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Archives for 'Scales and Modes'

Browsing all posts from The Guitar Resource Scales and Modes category.

Understanding modes
Understanding how to apply modes is one of the tougher concepts for guitarists new to music theory. Before you even try and understand how to apply modes on guitar you have to first make sure you understand what modes are and how they are created. If you are not crystal clear on those concepts than read my post Modes- An introduction to learning modes before reading any further.

Why you should use modes
Before we start talking about how to use modes, lets talk about why you should use modes. One reason of using a mode is to melodically outline the harmonic changes of a song. What do I mean by that? Well by outline the chord changes of a song is your solos it makes your solos more interesting and relevant. It helps the listener hear the chord changes and keeps your melodies in sync with the harmonies.

Another reason to use modes is for composition. If you harmonize notes of a mode by stacking 3rds the same way you would with the major scale, you will have unique chords and the diatonic harmonies would be a lot different. (If that is confusing just keep reading).

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This lesson does not have tons of practical application, but I thought it was important to clear up some confusion on the chromatic scale just for the sake of increasing your understanding of how the chromatic scale differs from the partial chromatic scale.

What is the chromatic scale?
First, let’s define a chromatic scale. A chromatic scale is a scale that each note goes up or down one half step from the previous note. So since there are 12 notes, the chromatic scale must have 12 notes because we are only moving a half step, so we are only going up or down one note at a time. That means we are playing every note! Now you can play a chromatic line (lick) and just use notes from a chromatic scale. So if you play 4 notes in a row and each note goes up one half step or each note goes down one have step, that is a chromatic line, or lick.

Practicing with the chromatic scale
Many guitarists practice what they think is the chromatic scale. They will play something like the tab below and go up and down the strings and then move up one fret and repeat it all the way up the neck. (This happens to be a great warm-up, finger strengthening, and speed building exercise if practiced with a metronome).

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This is a post I have been hesitating on for a long time. Since the theory behind a mode is somewhat hard to grasp at first, I was not sure how to break it down modes in a way that you could easily understand. But due to the importance of modes I decided I can’t push them off any longer. But I will try to cover modes in installments and as clearly as I can. This first lesson on modes will just outline what modes are and the names of the modes of the major scale. In later lesson I will cover modes in greater detail. So lets get crack’n.

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One of the good (and bad) things about guitar is that when you want to play a scale all you have to do is know that scale's fingering on the fretboard and you can then apply that fingering to any note in any position. This is good because all you have to do is remember one shape for any given scale and you can apply that shape to any key. The bad part is that players tend to rely on shapes and aren’t really playing what they hear or feel. But for the sake of learning it is very important to know basic scale shapes on guitar. This lesson will teach you the condensed and extended versions of both the major and minor scale on guitar

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Today we will take a look at how to build a scale using certain notes on your guitar (or any other melodic instrument you play). Just like notes are the building blocks for scales, scales are the building block for composition. All chords are derived from scales. And in western music there is one scale that is more important than all the others: the Ionian scale, (most commonly called by the “Major” scale.)

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