All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
Tutorials

Beginner How many "families" of scales are there?

dave 645

Member
Messages
124
I am learning scales, and seem to be discovering countless of them. I will try and write what I remember, and see how people can enhance my knowledge.

Major scales, one for each of the 12 notes in the chromatic scale, and each has a seven modes dependent on which note you play first. Right?

Minor scales, not totally sure, but I think each major scale has a minor scale, and the minor scale ascends with accidentals and descends without accidentals. Help?

Blues scales, not sure yet, but there seems to be a few of them. Help?

Pentatonic scales, or is it just the one pentatoni scale. Five notes right?

Arpeggios are 1st, 3rd, 5th and 8th note of the major scales, ascending and descending.

What others have I to meet?

And what is the most beneficial order for learning them in?

Wow, lots of questions, whatever time you can spare would be greatly appreciated.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Major scales, yes.

Three minors, Natural, Harmonic, and Melodic. Natural is one of the modes of the major scales. The others are modifications of it. Details in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_scales

Blues - Two main variants, minor (assumed if not specified) and major. See Pete's Taming the Saxophone site. Other exist.

Pentatonics. Strictly any scale of 5 notes. Some standards. Leading to blues for instance.

Arpeggio - a chord played with the notes sequentially, insted of all together. So your example is an arpeggio, but there are many others.

Don't forget the chromatic scales.

Lots of good reference material in these sites (and many others, I'm sure): wikipedia.org, dolmetsch.com, Pete's Taming the Saxophone site (link above).

Order.... No idea. People usually start with the simplest majors (C, G, F....), then work on from there. The minors follow easily. Not many people bother with the different modes, but it's worth doing as some are used a lot in Jazz. But no reason not to start with blues, if you want.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,953
All depends on the sort of music you want to play.

I play popular stuff - blues, rock, pop - a bit jazzy occasionally - and the scales most useful to me are minor pentatonic (+ blues), major, mixolydian and dorian. After that there's bloomin' hundreds of the buggers to choose from. Try 'Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns' by Yusef Lateef,. It should keep you occupied for a while.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
After you've discovered how many scales are accepted in Western European Music, try looking at all the other scales in the rest of the World, add in temperaments and you will go mad. >:)

Good question but practise the ones you feel you need unless you wish to become the World acknowledged expert on scales, in which case, you'll have no time to play the saxophone. If you play as badly as me, that might be an advantage. :)
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,556
I had to learn major, mixolydian, dorian, jazz melodic minor, then chromatic, major pentatonic, minor pentatonic, blues and diminished 7th arpeggio (I think) for my grade 6 - fortunately only for C# and G.

Being a mathematical sort of brain, I learnt the "formulae" to create these, and so I could create each one for every note if I needed to.
Currently, I am trying to teach myself enough music theory to take grade 5 ABRSM, so much of the "formula" stuff is coming in quite useful.

As for learning them, here's my tuppence worth (I warn you it's formulaic):
get a copy of the circle of 5ths - pick your major scale, any one you like (eg A major) the circle will tell you how many sharps or flats it needs (eg A major = 3 sharps, F#,C#,G#) this is the major scale (which starts on A in our case).
Take one step anticlockwise round the circle, you now have the key sig for the mixolydian scale - A mixolydian has 2 sharps, but STILL STARTS on A.
Then take another step anti clockwise around the circle - now you have the key sig for the Dorian scale - so A Dorian has 1 sharp, but STILL STARTS on A.
Now take another step anti-clockwise around the circle, you get to the key sig for the natural minor scale - so A minor has no flats nor sharps, but STILL START on A.

Now (IIRC) with minor scales you get HARMONIC minor - you use that natural minor scale we've just found, but you raise the 7th note of the scale by one semitone (ie sharpen it) on the way up and down (so whether you are playing up the scale or down it, the 7th note is raised by a semi-tone A B C D E F G# A... A G# F E D C B A)

and you get MELODIC minor - take that natural minor scale and this time the 6th and 7th notes get raised by a semi-tone on the way up BUT NOT on the way down (so for that A melodic minor, we'd get A B C D E F# G# A going up, but A G F E D C B A coming down).
For JAZZ MELODIC minor, you take the natural minor and raise the 6th and 7th notes by half a semitone when going both up and down the scale. (A B C D E F# G# A... A G# F# E D C B A)

For MAJOR PENTATONIC, go back to the major scale and remove the 4th and 7th notes (I was told that this is done to take out the notes which form the semi-tone spaces (remember a major scale goes T T S T T T S ), so that when you're improvising with someone who is playing in the major scale, there will be not semi-tone clashes)

For MINOR PENTATONIC, go back to the natural minor and remove the 2nd and 6th notes.

To the minor pentatonic, add a the 5th note of the original natural minor, but lower it by a semi-tone to ge to the BLUES scale (so with our A base, we have A C D E G A as the minor pentatonic, then A C D Eflat E G A as our blues scale)

This may have been of absolutely no use to you whatsoever. I warned you it was formulaic. But it's helped me re-inforce my own knowledge :))) good luck :sax:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Just to add to Mandy's post, make sure the circle of fifths goes clockwise, most do.
 

dave 645

Member
Messages
124
This has turned out to be as I feared, like onions, layers and layers and each time you sort of get it another layer appears. Thanks to those who offered some advice. I am going to solidify the 12 major scales in one octave, and then move on to the minors and then the blues scales. After that I'll see how old I am and what time I have left;-)
 

visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,581
I had to learn major, mixolydian, dorian, jazz melodic minor, then chromatic, major pentatonic, minor pentatonic, blues and diminished 7th arpeggio ..…

Etc



This may have been of absolutely no use to you whatsoever. I warned you it was formulaic. But it's helped me re-inforce my own knowledge :))) good luck :sax:
I thought it was brilliant, I knew allot of it ,but not from certain perspectives

Well done Mandy

Dave.... Don't get overwhelmed by scales.... They are essential, but making music and having fun. Should be your goal.



Cheers & Ciao
Jimu

1935 Conn naked lady alto & Blessings soprano
 
Messages
69
Modes, pentatonics, lot's of things like that.
Knowing chord structure also can help with scales, say you don't know the formula for a minor scale, but you know the chord structure for a minor chord, you will find that it helps.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Call me old fashioned, "You're Old Fashioned." (well it saved you the trouble) but I thought the idea of music is to sound good, whether that means interesting, challenging or just plain pleasant.

Surely that is more important than the technical explanation of the way to achieve it?

Okay; here we go again >:)
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Call me old fashioned, "You're Old Fashioned." (well it saved you the trouble) but I thought the idea of music is to sound good, whether that means interesting, challenging or just plain pleasant.

Surely that is more important than the technical explanation of the way to achieve it?

Okay; here we go again >:)
lol, but it's just the same as Isaac Newton asking "Why did the apple fall from the tree?". Without that enquiring mind we'd not understand gravity, planetary motion and would have no satellites, no gps, no lunar landings, no Hubble..... Same goes for Helmholz and acoustic theory. And Einstein and his theories of relativity...
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,556
Call me old fashioned, "You're Old Fashioned." (well it saved you the trouble) but I thought the idea of music is to sound good, whether that means interesting, challenging or just plain pleasant.

Surely that is more important than the technical explanation of the way to achieve it?

Okay; here we go again >:)
OG... I was happy to play music and just enjoy myself.
Then I dared to ask "why"
Now I've got really engrossed in music theory - still a beginner
I'm not sure it's improved my playing at all, and I definitely don't think about what scale / mode etc the piece was written in !
 

Chris

Well Known
Subscriber
Messages
3,821
Call me old fashioned, "You're Old Fashioned." (well it saved you the trouble) but I thought the idea of music is to sound good, whether that means interesting, challenging or just plain pleasant.

Surely that is more important than the technical explanation of the way to achieve it?
>:)
OG I think it all depends on what type of music you play. Playing blues all the time and I wouldn't worry to much about what is going on. Sat playing melodies and playing in subtone heaven, well I wouldn't worry to much about theory. Then again if I wanted to play over Giant Steps or something like that, then some theory could help..What is it they say." horses for courses"..same here , if what you play means you need some theory to be able to understand a chart, then I guess most people will go out and learn it..It can be taken to far though and quite often is..Also if you wanted to write your own tunes etc some theory would help. All this means nothing if you have a very very good ear and can pick up harmony very quickly. At the end of the day if it sounds good it is good..btw you're not old fashioned.

Chris
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Told you "here we go again."
Kev,
Can you prove that if Newton had not written Principia Mathematica no other person would have written similar thoughts either following or even before him? Planetary Motion had been explained in 150 CE by Ptolemy and Copernicus published his correct theory in 1543, well before Isaac was even a gleam in his father's eye.

However, it is necessary to categorise this as thread drift and as the moderator, you must ban yourself. >:)
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Kev,
Can you prove that if Newton had not written Principia Mathematica no other person would have written similar thoughts either following or even before him?
Bill,
Can you prove that you exist, that we exist - or are we all argumentative figments of our own imaginations? :confused:
 

Chris

Well Known
Subscriber
Messages
3,821
Could be that we are all dreaming and when we die we wake up:confused::confused:

Chris:confused:
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Mandy,
Keep investigating, you've got a hobby for life. Been lucky to know two of the best free reed luthiers in the UK. One fettles and supplies an Egyptian and has to tune in quarter tones, the other looked after my Cajun box, which are not equal temperament instruments. Look at a Sitar. Notice the frets are moveable. Read somewhere that there are 32 Indian Classical scales, presumably those frets are adjusted for each one and being a large sub continent, who knows how many local scales? The strange thing is that the pentatonic scale is common amongst ethnic populations worldwide

Kev responded as he knows that the bait being taken, I then use the same you should know your theory argument to ask are they going to tear up their driving licenses as most of our members would not be capable of explaining how an epicyclic gearbox works. Keeps me and a few others amused. Keep going, each to their own and BTW Kev, I am a figment of your imagination.

Wodja mean "AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Yes, mathematically and socially, I'm an integrator, but I think Bill's a differentiator.. at least third order, probably higher. Who mentioned Leibniz? ;}

I wonder if it's possible to express musical scales as Taylor series? Perhaps we need a new thread... Must be careful, we may get contributions from people who know what they're talking about. There's at least one mathematician on the forum. >:)

Bill's an acknowledged master of the mathematical technique known as 'reductio ad absurdum', which is about where I am at the moment. :)))
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
At the risk of bringing the conversation back to the topic, and pace those who mentioned Newton, Leibniz and others, I offer the following. Harry Gee, in Progressive and Varied Etudes, talks in terms of scales and modes. All of this is at an introductory level.

Under scales he lists chromatic, major and minor. Minor is divided into natural, harmonic, melodic and Hungarian.

Under modes he has Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, and Locrian.

Finally, there the blues, pentatonic and whole-tone scales.

The Oxford Companion to Music and Musicians declares that the number of scales is "incalculable". I assume that once you look into the music of other parts of the world, you will find lots of different scale arrangements.

A good knowledge of major and harmonic and melodic minor will take you a long way, but depending on your musical interests a knowledge of other types of scales may be essential or, at the very least, desirable.
 
Saxholder Pro
Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom