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Thread: Should a person know their scales.

  1. #126

    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Of course. But much has to do with the type of music one aspires to: I don't know that Johnny Cash or Jimmy Rogers prqcticed scales, but it's essential for the jazz player. Jazz isn't "lick" based, but rathr improv-based, so knowing what you're doing--where you're going and able to communicate about it--is a prerequisite.

    When I was young, I learned a lot of licks--it's typically what young folks want to learn. I wish I had concentrated on my scales more.

  2. #127
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Quote Originally Posted by OldGrapePat View Post
    ... if someone says we're going to play a song in the key of B, how would you know what notes to play?
    One great thing about fretted instruments (compared to, say, keys like a piano, or buttons like a sax), is that once you get one set of musical ideas UP THE NECK, you don't need to know every note as you play it; you just need to know each note's relation to the root of the key and/or chord.

    If you know the A scale, chords, and licks IN CLOSED POSITION and someone wants to play in B, just move it all up 2 frets and make believe you're playing in A.

    Simplistic yes, but it works for me.
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

  3. #128
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    It's great that scales are opening up a richer understanding of music for you but those licks you learned gave you a musical vocabulary and allowed you to play with others which in turn affected your musical growth. If you went to jam with them without a vocabulary you would probably not be invited back.

    There are many roads to achieve whatever your goals are as a musician and a human. You take the ones that you feel work for you but the other roads can be just as rich and rewarding.

  4. #129

    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Quote Originally Posted by 250sc View Post
    It's great that scales are opening up a richer understanding of music for you but those licks you learned gave you a musical vocabulary and allowed you to play with others which in turn affected your musical growth. If you went to jam with them without a vocabulary you would probably not be invited back.

    There are many roads to achieve whatever your goals are as a musician and a human. You take the ones that you feel work for you but the other roads can be just as rich and rewarding.
    I wouldn't presume to tell people the kind of music to like (well...okay, jazz ) -- just some of the more efficient routes to get there.

  5. #130
    Horton River NWT Rob Gerety's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    When I was young, I learned a lot of licks--it's typically what young folks want to learn. I wish I had concentrated on my scales more.
    Me too.
    Rob G.
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  6. #131
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Jazz is impov-based as is some (much of?) bluegrass but all the greats have fallen back to licks or motifs. Listen to any instrument (mulitple players) playing through ii,V,Is and you'll find phrases that are commonly used. Django played licks. They are vehicles to get from one place to another. Any jazz player who tells you they never repeat themselves are fooling themselves.

  7. #132
    Horton River NWT Rob Gerety's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Any jazz musician who does nothing but repeat tired worn out old licks better keep his day job.
    Rob G.
    Vermont

  8. #133

  9. #134

    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Quote Originally Posted by 250sc View Post
    licks...They are vehicles to get from one place to another.
    Yes, but it's one place and another that makes it interesting..

  10. #135
    Registered User Dan Johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    I wouldn't spend too much time on scales if I didn't know what I was looking for... learn some melodies first... it's more fun anyways than trying to get on an augmented scale or something... and yes I guess I have read this entire thread...

  11. #136
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Rob, I never said to strive for tired worn out licks but I can't do anything about you mis-interpreting my statements.

    Catmandu, agreed. How it's done is the key.

    LOL. This horse was pretty dead a few pages ago. I promise (again) to stop kicking it.

    Have a great holiday.

  12. #137
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    I am disturbed by some of the implications that Bill Monroe was not technically accomplished. If you watch some of the YouTube videos of his you can see he played in a raw style but not primative. As I recall reading in Can't You Hear Me Calling, he spent many hours woodsheding his craft as a youth and as a young man. Probably enough to hit the 10000 hour expertise mark before the Monroe Brothers much less the Bluegrass boys. He could play both mandolin and guitar with skill.

    Perhaps this idea comes from the discussions from the multitude of Bluegrass Boys about how he taught them the songs and the tunes. Well Bill wasn't teaching people how to play, he was teaching them how to play Bluegrass.
    George Wilson
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  13. #138
    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Boy this horse hasn't been flogged....it's well beyond that.....but the latest comments have been some of the most interesting. George....I personally don't thank anyone even hinted that Big Mon didn't know the instrument. I'm with you. He certainly did not display any tendency towards chromatic or scalar linearity. Thankfully, before I picked up stringed instruments I studied piano and spent many boring, but in hindsight useful hours, practicing scales as demanded of me. Not many of us want to learn, we all wanted to have mastered something. I'm not going to say another word about scales. On the mandolin front, I know a builder of mandolins and guitars who was a saddle maker for twenty years before he started building instruments. In a relatively short period of time he made some great instruments. Whether you want to play like Chris Thile, or Wayne Gretzky (Canadian hockey player for non-hockey fans) or Django Reinhardt.....you can spend focused time, or you can just play.....

  14. #139
    Registered User Earl Gamage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Poor Shawn probably has no idea whether he should learn scales or not by now.
    Last edited by Earl Gamage; Dec-23-2009 at 5:44pm. Reason: spelling problems as usual

  15. #140

    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Quote Originally Posted by EarlG View Post
    Poor Shaun probably has no idea whether he should learn scales or not by now.
    He's probably moved on to five other things.

    But now that HOCKEY has been introduced, I'm in for another six pages!

  16. #141
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    What mandolin and pick should Shaun buy?

    Please discuss.

  17. #142
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Well just depends, It is a little known factoid that Hitler never played scales- you know how it turned out for him. Don't be like him, learn your scales!

  18. #143

    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Quote Originally Posted by 250sc View Post
    What mandolin and pick should Shaun buy?

    Please discuss.

    and he should add a metronome to that list!

  19. #144

    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Holt View Post
    Well just depends, It is a little known factoid that Hitler never played scales- you know how it turned out for him. Don't be like him, learn your scales!
    Finally. And it only took six and a half pages..

    I still say there should be a "Godwin's clause for ....." For example: G's Law-for musicians: wherein matters of a technical nature--say, theory, can be rehashed ad infinitum, necessarily in conjunction with Hitler and/or nazis., etc. Perhaps a Godwin's Claus, wherein nazis will be discussed in conjuntion with, elves. Or, Godwin's Claus-Blue Christmas, where we will touch upon santas, nazis, and Elvis..?

    Besides, I think it's quite clear that, no, you don't need no stinkin scales. As evidenced, here:

    Last edited by catmandu2; Dec-23-2009 at 7:55pm.

  20. #145
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    to quote Roy Orbison....


    It's over......


    It's over.....


    It's OOOO-VER!
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  21. #146

    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    And, yet another fine example of the unnecessity of scale, as Niles adroitly provides.

  22. #147
    Registered User jim_n_virginia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    I was talking with my friend and former teacher Herschel Sizemore a while back and I asked him if scales are important. He told me they are a waste of time of course he's coming from a strictly BG background and plays completely by ear.

    He said to just learn the tunes and play them long enough and you will find a commonality in all the tunes. I have found this to be largely true. If you know the fret board well enough you can pretty much play in any key or mode you may not know what key it is or what mode but your ear will tell you if it sounds good.

    Of course I don't know if this method would work in an orchestral or jazz setting but for picking like most of us do at local jams and little small gigs around town it works for me so far!

    I don't practice scales anymore (did when I first started out) but I still do a G scale variant to warm my fingers up but it is more for just getting the fingers loose.

  23. #148
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Quote Originally Posted by jim_n_virginia View Post
    ... He said to just learn the tunes and play them long enough and you will find a commonality in all the tunes ...
    Well, I stopped taking this thread seriously a long time ago - and thanks to Niles, the fat lady (?) HAS sung - but I'll just say this - that commonality being SCALES (so it is easy to interpret), why not just learn them, when the pertinent information has been extracted and presented in (relatively) easy-to-understand form?

    Note: Lots of qualifiers and rhetorical question form should not be taken to imply I have any interest in discussing this further. As I said before, scales are much more important to reptiles and (I forgot) fish, but they are good to know.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  24. #149

    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    just to see if this goes 7 pages. . . . .
    you may or may not think about western pentatonic scales, this proves they're in the DNA.


    Merry Christmas

    FJ

  25. #150
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    Default Re: Should a person know their scales.

    Look, there are certainly people who never learned any theory or had any lessons and can play excellent music completely by ear, but to be totally blunt, they're in the minority, as are the rest of folks who can just pick up the instrument, noodle around for a short while, and then just play it all by ear (assuming that was how they learned). Sure, they're out there, I'm not saying they aren't, but if that's the way folks are told to learn then I feel sorry for them. If that's the approach that a new player plans on taking then the odds are they are going to become frustrated, confused, and eventually lose interest in the instrument, often blaming themselves for not having the special gift needed to play music. It's a lousy philosophy with which to learn (or teach) music.

    Look, some people don't need to be taught calculus. They are just math geniuses who pick it up. But wouldn't it be ridiculous to give a bunch of kids a bunch of numbers and tell them to solve equations with no instruction or sets of rules and principles? The result may be that one kid out of a hundred could naturally solve the things. Would you just tell the rest of them, "Sorry, instruction in math fundamentals is bad and if you don't get it, then you obviously have no business doing math."? Furthermore, do you think a genius physicist or engineer is hampered by having been taught their skills with foundational knowledge at the core. Most engineers probably do addition, multiplication, and subtraction without having to remind themselves of the reasons why addition and subtraction make sense every time they solve an equation, but would they be able to do higher level math if someone hadn't explained the basic science behind the stuff to them as little kids? Maybe...but more then likely if they were never taught to memorize multiplication tables or why addition and subtraction worked they'd just be ignorant adults with shaky or non-existent math skills.

    I hate how this always happens. Someone asks if theory/scales, etc... is helpful and most people say yes. Then you get a handful of folks who say that they know this one guy who is great and he knows nothing about scales, theory, keys, chords, etc... Thus, it really doesn't need to be learned and most likely could hurt your musical future. Ridiculous.

    BTW, as far as the anecdotal stuff goes, I'd suggest a little bit of caution. This comes up in blues circles a bunch. Someone asks if learning a blues scale is worth it and most folks say, "yes" but a few say that it's all from your heart and your ears and if you're meant to play it will just happen. They'll point to someone like Charley Patton and say, "well, he didn't know anything and could play" with the underlying idea being that he represents the majority of great blues musicians, who by implication were all innocently ignorant of any theoretical knowledge. Well, I call BS on both accounts. First off, there are always going to be outliers, but modeling a whole learning system on them is as illogical an idea as I can imagine. Second, most "folk" musicians know far more music "theory" then they are given credit for, or are usually willing to acknowledge. Benjamin Filene's Romancing the Folk talks about this at some length, pointing out a long standing trend in folk musics of many, many kinds in which musicians almost always say they just play by ear, never had a lesson, and know nothing of the ivory tower world of music theory. As a result, legions of players assume that learning music systematically must be bad. Truth be told, from the three books I’ve read on Monroe I believe he knew quite a lot. Guy could read music, understood scales, and even understood how the alternate tunings he occasionally utilized worked…wow! Maybe these guys aren’t all so blissfully ignorant.

    The "anti-theory" folks seem to have this ridiculous idea that learning any sort of theoretical skills is an all-or-nothing endeavor. The argument often goes something like, "well, you could play scales 8 hours a day, or you could play MUSIC". Give me a break. Why not spend ten minutes a day learning a G major scale, then learn the chords for a simple song in G major, then use the scale in that key as a roadmap to generate melodic ideas...aka breaks/solos? Wow! Look, theory leading to compositional and improv skills! Is that possible? Can one actually learn a little theory and a lot of music? Man, I don’t know. That seems impossible. Hey, maybe if you work on those scales, learn those positions, and use them to create music, then someday you may be able to “just play” and not always be thinking about the scales. What a wild idea. Learning the stuff and then knowing it well enough to forget it. I’m guessing no music student has ever done that before because once they learn scales, they just become robots…you know, sort’ve like all those classical musicians, who, based on the majority of anecdotes on these boards, are all (each and every one) incapable of a single improvisational thought or non-classical music idea.

    Once again, I think it's ridiculous that the same arguments come up when someone asks if learning any "theoretical" skill on the mandolin is worth their time. Nah, Shawn...all the greats knew nothing. You should learn nothing. Noodle around aimlessly for eight hours a day. You'll get it all down in a couple of months. If not, give up. Stuff in books can only hurt your playing.

    I get really irked when people advocate ignorance in learning music with the belief that it's some sort of acceptable state for the majority of budding pickers. It annoys me to hear that Shawn's music teacher seems to hold this belief and it annoys me when folks on these boards basically support that stance. I'm done with this thread and every similar one in the future.

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