Construction of the Major Scale on a Single String

A free video tutorial from Erich Andreas
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Construction of the Major Scale on a Single String

Lecture description

Understanding how to construct a major scales across a single guitar string is extremely beneficial for all future theory lessons that you will be studying throughout the course.  Make sure you master this technique before moving on.  The attached blank fretboard paper should be used to practice this technique.

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Okay. Today, we're going to be looking at the major scale and specifically, we're going to be looking at constructing this major scale on one string. Now, why is that? Who plays the major scale on one string? Well, we do today because understanding this in a linear fashion, linear being across one string as opposed to going across all the strings or several of the strings, for instance, we could play the scale like this or we could play it across like this, you know, make sense. So we could play the scale across the strings or we could play it across one string or on one string. So that's what I'm calling linear. Now, the reason that, number one, we're doing the major scale and number two, we're doing it in this way. Ah, here are the reasons why. Number one, the major scale. If we understand the construction of the major scale, we basically understand 99.9% of how all other music theory. Falls into place. If you don't have the construction of the major scale down, you're really going to have difficulty with understanding and chord embellishments, with understanding how modes work. The minor scale, the blue scale. Like you're not going to quite understand the musical theory behind it. And the musical theory is important because when we're speaking with other musicians or we're trying to come up with a specific sound, if you don't understand the the whys about it, then it can be very difficult to come up with what it is that you're trying to what you're hearing in your head type of thing. So number one, the major scale is literally the basis of 99.9% of all the music out there classical, rock, thrash, jazz, blues, country, you name the genre. Chances are the major scale is going to have much to do with it. And that has to do with a little bit of science, a little bit of balance of what that scale does like naturally, how it resonates. And we could have a whole series of videos on that. So I can't even go down that that alley right now. But basically to let you know, the major scale is king of the world, of the musical world. Even songs that are in minor keys and all the jazz modes are all going to be based off of the major scale. And when we compare any scale, we're always going to compare it to the major scale. So that shows you that that's the benchmark. So now we know why it is that we're learning the major scale and you know how important it is right now. Let's talk about it on this one string. So know that this is really important. Now, the reason that we're learning it across one string is I really want you to understand the construction of it, because we know the sound. Right? And that sounds right. And we can say that we can sing it and it sounds right. This might not sound right. I mean, doesn't sound terrible, but it doesn't sound like. It sounds like we're going up the stairs and coming down the stairs and everything sounds great, right? So this is why that is is this construction is so important now. The distance between one fret and the next is a half step, right? And the distance between one fret and two frets is a whole step. So we're going to be using W as a whole step and H as a half step in this example. So the construction of the major scale and I want you to use the the attachments that are related to this video to help out with this. But the construction of the major scale is whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step, literally that's it w w h w w w h could be your your first musical tattoo. All right, just remember that indelibly get that into your brain or get a tattoo or something. It's important that you always know this construction forwards, at least forwards. Backwards is nice, too. Now we're going to take that and we're going to start at any note and whatever note you start at, that's the name of that major scale. So for instance, we're going to be starting on G. We know this is a G because we know that the lowest or thickest string is a low E, right. And we know using our trick for knowing the notes on the fretboard, we got e e didn't have a sharp so we got f f has a sharp. So we get F sharp and then g boom. So there's our G. So now if we play this form, whole step, whole step, pass the whole whole whole half from this we will be playing the g major scale. And this is true for any note that we start on. So what's cool about this is walking away from this video, you will know all 12 keys of the major scale. Pretty cool. All right, here we go. So. We play our first note. So what I want you to do is I want you to play the third fret of the low e string right now. You can do this with your first finger or any finger. The fingering doesn't matter right now. Just we're going to focus just on the theory part of this. So use whatever finger you want. So here we are, third fret of the low e string. We hit our first note. Now, this is a really important aspect that you need to remember when you're doing this. Don't say whole step or half step until you're moving. Don't say it when you're on the note. Don't say it when you land. Say it when you're moving. Because if you don't do that, you'll see later on or you'll probably run into this. If you don't if you don't really take what I'm saying to heart, you're going to run into some problems and your scale is going to sound weird because you're because you're saying whole step, whole step, half step. Well, that wouldn't be right. Because you'd say whole step, whole step, half step. Now you're messed up already because there's two whole steps in the beginning. So if we play the note and then we move while we say it whole step, then we're good. This is our first note. We don't want to say whole step there. That's just a note. So boom. Now we say whole step because we're moving. Because we're moving in an interval of a whole step. Make sense? Cool. I think you got it. Let's move. So here's our first note. So we're going to say a whole step. Whole step. Half step. The whole step. Host that. Holes that. How's that? Now that we've listened to that, you probably say, Hey, that sounds great. That sounds right. Now, that's because it just works out that that is the major scale. Now, we're going to do this again, and I want you to do it with me. Now, I'm going to say it ahead of time, but. We're going to play the note. We're going to move up one whole step. So do it with me. Move up a whole step. Move up another whole step. Move up a half step. Move up a whole step. Move up a whole step. Move up a whole step, move up a half step. And I did a little bit ahead of time there. So you knew where we were going. But ultimately what you want to do here is you want to read through the diatonic harmony PDF there that's specifically for understanding the major scale. And then what I want you to do is I want you to use the blank fretboard template that I've also included for this, and I want you to write these in because it's as important for you to be able to just see this on paper and be able to figure it out as it is for you to be able to figure this out on the guitar. This is a trick that musicians have used for years, is looking at things from different angles. And what it does is it indelibly writes this into your brain. So really a cool trick to understand things is to look at it from these different angles and truly understand it. I had a buddy who went to classical school. So did I as a as a classical major. But he he did the whole four years. I did three years and then changed my major to music business because I wanted to come to Nashville and learn more about that sort of thing. But this buddy of mine was deep into classical studies, and one of the things that he learned from his instructor is he said that one of the exercises was to literally at night when you're laying in bed, as you're falling asleep, is to see those musical notes in your head of whatever piece you are working on and to hum it or to be able to imagine your fingers on the fretboard doing those specific movements. And that alone was a whole nother way to practice and it truly, truly works. So with that being said, that's what you're going to do, is you're going to go through the motions here. Let's try this again. Now, when you're doing this, don't mind what the note is. What I mean by that is we don't for for this purpose here. We don't care that this is a G or this is an A and this is a B and a C. Don't worry about that right now. There's reasons later on where you may want to think about that, too. But for right now, it's more important that you're thinking about the intervals only focus and breaking things down, slowing things down. These are all tricks to learning specific things. And if you don't do it, it's the breadth is too wide for you to understand and you'll get frustrated most often. So it's good to be focused and understand what we're trying to do here and here. We're just trying to understand the construction and to let our ear get attenuated to this sound. If you do this, I promise you you're going to go a lot quicker than trying to leapfrog it and go around it. All right. So let's try this with the open A, so we want to know what the first node is that we know, hey, this is an A scale. So if a song is in the key of A, we play this form over the top of it. It's going to sound like it matches if your guitar is in tune. So here we go. We're hitting the open. A But again, we're just using the interval names, whole steps and half steps as opposed to naming the note. Don't get distracted and do that. So here we go. Here's our opening. So we're going to go hole step up from that. That's two frets. So one, two hole step. Half. Step. Hole. Step. Hole. Step. Whole step. A step. Now, notice that the first note and the last note are like bookends. If you're playing the scale from octave to octave, and this is a way that most musicians will play their scales, they'll practice it from one octave to the back down, even if you don't, if you just practice up eight notes. That's Oct right. Oct in German and many other languages. Oct. 12345678. That's why it's called an octave. Or an octopus has eight arms. So one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight arms or seven. I'm sorry, eight arms or eight notes. So that's why we call it OCT and that's why it's called an octave. Hey, the light just went on, right? Okay, so we get so we got a whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step. And that's why that sounds great. And we did this in the key of a. Now, again, any note that you start on, we wanted to start on the E here and do the same bit. We can do this. Okay. That's a ni. Now, the homework and the takeaway from this is use the blank. Key fretboard templates and to write these out, I want you to do this with at least six of them. And you. The note that you start on should be the note that you end on. Check your work, go back, write it down, and then write it in between a whole step, whole step, half step, that sort of thing. Just to check your work. You really only have to do this a few times for your ear and your brain to truly get this. But if you don't go through this routine, you're not going to get it and it's not going to be indelibly built into your brain. That's what you want to do because you want to play music. You don't want to have to be thinking about all this stuff. So what you do is you get it out of the way so that you can play. This is what all the pros do. They get that stuff out of the way where they're not continually fighting, not knowing something. So you want to write those down and then I want you to practice six of them. They could be six separate ones. Doesn't matter. Some of them can be starting on the open string. Some of them could be starting up the fret board. Doesn't matter. But I do want you to practice this. And for those folks that want to go the extra distance, try to do it backwards as well. And this is a little bit more of a challenge, but let your ear guide you and you can do it with a small portion and then, you know, something like this. If you were doing G, you could go. Or. That's a great exercise as well. This way it's getting your ear attenuated to going up and down the scale and it gets that visual interval relationship just set into your brain. All right, my friends, you know what to do. Go do it before moving on to the next video and then let's keep going.