Frequently Asked Questions - Scales 



 

1. Key and Scale note Inventory

Question: I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with the Key and Scale note Inventory other than to file it away for a later date.

Answer: Yes, it is mainly a reference so that You can refer back to at any time. It's good to have it handy with Your other lesson materials so You can find it easily and refer to it when understanding the other lessons on music theory. But You can (and should) learn from this now. The long term goal is to memorize all the notes in each key. I recommend to try to memorize one key per week. There is no hurry to memorize them all now, but eventually it is ideal to know it all.

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2. Learning-Practicing scales

Question: Shall I try to learn and practice on all the scales You sent me at once? Or should I take them one at a time?

Answer: Learn one scale at a time.

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3. Melodic minor modes - Application

Question: Where do Melodic minor modes come from? And how are chords derived for melodic minor keys? Can I use the triad theory for them too?

Answer: They are derived from the natural minor scale. it is basically a natural minor scale with a raised 6th and 7th note. European Baroque, Classical and Romantic composers used melodic minor scales widely in their days (these three eras are known as the Common Practice Period: 1600-1900). In those days, the melodic minor scale was generally only used when a phrase was going up (ascending).

Like the major key triad formula chart that I sent You, there also exists a separate triad formula for Melodic minor (and Harmonic minor too) which I'll send You in the next lesson.

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4. Modes - Applying them

Question: I know already the 7 modes (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, etc.) are derived from the major scale. I know their positions and how they are built. I know them but I am really not able to apply them. I know for instance that the 3 major modes can be used when playing major chords (triads), the 3 minor modes can be used when playing minor chords (triads) and the Locrian mode is rarely used. I know as well that all of them can be used more easily with power chords as they are only based on the tonic and the 5th and then are neither major nor minor. As I said, I have learned mostly alone either from the Internet sites, books and personal searches. I have surely misunderstood some things....

Answer: Your statement about how the modes are used over chords is NOT correct. The following statement is false: "I know for instance that the 3 major modes can be used when playing major chords (triads), the 3 minor modes can be used when playing minor chords (triads) and the Locrian mode is rarely used". When You have a chord progression in a major key, You can play ALL of the modes of a major key. For example: In the key of C major, if You want to improvise over this chord progression: C Am Dm G. You do NOT have to switch scale positions or modes. You can play any of these modes over the entire chord progression in the example above:

C major (C Ionian)
D Dorian
E Phrygian
F Lydian
G Mixolydian
A Aeolian (A minor)
B Locrian

The information that You have learned previously from somewhere else is misleading and You have learned it in the incorrect context. There is some validity to Your statement, but NOT in the same way that You think. I strongly advise You (at least at this point in your learning) to disregard Your statement above. This misunderstanding that You have tried to learn elsewhere is a major cause of Your confusion.

Notice that all of these modes have EXACTLY the same notes in them. All of these modes (and the notes in each mode) are derived from the key of C major and therefore can be used during any chord progression that is in the key of C major. So for example, You can play a C major scale over a D minor triad as long as the D minor triad is part of a chord progression in the key of C major.

	C Major:   C D E F G A B C
 
C Ionian:  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:           A B C D E F G A
B Locrian:             B C D E F G A B 

Later in Your learning, we will discuss soloing and improvising over each chord separately in a chord progression, but that type of thinking is more advanced than we are ready to get into at this point. For now, think of the big idea that all modes of a given key can be used at any time during a diatonic chord progression in the same key.

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5. Modal Theory

Question: I have a couple of questions from the Modal theory section - can you paraphrase for me "In another mode such as Dorian, Phrygian, etc., each other mode can be an extension of the first mode you assign as the modal key." I'm not sure I understand what you mean here, can you give me an example of this?

Answer: If You want to play in the “key of B Dorian” the notes will be: B C# D E F# G# A.

If we have a chord progression that is in B Dorian, then each mode will begin on one of the notes from the Dorian key (scale).

All of these modes are now part of the Dorian key. The are extensions of Dorian now.

The Dorian scale begins on B
The Phrygian scale begins on C#
The Lydian scale begins on D
The Mixolydian scale begins on E
The minor scale begins on F#
The Locrian scale begins on G#
The major scale begins on A

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6. Blues Soloing/Scales

Question: In the blues soloing you wrote 3 different parts of the diagram with the Roman Numerals I,IV,V. I know the green dots means those are the recommended notes to end the phrase (like the notes to hit when A7 pattern is about to end). But what does the 1,3,4 on the fretboard mean?

Answer: Those numbers are the left hand fingering.

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