An Easier Way To Learn Scales (Podcast Episode #36)

Posted by: JAZZEDGE on June 29, 2021

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00:06 Hey guys, Willie Myette, creator of jazz Welcome to podcast, Episode Number 36. Now wow 36 podcast episodes. And today what we're going to be talking about is an easier way to learn your scales. So this trick makes it a lot easier for you not only to be able to learn your scales, but then also be able to memorize them. Now this podcast goes along with the confident improviser program found a jazz edge if you want to get the sheet music for what I'm talking about today, just head on back to jazz edge. And you can log in and grab the sheet music. Okay, so an easier way to learn our scales. So first of all, if we you know, really just think about how many scales and chords and whatnot, we have to learn, right? It's a lot, isn't it? There's a lot of cores, there's a lot of scales that we're trying to like, figure out how to be able to improvise around them and create songs and arrangements and memorize songs. So it's a lot of stuff to memorize. So what we want to do is we want to utilize certain tricks that are going to make it easier for us to memorize music, and whether that be songs, whether it be music theory, scales, whatever it is. Now, I'm going to pause for a second, I want to make sure that you understand that there is no one right way of memorizing this information. So there are tricks that many of us utilize, but you might come up with something individual for yourself, maybe I know it's using colored scraps of paper or something like that to write down notes. So my point is this, whatever, don't feel as though you have to just fall into this particular bucket don't feel as though it's like, oh, well, you know, that doesn't really work for me, Willie, that doesn't mean that that you're wrong. It just means that okay, this concept doesn't work for you. But maybe something else will work for you. So feel free to like, think about your own learning process and what works best for you. And of course, try new things. Alright, so let me show you a couple of examples here. So what I have found an easier way of not only teaching scales, but then also learning scales is if you look at what is the same, and what is different, right? So you remember those magazines used to have as a kid, it would be like what's wrong with this picture, or what's different? Well, that's kind of the same thing that you're doing here. With music theory, you're looking for stuff that's different, because why memorize stuff that is already the same. Okay, let me give you a perfect example, I have four minor scales right in front of me, I have First of all, C natural minor. 02:45 I have C Harmonic Minor, melodic minor, 02:50 and Dorian. And what you will notice is that the first five notes of each of those four scales is exactly the same notes. Now that's important, because it makes it a whole lot easier for us to be able to memorize these scales, because we know the first five notes are exactly the same. It's a C minor five finger pattern. So it's C, D, E flat, F, and G. Those are the first five notes of those four scales. Now the only thing that is different is the top three notes. Okay, that's it. And in reality, it's really the top two notes, right, so we have the first five notes here, C, D, E flat, F and G. And then in the right hand to make my melodic, I'm sorry, to make my natural minor scale, I add on a flat and B flat. And of course, I go up to C here as well, we really don't have to count that note because it's just the octave right? But let's just say the top three notes here. So we have a flat, B flat and C. So that gives me flat six or flat 13. However you want to look at it, I would think of it as flat six here for natural minor, flat seven, and then back to my route. Okay, so that means for natural minor, I start with that minor five finger pattern and then I do flat six, flat seven for the top two notes. Okay, so there's my natural minor, Harmonic Minor, I keep the flat six, but I go to a natural seven. Okay, so natural minor is flat six, flat seven, harmonic minor is flat six, natural seven, melodic minor is natural six, and natural seven, and Dorian is natural six, flat seven. Did you see how much easier it is you've been able to get four scales there. And really all you have to memorize is two notes for each of those scales. Let's go through that again, make sure you fully understand. So the first five notes of each of those four minor scales. And by the way, if you want to dig in more on these minor scales, we go through three of these in the confident improviser exercise number 28 because this also ties in Weird standards by the doesn't number six which is doing my funny Valentine. So anyway. So Alright, so you have the first five notes here C, D, E flat, F and G those five notes are going to be the same five first five notes for each of these four scales and the four scales again I have in front of me are natural minor, harmonic minor melodic minor in Dorian. So for natural minor I start with those five notes, right and then I add on flat six, flat seven. For Harmonic Minor, I start with those five notes I add on flat six, natural seven, right, the major seven for melodic minor. Those five notes, add on six and seven. And then for Dorian, start with the five notes and add on six and flat seven. So if you start to look at your scales this way, you're going to notice that, Oh, that's a lot easier for me to be able to memorize this. But then here's another trick. This one's really good. So a lot of times when improvising, we might say, well gee, should I use harmonic minor or natural minor or Dorian or melodic minor? A lot of times? It's really between natural minor and Dorian. Okay, because harmonic minor melodic minor really kind of have their very unique sounds. But natural minor and Dorian are so darn close. Sometimes you don't really know. Should I be doing natural minor? Or should I be doing Dorian? Well, guess what, when you know that the first five notes of the scale are exactly the same on all four of these scales, you can just improvise using those first five notes. Forget about the top notes. Don't even do those top notes up there, you don't have to. So if I'm going to improvise over my funny Valentine, write the C minor, C minor over B, C minor, B flat and then I'm going to do C minor six over a so I can just improvise using 06:55 all I did in the right hand was all five finger minor scale, I never hit. I never hit those top notes up there. The flat six flat seven, I never bothered with them. I just stayed with the bottom five notes. Because guess what I know they're gonna work, you know. So you know that I could make the argument that Oh, hey, I'm playing the natural minor scale, I'm playing the harmonic minor scale, we're doing it. Well guess what I don't really know. Because I'm not playing any of those upper notes. When I play that five finger minor scale below just these first five notes like this. Well guess what, it could be any one of those four minor scales. Alright, let me give you another example. This might help to clarify a little bit more as well. So what I have in front of me here is the altered scale. The whole tone scale. And the locrian scale. The altered scale, you typically use that on like flat nine flat 13 chords, you don't alter course, the whole tone scale, you usually use that like a sharp five, a augmented chord, a C seven sharp five, you know that the locrian scale you typically use on that. typically use that on your minor seven flat five chords. Alright, so you have three different scales here that are utilized on three different chord quality types, but what you'll notice is that that top four notes of each one of those scales is exactly the same notes again, alright, so the altered scale has the root, the flat nine sharp, nine, natural third. Okay, so here's C, D flat, D sharp, and E natural, the top notes are F sharp, I have down a flat, B flat, and C you're gonna get is F sharp, G sharp, B flat, and C however you want to think about it. Okay, the top notes are F sharp, a flat, B flat C, those top notes, there's four notes there are the same four notes for the whole tone scale, and also for the locrian. So altered is root flat, nine sharp 9/3. And then the top notes whole tone is root, second, third, so C, D and E here, and then those top notes up there. locrian is root, flat nine, sharp, nine, and then it jumps up to your 11th right or for Okay, the F. So here I have C, D flat, a flat F, and then my top four notes. So again, I can use the same idea of you know, I have there's a double benefit here. The first benefit is that I could simply say okay, let me just use those top four notes and I'll improvise over on those four notes because I don't know if I want to use locrian or my altered scale so I just kind of stay away from those those top four notes and see what I come up with. There. Okay, so that's that's one benefit that you have. The other benefit is that now You're just having to memorize those bottom notes of the scale, right? So if I look at the difference between altered and locrian, I can see that it's just one note difference, right? There's only one note difference between an altered scale and a locrian scale, that's the E, here I am in C, okay, in the KMC. So I have the E, moving up to the F. So I have seen D flat, D sharp, and E, that's my altered scale. If I have C, D flat, D, sharp, and AF, that's my locrian. scale, right? And then the whole tone scale is just notes, C, D, and E, right? whole notes. or whole steps, I should say, okay, and that's how that scale is all built. It's all whole steps. Alright, so hopefully, that helps you to kind of see scales in a different way. Remember, you know, I like to talk about my globe theory. And the globe theory is that if you have a globe of the earth, in front of you, and you know, you put Africa right in the front of the globe, okay, well, guess what, when you see Africa there, you're not going to see the rest of the world you might not see the United States, you might not see Alaska, you might not see Hawaii, you might not see Japan, right? So there's a lot of places in the world that you're going to miss if you're just looking at the globe only from one vantage point. So to really get a full picture of the earth right? In this example, what do you have to do? You got to spin the globe. So that means you have to look at it from multiple vantage points. Okay, so you got to see it from multiple vantage points. In fact, there was a movie that I really kind of enjoyed, called vantage point. 11:41 Oh, man who was in that movie, I'm forgetting now. Well, anyway, you can take a look at it. But the key point to say Laurence Fishburne what it wasn't Laurence Fishburne, it was Ah, that's gonna bug me now. But there was the actor in there also played bird, Charlie Parker, in the movie birds. So definitely check it out. Really cool. All right. So anyway, in that movie, it's seeing a situation from different vantage points. So this is exactly the same thing I'm talking about. This is that globe theory, you see this, you see a concept from different vantage points, you see music theory from different vantage points, and then it makes it a little bit easier for you to understand music, because now you're just not looking at it from one way. So this is just another vantage point. This is just another way of seeing how to create these scales. Okay. Anyway, that's it for today's podcast. Thanks for joining me and I will see you guys next week.

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