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Thread: Why all these scales?

  1. #21
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    Still, I think practising scales has its merits. For one, it is a good drill for learning finger positions, and to fluently go from one note to another. Lately, I picked up clarinet, and I'm really finding out how important that is.

    And whatever is being said about chord notes - the music is still rooted in scales. There's no understanding of the function of chords without knowing the scale they appear in. Also, it opened my eyes when I learned about the diminished scales, and when to use notes from those in an improvisation.

    This way of thinking that uses the church scales to move around in a chord never worked for me, though.

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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    I can't believe part of this discussion. Is practicing all scales important? Gee, I don't know. They are only what the entire mass of western music since the rennaisance to the presence are derived from.
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    Practicing scales and appropriately related arpeggios are useful in training muscle memory to play the notes of a specific key. If you want to play fast, then you don't want your conscious brain slowing things down by thinking.

    But ask yourself.... what about modes and why are they important? and they are.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaker View Post
    I've been playing for little over 4 months now about the same time I started to read alot of theory. (Been playing guitars for 10 years so I'm not a complete noob)

    Now I got all my major scales down and was about to start with all the other scales.
    But then I got to thinking. are all the scales really necessery to know? or maybe it'll have the opposite effect when you have to spend so much time memorizing every single one.

    If you know your 2-5-1's you already know the right scales but not the names.
    And when you practise your major scales you learn all the degrees at the same time. And wouldn't the info in the chord names do? I've been improvising with backing tracks since I could make sounds on the sax. And I manage just fine knowing that I lower the 3rd when it's minor and stuff. Okey that sounded like It was really basic but I've been thinking maybe it is that simple.

    Dominant lowered seventh
    minor lowered seventh and lowered third

    And then you just alter when the chords do. And if you combine that with guide tones and passing tones. And your EARS, won't that be the same thing as knowing all the fancy pants scales there is? Coz browsing forums lead me to the conclusion that I already play all the fancy pants scales I just don't know the names?

    I guess the questions is what would benefit me the most practicing all the scales in the world. Or stay with my method and spend that time on playing actual MUSIC?

    I guess I'm wrong since so many people bother to learn those scales It was just a thought I had.
    Well, I think that quite a few players do just this.

    There are key notes that are recommended to include like a m3rd over a minor chord and then a lot of the other notes are a grab bag depending on the players ear/context.

    There are some recommended things like trying to keep a fair few chord tones on the on beat to keep the solo in sync with the harmony or imply the harmony if not much harmony is going on and voice leading etc etc but how to actually combine everything is really up to a players taste and that's how players can achieve different styles of playing.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    Quote Originally Posted by saxpiece View Post
    How about this loose analogy, maybe.

    Arpeggio notes are like the key words in a sentence and scale notes are like the filler words in a sentence like the, and etc, and making music is like putting sentences together to produce a bigger picture.
    I think you're right but those filler words don't have to be scale notes
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    My sax coach makes me play ll the scales starting on the lowest diatonic note I can get and topping out on the highest non altissimo diatonic note.

    I should be able to play the scale starting from any diatonic note in any direction and arpeggiating starting on any of the notes up or down. Once there in all 12 keys then maybe I get a gold sticker lol.

    Forgot to add 120 bpm eighth notes clean for the gold sticker

    Other than that it's a mild attaboy youre getting there
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    I am old, but, new to the clarinet and music. My teacher insists on scale practice so I do it every day. I know the major scales fairly well. However, I cannot relate them to the music I play. I look at the key signature see it is A major, but, that does not help me I don't think. I will will a natural G, hear that it does not sound right and correct, but, it is not like my fingers automatically play G # because it is trained. And I practice the A major scale before playing the piece. My only hope is that somewhere down the road something will click.

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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    Quote Originally Posted by cpaace View Post
    My only hope is that somewhere down the road something will click.
    It will! First, you will notice that you are recognizing the "wrong notes" more quickly. Then, you will realize that you are automatically adjusting to the "right notes" more quickly when you do hit a "wrong note." Then one day you will notice that you just seem to be hitting "right notes" automatically, without even thinking about it. It will happen -- hang in there! I would suggest setting aside some time each day to play freely, so you don't get too bogged down on just thinking about the scales themselves when you practice. Think of a tune (or a passage, or a phrase) and then try to play it by ear. Just keep hearing the right notes in your head while you play, and your fingers will eventually do the rest -- just like singing. Practice scales as a means to an end. By that I mean practice them until you don't even have to think about them. And most importantly, keep having fun on the journey.

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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    I'm of (at least) two minds about scales. I practice the primary scales diligently, having made them a part of my daily warmup, and at the very least they systematically force my fingers to touch every key on the sax, as well as to increase my dexterity for playing scales (which may be tautological). They also remind me of the sharps and flats associated with each key signature, and provide a crutch when I am not being particularly creative in developing a musical line to play over some chord changes.

    On the other hand, scales are really just a theoretical artifact of our western system of music, not necessarily a musical statement unto themselves. There is nothing inherently musical about playing scales. They are needed so we have a reference regarding how our system of music hangs together. Other systems of music have different scale systems (e.g., Indian ragas, quarter tone scales, Ivor Darreg's microtonal systems, etc.) and different rules for combining notes into lines and harmony. So nothing special about practicing them from a musical perspective. If you can "make music" without shedding all the various scales, then whatever you are doing is putting you on the right track.

    Then again, some improvisors seem to be more scalar and others more chordal in their style, so maybe its worth figuring out which works for you.
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    I think you need to practice what is not natural to you in improvisation, but only to the point where you begin to understand how to use it and expand your harmonic vocabulary.

    For me, learning tones to alter chords has been much more profitable than trying (and usually failing) to learn advanced scales. Why? Scales fundamentally have no harmony, they only associate to it, and rather abstractly, at that. They're meant to be learned, played, understood, and most of all, heard ONE note at a time.

    I hear nothing in a scale in itself but a series of steps and half-steps that make sense only in reproducing that scale in order. If anyone hears any harmony in a scale, I would love to learn how they are using it as sound. Not fingerings, not theory - in the ear.

    Think of a beautiful dish like a stew. We appreciate it as a melding, a unity of all the various parts - what you get when you cook beef, carrot, onion, wine, potato, stock...That is harmony.

    Now approach the table and demand that the diner "cook" the stew theoretically. He's not going to get that melding on his plate or on his tastebuds. Instead, he'll have to taste each ingredient by itself - nicely cooked beef, delicately steamed potato and carrot, red wine in the glass - and combine them only abstractly, in his imagination.

    How would you rather eat?
    How would you rather listen?

    Only the intervals, triads, chords associated with a scale have the quality and color of simultaneous notes we call harmony. Anything else is one level of abstraction too far for me, and I suspect for a lot of us who come to music first as hearers - and whose playing grows out of hearing, not drilled-in abstractions.
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaker View Post
    I guess the questions is what would benefit me the most practicing all the scales in the world. Or stay with my method and spend that time on playing actual MUSIC?
    Do both.

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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    To problem with the whole chord=scales theory(aebersold etc) is that is tends to neglect very important aspects of music such as proper voice leading and resolving tension. People get taught that you can just use the c major over a II-V-I in c major. You can use it of course but you can't randomly play up and down the scale and expect it to sound right.
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yatag View Post
    Sorry, I am clearly missing something here.

    How would you explain to a student why a raised fifth on a dominant chord will also tend to imply a certain quality of ninth?
    I agree you may possibly be missing something

    I would not need to explain that to a student because I don't believe that a raised 5th (without any given context) tends to imply anything about a certain quality of 9th.

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    Non Resident SOTW Eccentric & 2012 Forum Contributor Jazzaferri's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    Music is not a random note generator. Band In a Box solo generator is even better than a random note generator.

    If notes are words then phrases are well ..... er .... phrases. Lines are sentences..... Its up to you to decide if you want
    to

    Glebe notwithstanding chalice to mother maiden antiphone.

    Or perhaps say something more artistic.

    There are only 12 notes. (plus the bluesy in betweeners if you want to count them) A scale is just a subset of notes that have a higher likelihood of working in a given harmonic context than not.

    Victor Wooten really taught me there is no such thing as a wrong note .....UNLESS ........ you played a note and think of it as wrong
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzaferri View Post
    Glebe notwithstanding chalice to mother maiden antiphone.
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buck Laughlin View Post
    'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    Buck:
    Thx for the reply. I am certainly hoping that will be the case. I must admit that I do pick up the wrong notes instantly. I even noticed that in a song I pick up the wrong note. Sounds flat. I was wondering why that was as it is a music piece and not a scale so not in an order, but, I guess perhaps I am getting to hear when the step is wrong. Anyway, I find your words encouraging.

  19. #39
    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    Hey, hold on a minute guys. Reality check ref. the whole problem of the Aebersold chord/scale thing ignoring the harmonic functions of tension and release - this is patently not so, regarding the "system" itself.

    If any teachers want to give their students short cuts by implying that you can just ignore the harmonic direction of ii7-V7-IMaj7 by playing the tonic scale, nothing anyone can do about that, but to imply that Jamey, Dan Haerle or any of the gang who have taught the so-called chord/scale system (if there is one) over the years have not taught functional harmony, have been living on Mars.

    Jamey and team have been very thorough. It's not fair to put off on them, and a so-called "system" under their name, the inadequacies of teachers who have done incomplete jobs in how they have taught improvisation. It's not the fault of the "system". It's the fault of lazy, or teachers who lack knowledge.
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  20. #40

    Default Re: Why all these scales?

    I agree and then don't with you Gary. I simply extract the functional notes from the "system". For example in a beg class I say, "play C# jump up and grab Bb then come down a half step to A. When they play the A I hit a d minor chord and their faces light up. The chances of tossing out the 5th mode of harmonic minor and teaching the scale, god forbid in 12 keys, and expecting anything to happen that will provide a memorable and enjoyable experience is nil.

    Sorry when you put that giant chord scale chart in the books, everyone of them, you have yourself a system. True point about teachers, some of them. I'll have to think about this more.
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