Process for Scales

Core Location: Scales

These are our 3 widest process areas for scales (tone groups). Each of the following points can be done in endless ways. And, in 3 minutes, we can hit all three.

For any and every scale [tone set] that we work with, we do 3 things. I suggest always training first, then work on improvising and chord building.

  1. First, we train with the scale [what we can call playing 'alpha-tone order']. This means we play it from lowest to highest tone, then highest to lowest, applying different technical, mental, & musical considerations. At base level, we play everything 8ths notes around 90-100 to the metronome. To get solid with different rhythms, we can choose a new rhythm to train, for new scales we learn. See "Choices for Scale Training" below for more options for training.

    We can use the Pick Training List for picking, or fingerpick [i-m, i-a, m-a, a-m-i, p-i, p-m, and/or p-a].
  2. Then, we improvise/jam with the tonal material. This means that we tinker around melodically with the tones.
  3. We also think in terms of building chords. Each tone of a scale can be a root of a chord. Chords can be played as blocks &/or arpeggios. Once we have working versions, we can improvise chord progressions as well. This provides a solid process basis for songwriting. We can also include double & triple stops [2 tone and 3 tone chords which may or may not be triads]. For a heptatonic scale played on a single string, the chords built in thirds would have to be played as melodic arpeggios.

Throughout the path, these points will guide us. Our job is to apply new devices to training, jamming, & chord building.

Choices for Scale Training

We have decisions to make when we sit down to train with scales...

  1. What key or set of tones? See the Circle of 5ths or Lines of 7.
  2. Use a specific pattern (a limit)? Or, the whole board?
  3. In what rhythm?
  4. The sequence...single or repeated tones, tone order? Pick each once or twice (or more)? Play in a sequence, such as 1-2-3, 2-3-4, 3-4-5, etc.
  5. Tempo. How fast or slow? At base level we play all scales in 8ths, around 90-100 on the metronome.
  6. How to pick it? With a pick - alternating, etc. Or,, i-m or i-a, etc.