The 8 Scales You MUST Know for Improvisation (Podcast Episode #28)

Posted by: JAZZEDGE on May 4, 2021

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00:05 Hey guys, Willie Myette, creator of jazz edge Welcome to Episode 28 of the confident improviser. Today we're talking about the eight scales that you need to know for improvisation. If you learn these eight scales, you are going to be well situated to be able to create some killer solos. Remember, this podcast is a companion podcast for the confident improviser program, which is part of my jazz edge core courses, you can find more information back at jazz edge.com. Alright, so the sheet music is all available for my jazz edge students. So if you're a jazz edge student, go ahead and log in. It's underneath the lesson named eight scales, you must know for improvisation. So if you just search for eight scales, the number eight you'll it will come up and you'll be able to find it. Alright, so the one scale that I did not put on here, because it should be a pretty obvious scale, but let's just make sure we're on the same page here is you have to know your major scale, right? If you don't know your major scale, then you have to make you really work that major scale, you have to know all 12 of your major scales. If you want to be able to improvise at the piano, you really have to be able to go through and play all 12 major scales, hands together, you what you want to do is go through my piano essentials program, I lay it all out for you. It's all right there. So if you don't know your major scales yet, just go and take a look at piano essentials. And you can find everything that you need for those scales. Alright, so the first scale here is the major pentatonic major pentatonic is a five note scale. Now don't get confused. Sometimes when we come up to see, someone might say well wait a second, that's six notes while we're doubling the sea. So the notes are A, C, D, E, cross underneath your thumb, G, A with the second finger and then hit the C with your fourth finger or middle finger so it's 12312. And if you're going to keep going 1231212312 and so on for your finger right now this pentatonic scale is super important because it is an extremely versatile scale, in that you can use it for everything from jazz to rock pop, even classical to some degrees, right. So if I'm going to play like 02:32 I just using that major pentatonic scale, it's a sound that you know that you've heard before. But if you didn't know the notes there, there are the notes. So again, C major pentatonic C, D, E, and then G, A, and then finally C. It is the first, second, third, fifth and sixth notes from my major scale. Now you'll see how I'm going to relate all of these scales, all eight of these scales back to the major scale. That's why it's so important that you really know that major scale so 12356 for the major scale creates the major pentatonic scale, the minor pentatonic scale. So now there's two ways of looking at the minor pentatonic scale the notes First of all, for C minor pentatonic are C, E flat, F, G, B flat, and in C. Right now, actually, as I was thinking, there's actually three ways in which you can look at this, it's kind of like a blue scale with the missing sharp four. So if you know your blue scale, you're just taking the sharp four out. So that's one way of seeing it. The other way of seeing it is that it is one flat 345 flat seven from the major scale. But another way of thinking about it is to go back to the relative major of your minor key so if it's C minor, the relative major of C minor is E flat. Remember, an easy trick to find the relative major is start with C minor, and you should know the notes your C minor chord C, E flat and G just go to the third which is E flat Look, there you go. E flat is your relative major. So if you go to the third of your minor chord, right, the flat three of your minor chord that is your relative major. So E flat major, notice what you have here these notes E flat major pentatonic is E flat, F, G, B flat, and C. Okay, so E flat, F, G, B flat C. Now if I start those notes on C, well guess what? There's my C minor pentatonic scale. Now this scale right here is super, super versatile. You hear this and rock, even heavy metal and you hear it in jazz all the time. 04:56 Great sound write the notes once again, and fingering. See with the thumb a flat with the second finger, F with the middle finger cross underneath g with the thumb, B flat with the second finger, and then C with the middle finger. So C minor pentatonic scale works great over minor chords, you could use it over actually many different types of chords, even suspended chords, dominant chords, so learn this scale, and then we will be talking more about it in the confident improviser program, how to utilize these scales. All right. All right, the next scale up is our blue scale. So it's the same thing as the minor pentatonic scale, we're just adding in that sharp four, right? So the notes are C, E, flat, F, F sharp with the fourth finger, and cross underneath g with the thumb, B flat with the second finger, and then C with the middle finger. Our blues, pretty common, you've probably already heard about the blues scale, you might even already know the notes if you don't know the notes. Again, it's C, E, flat, F, F sharp, G, B, flat, C. Right, these work great for minor chords or dominant chords, very, very versatile scale. Alright, moving on the altered scale. Now I have a whole bunch of tutorials on the site for altered scale. So if you just type in the word altered, scale into the search box, a lot of stuff is going to come up. Alright, so the altered scale, let's go through what the notes are. It's C, D flat, a flat, E, natural, G flat, a flat, B flat, and c, this is the same thing as a D flat melodic minor scale, starting on C. Alright, like I said, I have a bunch of tutorials on the site for it. So just take a look at what's on the site. And it's all explained in detail, I just want to get through these scales for you right now. And that take up a bunch of time. Alright. So C, D flat, E flat, E natural, right. So right there, I like to break this scale up into two parts, the first four notes, and the second four notes, the first four notes have the, the root and the major third in them. So C and E, and then also flat nine and sharp, that really, really important to see this, okay, because right here, you have the root and the third, right, we already know about our chord shells, right root three chord show. So you get the main notes of the chord right there, that root and the third, but then you have flat nine sharp nine, so you get a bunch of tension right there, no natural nine in the scale. And then the top four notes are the same four notes from your whole tone scale, it's all whole steps coming down from C. So C, D flat, a flat, G flat. So we have C, D flat, E flat, cross underneath with the thumb, E, natural, G flat, a flat, B flat C. fingering of this scale, is the same as C major. So 12312345. All I'm doing here in the left hand is playing a root three, seven chords, C, E, B flat. Running that scale up and down. I suggest that you do this with all of these scales, take a look at the sheet music here that you know you have a chord in the left hand, play the chord, run the scale up and down. And of course, take a look at that lesson for some more ideas. Okay, half whole diminished a real great jazzy scale. Now, what's interesting on the half whole diminished is it's the same first four notes as your altered scale, right? So C, D flat, E flat, E natural, but then we go F sharp, then g natural, a natural, B flat C. That's interesting, because it is a 12345678. note scale. Most of our scales are seven notes, right, except for the pentatonic, which is five. This is an eight note scale, fingering for this 123, cross underneath one, two, and then 123. 09:15 So the notes of this scale, it's the same thing as the root of the major scale flat nine, or flat two, sharp, nine, three, flat five, natural five, natural six, flat seven, and then roots, right, so again, the notes are C, C, sharp, D, sharp, E, F, sharp, G, A, B, flat, C. Now this is a great scale to play over dominant seventh chords as well. And it's really, really important to take a look at what is the similarities and differences between these scales. This is how you're really going to lock this knowledge in, you're really going to start to understand them. A lot better. So the first four notes, right, like I said, the first four notes of the altered scale in this half whole diminished scale are exactly the same, you got the root and the third in there, the C and the E. But then you also have flat nine sharp, nine, D flat, and D sharp. The top four or five notes in this case, right are different. For the altered scale, you have sharp 11, flat, 13, flat seven, and then your roots. For the half whole diminished, you have sharp 11 513, flat seven, and the root. So if you're not going to alter the 13th, if you're going to keep a natural 13, and your chord, this scale works perfectly for this. Okay, next scale up the whole half diminished scale, this is the scale that you use over diminished chords, right? This scale starts Oh, the other thing I forgot to tell you the half whole diminished scale, right? That we just did, right over the dominant. Remember, to form that scale, it's really simple, you start on C, then go up a half step and go up a whole step and go up a half step and go up a whole step, then a half and a whole and a half, then a you know, right, so it's a very symmetrical pattern there. Same thing for the whole half, you start on C, then you go on the whole step, that a half step, then a whole step, then a half step, then a whole step, half step, whole step. Okay, so the notes are C, D, E, flat, crossing nice with the thumb, F, F sharp, with the second finger, G sharp with the middle finger, cross underneath with the thumb, again, A, B, then finally, the C. 11:50 This is the scale, the scale that you use over these diminished chords. So whole half diminished scale, super important if you want to be able to improvise over those diminished chords. All right, seven, whole tone scale. This one is great over dominant chords, especially dominant chords with a sharp five in them, right. And literally all it is, all this whole steps starting from C. So go C, D, E, F, sharp, G, sharp, B flat, and C, right, or C, D, E, G flat, a flat, B, flat C, fingering Wise One, two cross underneath 1234, and then 121234. This is also a great scatter, to play different patterns, to create these different triads on the scale. Kind of like some scale chords, take a look, do a search for scale chords and site if you need more information on what those are. Alright, and then finally, our locrian natural nine scale, so are locrian scale, we've, we haven't talked about the locrian scale, the locrian scale is a D flat major scale starting on C so it'd be C, D flat, E flat, F, G flat, a flat, B flat C, there was an a note of my locrian scale, the locrian natural nine just takes that flat nine, the D flat and plays it as a D natural. So now the notes that you have are C, D, E flat, F, G flat, a flat, B flat, C. So this is the route second flat 311 or four, flat five, flat six, flat seven. From the major scale, this scale works especially well over minor seven flat five chords. Now typically on a minor seven flat five chord, the ninth can be a little bit tricky, sometimes flat nine works better than natural night, it's really going to depend on the song and you're going to have to use your ears for that. But guess what, you can just leave the nine out altogether, right? 14:13 So if you're unsure, just leave the nine out. But when you are approaching a minor seven flat five chord, nine times out of 10 that natural nine is going to sound better than flat. Especially when you're dealing with your chord voicings. That flat nine is gonna rub against the route. Alright, so this is your locrian natural nines. So now the question becomes, okay, how do I practice these scales? How much do I practice them? How do I apply them to my playing and all of that. So what I would say is Be patient go through the confident improviser program we are going to be moving into the scales, right. So I'm kind of preparing you with this podcast episode to kind of know about these scales because we're going to start Talk about the scales and starts to talk about how we bring them into our improvisation. But a great way to start is take a look at that lesson. Eight scales, you need to know for improvisation. All right, so take a look at that lesson, I give you a bunch of different suggestions in there. But one of the best things to do is just simply play a chord in the left hand and run the scale on the right hand just to get comfortable with it and to feel natural. So let me do my whole tone. Do my half whole diminished. me do my altered, right, so I just want to get comfortable playing that scale. So that's the best place to start. As usual, if you have questions, and you're a member of jazzercise, be sure to join me every other Thursday for my live q&a session at 1pm. All right, so that's it for me. Thanks, guys for joining me and I'll see you guys in the next lesson.

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