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What are Scales?

So we have talked about chords and hopefully you are starting to be able to use these chords to play some songs. This is great but there is another vital aspect of guitar playing that you need to know if not master. You probably have already heard of – scales.

So What is a scale. Well very simply it is a chain of single notes

played one after the other until you reach the same note one octave higher than the first. A note that is an octave away is simply the same note, higher up in pitch.

You probably already know a scale in your head without realising it.

Do – Re – Mi – Fa – So – La – Ti – Do

Singing the above is in fact a major scale. Note the octave here – Do and Do are the same notes but the second is higher than the first. In fact looking how many notes there are, it is in fact 8 which is where the name ‘oct’tave comes from. An octagon as 8 sides, an octave has 8 notes.

So what? Why bother? Well there are many reasons why scales are important, certainly if you want to be a lead guitarist it is essential. If you decide scales are not for you then fair enough but if you simply have to learn one scale to get by with guitar and indeed any music. This is the major scale.

Why is the Major scale important? Well everything in music relates to the major scale or resolves back to it. Perhaps you have heard or seen extended chords such as Cmaj7 or a C#6 – well simply a Cmaj7 is a Cmajor chord (you know this shape) with the addition of the 7th note from the C major scale. Likewise the C#6 is the C sharp chord with the addition of the 6th note from the C sharp major scale. Sound confusing?

Don’t worry so much about this now. The important thing is to realise that learning the major scale will help you know an awful lot about guitar and music in general so………… learn it!

You already know how a major scale will sound so try figure it out on the guitar. We will look at some actual major scale patterns next time

As always please feel free to leave a comment and any questions and I will do my best to help.

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