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?Beginners Guide To Guitar Scales - How To Play Guitar

Aug 25, 2008
You should know the few basics about the guitar, and the basic step in is the understanding of notes that is the basis of music. The next step is to have knowledge about scales. The problem is that when some people are introduced with scales for the first time, and they are being asked to play variations of these musical scales, it can become a discouraging task. In this article we are going to search some of the reasons for the existence of scales, and why we focus on them so greatly.

What are Musical Scales? A Technical View

We can construct music out of 12 possible notes because we have only 12 possible notes. Western music has evolved such rules which describe how and when you can use these notes together. Although this is merely convention, but by practicing these principles you will immediately find that something is improper or unique instead of hearing the various general musical scales you hear commonly when you do not apply these rules. No proper information is written in stone about the mode these things are devised, but we are all so used to hearing music from an early age that incorporates these principles that we don't even think about the alternatives until we start to study musical theory in depth.

If you desire to play western style music and be a master guitarist, you are in need to understand these rules. A noteworthy part of these principles and conventions is the musical scales we use.

What is a scale? It is basically a sequence of tones, picked out from the 12 available, that work together to give an effect to the music. You can describe individual scales in a better way as a list of gaps between the notes. Half notes or Whole notes are denoted by the term Tone or Semitone which give the rule of using their basic letters, T and S.

Some people utilise Half and Whole (W, H) to denote the gaps, and another way is to list the number of semitones (1 or 2). Either mode is taken, these three are identical or all hand the gaps for the leading musical scale:

1. T T S T T T S
2. W W H W W W H
3. 2 2 1 2 2 2 1

Let us see, how this works. Pick up a scale at random - G# major. This step states two things. First, our root note is G#. Second, we will be utilizing the Major scale formula to work out the notes.

Therefore, we start with our G# note, and add the basic step of the rule which is a T, meaning a Tone. Thus, starting with G # and moving up a tone or two half notes puts us onto A#:

G# + T = A#

Next, we start with A#, and look at the next letter in the rule - it's a Tone once again, thus we add 2 half notes to A#, to give us a C:

A# + T = C

Next, we start with a C and find out the formula - now it is a semitone, which takes us to C#:

C + S = C#

If we continue with this we get the following:

C# + T = D#
D# + T = F (remember nothing is like an E#)
F + T = G
G + S = G#

Thus, we have built our scale of G# major according to our major scale pattern to get the notes:

G# A# C C# D# F G

Mostly, the scales we use have 7 notes in them but that is not an essential principle. For instance, the minor pentatonic scale only has 5 notes in it (its formula is 3 2 2 3 2 - I used numbers here instead of T and S because it has a few Tone and a half leaps, which is 3 half notes, and that is more easily written down as a 3 instead of something like "T + 1/2", but it all stands for the same thing). Some scales have more notes, for instance the chromatic scale has all 12 notes in it.

Thus in this way the scales act! The formula depicts them and we pick whichever root note we desire to construct. The next step is to convert these notes into a formula so that we can play it.
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