Help needed memorizing major scale

Maguchi

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HI all,

I'm needing some help here. I have all 5 of my pentatonic Maj & Min boxes more than memorized. I just took a lesson and my teacher said I need to focus on, and memorize, the major scale up and down the neck.
Up until now, I have only memorized and used the first position major (if it's even considered the first position)

I found that when I was trying to memorize all of my pentatonics that it was fairly easy because of the boxes. They are very clean and all boxed up.

Now with the major scale, there is so much overlapping that I'm struggling to find a way to really memorize it. I've tried to add in the extra notes (4th and 7th) to my pentatonics but it doesn't seem to be working well.

One thing that also helped with memorizing my pentatonics was using my triads up and down the neck to quickly tell me where I am and what box/pattern goes over that triad. I'm not finding it all that easy to do the same trick with the major scale.

Am I correct that I've also noticed different people/books have different patterns to their Major scales? For instance, in the second position of G major, my book tells me to play the F# on the A string and the B on the D string at the 9th fret, but I could also play them both on the fourth fret and not have the big stretch, the notes would just be a little lower than playing them at the 9th fret.

Can anyone help break my confusion? I know there has to be an easier way to go about this than the way I'm currently doing it.

Starting with G major is how I've been going about it. I know that once I get G, I'll simply incorporate it to the other keys.

I believe the overlapping is what's holding my brain back and I just haven't had the aha moment quite yet. Thanks for any help!
Here ya go.

5MajorScales.png
 

kbold

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Pentatonic shapes = 5 (since there's 5 notes, and therefore 5 modes of the pentatonic scale)
With diatonic there will be 7 patterns (7 modes for the 7 notes).

So, you can either learn the 7 patterns (of the 7 modes in one key), or learn the Major scale pattern and learn to reposition it for playing different modes.

I actually like the 3 notes per string method for playing scales.

Ionian (Major)
upload_2021-12-17_12-22-50.png


Or the 7 modes:

7 Modes.jpg
 
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hnryclay

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Good advice above. I will add if you ever intend to play any other instruments, or read standard notation go ahead and memorize the keys around the circle of fifths now. Buy a blank staff book, they are less than 5 dollars. Copy down the circle of fifths, on the inner side of the cover. Add the key signatures, beside the notes, on the inside of the circle insert the realitive minor. Start on the first bar of the first page and transcribe the C major scale. On the second bar write out the G major scale, on the third the D major scale, all the way around the circle. If you do this, you will learn three major pieces of music theory, while learning your scales that apply to all instruments in western music. The notes of the scale, the key of the scale, and the realitive minor of the scale. This is one of those things that sooner or later you are going to have to learn, so you might as well start off with it, and for me writing is learning. Keeping a blank book gives you a visual reference that you can use for a lifetime of learning.

This sounds a lot harder than it actually is, I gurantee you could get the C major down in less than a week, if you dedicate 30 minutes or so a day to it. Once you know one scale you know them all.
 

Timbresmith1

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Strongly recommend the following in this order because you should be able to play each major scale in one position:

1. Learn the "structure" 1st (i.e. whole step - whole step - half step - etc.). But don't rely on this because it's inefficient. Professional and many good amateurs know the scales by their individual notes but learned them AFTER first "understanding" the major scale structure.

2. Learn the individual notes in each major scale by rote (e.g. A,B,C#,D,E,F#,G# / Ab,Bb,C,Db,Eb,F,G. / B,C#,D#,E, F#,G#,A# / Bb,C,D,Eb,F,G,A /etc.).

Write them ALL down and say them aloud 3-4 times a day; first with your "cheat sheet" and then without it.

Soon you will recognize a recurring pattern of sharps & flats involving the number 7. Figure it out on your own. You can do it.

Within two weeks, you should know the notes of all 12 major scales.

3. Everyday, after you say all 12 major scales aloud, practice your major scale fingerings going very slowly for the first week and speak aloud the individual notes.

This will allow you to "self-teach" yourself both (a) the notes on the fingerboard and (b) the major scale notes and their fingerings.

The late great player, studio musician and educator, Howard Roberts, said that one of the greatest ironies of life is that to learn something quickly you must go about learning it slowly. This is fantastic advice.

I and many of my friends did this 32 years ago. After learning all of this and using it almost daily for a year I stopped playing and practing for 14 years because of graduate school and my very demanding career. Then, out of the blue, I was asked to sub for a guitarist who quit abruptly in a band that had a few gigs left on its schedule. I quickly learned the tunes by slowly writing out charts for each tune and I ran through my major scales - both aloud and fingerings - as well as basic chord construction and arpeggios. Like magic it soon "came back to me" like it was yesterday --- all because I put the time in decades earlier to really learn all 12 scales and their fingerings!

Some things in life you should spend a lot of "upfront" time to learn well (e.g. multiplication tables, knots like the bowline, your Social Security number, colors of the visible light spectrum "RoyGBv" which will help you learn resistor codes if you dabble in electronics, notes of the major scales and chords if you are serious about music, etc...) because these things will likely never change in your lifetime!

Take it or leave it.
To simplify, learn the key names in order of the number of sharps and flats in increasing order, then learn the order of the sharps and flats.
Major keys:
Key of C no sharps, no flats.

GDAEBF#C#
f# c# g#d#a#e#b#

Then:
F B flat E flat A flat D flat G flat C flat
b flat e flat a flat d flat g flat c flat f flat

Add a sharp or flat for each key you move right.

(Key of) G: 1 sharp. F#
D: 2 sharps. F# and C#
A: 3 sharps F#, C#, G#
Etc.
Same method for flat keys
F: 1 flat: B flat
B flat: 2 flats: B flat, E flat
Etc.
 

Mowgli

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To simplify, learn the key names in order of the number of sharps and flats in increasing order, then learn the order of the sharps and flats.
Major keys:
Key of C no sharps, no flats.

GDAEBF#C#
f# c# g#d#a#e#b#

Then:
F B flat E flat A flat D flat G flat C flat
b flat e flat a flat d flat g flat c flat f flat

Add a sharp or flat for each key you move right.

(Key of) G: 1 sharp. F#
D: 2 sharps. F# and C#
A: 3 sharps F#, C#, G#
Etc.
Same method for flat keys
F: 1 flat: B flat
B flat: 2 flats: B flat, E flat
Etc.

Tsmith is hitting the nail on the head with regard to learning the scales, key signatures, etc. The "circle" is a great tool for learning this!

I learned the circle as the "circle of 5ths," too. But after I saw a discussion about the circle with Ted Greene I realized that Ted is probably correct. I now recommend learning the circle as the "Circle of 4ths."

Why? Most music descends in pitch and does so in "4ths." Most pop and jazz standards moves in 4ths. 12 bar blues and jazz blues moves mostly in 4ths and 5ths.

Plus it's ridiculously easy to learn this way, too. Take the word BEAD and the associated BbEbAbDb.

Here's the circle of 4ths:
BEAD GCF BbEbAbDb F#

1. It's the circle of 5ths backwards.

2. Like the circle of 5ths it gives us an easy way to remember the number of flats and sharps in key signatures.

3. The ii-V-I progression that is ubiquitous in music moves in 4ths.

4. Why Db and not C#?

The key of C# has 7 sharps. The key of Db has 5 flats. Most musicians prefer fewer sharps and flats when reading in "difficult" keys.

So I agree with Tsmith wholeheartedly in his advice but I think Ted Greene's advice to learn the circle as the circle of 4ths is probably better. Call me a late covert to this approach. YMMV.
 

Larry F

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Ascending 5ths = Descending 4ths
Descending 5ths = Ascending 4ths

Redundantly:

Ascending 4ths = Descending 5ths
Descending 4ths = Ascending 5ths

When my parents bought me a Stella guitar, they also got a Nick Manoloff instruction book, as well as a chord wheel like the one below:

http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338148343&icep_item=324942604402

It is a very self-contained way of determining chord functions in every major key. I used to just sit and play around with the chord wheel. Then suddenly, "Ding!" Soon after, "Ding!" And so on.
 

Leon Grizzard

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Go to your various positions and pick out melodies - old country tunes, folk songs, Christmas carols; tunes you are very familiar with. Improvise off the melodies.
 

Boxla

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I can't thank you all enough for all the great information. I was using a lot of it last night. I think I made significant progress. The information you have provided me is invaluable and being able to see it from different perspectives helps me a lot. I really appreciate it, you have helped me big time!
 

Leon Grizzard

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Go to your various positions and pick out melodies - old country tunes, folk songs, Christmas carols; tunes you are very familiar with. Improvise off the melodies.
.

This being a sentimental time of the year, I'll wax nostalgic. When I was un petite garçon, my father was in the Army, stationed in La Rochelle, France. I got my first musical instrument, a recorder, in the fall of the third grade and around Christmastime, found I could pick out Christmas tunes by ear. That was the beginning of my path to becoming a hack bar-band guitarist. Ah, so many years ago.
 
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beninma

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Christmas tunes have a tendency to be major key melodies, maybe something to mine for now if you can stand it.
 

oldunc

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Well, I got started on what looked like becoming an extensive essay, but I give up. Learning the scales on a guitar is a big project, but it's really the only way to get to know the instrument; all the chords, intervals etc. derive from the scales. A few things to consider; at this point it's best to learn the fingerings by scale degree (1-2-3 ETC.) rather than the note names (though you'll want to get those separately at some point)- makes it much easier to change keys, obviously, but also to see the intervals and chords as they emerge from the scale, and (later) to alter notes. Putting aside open notes (which you should for the moment) the fingerings are the same at any position, from one position you have over two octaves available, and you should eventually learn ALL the scales as far as they'll go in position 9note that all the modal and common pentatonics will emerge from the major scale fingerings). When you start changing positions, the shift can usually be made in several different ways, and you should work them all out. Once again, lots of them, but the fingerings will be the same up and down the neck. One more- learning scales doesn't mean just playing them up and down, you need to learn to play any sequence of notes within the scale and all the interval and chord positions within that scale. It's a lot of work, and requires a lot of repetition, but it's the only way to really get a handle on the fingerboard- good luck.
 

beninma

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I'm not sure any of this is any different on any instrument.. we all have to learn the construction of all the scales/modes eventually, it's just on guitar we add the whole thing of finding/knowing the notes on the fretboard. That step is just easier on some instruments like piano.

I've been working at this for years and don't have it down as well as I'd like.
 

bluesfordan

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it all boils down to the C major scale. Learn this cold. I did the pentatonic boxes for nearly 30 years, thought I knew my way around the neck. Realized I didn't know my major scale. It's called work. There's no substitution for fingers on fretboard. Even now, when I pick up the guitar after not having played for a while, first thing I do is dust off my C major.

Know the intervals. whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step

MAKE THIS PART OF YOUR DNA.

C D E F G A B

Know the chords. Major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished

C major, D minor, E minor, F major, G major, A minor, B diminished

Build triads. 1-3-5. I found it helps to build on the high E as opposed to the low E. Building on the 6th string tends to reinforce fret location rather than the note name (that may be just me).

Play the open high E. the 3 will be a G. the 5 will be a B. How convenient. You have a G B and E strings all right next to each other. Open strings. It doesn't get any easier than that. Viola, E minor.

what's the next note after E on the first string? F, right? F then the 3 will be A and the 5 will be C.

Pay attention to the intervals. What's the next note after G? A. The next note after B? C. The next note after E? F.

second fret G string, first fret B string, first fret E string. Boom. F major.

Each time you move up to the next chord, move each of the fretted notes to the next interval

A>B, C>D, F>G. Ta-da. G Major

B>C, D>E, G>A. Badda boom. A minor

C>D, E>F, A>B. Shazam. B diminished

D>E, F>G, B>C. Hola C major

E>F, G>A, C>D. so you're telling me that's a D minor, eh?

F>G, A>B, D>E. Oh, wow. look at that, we're back to E minor barred at the 12th fret on the G B E strings.

Then build your chords on the second string. Then the third string.
Then strings D G B
Then strings A D G
Then strings E A D

You'll find some of these string groups make for easier chords than others. Guess what, that's what the pros play unless they're showing off and/or are masochists.

That's just the major scale. Get that down cold and everything else just follows. You stop thinking "I play a lick down here at the 9th fret third string and then slide up to the 5th fret blah blah blah."

The single biggest stranglehold I found holding me back was the "I gotta play all the strings all the time" when playing rhythm. For some it is because they only play by themselves. Once you start playing with other people, they can play the bass part to your chords played on the higher strings. And you return the favor by playing the bass parts when they go for the tenor stuff.

And that's only just for the C major scale
next day do G
then D
then A
then E
then B

now we're getting into the Cycle of Fifths and Fourths

After that, minor scales and there's a bunch of those. And modes. :D It never ends, you can spend a lifetime on this stuff.

Or you can just stay in the pentatonic boxes forever
 

Telenator

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If you ever want to be a really good player, it is imperative that you follow your teacher's advice.

The pentatonic scales are something that should NEVER be taught first because they are derived from the major scale. penta = 5. tonic = tone. "five tone scale."

There are 7 tones in the ionian / major scale. This is the foundation from which all other music is derived. Once you know the ionian/major scale, it becomes much easier to understand all the rest of music. But because you were handed the pentatonics first, you must now backpedal to learn their origin. Then it will all make much more sense.

Once you know how to apply the major scale, you will immediately know what to play when someone says, "play a 2 - 6 - 1 progression" without even having to think about it.

Sure, there are a hand full of good players who don't know what they're actually doing, but there are 100 times the number of great players who actually do know what they're doing.

Why is it that guitar players are the only musicians who actually celebrate and defend their ignorance? This is a very important moment in your future development as a player.

Go "major" or go home! LOL!
 




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