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Scales Scales Scales (Part 2)

Introduction and a soundfile

Hi and welcome to the second part of my scale-workout.

Now, before we get into the next pile of exercises, I'd like to point out something to you... These articles focus on the modes of the major-scale mainly.

You probably know that there are way more scales... harmonic and melodic minor, hybrid and symmetrical scales, oriental scales (Asian etc.). Now, I didn't talk about those a lot, and I won't in this article either. It's up to you to apply the exercises and approaches in this scale-workout to whatever scale you would like to use and learn. The method always is the same although some scales might give you some problems (like i.e. Hirajoshi, which has some unusual intervals and it's tough to make up 3NPS-patterns for that one).

I could write books on different scales, how to apply them, how to harmonize them etc. I won't though. It's up to you. If you would like to play the harmonic minor scale all over the fretboard, in order to use it in your improvisation, well, go ahead. Make up patterns for it, use the exercises in this article and the previous one. As I said, the procedure always is the same.

Jorge wrote two cool articles about exotic scales for iBreathe, you might wanna check those out, too.

Anyway, let's continue where we stopped last time.

Then there was sound

One thing that I would like to suggest is: if you learn a scale on one string, don't quit thinking that way once you have memorized it - try using it. After working with some of those open string-exercises, why don't you improvise a bit limiting yourself to one string only? It might give you some really cool ideas if you do, it's a cool thing to try anyway, and it can be fun.

To show you what I mean, I recorded some soundfile. I took a backing track based on Jimi's version of "All Along The Watchtower" (key of C#m, in this case), and then I just improvised a bit using the E major pentatonic scale (first part) and later the "regular" E major scale. The whole improvisation was played on the high e-string. It's interesting to limit yourself to one string... you play stuff you usually wouldn't play, and you gotta think a bit.

Here is the MP3

Instead of playing the good ol' "noodling" runs on all six strings, I had to remind myself to stick to the high e-string only. I also tried to avoid using the open string too often. I wanted to avoid those metal-style "playing a scale on one string with the open string between each scale note" type thing.

So try it out. The soundfile was just thrown together. First take, not warmed up, just playing what came to mind. So I kinda put my balls on the line here, and I hope it'll motivate you to try this yourself.

Take any backing track or recorded chord progression and limit yourself to one string only. If you like that experiment, try a variation: play on a different string. Say you're jamming over a song in Emajor, and you're having fun doing so. Now, play on the G-string only for a while. You wanna avoid using the open string, because the G might sound out of place in the key of E major (E-F#-G#-A-B-C#-D#-E) so you can't resort to that.
Check it out.

Possible exercises:

Step One: Take a simple chord progression (i.e. a jam track) and improvise over it, utilizing only one string.

Step two: Same as above, but on a different string

Step three: Add a second string (adjacent) and see what happens... notice the difference in what you play.

Step 4: Add a third, fourth, fifth string until you're using all of them.

Step 5 (very optional): After improvising using only one string, instead of adding an adjacent string, add a non-adjacent string. Ex: Improvise on the high E- and G-string only.
This helped me a lot back then, and led to some very interesting results.

Now, let's move on...

Patterns again >>