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Thread: Awareness of tones in a scale/mode

  1. #1
    The only way is up Skyport's Avatar
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    Awareness of tones in a scale/mode

    Hi guys, I was watching an interview of Yngwie on youtube where he mentioned that it is very important in guitar soloing to be aware of where on the fretboard the 1st, 3rd and 5th degree of the scale/mode you are playing in is located.

    Obviously for a C major scale this means knowing where the root, E and G notes are. My question is, what about C natural minor, C minor pentatonic and major pentatonic?

    Also, can I apply this principle to the C blues scale? What notes would it be in that case?

  2. #2
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyport View Post
    Hi guys, I was watching an interview of Yngwie on youtube where he mentioned that it is very important in guitar soloing to be aware of where on the fretboard the 1st, 3rd and 5th degree of the scale/mode you are playing in is located.

    Obviously for a C major scale this means knowing where the root, E and G notes are. My question is, what about C natural minor, C minor pentatonic and major pentatonic?
    In all C minor types of scales that would be C-Eb-G, and for all C-major types C-E-G. These are the typical home notes when soloing.

    I would have put it a bit different than Yngve does: Be aware of where the chord tones are in the scale you are playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Skyport View Post
    Also, can I apply this principle to the C blues scale? What notes would it be in that case?
    The C blues scale does not contain all chord tones, and are as such a bit different. But some chord tones is there still: C-G-Bb. I would also say that I'm using the b3 as a chord tone in a blues, even if it's not stricktly a chord tone.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyport View Post
    Hi guys, I was watching an interview of Yngwie on youtube where he mentioned that it is very important in guitar soloing to be aware of where on the fretboard the 1st, 3rd and 5th degree of the scale/mode you are playing in is located.
    Obviously for a C major scale this means knowing where the root, E and G notes are. My question is, what about C natural minor, C minor pentatonic and major pentatonic?
    Also, can I apply this principle to the C blues scale? What notes would it be in that case?
    Unfortunately it often comes as a nasty surprise when guitarists realise they need to know the names of the notes and the interval relationships between all the notes as a matter of instant recognition, all over the fretboard.

    That may seem like a superhuman task. And it certainly is a huge learning curve. Especially considering you also need to learn all the main scales & arpeggios in all positions (though all these concepts are linked together, and all part of the same overall picture/understanding of things).

    Fortunately there are a couple of excellent instructional books on this subject from your fellow Aussie Frank Gambale, ie "Frank Gambale Technique book-1", and ditto "book-2".

    Imho those two books (which inc. good demo CD's) are excellent and will really help to give you a clear picture of what you need to know, and how to use what you learn. Though as always, they may go totally over the readers head if he/she is not already well clued up on basic theory of scales, modes and intervals etc.

    Ian.
    Last edited by Crossroads; 06-28-2010 at 11:04 AM.

  4. #4
    chewing bubble gum Chim_Chim's Avatar
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    It all boils down to knowing your chords.
    Some days I seem to do OK. Other days I feel like just shoving an M-80 right up my guitar's butt.

  5. #5
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyport View Post
    Hi guys, I was watching an interview of Yngwie on youtube where he mentioned that it is very important in guitar soloing to be aware of where on the fretboard the 1st, 3rd and 5th degree of the scale/mode you are playing in is located.

    Well because Yngwie is not a modal player, I am guessing that what he means is more related to the different fingering patterns that apply to the particular key.

    So yes... you need to know the fretboard up and down and know the different fingering options.

    If this is the case... then it is a very mechanical view point.
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    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyport View Post
    Obviously for a C major scale this means knowing where the root, E and G notes are. My question is, what about C natural minor, C minor pentatonic and major pentatonic?
    The thing about the guitar is that we can see these patterns and simply apply them to all keys. Major and minor keys have the same shapes, just located three frets apart.
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    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyport View Post
    Also, can I apply this principle to the C blues scale? What notes would it be in that case?
    There are different blues keys.

    In the case of C7 then C D E F G A Bb C
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    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    In the case of C7 then C D E F G A Bb C
    In this case, the E is frequently embelished from Eb... but then... You really can embelish any of the notes of any scale anyway.
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  9. #9
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyport View Post
    Hi guys, I was watching an interview of Yngwie on youtube where he mentioned that it is very important in guitar soloing to be aware of where on the fretboard the 1st, 3rd and 5th degree of the scale/mode you are playing in is located.

    Obviously for a C major scale this means knowing where the root, E and G notes are. My question is, what about C natural minor, C minor pentatonic and major pentatonic?

    Also, can I apply this principle to the C blues scale? What notes would it be in that case?
    I agree with gersdal: what's more important (and maybe what Yngwie meant to say) is where the chord tones are in your scale.

    Eg, if you are playing in C major, the C-E-G notes are what matter on the C chord. The notes that matter on the F chord are F-A-C, and on G, G-B-D. (and other sets of 3 notes are relevant for the 3 minor chords in the key.) All those notes are in every scale pattern, and you need to know where they are in each one. This task is made much easier if you know all 5 "CAGED" shapes for each chord (some of which may be partial).

    In C natural minor (aeolian mode), your chords are likely to be Cm, Fm, and Gm. So the triad chord tones are C-Eb-G, F-Ab-C, and G-Bb-D. Again, these notes are all in each pattern of the scale, and it makes it easier if you work from chord shapes within the scale.
    (But if you actually have a sequence in the key of C minor, watch out for a G major chord, which will need a B natural note.)

    With pentatonic scales, different rules apply. Yes you still need to know where the chord tones are, but of course some notes will be missing from the scale. This can be both good and bad, but is part of how these scales work, what gives them their sound and appeal.

    So, on a C major chord, C major pent gives you all 3 chord tones, plus the 2nd and 6th (D and A). All 5 of these notes sound good over the chord, even if you stress the D or A.
    On an F major chord, C major pent gives you 3rd and 5th (A-C), but no root note. Instead you get 2nd (G), 6th (D) and major 7th (E). This is a pretty good sound, very good for ballad tunes.
    On the G chord, C major pent gives you root and 5th (G-D), but no 3rd. Instead you get 2nd (A), 4th (C) and 6th (E). C is the tricky note, which you probably need to avoid playing.
    Alternatively, you can switch to the major pent of each chord, which will be a much more "inside" sound. (All 3 major pents are still in the key of C, made up from the C major scale notes.)

    Using C minor pent in key of C major is basically blues scale (see below).

    Using C minor pent in key of C minor is similar to C major pent in C major, in that it will fit the I and IV chords well, but the V chord less so. here's how it works:
    Cm: scale gives root-3rd-5th, plus 4th (F) and b7 (Bb). Both these notes work well over the the chord.
    Fm: scale gives root, 5th and 7th (F, C, Eb), plus 2nd (G) and 4th (Bb). Again, both extra notes work well over the chord.
    Gm: scale gives root, 3rd and 7th (G, Bb, F), plus 4th (C) and b6 (Eb). The Eb is an awkward note, likely to sound off against the chord - but the C is OK.
    Again, you might be better to switch to the minor pent of each chord. (As with the major pents, all 3 minor pents are derived from the C natural minor scale, so are all "in key".)

    In the case of C blues scale (in C major), you have some clashes between scale and chord tones - which is part of how blues works. You need to consider chord 7ths in this case. Aligning with C blues scale are the following tones on each chord:
    C7 = C, G, Bb (root, 5th, 7th)
    F7 = F, C, Eb (root, 5th, 7th)
    G7 = G, F (root, 7th)
    But other notes can be bent. Eg, on the C chord you can bend the Eb of the scale up to E. On the G chord, you can bend the Bb up to B.
    And sometimes you can just play the straight blues scale notes over the chord, even when they clash. But you need to listen to the various different effects:
    1: scale notes and chord tones that match
    2: scale notes that clash with chord tones
    3: scale notes that can be bent up to chord tones
    All of these things will work (all notes can be used), but in different ways.

    Also, in blues, stressing the tonic is part of the style. Eg, treat the C note as the keynote, even on the F chord. A typical blues strategy is to treat the F7 chord as a kind of Cm chord - so you play much the same thing on the F7 as you do on the C7 (you just wouldn't bend the Eb).

    Remember you also have the b5 in C blues scale, which you should treat as a decoration of 4 or 5. IOW, you can bend up to b5 from 4, or from b5 to 5. But always use the b5 directly before or after the 4 or 5. It sounds wrong to jump to the b5 from further away, and then jump away from it again by more than a half-step. (You can do these kind of jumps to and from any other note.) But you can do these bends (or slides or hammer-ons or pull-offs) to or from b5 on any of the chords.

  10. #10
    Registered User urucoug's Avatar
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    I've found recently that knowing scale degrees is extremely important for what I do. For my methods, knowing 1,3,and 5 is essential. (The others are too, but 1,3,and 5 are a good 'pegging' point for my memory. I remember 6 because it's a whole step up from 5 on the major scale, etc).

    I use it as an easy way to read music. I can read C major, no problem, in sheet music. F major key or G? No problem. It's just one off from C. But, try to read sheet music for Ab major without having some kind of other method? Good luck! I'm getting better at it, but my learning tool right now is if I was playing some sheet music in the key of Ab, I'll go through all the notes and mark all the 1's, 3's, and 5's (and any oddball scale degrees that aren't obvious--say it all of the sudden decided to jump up 6 scale degrees). Once I've marked all those scale degrees, I can get the rest of the notes in relation to the notes I've already marked. This method is particularly helpful when there's a sudden key change, and you don't have time to think it through. The method is nice, because you can just memorize the patterns, and play sheet music in any key. The downside is that sightreading is impossible without former marking, unless it's in a key your are well-familiar with.

    That's just one application, I'm sure there are lots of others.

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