Process for 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.
- First, we train with the scale [what I 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 “List of Choices for Training” below for more options for training.
- Then, we improvise/jam with the tonal material. This means that we tinker around melodically with the tones.
- 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 which is on a single string, the chords built in thirds would have to be played as melodic arpeggios. Here’s a session on this.
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…
- What key or set of tones? See the Circle of 5ths or Lines of 7.
- Use a specific pattern (a limit)? Or, the whole board?
- In what rhythm?
- 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.
- Tempo. How fast or slow? At base level we play all scales in 8ths, around 90-100 on the metronome.
- How to pick it? With a pick – alternating, etc. Or, fingerpick…free/rest, i-m or i-a, etc.