are scales and modes really necessary?

oldunc

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Yes.
If he"s just starting out, let him play songs and learn chords. When he starts thinking about lead guitar, then you can introduce the scales and modes. But if he wants to stick with rhythm and gets good at it, I think the world might just be better with another solid rhythm guitarist. But he might still want to learn basic scales for that.
The division of music into "chords and leads" is largely a creation of rock music, that simply doesn't exist in music in general. Chords are generated from scales and linear movements, if you ever want to do anything more interesting than memorizing fingerings you need to understand your vocabulary.
 

MilwMark

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If someone is into that, yes.

If not, forcing it drives them out faster. It’s certainly not necessary.

I would say the following are the most direct path:
- major and minor key construction/intervals
- octaves
- triads: all 6 strings
- notes on the fretboard (super simple when you know triads and octaves)

I picked up and gave up guitar so many times because the teaching method seemed always to be memorize a bunch of scales. Never got me anywhere. Barrier. I could play cowboy chords and full barre chords on 6 and 5 root.

In my 30s I found a teacher who asked me what I wanted to do. “Play in bands. Soon.” He gave me the above on literally 2 sheets of paper. A month later I was playing in 3 bands, three totally different genres. Rhythm, improvised leads, singing.

Direct path.
 

SRHmusic

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(Possibly mentioned in the 11 pages before...)
I found the biggest gains and enjoyment in learning new songs when I just started paying attention when learning one.

By that I mean paying attention to the main key of the song, which chords are used (the I, IV, etc.), and which melody/ solo notes are used and where they sound good. This does not take much theory at all! Get to harmonizing the major scale (not much time to do that) and that's good for a lot of music.

This also helps tremendously in memorizing songs.
 

Jazzcaster21

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Is leaning scales and modes really necessary to be a competent player?Or could just spend your formative years learning songs,solos,and chord changes and get the same result?just wondering my son wants to learn but doesn't seem interested in dedicating time scales n such.
It depends on what you are trying to do.

If you want to play chords and sing songs then no, it's not. You can do a lot with a handful of open and bar chord shapes and a capo if you are so inclined.

But, if you want to be a lead player of any type of music, IMO you (eventually) need to learn AT LEAST all your major and minor scales as well as arpeggios, pentatonic and blues scales, all across the fretboard, in all positions in all keys. From there you can get into modes as well as diminished, whole-tone and other exotic scales (if you want).

Learning solos and licks is a good but you should be able to analyze and theoretically understand what is happening in relation to the harmony. This will strengthen your ear and help you to develop your own vocabulary in whatever style of music you choose to play.

No one said that playing the guitar was easy.
 

Jazzcaster21

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It's good to learn the modes. It's easy. But it's difficult for most players. In fact, most advanced players don't really understand the modes. You could spend a lifetime trying to understand them.

You need a good teacher. It's not something that can really be learned from a book or a youtube video. All that stuff just confuses you further.

I have a very simple method for teaching my students the modes. It clicks within the first hour. Or it will never click at all. The modes are just scales from a different perspective. Nothing more nothing less. Very easy. Very difficult to understand just how easy they are. Such variation.

I - Ionian - Major - happy
D - Dorian - Jazz/Funk
P - Phrygian - Spanish/Classical
L - Lydian - Greek/Classical/Jazz
M - Mixolydian - Triumphant, joyous
A - Aeolian - Minor scale - sad
L - Locrian - Diminished - rarely used.

This is without going in to the modes of the other scales. This is just the modes of the Major scale.

Learn a few harmonic minor scale types on top.

Learning the modes is the most easy and most powerful thing any guitarist can do. You won't connect with them all. Some will make more sense than others. I never connected with the Lydian scale for example, but Phrygian, I'm all at home. Just pick a handful. Learn to transpose. Your guitar playing will go through the roof.

No one can really enjoy playing guitar, see the beauty in playing guitar, without a bit of discovery of the modes. It's really very simple. But in that world lies infinity, and that is what makes it so difficult.

No one ever learns this the same way. You can only ever find your understanding.

You may be very surprised at what an hour or two with a good book on the subject can do. Forget youtube vids.

Find a good teacher. Someone that can make sense of it all. The world it opens up is immense. But it's just a starting point. From there, any good guitarist will have to learn for himself.
Dorian - Santana!
Mixolydian - Jerry Garcia.
Phrygian, Locrian - Metal.
 

takauya

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If I could start from the begging of my learning, I'd definitely learn scales immediately. Learning scales doesn't mean you learn patterns on the fretboard though. For me it's how to harmonize notes within a scale, understand the relationship between chords and melodies, and being able to hear all of it. By doing all of these, you'll learn notes on fretboard and be able to see chord progression in any positions before you even realize.
That said, I was just a kid who wanted to play some guitar solos, so there was no chance it could happen. lol
Almost everything I've learnt helpful to play music was from learning other instruments. Not much to gain from learning guitar players other than feel and guitar techniques, ime, imo. So, I'd definitely avoid guitar teachers if I had to learn music theory especially those who play only guitar. It's actually much clearer and easier to hear harmonies on piano as well. Yes, learning piano is another thing I'd definitely do if I could re-start, and this is probably the biggest regret I have in my life.
 

boxocrap

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Is leaning scales and modes really necessary to be a competent player?Or could just spend your formative years learning songs,solos,and chord changes and get the same result?just wondering my son wants to learn but doesn't seem interested in dedicating time scales n such.
any road that takes you there is the correct one..but..some roads have a higher speed limit.."scales and and such" ( like a some theory) may not be "fun" but have an effect when they integrate into the knowledge base and give you more "lanes" to operate in.
 

BigDaddyLH

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A little theory can go a long way. Say you hear a certain sound on a dominant chord. Interesting. Then you hear another phrase like that. But then someone explains the altered scale sound and it all falls into place. Concepts have power.
 

oldunc

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There are literally hundreds of ways to play an "A" chord on a guitar. If you know an A major scale (as opposed to knowing one fingering for part of it) and the notes of the fretboard you have all of them, as well as extensions and alterations, readily available. Just seems so much easier than memorizing them all separately.
And of course scales are your entry into how to use them.
 

ASATKat

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Are scales and modes necessary?

You think that's all there is to being an educated musician?

For you I would say no, scales and modes are not necessary.
 

T Prior

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The guitar tuning and various redundant chord shapes (scales) , up, down and across the fretboard, are not an accident. Its not magic, but its up to "US" to acquire knowledge. Its not an overnight study, it may very well be a LIFLENG study, but ya gotta start.

Most guitars (I was gonna say all but someone would disagree) Most guitars come with the exact same tuning, its the player that makes the difference. Isn't that odd ? 😀
 

davidge1

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Music is like a language, and you learn it much the same way. You don't teach a baby to talk by first teaching him the rules of grammar. The baby starts speaking first, then learns the rules as he goes. If I were just starting to learn to play guitar, I wouldn't want to start learning scales. Once you start learning to play, you'll naturally want to learn what it is you're doing... or you won't. Depends on your level of interest.
 

Kiwi_Neil

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I really couldn't say whether scales and modes are really necessary or not because I only started to play about 4 years ago, and at my age, learning doesn't come as easily as it probably does for many youngsters! But......I started learning chords, and then trying to learn songs. Most of the song learning has been hard because songs that I like are too difficult for me, but that doesn't stop me trying! I don't really want to play other peoples songs though, I want to be able to improvise and to make my own music. So....I learned all 5 shapes of the minor pentatonic scale....as you do! Even though I know those shapes and can apply them to all the keys, when I try to improvise over a backing track, the results were very haphazard. Sometimes it sounded ok.....but mostly not. I couldn't really make music because I couldn't create any melody. I was frustrated but I will never quit.....no chance!!

I asked around 'how do I make melody or melodic playing'.....and I never really got the answer that I could apply. So, I set to learning more than just scales. I learned about (in no particular order) the Major scale. I learned about how chords are constructed and I learned a lot about timing. I learned about using my ears to identify the chords of the backing track, and then trying to pick notes from each chord to play when those chords came in the progression. Since about November last year I have learned the natural minor scale, Aeolien Mode in all positions and can apply this to my playing. When playing Aeolien mode and targeting some chord tones, and using good timing, I can now create melody on the fly, and for the most part, I sound pretty good...to the point that sometimes (more often than not) I go to bed smiling at the music that I just made!! Even my partner (who plays the Charango in a Latin band), likes to listen and she claps!!

I have a long way to go, but for me, learning theory (not too in depth, but some theory), timing, technique (hammer on, pull off, bending, vibrato etc), scales and now modes (I'm working on Dorian as we speak), have become instrumental to me being able to improvise and sound half decent. It's hard work, but man, it's worth it. I really feel like I CAN play now.

So if someone requests that I play (say) La Bamba for people to sing along to, I can't do that......but I don't want to. I want to throw on a jam track and just get lost in making music....and now I can. Scales, modes, theory, timing and technique have opened up a whole new world for me.
 




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