A question for the members of this forum (especialy Kurt !) :
What is your "native" (or the one you use most of the time) scale shape system for major and melodic/harmonic minor scales ? Did you learn with the 7 shapes system (12 positions simplified) ? The 12 positions system ? the 5 shapes system (CAGED) ? the 3 notes per string system (7 shapes too) ? another system ? And why ? And for symetric and pentatonic scales ?
there are some interests in both, i think, for scales, arpeggios... they both imply different ways of fingering lines.
But I'd like to know what you think about it !
Thanks for all the answers you'll send here,
Scale shapes(14 posts)
A question for the members of this forum (especialy Kurt !) :
I've learned with a five shapes system, not using the CAGED terminology but basically the same. I'm expanding now with three notes per string, but using only five of he seven patterns to be consistent with the frame of caged.
I think it's just a matter of scalability. Studying 5 patterns of few notes gives you a more limited range to explore, but also starts to give you knowledge about the notes, fretboard and melody. My advice would be to start with CAGED (again, forgettin a little bit of the terminology i.e: A shape, E shape, etc.), and once dominated, expanding to 3 notes per string on the same five positions as before. Then I'll work on connecting those five just playing on one string, groups of two, etc. until hopefully everything falls into place.
My teacher told me that you would then re-learn the scales but focusing on the actual names of the notes, but I don't know about that...I mean, our instrument is a very visual one, and thinking to play bebop with the actual note names seems to me as overcomplicating the already complicated. After all, what you're after is a functional relationship to a given key, so to me it doesn't matter if it's a C or an A flat, but I want to know if they're flat 9ths or 13ths.
excellent topic. im a fingering obsesed and i recomend u the caged system by far. my native system is the 7 diatonic shapes but i know the 5 shapes system and i working in the 12 in position william leavitt style.
the are several reason for choose one or another way to approach, for me, these are the main reason to keep in mind:
Keeping in position
Tesiture of the musical phrase until it appears a rest (if you play 8th an 8th rest or bigger)
articulation: this is very very important to me, to transcribe melodies from singers the same way they articulate the notes (in a book i found fingerings for 2 notes per string scales, you can think on hammer on approach)
Timbre: i don't know the word in english it refers to the quality of the sound and is the reason you play a note in a string better than another, the classic exemple when you play over minor from 9 jump to 5 and return to 9 .
conclusion: i write phrases, sometimes short ones, sometimes longer. the intervallic gives you the right choice. i also think about a melodic pattern and i repeat it over the next tone of the scale. so a lot of vertical and horizontal fingerboard workshop
for me there are not a system that can work by itself alone. the key is the phrase, one can be played with severa fingerings, but there are musical phrases that you can only do 1 way if you want do it well.
I learned most 7-note scales using 7 positions along the neck (3 notes per string). Now I practice more slowly, 4 notes per string ascending from the lowest possible note in the scale (on the low E string) all the way to the highest note on the fretboard (on the high e string), then descend. I continue playing the scale the same way through all 12 keys.
To make things more interesting (instead of cycle of 5ths) I move through the Kurt/Coltrane cube (F, C#, A, C, Ab, E, Eb, B, G, Bb, Gb, D). After I get through playing the scale up and down the neck in all 12 keys I slow down even more - I play 4 notes per string in one key, and then play 4 notes from the next key on the next string, all the way to the highest note on the high e string, and continue the process until I'm mentally exhausted, usually less than 5 minutes. This is an exercise I stole from a KR clinic. It has really helped me visualize things and become more fluid moving linearly through changes.
I never had much success (or interest) in memorizing pentatonic shapes or blues scales, except in root position. But I can visualize and hear them now. I think this is from working with so many minor scales over the years, you're always learning where the characteristic notes are in those scales, but the pentatonic is almost always in there.
Symmetrical diminished scales are difficult for me to visualize. I tried learning them in position using 3 notes per string but could never memorized them for more than a few months. I've been working on them using the 4-note-per-string method above, up and down the whole neck. Diminished scales are very uncomfortable for me and I don't have a very good grasp on using them. I'm more interested in using diminished figures or arpeggios, or concepts based off diminished chords, rather than diminished scale ideas. Kurt has a lot of these kinds of diminished figures that are very cool. One of my favorites is @ 1:58 in If I Should Lose You.
I learned em all in all positions and fingerings. I am anal about it. Being familiar with all shapes can be more complicated, but it never cease's to amaze me when new shapes I never saw before appear suddenly. It happened the other day with a minor 7 arp shape. It blew me away. It was always there, I just wasn't seeing it. My blues scales suck. 1st position only. But I play Pent just fine in all positions. I usually combine two pent shapes to form a super pattern and then finger it in 3's. They are giant intervals, but it is great practice and an awesome workout.
Cycling in circles of 5ths is great, 4ths to. I am just getting MM down pat in all positions. What helped me most with that was play off of a pedal note, as well as diatonically up and down the neck. Harmonic Major is still a trip for me. Harmonic Minor has always been my staple. But now MM is taking over. I love h/w dim. 4 note per string is a great exercise. I find myself doing it more when playing bebop scales. More often than not I am play 5-6 per string with them.
I love practicing in 3'rds 4ths and 5th's. I am trying to get better at 6ths and 7th intervals. One step at a time. With all that said I still think I suck!!! LOL.
what i have discover recently is two interesting books about this topic:
ALL SCALES IN ALL POSITIONS Muriel Anderson, Jim Scott (Hal Leonard)
JOHNNY SMITH AIDS TO TECHNIQUE FOR GUITAR (Django Books .com)
i like the 3 octave arpeggios in the johnny smith's one. the fingerings are harder to play but it's like if guitar sounds better that way...kind of harp sound
I have always wondered why the 5th to 6th scale degrees in shapes 6 and 2 for the caged.. are played with the 1st and 3rd fingers instead of the 2nd and 4th fingers? less awkward when playing thirds. anyone know anything about why that is?
@twistedblues : could you please specify which shapes you are talking about ? As CAGED system has only 5 shapes, I'm not too sure which could be "shape 6" :)
i've been getting out of pattern completely, or attempting, by playing 4,3, and 2 note per string scales across the freatboard. maybe it's worth trying.
I been doing my best to get away from fingering patterns and to focus on the notes. It's totally impossible to get away from patterns because most get taught with the dots-on-a-grid approach so it's lurking in the background. But the more I get into Bebop the more important the notes become in making the changes in a solo. First thing that got me out of finger patterns was sightreading and having to move all over and having to just know where notes are. Also I've played bass a lot and you tend to shift all over the neck more than guitar and need to know the notes that thinking in a pattern would slow down.
when thinking about this topic I thought back to when I was a kid and played trumpet for awhile. As a guitar player you're taught a grid of notes and told they relate, over time they start teaching interval distances, and scale degrees, and if lucky eventually the note names. But as a trumpet player your taught a notes name what it looks like on the staff, and what it sounds like, then taught the fingering to create that note. So IMO guitarists are taught backwards.
For me the interesting thing in the video linked above is that Kurt anchors his scale shapes (he calls it "positions" in the video) with the middle finger. But he plays on this video only the 1rst and 2nd shapes, that aren't different than the "classical" shapes anchored with the first finger and we can't see how he plays the other shapes.
About my system of notation :
E3(2) means that a note (G) is played on the E string below the 3rd fret with the 2nd finger (middle finger).
A5(4) means that a note (D) is played on the A string below the 5th fret with the 4th finger (pinky).
In major G (ascending and descending)
1st shape :
E3(2), E5(4), A2(1), A3(2), A5(4), D2(1), D4(3), D5(4), G2(1), G4(3), G5(4), B3(2), B5(4), E'2(1), E'3(2), E'5(4), E'3(2), E'2(1), B5(4), B3(2), G5(4), G4(3), G2(1), D5(4), D4(3), D2(1), A5(4), A3(2), A2(1), E5(4), E3(2), E2(1)
2nd shape :
E5(2), E7(4), A3(1), A5(2), A7(4), D4(1), D5(2), D7(4), G4(1), G5(2), G7(4), B5(2), B7(4), E'3(1), E'5(2), E'7(4), E'5(2), E'3(1), B7(4), B5(2), G7(4), G5(2), G4(1), D7(4), D5(2), D4(1), A7(4), A5(2), A3(1), E7(4), E5(2), E3(1)
3rd shape :
E7(2), E8(3), A5(1), A7(2), A9(4), D5(1), D7(2), D9(4), G5(1), G7(2) [or maybe G7(3) ?], B5(1) [or maybe G7(2) and G9(4) ?], B7(2), B8(3), E'5(1), E'7(2), E'8(3), E'7(2), E'5(1), B8(3), B7(2), B5(1) [or G9(4) ?], G7(2) [or maybe B5(1) and G7(3) ?], G5(1), D9(4), D7(2), D5(1), D5(1), A9(4), A7(2), A5(1), E8(3), E7(2), E5(1)
E14(2), E15(3), A12(1), A14(2), A15(3), D12(1), D14(2), D16(4), G12(1), G14(2) [or maybe G14(3) ?], B12(1) [or maybe G14(2) and G16(4) ?], B13(1) [or B13(2) ? here is the major question], B15(3) [or B15(4) ?], E'12(1), E'14(2), E'15(3), ...
The 3rd and 7th shape are the shapes that are different than the "classical" shapes most of us learnt. I think it makes sense for legato (you don't have extentions of the 4th finger !) and when you link this shapes with chords.
Another interesting thing I noticed after transcribing some lines with his fingerings is that he makes extensions between 2nd (middle) and 3rd (ring) fingers. When he talks about playing scales with 4 notes on each string, there is 1 different finger for each note, like Holdsworth. His fingerings for single lines are influenced by George Van Eps Harmonic Mechanisms for Guitar.
Here is another video :
The way he fingers this pattern (with triads) is unusual (for me) and very interesting (for what he does on the G & B strings) :
G major, 1rst shape :
E3(2), A2(1), A5(4), D2(1), A3(2), E5(4), A2(1), A5(4), D4(3), D5(4), D2(1), A3(2), A5(4), D4(3), G2(1), G4(3), D5(4), D2(1), D4(3), G2(1), G5(4), B3(2), G4(3), D5(4), G2(1), G5(3), B5(4), E2(1), B3(2), G4(3), G5(3), B5(4), E'3(2), E'5(4), E'2(1), B3(2), G5(3), B5(4), E3(2), E2(1), B3(2), G4(3), G2(1), G5(3), B5(4), B3(2), G4(3), D5(4) etc...
How he would finger the same pattern for the 6 other shapes is a ???
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