Scaling Up The Intensity

Chords, chords, chords, chords. That is all we have been learning lately! I am totally okay this this, chords are what make up the majority of music, and with them you can play nearly anything! However, until this point, aside from the rift last month, we haven’t really done anything with individual notes.

Cue Andy! This week we learned about the G Major scale. Now, anyone with music background might think of the G major scale in notes, and that is fine! You can read normal music notes while playing the guitar, or you could use tabs which work just as well. I personally prefer chord symbols, which in the end are inefficient, but it tells me exactly what I need to do, and I don’t have to think to decipher it like I do with TABs.

The common look of a “G Major Scale”

Now, you may ask, why learn this scale? Why learn scales at all? Can’t we just learn the music? The answer is yes! You can just learn music, but scale practice gives you an advantage with technique. Practicing going up with these individual notes forces you to build a physical technique while moving on the fret board (something important for me to break my piano/saxophone habits while learning guitar). That way once you do learn some form of note-based guitar song, it is that much easier to do it because you just have to learn the new pattern, the technique is already there.

It is also important when you eventually reach soloing (something we probably won’t make it to this semester). Whether jazz, freestyle, or another genre, improvisation on any instrument requires a basic knowledge of scales, and an even more basic knowledge of theory/chord progression. This is so the notes you play fit in with the rest of the instruments or backtrack if you are using one. Some might disagree with me, however one thing I know is that a basic knowledge of scales will not hurt you! It is a safe practice, you will not suddenly become creatively dead, subject to the laws of musical theory and scalar practices. It will just give you another reference to pull from when you are using your creative, improvising thought process.

We finish off by applying this scale practice. Andy used the song The Joker, by the Steve Miller Band. This uses a note-based melody/riff for the verses, and goes to a chord progression during the melody. You can see my very rough take on this by watching the video! Until next time, keep on strumming!

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