BMG Articles on Scales

A few years back, I wrote a 5-article series on scales for BMG magazine. I post them as a set now, because I was able to get a bit deeper into them than I would have with just one blog.

If I have one thing to credit for my continuing improvement (past what my “natural” skills had allowed), it would be scales–not just playing them, but understanding them. I cannot emphasize their importance enough!

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  1. Went through Scales V this morning. Almost stopped mid read when you said inversions are numbered from the 3rd string. But then I read further. Anyway, I found the 3 string diminished inversion of particular interest. The only time I use that abbreviation is for a passing tone. I did notice that by adding the 4th string to the C0 in becomes Ab7 which got me thinking about Bye Bye Blues and chord substitutions.

    As to the Am exercise, that has the ring of a classical piece if a broken chord stroke is used. After studying the notation I thought it was a representation of harmonic scales so I wrote it out but forgot to flat the 6th. That didn’t fit. So, some research yielded that the 6th is flatted in the harmonic minor scale and then it fit.

    Now my brain is tired.

    1. A tired brain means that hard, productive work was done! This is how I plan to defeat dementia! Yes, diminished chords and dominant 7th chords are almost exactly the same; the diminished is a good substitute chord (or passing chord), but only if it resolves to the 7 before moving on. So in Bye Bye Blues, Ab7>Abdim>Ab7. For the harmonic minor scale, you should think in terms of the 7th being sharped; the 6 is automatically flat in that form. I probably should have set that up a bit better with a little minor scale theory. There is a lot of minor tonality in the Classical world! Banjo world, not so much; we play happy music. This automatically makes minor a good way for us to stretch the ear.

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