Scales Scales Scales (Part 1)
(09 Feb 04)
Here I am with yet another article that might cause people to say "Oh my god, can't he write about anything else?" I mean, I have written articles about 3NPS-scales, stretch pentatonic scales, the "monster run", I had a huge segment about scale sequences in at least one article etc.
So what else is there to say?
Well, I'd like to collect all the little things I have said about scales, using them and learning them into one article this time. This one is also related to one of James' articles, "Moving From The Familiar to The Unfamiliar - Alternate View", which IMO didn't get quite the attention it deserved.
James talked about learning and exploring scales along one string, or on the keyboard, instead of just memorizing a bunch of patterns.
Which is the MUSICAL approach. You know, there are a lot of players who know an amazing amount of patterns etc. They can play weird scales all over the neck. But for some reason, it sounds just like that. It seems as if it doesn't matter which scale they're playing. They're not "playing OUT" the scale, not "USING IT" as a scale. Does this make sense at all?
Maybe another example will help:
We have articles about modes at iBreathe. And actually, quite a lot of the questions I get at workshops or when I teach revolve around modes. A lot of people somehow figure out that those modes are of some importance, and then they wanna learn them... all of them.
So they memorize them all, play them up and down, all over the neck. Not only is this only a lob-sided view, because just playing those patterns up and down is not what using modes is about.
The background, the chords you play them over is equally important. But even if you know that and keep it in mind, it takes some time to get into modes, to explore them and learn how to apply them.
Because if you don't, if you just memorize some patterns, you'll most likely be able to play the modes all over the neck without even thinking. Unfortunately, there's a good chance that it'll also sound as if you play them without listening.
Let's get back to one of my favorite analogies… comparing learning how to play to learning how to speak. When you're learning how to speak, you don't go "OK, now I wanna learn these standard phrases or proverbs all at once". You don't go and memorize those all at once. If you WOULD do that, you'd pretty much sound like a tape-recorder playing back a "Learn English in 21 easy lessons" tapes.
Take a typical phrase, like this one (I heard it being used down south a lot)... "Whatever floats yer boat".
It usually means something like "Well, you're doing something weird there, but if it makes you happy, or if you think it's necessary, then go ahead".
Well, if you are being told that that is a common phrase, and you memorize it without learning what it means, you might find yourself using it in the wrong context, or saying it without being in a situation where it's appropriate. Which is pretty... well, silly.
So what you need to do is figure out what the phrase means, and maybe also pay attention to how to say it… you can change the meaning of it quite a bit by saying it in different ways, emphasizing it differently, using facial expressions etc.
Is that a weird comparison? Is this way-too-long an introduction? Well, I guess you shouldn't be surprised, not if you have checked out some of my other articles. Sorry =)