Category Archives: Scales

Guitar Lesson – Music Theory Part 8 – Scales and Modes

In one of the previous post, we looked at how you can use the major scale to create other scales by starting on a different note.  These other scales are also known as modes.  In that post, we started the pattern from the 6-note and created the minor scale:
          6  7  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8
C major:        C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C
A minor:  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  A             
 
Now let’s take a look at what happens if we tried starting the pattern from the other notes.  Each scale or mode also has (Greek) name.  Remember, the root of each of the scales below is the 1st note.
C Ionian (major) :   C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C
D Dorian         :      D  E  F  G  A  B  C  D 
E Phrygian       :         E  F  G  A  B  C  D  E
F Lydian         :            F  G  A  B  C  D  E  F
G Mixolydian     :               G  A  B  C  D  E  F  G
A Aeolian (minor):                  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  A 
B Locrian        :                     B  C  D  E  F  A  B 
       
This gives us the basic idea of how to figure out the patterns of the other scales.  Let’s look at the different patterns side by side: (W= whole step, H = half step)

Ionian (major) :      W  W  H  W  W  W  H

Dorian         :      W  H  W  W  W  H  W
Phrygian       :      H  W  W  W  H  W
Lydian         :      W  W  W  H  H
Mixolydian     :      W  W  H  W
Aeolian (minor):      W  H  W
Locrian        :     

Now if we apply these patterns to the same root we can see the differences between the modes (which is really the important thing to remember):

                     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8
C Ionian (major) :   C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C

C Dorian         :   C  D  Eb F  G  A  Bb C
C Phrygian       :   Db Eb F  G  Ab Bb C
C Lydian         :   C  D  F# G  A  C
C Mixolydian     :   C  D  F  G  A  Bb C
C Aeolian (minor):   C  D  Eb F  G  Ab Bb C
C Locrian        :   Db Eb Gb Ab Bb C

In some upcoming posts, we’ll start looking at what scale patterns might look like on the fretboard of the guitar. 

Advertisements

Guitar Lesson – Music Theory Part 2 – WWHWWWH

In the previous lesson, we talked about steps.  Just to summarize…

notes next to each other = 1/2 step apart
two 1/2 steps = a whole step

Now we’ll take this idea and see how it applies for scales.

The first scale that most people learn is the C Major Scale.  The notes for this scale are:

    1   2    3   4   5   6   7   8    <— let’s numberthem
    do  re   mi  fa  so  la  ti  do   <— for vocalists
    C   D    E   F   G   A   B   C
(1 = starting note = “root’)

If we look at these notes on the piano, the first thing you might notice is that to play this scale, only the white keys are required.

Now, let’s look at the relationship between the notes.  In this chart, we’ll also number the notes:



C -> D = whole step (W)
D –> E = whole step (W)
E –> F = 1/2 step   (H)
F –> G = whole step (W)
G –> A = whole step (W)
A –> B = whole step (W)
B –> C = 1/2 step   (H)

All major scales follow this pattern: W-W-H-W-W-W-H.  So playing the C Major Scale is simply saying play this pattern starting with C.

Let’s look at what this might look like for the G Major Scale:

    G  A  B  C  D  E  F#  G

When we follow this pattern starting with G, we get F#.  So This scale has 1 sharp (#).

Let’s do it again for the F Major Scale:

    F  G  A  Bb  C  D  E  F

When we follow this pattern starting with F, we get Bb.  So This scale has 1 flat (b).

If we do this for all the notes, you’ll notice that each note will result in a different number of sharps and flats.

TIP 1 :- Letters should not be repeated.  So for the F (Major) Scale, the A was already used as the 3rd note so the 4th note could not be A# and has to be Bb.

TIP 2 :- On music sheets, the sharps and flats are placed on the line representing that note/letter.


So let’s take a look at what each scale might look like.

Here, we’ve put C in the middle.  As you move down from C, the number of sharps increase.  And as you move up from C, the number of flats increase.
 
This is also known as “circle of fifths“.

The way that I memorize it is this…

For sharps:
   [C]alvin
   [G]o
   [D]own
   [A]nd
   [E]at
   [B]reakfast





For flats:
   [F]at
   [B]oys (Bb)
   [E]at   (Eb)
   [A]ll    (Ab)
   [D]ay  (Db)
   [G]??  (Gb)


This called the circle of fifths because as you move clockwise around, the next scale starts with the 5th note of the previous.  For instance, G’s scale has 1 sharp and is the 5th note of the C Scale.  D’s scale has 2 sharps is the 5th note of the G Scale.

As I always tell my students, if you don’t remember anything else, remember this: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole half (WWHWWWWH)!