notes will retain the same musical relationship with the key note as they do in any other key.  These relationships correspond with the appropriate chords, harmonies, and scales related to the key note, whatever it is.

A lot of people never learn music theory or scales, but every musician uses them, consciously or otherwise.  If you know scales, then you save a lot of guesswork regarding the melody and the chords, harmony, and even the key.  Scales are a shortcut, quickly leading one to the appropriate notes, harmonies, and chords  to play with a melody.

Different cultures use different scales.  Our seven note scale in western music is not the only possibility; Near Eastern, Persian-based music uses more notes, and Indonesian gamelan music uses some 17 notes, if I remember right.  This is the reason such musics sound "strange" or "weird" to our ears, because we are not used to such scales and do not have long-standing cultural references to them that the locals in these places do.  Chinese music uses a five tone, or pentatonic, scale, which gives it a "sing-song" quality.  Blues music often uses a pentatonic scale also, but a different one, which contains more dissonant (less harmonious) notes than the Chinese pentatonic scale, which give the blues a more "edgy" feel.  All of these scales have millions of fans wherever they are commonly used.  There are no "correct" scales, but only scales which fit to the melody which one wishes to sing or play.  To play some of these foreign scales, one would have to have a fretless banjo, and know the physical (vibrations per second) relationships between all the notes of these scales.

Does one have to know every scale, or all about scales to be a musician?  No.  But one would have a far greater versatility and capability as a musician, the more he or she knew.  And one would learn songs much faster.  Knowing scales will also help you at the point where you begin to consider alternative tunings for your banjo.

Edited by - Dan Sparkman on 08/14/2013 05:28:07

Nov 5, 2013 - 5:27:56 AM
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79434 posts since 5/9/2007

I always carried a set of hanging scales on my lobster boat for sales at sea.

I use chord progressions as my roadmap,but you should be able to rip off a scale in any key.

Edited by - steve davis on 11/05/2013 05:29:29

Nov 5, 2013 - 6:30:28 AM
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13420 posts since 3/6/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Sparkman
 

    I think of scales as a musical road map.  Within a tonality, they define the harmony and "what people like."  The physics comments are correct, and understanding that will help you understand "what people like", at a basic level, which, with nearly everyone, is harmony. 

    Singing is of the essence here; not everyone can sing well in the key of G-some better higher, some better lower.  Your vocalist's abilities will best determine which key, with the appropriate harmonies, chords, and thus scales, are appropriate for the piece you wish to learn. A melody is a unique sequence of notes and rests, and nearly always involves a key, harmony, chords, and scales which are appropriate to that melody.  A song or melody can be performed in any key, but within any key, the notes will retain the same musical relationship with the key note as they do in any other key.  These relationships correspond with the appropriate chords, harmonies, and scales related to the key note, whatever it is.

A lot of people never learn music theory or scales, but every musician uses them, consciously or otherwise.  If you know scales, then you save a lot of guesswork regarding the melody and the chords, harmony, and even the key.  Scales are a shortcut, quickly leading one to the appropriate notes, harmonies, and chords  to play with a melody.

Different cultures use different scales.  Our seven note scale in western music is not the only possibility; Near Eastern, Persian-based music uses more notes, and Indonesian gamelan music uses some 17 notes, if I remember right.  This is the reason such musics sound "strange" or "weird" to our ears, because we are not used to such scales and do not have long-standing cultural references to them that the locals in these places do.  Chinese music uses a five tone, or pentatonic, scale, which gives it a "sing-song" quality.  Blues music often uses a pentatonic scale also, but a different one, which contains more dissonant (less harmonious) notes than the Chinese pentatonic scale, which give the blues a more "edgy" feel.  All of these scales have millions of fans wherever they are commonly used.  There are no "correct" scales, but only scales which fit to the melody which one wishes to sing or play.  To play some of these foreign scales, one would have to have a fretless banjo, and know the physical (vibrations per second) relationships between all the notes of these scales.

Does one have to know every scale, or all about scales to be a musician?  No.  But one would have a far greater versatility and capability as a musician, the more he or she knew.  And one would learn songs much faster.  Knowing scales will also help you at the point where you begin to consider alternative tunings for your banjo.


Well Said Dan-yes

Jan 21, 2014 - 7:06:39 PM
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46 posts since 8/28/2011

With most music you're not going to be playing whole scales, musical phrases are more often a combination of motifs "licks" and can't be definitively said that this or that "scale" is being used , since the same results could come from more than one scale or by switching from one scale to another (or adding chromatic embellishments to a scale).
Normally, in fact, thinking in scales - on functional harmony - is neither necessary nor helpful. Almost everything is given to you by the chords (and the melody), and the rest can be any passing chromatics you feel like adding. Phrasing, and targeting chord tones is what counts in a musical setting .

Jan 21, 2014 - 7:49:52 PM
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3425 posts since 4/19/2008

At least 90% of all "popular song" has 1 key and 1 mode which means if you play 1 note, 1 lick or 1 scale you are under the over-riding tonality of the parent tonality.

Feb 23, 2014 - 11:07:34 AM
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36 posts since 1/12/2014

I think the more scales you know, and the more positions you know them in, the better off you are if you want to improvise a lot while you are playing. I have been practicing scales for about a month out of a book I just bought and I have noticed an improvement in my playing for sure. You can use certain scales in many different situations if you know how they relate to what you are playing... definitely opened up a whole new level for me, I recommend studying scales for sure! Hope this helps...

Aug 12, 2014 - 9:02:43 AM
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3279 posts since 2/16/2003

Practicing scales is also an excellent exercise for l/r hand coordination and dexterity.

So theyre still worth practicing even if you are of the mindset that scales are unnecessary from a musical perspective (which I am not)

Aug 12, 2014 - 9:26:59 AM
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13420 posts since 3/6/2006

Thats exactly right Mikey and it also develops ear recognition of tones. Your mind will 'hear' and 'know'  the notes' location on the fingerboard. That is very powerful and is what comes from extensive scale practice.

Aug 19, 2014 - 9:35:57 AM
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139 posts since 7/16/2014

Can someone explain playing in Key to a rookie....i dont get it.

Aug 19, 2014 - 9:56:49 AM
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JoeDownes

Netherlands

3274 posts since 2/7/2008

Key is a hierarchy of the pitches. Most music is based around a center and that center, the most important pitch in the hierarchy, is the root of the key. The other notes can than be described in relation to the key center. So when some song is played in the key G, G is the tonal center of the song.

Edited by - JoeDownes on 08/19/2014 09:58:43

Sep 30, 2014 - 10:02:41 PM

16 posts since 9/30/2014

Scales taught me the neck. I did them out of tab but thought of them in notes instead of tab. And then I started to see how moving just one finger changed a chord into another chord. Scales sort of accidentally teach theory. And they are teaching me to just hear sounds and recognize things. And they also open a big door. I would work out of a scale doing all the different things and then I would suddenly get a song I made up in my head....sometimes words....sometimes just the music....then I have to find words to the music. Probably in ten years I'll decide those songs sucked. But scales and working them have caused me to really explore making up my own chordal progressions. And anything you find and hear by yourself will sooner or later come out playing with others. So when I am looking at things....I'm thinking notes and wondering why that is. However, honestly, when I play....I am just listening and trying to fit in.

Oct 7, 2014 - 10:22:22 PM

16 posts since 9/30/2014

Legend

Really a key is related to the ability of the singer. What the singer sings. And a key is related to a scale. That is....the singing has to remain in key or it sounds weird to the ear. So if the singer prefers singing in the key of A....while you are used to playing in the key of G....you have to meet the singer not the singer meet you. It gets way more complicated but it is pretty clear you need to understand the true fundamental of keys. Its the singer. The musicians change keys to meet the singer. This is why scales are important. If you only play in chords and arpeggios and capo you will always be in harmony. And you will sound very good....with good musicians just rolling along and keeping time and bouncing to your own feel. But to play a break....you have to start thinking in terms of that key. A capo allows you to "cheat" and play all you know out of the key you know. That isn't a bad thing. We talk in terms of one, two, three, four, five, six, seventh, and eights to avoid key issues. (Tonic in G is G, In E , E. they are the I chord). This way musicians can talk in terms of the 12 steps instead of the key). That is....if everyone is playing in A but you know the tune in G....instead of thinking of the G, C, D chord progression....try I, IV, V when you practice and learn the I, IV, V, for every key. That is a start I think will help you. I would also suggest you buy Janet Davis' book on Banjo scales and at least learn the C, G, D, A, F, Bflat, scales.

Oct 7, 2014 - 10:34:05 PM

16 posts since 9/30/2014

I have to say you guys are so smart it is a blast reading your thoughts. I am blown away with the knowledge on this site. It is way helpful. I would say its possible to choke a lot a beginners to death to where they would just give up. I suggest just taking your banjo to bed and picking the 5th string all night....Im sure John Hartford said that....

Oct 7, 2014 - 10:56:46 PM

16 posts since 9/30/2014

Tom Hanaway I couldn't agree more. You study the scales and mess around with them and you hear the sounds. And when you play with others you start to instinctively know the scale and harmony. Don't do it in order of the circle of fifths or fourths.... Mess around and have your own fun. Listen. And most of all...try to play exactly in time with everyone and develop your own bounce. I have had very fine musicians turn around and look at me where I was just listening and playing to the bounce of the tune and I was just making it up. And playing scales and messing around....jumping from the first to the fourth....or the first to the fifth....or the flatted seventh...all of it...opens doors to one's own creativity. I don't think someone can be a really good banjo playing without getting down the right hand first. I think it is way better to play all chords and learn to get the right hand locked down in drive. Harmony. I have had too many guitarist friends who know the neck and theory like no tomorrow sound like s*** because they could not separate the notes and play with dexterity with the right hand. I honestly feel scales mean nothing if you cannot learn to lock the right hand in. On guitar the left seems to be everyhting....On banjo the left is everything but not until the right hand is everything. I don't even know what roll I am playing....if I am even playing a roll....because I am totally focused on the what I have learned in scales, arpeggios, chords, etc. But the right hand came first and the neck much later.

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