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Learning Scales

Mamos

Member
Messages
691
Location
Falmouth Cornwall
I'm trying to learn scales but I am all over the place

Should I be learning all the Major scales then all the minor scales etc or just learn them as and when I need them

mamos
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
You will probably get all sorts of answers from those who believe that you should know all scales and theory BEFORE even trying a simple tune to those whose attitude is W.T.H., just enjoy yourself.

Not sure how old you are, Mamos, but why not try and see what suits you and also ask yourself, is the rigidity that some teachers require, always correct?
 

half diminished

Senior Member
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1,361
Location
Buckinghamshire
I'm trying to learn scales but I am all over the place

Should I be learning all the Major scales then all the minor scales etc or just learn them as and when I need them

mamos
The logical option is perhaps work chromatically starting at the lowest note and working around the cycle of fifths. Pete's Taming the Saxophone book has some great exercises and there are several on his main site. Also Abersold has a great book or two for this Major Minor and II-V7-Progression. Check em out for exercises and I'm sure there are others.

I can play pretty much all of the Major, dorian minor and dom 7th chords by ear BUT what I am working on now with my teacher is the II-V7-I progression within several scales that are relevant to what I am playing. One of my biggest weaknesses is improvising and this is I think starting to pay off.

I'm working on C, F and G major at the moment. Playing the whole scale, arpeggios and chord notes (root, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th) starting on the root, or 2nd, fifth. I'm using various articulations whilst 'scaling'.

Of course, starting on the second degree of a scale you are playing the dorian minor (in Cmaj that is Dmin7) and starting on the fifth its G7 (dominant 7th). For me. it's been of limited value just knowing each scale. What I need to know is the degrees of the scale.

It was a revelation for me to realise that all of the three scales above contain the same notes, in effect the scale of Cmaj but starting on a different note (degree).

I've found this is working for me as it's helping me to


  • recognise the sound of major, dorian minor and dom 7th scales/chords
  • learning the degrees of the scales better
  • learning and recognising II-V7-I progressions
  • improve my improvising
  • spot scalear progression within tunes


I have an extra long lesson today and I expect we'll be moving to three or four more scales. Hope this has helped.
 
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Mamos

Mamos

Member
Messages
691
Location
Falmouth Cornwall
Thanks for the replies guys

You know what is is like though. There is so much to learn I don't know where to start.

My head is in a spin

mamos
 

FastFred

Member
Messages
80
I would get the ABRSM scales book and just work thro' the grades. There is a logical progression to them all as they introduce the major scales in order of the flats and sharps and their relative minors. The book doesn't actually tell you this but you will realise why they are in that order in time.
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,361
Location
Buckinghamshire
Thanks for the replies guys

You know what is is like though. There is so much to learn I don't know where to start.

My head is in a spin

mamos
I know how you feel!

Try this. Start with C major. Learn the scale CDEFGAB.

Now start on the 2nd note of the scale DEFGABCD. That's Dorian Dmin7. Now start on the 5th note of C major - G. Same notes GABCDEF. This is the Dom 7th scale G7. Learn the scale, arpeggios to 7 and 9. That's 3 scales learnt.

Now try G major (Amin7 and D7) all the same notes but starting on the root, 2nd and 5th. That's another 3 scales.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
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2,423
Location
Coulsdon, London/Surrey
Mamos
When I took up sax about a year ago, having not done any music seriously for about 30 years, I determined to myself that I would do it properly as well as having fun. I too got the ABRSM scales book and I learnt all the majors by going back and forth round the cycle of fifths : C, then 1# 1b, then 2#s 2bs, then 3 etc. I did some of the arpeggios. Then I started on the minors in the same way ,threw in some of the dominant 7ths and other things.

Although I had most of them off OK, they weren't fluent and I found I was losing focus about what I was learning. So I got myself a teacher. While we haven't gone back to basics completely, she has got me doing all the # majors first -evenly (in dynamcs as well as note length), slurred, toungued, plus arpeggios (all from memory naturally!) and with diaphragm breathing. While I did find this a bit of a chore at first, I realised I was not where I thought I was in terms of ability. However, even after a few weeks of that I do feel I have improved a lot and some of the peices I am doing are much better. And it's not just learning the dots. "More soul!" is of her favourite expressions.

Whichever way you do it, at least the ABRSM books have them written down and you can see what you should achieve at each grade (even if like me you have no intention of doing exams).

Not sure if that helps. It's just my experience!:sax:
Colin.
 

Pete C

Member
Messages
346
Location
Exeter
just do it

I say just do it, put the work in, learn all 12 scales - at the same time as you have fun, play tunes etc, just spend some time each session learning scales by memory. Also learn to play all the scales up or down starting on any note and then you have all the modes down. When you have that down flatten the 3rd and learn all 12 jazz minors. Not only do you end up knowing all the scales you also end up knowing that you are capable of learning a very complex set of ear-motor skills on the saxophone - when you can do that after a bit of work, you will feel encouraged to go on to even more difficult things.
 

Sloth

Member
Messages
102
Location
The cheap end of Brighton
I'm two months in now, and I'm doing the majors only. I'm not learning any others (other than one or two blues scales to show off with) until I know them as what I've learned will turn into alphabetti spaghetti if I cram too much in.

I've been combining the scales with articulation and speed practise, so now I'm concentrating on one or two a day in triplets and semiquavers - it's tough on the grey matter but I can be a tenacious bugger and spend half an hour this way.
 

visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,606
Location
Out in the Countryside of Nelson NZ
This is a great thread.

As one who avoided scales for many years (too boring) I now realize this is where everything is based. However I started enjoying scales, learning major, minor and D7, blues and some Pentatonic scales. This was great, however I also just went from the root, up & down and ground the sound of the scales into my head. Now I realize I should have practised starting from different parts or the scales, and also to mix up the rhythm and even note choices is much better for improvisation, ear training and general flexibilty within the scale.
So my advice..... if I was starting again, is to learn the major scales first from the roots, then starting on various combinations of 1,3,5,7 and being aware of the numbers involved. There are many ways to eat an elphant...I think the best is slowly, one considered bite at a time, and yes it's sometimes tough on your digestion.

Find out how to make it easy and fun!
I'm still working on this one!

Good posts.....wish I'd read them years ago...and put them into practise!

Cheers & Ciao
Jimu
 

Laura-Rose

Member
Messages
39
Location
Hampshire
My teacher has reccomended the Major/Minor Abersold book.
It comes with a backing CD.
Managed to pick one up on ebay pretty cheaply.
 

Pee Dee

Member
Messages
425
Location
Dorset
I must admit I can't be bothered with scales. I might go up and down the easy ones (no more than 2 #'s or b's) I copy a favourite tune down in three or four easy scales and then play it, so I guess that's getting used to different scales, while learning a tune at the same time. Much more fun.
I composed a little tune, just using the 12 notes, and didn't know what key to call it. (Don't really know why it has to be in any key) So as there were quite a few F#'s in it, it's in the key of G. Is that how it's done? The key sig tells you were the b's and #'s are, so I just play it!:welldone
 
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