Fretboard and scales

Discussion in 'Lessons & Techniques' started by 1Way, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    I would like to learn the fretboard and how it relates to the major scale, or all scales for that matter. I mostly just know most of the minor pentatonic scale and know some open and bar chords. But I do not understand how the fretboard works with scales in the first place.

    I also know that the note and fret spacing on the fretboard is as follows, but I don't know why it works out that way. Do you???

    A BC D EF G A ... where A and B are two frets apart, but B and C are one fret apart.
     
  2. Cooltouch

    Cooltouch Active Member

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    Hmmm . . . as to why there is a half-step between BC and EF, and whole steps between the others, that's a question whose answer can run to a few pages. But I'll give it a go here.

    It was Pythagorus who first discovered (in the West, at any rate) the mathematical relationship between music intervals. He used an instrument that he called a "monochord" (a box with one string and a moveable "fret") with which he discovered a series of consonant intervals (that is, intervals in which "beats" cannot be heard), which had a ratio in terms of string length on either side of the moveable fret of 1:1 (unison), 2:1 (octave), 2:3 (perfect fifth), and 3:4 (perfect fourth). Thus I, IV, V and I (octave). Call it C F G C in the key of C.

    The scale can be further filled in by next moving within the octave by fourths or fifths from one of the already established notes (fourths and fifths are inversions of each other, so a fourth up is the same note, albeit a different octave, as a fifth down). Take G. A fifth up from G gives you a D, which is the second scale interval in the key of C. Now, let's find the interval of a 5th from D. That gives us A. So just by stacking 5ths, we now have the pentatonic scale, C D F G A C. In The Acoustical Foundations of Music, John Backus writes "This five-note scale, the so called pentatonic scale, occurs in many otherwise unrelated musical cultures, and appears to be a natural outgrowth of fourths and fifths as consonances." (p. 119)

    (Incidentally, if you begin this scale on the second scale degree [D], you have the minor pentatonic scale that we all use so often.)

    Continuing with this, let's take A, and find its 5th. That would be E, the third scale interval in the key of C. And finally, if we find the 5th from E, that will give us B, the seventh scale interval in the key of C. This gives us the full, seven-tone Pythagorean diatonic scale: C D E F G A B C.

    Obviously, one can continue to fill in the remaining five tones (the black keys on a piano) by continuing to stack fifths.

    Probably more than you wanted to know, huh. 8)

    Best,

    Michael
     
  3. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    My response in the quote is given in blue text.

    Quote Cooltouch

    Hmmm . . . as to why there is a half-step between BC and EF, and whole steps between the others, that's a question whose answer can run to a few pages. But I'll give it a go here.
    Much appreciated.
    It was Pythagorus who first discovered (in the West, at any rate) the mathematical relationship between music intervals. He used an instrument that he called a "monochord" (a box with one string and a moveable "fret") with which he discovered a series of consonant intervals (that is, intervals in which "beats" cannot be heard), which had a ratio in terms of string length on either side of the moveable fret of 1:1 (unison), 2:1 (octave), 2:3 (perfect fifth), and 3:4 (perfect fourth). Thus I, IV, V and I (octave). Call it C F G C in the key of C.
    I think I pretty much catch that. Our music scale is fundamentally derived from observations of string vibration in relationship to sound waves as qued from corresponding (natural) fractional waveforms, such as 2/3, 3/4, 2/1.

    But I get lost at the very beginning next up.

    The scale can be further filled in by next moving within the octave by fourths or fifths from one of the already established notes (I do not follow what that means) (fourths and fifths are inversions of each other, so a fourth up is the same note, albeit a different octave, as a fifth down). (I understood that) Take G. A fifth up from G gives you a D, which is the second scale interval in the key of C. I got completely lost twice right there. Please help me understand how a fifth up from G gives you D. Then explain how D is the second interval in the key of C. Might start with what an interval is. I am a beginner, but I learned to read some music in 4&5 grade for playing the violin and then acoustic guitar after that. But that was about 3 decades ago. I haven't studied a lot since. Now, let's find the interval of a 5th from D. That gives us A. (Again, i'm already lost so lets stop right here.) So just by stacking 5ths, we now have the pentatonic scale, C D F G A C. In The Acoustical Foundations of Music, John Backus writes "This five-note scale, the so called pentatonic scale, occurs in many otherwise unrelated musical cultures, and appears to be a natural outgrowth of fourths and fifths as consonances." (p. 119)

    ...

    Probably more than you wanted to know, huh. 8)
    I read every word of it carefully, I definately appreciate it! I figure that if I can understand how the fretboard works together with for example scales and music theory, then that would make whatever else I learn that much more meaningful instead of just learning some chops and technique, I would be gradually learning why it is that only certain rhythm and lead parts works really well together. After learning why the stuff I know works together musically, I believe that understanding will help me create my own music, as well as make it somewhat easier to learn from others.
    Best,

    Michael

    End quote.

    ;) Right on! Sorry if I seem a bit dense, it's been a long time since I've been over some of this stuff. But most of the basics seem like second nature to me, except I don't do music staff reading, I do read 6 bar TAB and of course diagrams.
     
  4. SG dan

    SG dan Active Member

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    yes you are correct with the spacing. All major scales have a pattern that is two tones, then 1 semitone, then 3 tones then 1 semitone. ive recently been learning to solo in major keys. It actually sounds really good. I love soloing to the end of we are the champions. F major
     
  5. Cooltouch

    Cooltouch Active Member

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    Okay, I'll back up a bit. One of the challenges of teaching, I've found, is falling into the trap of presuming that ones student has the same level of understanding of the [understood] subject matter that the instructor does.

    An interval in music is the scale distance between two notes. If we stick with the key of C, with the notes C D E F G A B C, we have the following intervals in relation to the tonic (root):

    C - C unison
    C - D second
    C - E third
    C - F fourth
    C - G fifth
    C - A sixth
    C - B seventh
    C - C octave

    But by the same token, we can discuss the intervalic relationship between any of the other scale members. For example, the interval between D and A is also a fifth. The interval between E and C is a 6th, and so on.

    When I wrote "The scale can be further filled in by next moving within the octave by fourths or fifths from one of the already established notes", I should have been more specific, because actually we will be using only one of those notes to begin building the rest of the scale: G. Since we have already established that G is a 5th above C, we don't need to use C again for this. And if we try moving up a 5th from F, we get C (F to G to A to B to C), which we already have, so let's start with G instead, which is the fifth scale degree in the key of C.

    If we move up a fifth from G (G to A to B to C to D), we get a D, but note that it is in the next highest octave. So, instead we move down a fourth (G to F to E to D), which keeps us in the same octave. The physical placement of this D is one step above the low C (root) in this example octave. Next, we find a fifth above the D (D to E to F to G to A), giving us an A, which is still within the octave. So we're good there. And next, we find the fifth scale degree above A (A to B to C to D to E). But like the D, this E lies outside the octave, so we move a fourth downward instead (A to G to F to E), which gives us the E above the root. Finally, we find a fifth above E (E to F to G to A to B), which remains within the octave, and which establishes the seventh tone of the diatonic scale.

    What I have been doing is moving along the Circle of Fifths. It's called a "circle" because it repeats itself. We started with C then G then D then A then E then B. If we were to continue stacking fifths from B, it would look like this:

    B - F# - C# - G# (or Ab) - Eb (or D#) - Bb (or A#) - F - C (and when we hit C we're back where we started)

    Not to complicate things, but it needs to be pointed out -- in Western music we have the concepts of the perfect unison, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, and perfect octave. All the other intervals -- the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th exist in major and minor variants. (Well, actually, we also have the diminished and augmented 5th, but I don't want to get into that just yet.) Simply put, a minor interval is a major interval lowered a half step. In the key of C, for example, we have NO minor intervals in relation to the root because its the key of C MAJOR, but there are minor intervals in this scale with certain notes in relation to each other, specifically E and F, and B and C.

    Thus, the major scale has the following internal intervals: root (whole step) 2nd (whole step) 3rd (half step) 4th (whole step) 5th (whole step) 6th (whole step) 7th (half step) octave.

    If we begin this same scale on A and consider it the root, it is now a [natural] minor scale, known as the "relative minor" to C. It gives us A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A. In this scale, we will note that the interval of the third above the root (A to C) is reduced by a half step (three frets apart instead of four), and that the interval of the sixth above the root (A to F) is also reduced by a half step (one half step, or one fret, above the 5th, E, instead of one whole step). Also, note that the interval of the 7th above the root (A to G) has been reduced by one half step. It is no longer next to the octave, but there is now one fret separating the 7th and the octave.

    This natural minor scale has the following internal intervals: root (whole step) 2nd (half step) 3rd (whole step) 4th (whole step) 5th (half step) 6th (whole step) 7th (whole step) octave.

    And this, my friend, brings up the subject of modes, which can make life quite interesting, and also does wonders for expanding your horizons. But that should wait for another time. You should make sure you have a pretty good handle on these basic concepts first.

    Until then, try this little trick. (If you're familiar with it already, well, then nevermind ;) ) I will assume you are already familiar with the minor pentatonic scale. Using the key of A minor again, this would be A C D E G A. Chances are you already have a library of licks you like to use in this scale. Now, go find a piece of music in the key of C major, and use these same licks at the same fingerboard position for A minor. You'll find they all work, only the emphasis of the tonic (root) changes. This is true, obviously, for any major key and its relative minor. So if, for example, you hear a tune in E major, you know you can play along with this tune using licks in C# minor (hand position beginning on the 9th fret on the guitar). Or to put it in a way that a guitarist can more easily relate to -- if the tune is in a major key, the minor pentatonic scale can be played against it by moving the scale pattern down three frets from the root of the major key.

    Best,

    Michael
     
  6. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    [quote author=Cooltouch link=topic=11627.msg151445#msg151445 date=1166909558]
    [size=10pt]Okay, I'll back up a bit. One of the challenges of teaching, I've found, is falling into the trap of presuming that ones student has the same level of understanding of the [understood] subject matter that the instructor does.

    An interval in music is the scale distance between two notes. If we stick with the key of C, with the notes C D E F G A B C, we have the following intervals in relation to the tonic (root):

    C - C unison
    C - D second
    C - E third
    C - F fourth
    C - G fifth
    C - A sixth
    C - B seventh
    C - C octave

    But by the same token, we can discuss the intervalic relationship between any of the other scale members. For example, the interval between D and A is also a fifth. The interval between E and C is a 6th, and so on.[/size]

    [/quote]

    I still don't get it. I count 4 between the D and A but you say it's 5. But it is 6 between E and C. What am I doing wrong?
     
  7. Cooltouch

    Cooltouch Active Member

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    The note you start on is "1", so D to A would be an interval of a 5th: D, E, F, G, A.

    Best,

    Michael
     
  8. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    Oh I get it, it's about the position. Thanks!

    So, how do they get the major scale, and how does that scale relate to other scales?
     
  9. SG dan

    SG dan Active Member

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    the major scale follows a pattern that holds true for every major scale.
    2 tone
    1 semitone
    3 tones
    1 semitone

    so the key of C major would look like this;
    ||---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
    ||---|---|---|---|---|---|-0-|-1-|
    ||---|---|---|---|-0-|-2-|---|---|
    ||---|-0-|-2-|-3-|---|---|---|---|
    ||-3-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
    ||---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
    1T 1T ST 1T 1T 1T ST

    1T = 1 tone(two frets higher)
    ST = SemiTone(1 frt higher)

    i wrote down between each 2 notes the difference.
    hope this helps.
     
  10. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    Yes, but I also know what the blues scale is and it's intervals so it doesn't help me understand how the major scale works out onto the fretboard nor tell me if it's the parent scale of all other scales, and if so, how? 8)
     
  11. Cooltouch

    Cooltouch Active Member

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    Any scale can be played in many places on the fingerboard. Each position will have its own fingering. You must memorize the fingering for each position in order to exploit them fully.

    Here's a crude representation of a fingerboard. I'll show a major scale in the "closed" position, meaning there are no open notes. Because it is closed, this pattern can be moved anywhere on the fingerboard. Of course as it moves, the key changes also. One octave of the C major scale is shown.

    (nut)
    1||------|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    2||------|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    3||------|--A--|-----|--B--|--C---|-----|
    4||------|--E--|--F--|-----|--G--|-----|
    5||------|-----|--C--|-----|--D--|-----|
    6||------|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|

    Here's a two octave major scale in the closed position. This scale is in the key of G.

    1||------|--F#-|--G--|-----|-----|-----|
    2||------|-----|--D--|-----|--E--|-----|
    3||------|--A--|-----|--B--|--C--|-----|
    4||------|--E--|-----|--F#-|--G--|-----|
    5||------|--B--|--C--|-----|--D--|-----|
    6||------|-----|--G--|-----|--A--|-----|

    Here's a two octave major scale in closed position with a position shift. Key of C.

    1||------|-----|-----|-----|--A--|-----|--B--|--C--|-----|-----|
    2||------|-----|-----|-----|--E--|--F--|-----|--G--|-----|-----|
    3||------|--A--|-----|--B--|--C--|-----|--D--|-----|-----|-----|
    4||------|--E--|--F--|-----|--G--|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    5||------|-----|--C--|-----|--D--|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    6||------|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|

    (On the 3rd string, the fingering should be 1-3,1-3)

    The major scale is the parent scale to all the modes, but not necessarily to all scales. (There are lots of scales, not all of which follow the diatonic formula.) Each of the modes begins on a different degree of the diatonic scale. Some are more useful than others. Besides the major and minor modes, the most popular are the Dorian (2nd scale degree), Phrygian (3rd scale degree), and Mixolydian (5th scale degree). The most popular modes in rock and blues are the Dorian and Mixolydian modes. Flamenco players like the Phrygian mode.

    Dorian begins on the second scale degree and differs from the minor scale by only one note: the 6th. Dorian uses a major 6th, whereas the minor mode uses a minor 6th. In the case of a C major scale pattern, the dorian mode would begin on D.

    The mixolydian mode begins on the 5th scale degree and differs from the major scale in only one note as well: the 7th. Mixolydian uses a minor 7th whereas the major scale uses a major 7th. In the case of a C major scale pattern, the mixolydian mode would begin on G.

    Please understand that, when I refer to the 6th and 7th in the above two examples, I am NOT referring to those scale degrees of the original major scale, but rather the scale degrees of the individual mode. That is, for the Dorian mode in D, the sixth scale degree would be B (and not Bb), and for the Mixolydian mode in G, the 7th scale degree would be F (and not F#).

    Best,

    Michael
     
  12. SG dan

    SG dan Active Member

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    1way, the blues scale is sort of like the grandchild of the major or the minor scale.
    for example, in the key Of A minor, the notes are as follows;
    A B C D E F G A.

    The notes on the A minor blues scale are
    A C D D# E G A.

    actually the blues scale is the same as the pentatonic scale only with the note in between the 4th and the 5th. the A minor pentatonic scale is this;
    A C D E G A.

    as you can see, the pentatonic scale has only five notes. the word comes from latin(penta = five)(tonic = tones)

    http://robinmay.co.uk/boxes.htm
    This website i just found is great. If you study up on this, you can use it as refrence for soloing untill you have the various root positions memorized, then you can learn the variations, and alternate positions all throughout teh neck. then you become a soloing beast and can solo to almost anything!

    hope this as helped
     
  13. Cooltouch

    Cooltouch Active Member

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    Good find, there, SG Dan!

    Best,

    Michael
     
  14. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    Thanks guys, I keep learning different things along the way, I really appreciate it. SG Dan, that helps a bit. Maybe I am not asking the right questions, but more importantly, I am learning. I still don't quite understand why the Majority and minor Pentatonic scales are what they are, I guess I was wondering how the intervals for these scales were determined.

    BTW, here's another site that has some theory involved.
    http://www.accessrock.com/LessonLibrary.asp

    When you examine the Blues scale compared to the minor pentatonic, you add a flatted 5th right? That's the 5th of what, from the major scale or from the minor Pentatonic scale? Isn't there a special relationship between the minor pentatonic and the major scale?

    I guess the primary scales is the chromatic scale, all others are a subset.
     
  15. Cooltouch

    Cooltouch Active Member

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    [quote author=1Way link=topic=11627.msg151576#msg151576 date=1166973218]
    I still don't quite understand why the Majority and minor Pentatonic scales are what they are, I guess I was wondering how the intervals for these scales were determined. [/quote]

    As I mentioned in my first response, the pentatonic scale was derived by establishing the 2:3 and 3:4 ratios, that is the 5th and 4th above the root (in the key of C, that would be G and F), and then by stacking fifths above the 5th (G): G to D to A. Put it all together, and you get C F G D A. That's your pentatonic, and that's how it was derived.

    Rearrange the notes in ascending order to get C - D - F - G - A. Now, in this configuration, the pentatonic scale is neither major nor minor (it contains no 3rd above the root). But if you play around with it a bit, you'll find two configurations in which the interval of a 3rd above a root note does exist: F G A C D and D F G A C. The pentatonic scale beginning with the F contains the major 3rd interval F-A, and the scale beginning on D contains the minor 3rd interval D-F. Not surprisingly then, the scale beginning with F is a major pentatonic and the scale beginning with D is a minor pentatonic. Also, not surprisingly, Dmin is the relative minor to Fmaj.

    Yes, the flat 5 is added. Since the blues scale is a minor pentatonic with an added flat 5, I think it is safe to say that the blues scale is derived from the minor pentatonic. Yes, there is a special relationship (See above).

    Not really. For one thing, there is no root to a chromatic scale, since it contains all twelve tones to the octave. The chromatic scale is one in which all the spaces have been filled in by stacking fifths. Remember my earlier discussion regarding the "circle of fifths"? If you keep stacking fifths, eventually, you will have filled in the entire scale.

    The major scale is generally thought to be primary, due mostly I suspect to the existence of modes. Any of the seven modes could be primary, theoretically, but Western music has given its nod to the major scale as being the most fundamental.

    Best,

    Michael
     
  16. notregme

    notregme Member

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    Its kinda funny but i don't understand a lot of theory but when i look at the fret board I know where everything is.I play a lot of octaves on the twelve string and I do a lot of solo rhythms .lets say I'm playing an c cord in the so called first position when it comes time to solo I slide up to the second octave and play the c cord there then do little widdley diddles around that cord.if I'm jamming with some one it looks like I'm going all over the place.which I'm not .I guess my point is I play by feel mostly.but if you think of it this way there are only seven notes a to g.doesn't matter it you play a hundred stringed instrument or a six string If you know where you seven notes are on the fretboard you can make things fit .if I play an A minore to E flat cord I can do runs and scales all over the fret board because i know where all the el torro serf guitar notes are even if I cant tell you what scale I just played I always know which to use.lol
     
  17. Rafael

    Rafael Member

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    Morning guys 8)....great stuff and really enjoying the lessons. Don't know why but I've always love reading about music theory and/or "trying" to study it. It's confussing at times, quite often actually, but non the less enjoyable. Haven't read all the threads yet, have to take my time and reread them 3 or 4 times ???, but what I have read so far as fill some grey areas...more like black holes.  I know I didn't start this thread but I believe in giving credit where credit is do, especially when and if it helps me, so for that thank you...great stuff being printed on these pages.

    BTW....if you haven't been here yet you might also find this site helpfull. I bounce back and forth between here and SG Dan's robinmay site sometimes.

    http://www.zentao.com/guitar/theory/

    I also enjoy this site quite a bit. I mainly use the "trainer" section to help me with my sight reading. At my age remembering is quite elusive so this helps me...makes it kind of a habit in seeing the notes and whatnot. Again at my age habits, mainly bad ones, are not that easy to get rid off so I take advantage of that.

    Anyhow if you all haven't already been here I think you might enjoy this also, or might find it helpfull in some way.

      http://musictheory.net/index.html

    Cheers,
    Raf
     
  18. Raging Taco

    Raging Taco Member

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    just learn the 7 modes of music
     
  19. Treadric

    Treadric Member

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    Get the book..."Music Theory For Modern Guitar" By Tom Ohmsen @ http://www.flat5.com/
    Go to the "Store" option. The book seems expensive...but is quite thick and explanitory and easy to understand.
    He is a friend and neighbor. Everything you want to know about music theory for guitar.. We used to teach in the same studio. Tom knows his stuff. Has a quite nice recording studio as well...Dave Mathews recorded most of his 1st album there.
     

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