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Mastering The Major Scale and Intervals For Guitar Playing

May 8, 2008
The major scale (or Ionian mode) is a scale that was derived from the C note on a piano, it is all the white keys across the octave from C to C, these being C, D, E, F, G,A ,B , C. This scale is said to be natural, as it contains no sharps or flats.

This scale can be represented as numbers, these are:

Root (1), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Octave (8)

The above is the fundamental building block to any scales and chords.

This is the C Major scale in its first position:

E -------------------------------------------------------------- B ---------------------------------------0---1----------------- G -----------------------------0---2--------------------------- D ---------------0---2---3------------------------------------ A -----------3------------------------------------------------- E --------------------------------------------------------------

As you can see from the above the notes are all centralised around the C Major Chord, this is said to be the parent chord, in this case, in the C position. The notes that are in the C Major chord are C, E and G. From the scale in number format we can see that these are the Root, 3, and 5. This is the basis for any Major chord.

This scale can be moved around the neck of the guitar, providing the intervals remain the same.

i.e.

E -------------------------------------------------------------- B -------------------------------------------------------------- G ------------------------------2---4---5--------------------- D ------------------2---3--5---------------------------------- A -----------3--5---------------------------------------------- E --------------------------------------------------------------

The notes are the same, but the position on the neck has slightly changed. From the above we can see that there is still a C major chord underlying, but not the most obvious as indicated above. The C Major chord under this scale would be a barred A Major, shifted up the neck by 3 frets (a Minor Third). This scalar position is said to be in the A position. Although there are 7 different notes within the C Major scale there are only five positions a scale can be learnt in. These are being C, A, G, E and D. As these five chords are the basis for all chords played. I.e. an F Major is a barred E major, raised by a minor second. A B Major is an, A major raised by a major second.

Learning the major scale in this way will give an easy and flawless transition between rhythmic and melodic playing.

Try it, comp a C Major Chord for one bar, then play the C position scale straight afterwards, playing the scale in eighth notes (i.e. 1+ 2+ 3+ 4+) and then repeat the comping of the chord.

This will also help you visualise what intervals create which sounds.

The use of a drone note, will also help you understand the intervals of the major scale, as they will always be played against its parent, this is what you do when you tune your guitar.

E.g.

Try the E Major scale on one string.

The E major scale is:

E F# G# A B C# D# E

Use the open E as a drone.

D ------2----4----6----7----9-----11----13-----14------ A ------------------------------------------------------------- E ---0--------------------------------------------------------
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