Guitar Scale Basics and Theory
- A Scale in music is a group of related notes in a Descending and or Ascending order or Pitch. Scales follow a pattern of Intervals.
- Interval – the difference between two sounds. The distance from one sound to another.
- Half-Step – The smallest Interval movement on the Guitar (moving one Fret). Also called a Semitone.
- Whole Step – 2 Half-Steps in movement, therefore 2 Frets in movement. Also called a Whole tone. A Whole Step is 2 Semitones.
- Octave – A repeated note in a Scale. Octave means “8 Tones” in Latin, because Octaves are 8 Scale Tones apart.
- A Higher Octave Note Frequency is twice the Hz of the lower octave. For Example, an A Note is 440 Hz, the Higher octave of that A note would be 880 Hz and the Lower octave of that note would be 220 Hz.
- Scales are notes that relate harmonically in some way. Scale Patterns are beneficial to memorize for musicians who wish to create music and improvise.
- Root Note – The note that is the basis of the scale pattern. First note in the Scale and the letter Name of the Scale.
- The Key of the Scale is named after the Root note.
- A Scale ends on the Octave of the Root Note.
- The Type of Scale depends on the pattern of intervals the scale follows from the Root note to the Octave of the Root note.
- Diatonic Scale – A Scale that has seven notes with the eighth note being the Octave.
the Major Scale
- a Major Scale is a Diatonic Scale. Also called the Ionian Scale.
- The Interval pattern for the Major Scale is: Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half (W W H W W W H). W = Whole Step. H = Half Step.
- Is the most widely used scale in Western Music. The Major scale is made up of 7 Notes with the 8th note as the Octave.
- The C Major Scale is played with only white keys on the Piano, because it has no Sharps # or Flats b.
Natural Minor Scale
- a Natural Minor Scale is a Diatonic Scale. Also called the Aeolian Scale.
- The Interval pattern for the Natural Minor Scale is: Whole Half Whole Whole Half Whole Whole (W H W W H W W). W = Whole Step. H = Half Step.
A Natural Minor Scale
- A Natural Minor Scale has the same notes as the C Major Scale. The A Natural Minor Scale is the Relative Minor to the C Major Scale .
- C Major Scale is the Relative Major to the A Minor Scale.
- For every Major Scale there is a Relative Minor Scale.
- Chromatic Scale – “A Set of all Notes”. All Half-Steps and Twelve Pitches (12 Notes). Each note is a Half-Step apart.
- A Chromatic Scale is not a Diatonic Scale.
- Can be played fret by fret starting from the 0 Fret to the 12th Fret, fret by fret, all on a single String.
- the Key Signature is found at the beginning of a piece of music after the Clef, before the Time Signature.
- uses sharps or flats, dictating the Key of the song. Notes will follow the Key Signature throughout the entire piece of music unless changed by an accidental.
- A Key is also the Scale of the song, meaning if the Key Signature is E minor, all the notes in the song will be from the E minor Scale unless changed by an accidental.
Key Signatures Examples
Key Signatures Treble Clef SHARPS
- C Major/A minor Key signature has no sharps or flats. (All the white keys on the Piano).
- C Major Key is the Relative Major of A minor Key. A minor Key is the Relative minor of C Major Key.
- G Major/E minor – E minor is the Relative minor of G Major. 1 Sharp.
- D Major/B minor – B minor is the Relative minor of D Major. 2 Sharps.
- A Major/F# minor – F# minor is the Relative minor of A Major. 3 Sharps
- E Major/C# minor – C# minor is the Relative minor of E Major. 4 Sharps.
- B Major/G# minor – G# minor is the Relative minor of B Major. 5 Sharps.
- F# Major/D# minor – D# minor is the Relative minor of F# Major. 6 Sharps.
- C# Major/A# minor – A# minor is the Relative minor of C# Major. 7 Sharps.
Key Signatures Treble Clef FLATS
- C Major/ A minor – No Sharps or Flats
- F Major/D minor – D minor is the Relative minor of F Major. 1 Flat.
- Bb Major/G minor – G minor is the Relative minor of Bb Major. 2 Flats.
- Eb Major/C minor – C minor is the Relative minor of Eb Major. 3 Flats.
- Ab Major/F minor – F minor is the Relative minor of Ab Major. 4 Flats.
- Db Major/Bb minor – Bb minor is the Relative minor of Db Major. 5 Flats.
- Gb Major/Eb minor – Eb minor is the Relative minor of Gb Major. 6 Flats.
- Cb Major/Ab minor – Ab minor is the Relative minor of Cb Major. 7 Flats.
Summary of Key Points
- There are many more Scale Patterns that will be covered in the Lessons.
- A Half-Step on a Guitar is One Fret Movement. A Whole Step on a Guitar is moving two Frets.
- H = Half Step, 1 Fret Movement. W = Whole Step 2 Fret movement.
- A Scale ends on the Octave of the Root Note.
- Comparing the Major Scale, Minor Scale and Chromatic Scale: The Chromatic Scale has no formula, it is all the notes played one after the other. Major Scale formula W W H W W W H. The Minor Scale formula is W H W W H W W.
- The Key Signature of a piece of music is also the Scale of the music.
- For every Major Scale and every Major Key Signature, there is a Relative Minor Scale and Relative Minor Key.