The Scales you need to know:
Do you really need to know your scales? Well, yes! There are certainly players that have the mentality that “learning”, or “lessons” will inhibit their originality. There are quite a few other arguments as well, such as:
- I want my originality to not be governed by music theory
- It takes too long to learn boring patterns
- They are not relevant to what I like
- I don’t know how to implement them
- I only learn the licks and like and that’s good enough for me
- When I try to learn new scales, I don’t know how to make them a part of my vocabulary
- I don’t hear these ideas in any of the music I like to listen to
Scales are the alphabet of music. You need to know all the letters to properly communicate an idea. There are many, many scales to learn and memorize, and thanks to Classical and Jazz Pedagogy, nearly all of the most useful ones are laid out in a pretty standard, easy to understand way. Here is a short list of the most important, followed by the less important.
- Major (Ionian)
- Minor (Aeolian)
- Pentatonic Major
- Pentatonic Minor
- Melodic Minor
- Phrygian Dominant
- Harmonic Minor
- Lydian Dominant
- Diminished (octatonic)
- Altered Scale
- Locrian #2
- Harmonic Major
- Whole Tone
There are many, many more scales. To my experience performing, teaching, and composing, this is the order in which they are the most useful. These should be learned in every key, and used in context of REAL music, not just scale exercises. I’ll write more about each in upcoming articles.
This is a lifetime of practice and implementation here. The good news is that a great teacher has a system to help you learn this information in the most useful way possible.
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