Wednesday, 2 March 2011


Scales are critical to the understanding of music and no matter how much you hate practicing them, they are vital. We must first understand what a scale is though.

A Scale is best thought of as groups of notes that go together well in certain situations. Major Scales are often used for happy or majestic music whereas Minor Scales are more solemn and sad.

Note: There is more than just the major and minor scales, however, they are usually just alterations of the basic form. There is also many artists who will use notes in songs that are NOT in the scale to create what is called chromaticism to increase the "emotion" or "oddness". This is heavily used in modern jazz as well as the Romantic Period of music history (the 18th century basically).

Instead of writing all of this out, I decided to kind of cheat this time and just link you all too a fantastic site that describes all of this. It is called The Jazz Chameleon and although focused on Jazz, you can learn lots from it even if you are not interested in Jazz. for Major Scales for Minor Scales

To summarize them. The Major Scale is a Step, Step, Half-Step, Step, Step, Step, Half-Step (or called tones and semitones).

The Natural Minor is: Step, Half-Step, Step, Step, Half-Step, Step, Step.

NOTE: A Step (or tone) is 2 frets on a guitar, A Half-Step is just 1 fret (so the fret nextdoor).

The NATURAL Minor is the same structure as the MAJOR, except it starts from a different point. 

This means that there are certain minors that are the same notes as certain majors. C Major and A Minor have the same notes basically. They are called Relative Minors or Majors. In order to "differentiate" between them, look to what the song or piece is focused on. What note or chord is the ROOT or the ANCHOR POINT. Usually, whatever chord or note the song ends on (and begins with a lot of the time too) is the Root note and will lead you to the key and what Scale is being used.

To find the Relative Minor of a major scale, go 3 frets down from the Root. Or go 3 frets up from the root of a minor scale to find the Relative Major.

In things like modern jazz or heavily chromatic music, this is all useful as there is often times many different scales or very loose defining key. But most music you will be playing unless you are very advanced (and thus would not need me teaching  you lol) will not be like that. So learn the Major and Minor scales...and get out there!


  1. Thanks for the links. Really complex I guess

  2. I remember learning scales as a good way to get a feel for alternate picking on guitar. Just go up and down the row of strings and alternate pick. It's really simple, but helped a lot!

  3. Nooo! Not this again!
    Ugh, you make me fell wanting to start learning to play the guitar again, but it's SO frustating...

  4. I agree with the comment of alternative picking, this is was really got me through it!

  5. Summarizing the things that I wanted to learn but was too lazy to pursue in times past. Thanks again!

  6. I love reading about this stuff :)

  7. Yes, scales is too important. I think that half of modern music using Major or Minor scales

  8. I remember being afraid of learning about scales, because it could take the joy out of music. It sounded like musical alchemy to a kid.

  9. More great stuff, really interesting

  10. guitars are a big part of my life

  11. I stopped guitar after 6 months, not sure if want to pick up again