Major Scales and Their Kin

A series of lessons in which I explain the major scale, all its modes, relative minor, Major and minor pentatonics, and the related blues scale. I posted it to help trumpet players learn the fingering of their scales, but the concepts can help anyone and getting the sound of each scale into your memory is essential.

Scale It Up (part Deux)

More in the practical realm this week, continuing the scale-related theme started last week. Here are some patterns to consider for your scale practice. Because it’s so pervasive and is used to explain many aspects of music theory, I’m going to use the Major scale as a reference, and particularly, its numbers, like so:

Major Scale = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Scale it Up

If Music is genetic material, scales are its DNA. This is true for most music, anyway. Scales won’t help you much if you’re going to perform John Cage’s 4′ 33,” or if you’re interested in Inupiat shamanistic drumming, but scales will get you through just about any other music, from any culture (as long as you choose the right scale to practice) and they’re invaluable material for use in improvising.

As I started putting my thoughts together on this topic, I realized that a complex set of information is bewildering without tools to make sense of it all. There are so many scales, and so many ways to practice them that it can be difficult to keep them all straight. So I’ve created some tools to help you keep track: checklists, scales, and a few other things. Checklists are making headlines lately (New Yorker article here) because they’ve been shown to improve performance significantly (it’s why pilots use them).