Playing guitar is like putting a giant jigsaw puzzle together.
There are many pieces. But if you don’t know what the ‘Big Picture’ of the completed puzzle looks like, then how can you really understand what you’re doing? How can you understand how the pieces lock together?
It’s gonna take a lot of work — a lot of trial and error attempts and failures to get where you want.
It’s like trying to reinvent the wheel. Why would you do that when you can just buy a wheel that does everything you want?
What I’m saying is this: knowledge begets knowledge. One set of knowledge leads to the discovery of new sets of knowledge. It’s all step-by-step.
There’s a lot of knowledge for playing music. So why not just learn from others what works and what doesn’t? Better to start from a solid foundation of understanding so you can get a great head-start. Then you can take it as far as you want whilst cutting down on the time required to learn how it all works from trial and error on your own.
If you try to figure it all out yourself from the beginning, from tab off the net, from YouTube videos then you’re really starting from behind the 8 ball.
Scales are the ‘Mother’ of everything music
How boring. Does the word ‘scales’ make your eyes glaze over? Do you think, “Oh no, not more boring scale exercises!”
It’s nothing like that.
This is about understanding what music is and what it’s made from.
The modern ‘western’ music we listen to follows a set of ‘rules’ restricted to the arrangement of 7 notes into what we call the ‘Major Scale’.
Rock, blues, country, classical, folk, rock ‘n roll, and all other ‘western’ music styles use the Major Scale.
All the puzzle-pieces — melody, harmony, chords, arpeggios, triads, licks, runs, lines, riffs etc — all come from the Mother – the Major Scale.
Yes, there are other scales and we’ll discuss those later. But just know that the Major Scale (and/or its ‘relative’ Minor Scale) is what’s being used to produce around 99% of the music you listen to and love.
So the MAJOR SCALE represents the BIG PICTURE. Everything else lives inside this Major Scale.
The Major Scale and the Guitar Fretboard
There are 12 Major Scales and 12 Relative Minor Scales.
That means there is a major and minor scale for each of the 12 notes we have available to make music with. (Yep, there are only 12 different notes on western melodic instruments. Piano’s, guitars, etc. But those notes can be repeated in higher or lower registers, or, pitches. Eg, you can have an ‘E’ note on the bottom string of you guitar. That’s the 6th string open. Then there are other ‘E’s’ in different pitches, or, octaves elsewhere on the fretboard.
There is just ONE fretboard pattern for both the Major and Relative Minor scale.
This is the Zoomed-Out Big-Picture view.
Then you zoom in to look at and study the individual puzzle pieces inside… chords, arppegios and triads, basically. These are the basic building blocks. They can be as simple or as complex as you like. Start simple and BUILD on that for more complex ideas.
You discover how they all lock together and are really part and parcel of the same thing… the scale.
So we’ll start with looking at the Big Picture of the Major and Relative Minor Scale.
Note I said ‘scale’ – rather than ‘scales’ plural – when referring to the Major and ‘relative’ Minor. That’s because they are both the same thing. They both use the same fretboard pattern. They both have the same notes. But more about this later.
Why you shouldn’t learn chords and scales separately
It’s far better if you understand what chords are and where they come from. If you work on chords and don’t bother understanding the scale that they come from, you are missing out on the ‘integration’ of the different puzzle pieces.
Integration of understanding and application has a powerful synergy where they result is much ‘greater’ than the sum of the parts.
If you understand the integration of scales and chords, you now have a very powerful tool to plot your guitar-learning course based from knowledge instead of trying to re-invent everything for yourself.
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