Graphic Scale Sequence
When I was organising the Cumbria Guitar Show I came across a guy
who taught me a new way to get around the major scale on the guitar. His
name is Jan Beck, a drummer, guitar and bass player and recording
engineer. He said he could get me playing the major scale more confidently
all over the neck of the guitar within ½ an hour. I have to admit it took me
a little longer to get comfortable with it.
Most players learn patterns, as these are suited to the guitar. Being a
fretted instrument, patterns repeat all over the neck.
It was pointed out to me by Jan that there are only 3 ways to play 3
notes on any one string. By combining those 3 patterns into a sequence
across the neck of the guitar we could in fact play all the desired notes for a
major scale. Because we can move shapes up and down on the guitar
(either starting on fret 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 etc) we can change the key we are
playing in.
By the way this is not a replacement for learning your theory about
scales. The major scale provides the building blocks of all your other scales
and structure for creating chords and harmony on the guitar. It is also a
very good idea to learn the name of the notes you are playing.
This system will help you to visualize scale patterns and intervals
(distances between notes) especially arpeggios.
Enough of the preamble, lets get onto the content. Below is a graphic
of the 3 ways 3 notes can be played on any one string. At this time we are
not concerned with root notes or any particular key. This is just a sequence
of 3 note patterns.
But we will follow three rules.
We will take the patterns from left to right.
First pattern ‘A’ which is ‘semi-tone – tone’
Secondly pattern ‘B’ which is ‘tone – semi-tone’
Thirdly pattern ‘C’ which is ‘tone – tone’
These patterns are given the name A, B or C purely
to put them in an order ‘A B C’, they have nothing to
do with note or key names.
Rule One: There are two A patterns, A1 & A2.
There are two B patterns, B1 & B2.
There are three C patterns, C1, C2 & C3.
The patterns always run in this sequence, A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, C3.
When going across the strings from left to right (from bass E 6th to top E
1st). As you can see there are 7 patterns but only 6 strings. Of course you
can start anywhere in the sequence of these patterns, A2 or C2 or B2.
Whatever pattern you start on the next pattern must be in the same
sequence. A2 will always follow A1, C1 will always follow B2 and A1 will
always follow C3. Wherever you start it will always follow round in this
revolving sequence. When you get to C3 it starts again on A1. Notice that
the top note of the A and B pattern sits a fret lower than the top note of the
C pattern. The bottom notes are on the same fret; however when going
from C3 to A1 you will need to go up one fret to follow the sequence.
This does not represent
a guitar neck.
You can now see on this diagram all the patterns in
sequence on the grid. (not a fret board Diagram)
Although this shows 7 patterns you will only have 6
strings to contend with on your guitar. If you are a
bass player you could just have 4 strings to contend
with or you may have 5 or 6. Whichever patterns
you start on always follow them in this order, if
going left to right; A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, C3.
(string 6 to string 1)
Then C3, C2, C1, B2, B1, A2, A1 if coming back
down the strings from right to left (from thin 1st E
string to Bass 6th E string).
Rule Two
The second string rule. This rule does not apply to Bass players
as they do not alter the tuning in order to play bar chords. The second or ‘B’
string on guitars in standard tuning is tuned down one semi tone. All the
other strings are tuned in 4th’s, that is the two adjacent strings are an
interval of a 4th apart. Eg A next to E being a 4th up from E (E<F<G<A) and
D next to A (A<B<C<D), G next to D (D<E<F<G) but G next to B does not
conform (G<A<B) it’s only a 3rd, a semi tone less.
So when we follow the sequence and get to the ‘B’ or 2nd string we
have to allow for this and move up a fret as we go onto the ‘2nd’ string.
But remember if you have to go from pattern C3 to A1 and go to the 2nd
string you will have to go up two frets. Because the bottom fret of an A
pattern is already a fret up from the bottom fret of a C pattern. This can be
very confusing at first. See these two examples below.
Example 1, Starting A1
Example 2, starting B2
Rule Three
I will cover this rule in the next lesson. Just get comfortable with what
we have covered so far for now. I know you guitar players, if I give you too
much you will rush ahead and not get comfortable with the lesson so far.
Just to let you know that if you start on a C2 shape and follow it
through you will get the Major scale of the note you started on. Count the
notes as you go 1 to 8, you can see the pattern of intervals and if you know
how chords are built in thirds you can see arpeggios (1 – 3 – 5 – 7 or b7)
When you start on the B1 pattern and follow through you will get the
minor scale of the note you started on. Same again count the intervals.
Example 3, Starting at C2
Example 4, starting at B1
Example 3 starts on the C2 pattern and produces a major scale where the
bottom note of the C2 pattern
is the root note. Work out more root
notes in the sequence and see how they fit into that particular pattern, eg
the second note of the A1 pattern is also a root note an octave up from the
lower C2 note. Where is the root note two octaves up? ____
Example 4 starts on the B1 pattern and produces a natural minor scale.
The root note for this scale lies on the bottom note of the B1 pattern.
Again the first octave can be found within another pattern and is the second
note of a C1 pattern. Where is the second octave? ____
Have fun and next month we will continue with the next part of this lesson
which will open it up to the rest of the neck of the guitar and produce a
GRAPHIC SCALE SEQUENCE as per the title of this lesson. If you have any
questions you can contact me by email [email protected]
Better still come on one of our weekends either in the South or the North of
the country.
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