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Thread: Scales--my new morning friend

  1. #1

    Default Scales--my new morning friend

    This morning as we were cleaning up for the day, my wife asked me what I had been doing while I was up early. I told her I was drinking coffee (always) and practicing scales on my mandolin. She asked me (she's not a musician, bless her little pea-pickin' heart) why I practice scales: "Don't you know scales already?"

    I explained the value of practicing scales through one's entire musical life, and she said she didn't know any of that.

    Here's the thing: My guitar teacher got me practicing scales again, after years of neglecting them, on mandolin, bouzouki, tenor banjo and mandocello (and a little on guitar). Guess what! My technique is improving! Imagine that!

    I do "long tones" with major and minor scales and minor blues pentatonic scales, which means I play each note and hold it until it decays completely, then move on to the next one. That's helped my tone quality a lot.

    I also play scales and arpeggios in quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes.

    Does anyone have any other suggestions on scales work that can be of benefit?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    Different patterns. Like up in thirds (so up a third, down a second on the way up and down in thirds on the way down). Up in threes and fours. For example, 1,2,3,2,3,4,3,4,5). There are a bunch of scale patterns out there.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    Every time I practice a pattern, I try to create one awesome lick using elements of that pattern.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    I like what you guys are telling me. Thanks!

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    Registered User Michael Neverisky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    Between sips of coffee in the morning I work through some of the Ionian Mandology patterns in Ted's book.

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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    You mentioned Arpeggios - have you tried Tim O'Brien's arp exercises?

    I like to play them at various speeds to a backing track. I learn a set, practice them, work on tone, then play with my own patterns on up the neck with each arpeggio. Great exercises IMO.

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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    Mark has a great suggestion there. I find the backing track makes the arpeggio exercise more interesting and musical. Without it I find my attention wanders.
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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    Well .... I practice my scales and arpeggios in the keys they work together in. Practice starting your scales and arpeggios on a different finger or tone so different patterns are set into your muscle memory. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Registered User danielpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    I love running scales in the morning! I have an exercise I do every morning where I run every triad of a scale up and back down the neck. Got the idea from an incredible country chicken picker I play with. I tabbed it out this morning if anyone is interested. I did it in G and D (starting with open strings) A and E (starting on the second fret) and C chord position. I try to run this with the circle of fifths.

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    If anyone wants a video example, let me know and I'll try and record one this weekend. (Ive got 5 gigs though so....maybe Monday lol)

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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    When you “run scales” and other patterns, you can end up learning a route, yet still be unfamiliar with the locations of the individual notes in that pattern. So, I like to take two patterns and switch every so many notes. So, one might play four notes of G major, then switch to the four notes of C major, starting from the next available note. You want to loop the patterns so that your switch points are constantly changing. This way you really have to know where each note of each scale is.
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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    Does anyone have any other suggestions on scales work that can be of benefit?
    SING (vocalize, hum, etc.) the same notes at the same time you are playing them. This will FORCE your ear to hear (and ingrain) those sounds and patterns, and link your ear to your hand.

    This doesn't really take any more time than just playing the notes. Perhaps takes a bit more concentration. But if you want to "sing" on the instrument, this will help you to do so.

    And it is sooooo "EFFICIENT!"

    Niles H
    Last edited by mandocrucian; Dec-08-2017 at 9:50pm.

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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    I don’t know any horn players who do that.
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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
    I don’t know any horn players who do that.
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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
    I donít know any horn players who do that.
    I laught but then realised that my trombonist son does!
    He has this thing where he blows the normal note then hums another & it doesnt have to be the same note, he can harmonise; itís quite cool to hear.
    He says thereís a way of doing three notes at the same time that his teacher does, but thatíll be further down the road.
    Eoin



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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    (Easily) Singing with the instrument is one of the few advantages non-wind players have over the brass and wind instruments, although they (horns) also do it. All that fuzzed out flute you hear from Ian Anderson, Rhasaan Roland Kirk, Jeremy Steig among others is vocalizing through the flute....usually unisons or in octaves, although other intervals (drones, 5ths, 4ths, 3rds) can be vocalized. My brain can't handle harmonizing with the instrument - unison or octave is too ingrained. My wife can do it, but she's are real vocalist with a natural ability to sing harmony.

    But sax and trumpet players do it too....when you get that nasty growling, dirty tone..there usually an added vocal component. However, in practicing, horn/wind players will usually alternate between playing the sequence/scale/arpeggio and repeating the same notes vocally to ingrain it deeper in the ear.

    I took some jazz improve classes at a local college (77? 78?) and had an instructor, Mr. Hinkle, who was a trumpet player. One day he demonstrated that "3-note" thing that Beanzy mentioned. One note on the horn, another with the voice and the two in combination generate a (third) harmonic tone. I thought it was extremely cool!

    It reminds me of a funny incident (imo) that occurred in that class. The instructor played a phrase or two of a jazz standard and asked someone to identify it. Everyone in that class except me was jazz oriented playing horns, guitar, keys etc. When nobody spoke up, I said "Nature Boy", and the instructor just lost it in exasperation. "The mandolin guy knows it, and he's bluegrass! "" (facepalm)

    Niles H

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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    Iíll start with scales, arpeggios, patterns, etc when I first pick up the mando (or guitar) and spend 5-10 minutes on it warming up my hands. I start very slow and progress to a comfortable speed then push it for a bit. Seems to help with everything mentioned here including my ego...sometimes Iím like I canít play that fast and then I do...

    I try humming but generally get impatient with that so I try and play what I hear in my head...or Iíll hum the note I just played.
    Northfield NF5M #268

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    Registered User Don Julin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    This is what I call crucial scale exercises. These are common patterns that can be applied to all scales major and minor. You can practice these in open positions and closed positions. Pay attention to right hand pick direction while practicing these patterns.

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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    I thought Jon made a pretty good joke there

    I can see the point Niles was making and agree wholeheartedly with his post; I'm playing a mandolin, not a horn - but Jon's joke dragging horn players into the mix struck me as funny. My first thought was horn players would vocalize runs between the runs they play on their horns, I've heard Louis Armstrong and many others doing that - but not while they're blowing the notes. And then, there's the idea of humming or somehow vocalizing while actually blowing a note, but again, it's not the same as Niles' suggestion of singing out the note names in key (unison or octave) as you play them. If a horn player can do that, it would surely be a pleasure to watch that.

    Then again, re-reading Niles' post, he never said singing out the note names, he said, sing, hum, vocalize, so ...

    Still a funny response on Jon's part
    Last edited by Mark Gunter; Dec-10-2017 at 4:12pm.
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  28. #19

    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    Use caution. I know some musicians who have a hard time not vocalizing over their solos. It can be a problem.

    This is one of those suggestions that falls into the “lore” category. A lot of musicians have done it, the arguments in favor make sense, but I would love for a grad student somewhere to test it.
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  29. #20

    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    I do. Or I know of one: Stuart Dempster, trombone. A modern/avant guard player, he would talk-play his trombone. He was emulated by many, I'm sure, but one I heard do the talk-play thing live (back in college) was Bill Watrous. Some have experimented with singing through the trombone while playing, which would make chords. Weird. But they did it.

  30. #21

    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    Seriously, thanks a lot, guys. Very helpful stuff.

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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scales--say hello to my lttle friend

    You can turn any lick, phrase, etc. into a scale exercise...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails #000 17-12-13 Scale exercise.pdf  

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    Registered User Perry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scales--say hello to my lttle friend

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    You can turn any lick, phrase, etc. into a scale exercise...
    Bach sonatas and partitas for solo violin (BWV 1001Ė1006) practice sight reading, arpeggios, scales and great music all at once!

    I play out of the book (not often enough) randomly...just pick a page and try to play it....

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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    I don't do this enough but when my brother was studying jazz guitar his teacher had him playing all the major and minor scales starting on each finger. The idea being no matter where you were on the neck you would know how to get to the next scale tones. I do this some on bass (my main instrument) but haven't on mandolin.

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    Default Re: Scales--my new morning friend

    Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
    Use caution. I know some musicians who have a hard time not vocalizing over their solos. It can be a problem. ...
    Pablo Cassals could drown out his cello in concert when he got carried away.
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