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#3112037 04/29/21 09:05 PM
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What approach do (or did) you take to know every scale? Major, Natural Minor, Harmonic Minor, and Melodic Minor. I know with time many become memorized but with anything it can easy to forget so what's your fall back or a way to know them all?

For example, do you learn all Major then say "I can flatten 3rd, 6th, 7th to get my natural minor and now I need harmonic so I can raise the 7th from that natural"

Or do you simply just know major is W-W-H-W-W-W-H and natural minor is W-H-W-W-H-W-W

I could give more examples but I think you know what I'm getting at.

I recall a member was once telling me their method in a different post and I searched and could not find it again and also wanted to hear methods that anyone else wants to share.

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I'm a geeky fan of the circle of fifths.
(I also like the normal curve in everyday life, so it fits.)
But really, you just need to start with one scale and then another one from Group One, and so on. And practice. And practice some more.


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Sebs - The two examples you gave are good ways to know the scales. I would also second the notion that Malkin gave: The Circle Of 5ths.

Additional ways:

* Buy and practice from a scales, chords, and arpeggios book.
* Play a few songs in each type of scale.
* Compose some easy songs in each scale including LH accompaniment.

Those are all methods I have used with good success.

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Originally Posted by malkin
I'm a geeky fan of the circle of fifths.
(I also like the normal curve in everyday life, so it fits.)
But really, you just need to start with one scale and then another one from Group One, and so on. And practice. And practice some more.

Me too! I always work around the circle of fifths and use it for reference.

Originally Posted by Stormbringer
Sebs - The two examples you gave are good ways to know the scales. I would also second the notion that Malkin gave: The Circle Of 5ths.

Additional ways:

* Buy and practice from a scales, chords, and arpeggios book.
* Play a few songs in each type of scale.
* Compose some easy songs in each scale including LH accompaniment.

Those are all methods I have used with good success.

Stormbringer

Thanks! Sounds like I'm similar path. I practice them a ton and do work from a book. I'm just wondering what other methods are used. I think I'm overthinking. Like "how else can I know them well" but I imagine eventually they all are the same. For example, I already know a bunch really well from memory I imagine in time I can recall harmonic or major, etc.

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I incorporate scale exercise practice in same key as the pieces I practice.

Last edited by Relaxing_Music; 04/29/21 11:35 PM.
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I think it's necessary to learn directly the flats and sharps of every major and minor key. By saying directly I mean not using the circle of 5ths as a guide, because it just slows down key recognition. And then you just need to remember what degrees of major or minor scale need to be modified in order to get a desired mode.

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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I think it's necessary to learn directly the flats and sharps of every major and minor key. By saying directly I mean not using the circle of 5ths as a guide, because it just slows down key recognition. And then you just need to remember what degrees of major or minor scale need to be modified in order to get a desired mode.
I agree with Iaroslav. The point of practicing scales is so that you know where your fingers go without thinking about it when playin a particular key. To get to that point you have to practice them a lot obviously, but when practicing you should focus on the hand position changes and which keys are black. For example, let's take A major. My mental model of A major when practicing it is not "OK, start at A, then up by a whole tone, then another, then a half tone...". That's way too slow, like couting lines on the grand staff. My mental model of A major is "3 notes + 4 notes, C, F, G are sharp". But I dont even think it that way. I basically just visualize my hand in two different positions with the fingers on the right notes.

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Regular scale practice will eventually lead to you knowing all scales. So I personally don't bother with memorising them. When learning a new scale, I use the score until one day I discover I don't need it anymore. And then it may be time to learn the next new scale.


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One of the issue is that some keys are rarely used in pieces, in particular pieces for beginners or early intermediate. That would be the case for many minor keys such as F Sharp, C Sharp, Not speaking of keys such as B flat minor, though you can encounter them during the course of a piece when modulating.

It is good to know each scale in absolute terms, ie what are the notes that go into into the scale without any reference to something else. And it is usefull to practice scales in random order or by chromatic order. The various tricks to remember how to build a scale are usefull at the beginning but eventually it should lead to know the scale in itself. Another such trick is that the natural minor which is also the descending melodic has the same notes than its relative major.

If you position the scales by increasing order of sharps and flats, it is also usefull to know the relationships between a given key and its surrounding neighbours. For example V is the dominant major (+1 sharp), vi is the relative minor, iii is the dominant minor of the relative minor (v/vi) and the relative minor of V, ii is the subdominant minor of the relative minor and so on. That is usefull when managing modulations in a piece.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
One of the issue is that some keys are rarely used in pieces, in particular pieces for beginners or early intermediate. [...] It is good to know each scale in absolute terms, ie what are the notes that go into into the scale without any reference to something else.

I wonder why. What is the point of knowing a scale when you don't even use it for one single piece?


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I learnt a scale a week for a year. I’d initially learn the new scale from my bible (Alfred's Complete Book of Scales, Chords, Arpeggios & Cadences). I was more concerned about getting the correct fingering rather than trying to build the scales myself.
Once I had the fingering right, I rarely had to refer back to the book as it’s not long before you are at a point where regardless of the scale, you know exactly when you've hit a wrong note.

I still have a long way to go and still have to think for a second when starting a scale on the black keys so subconsciously I use a combination of different elements. If I'm playing natural minor I may still count up 3 notes to find the Major that it’s based on and may also give the circle of fifths a thought. My main objective is to do as much as I can to never play it incorrectly.


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Where to stop? There are modes, blues, pentatonic variants, jazz(?) and so on. I just practice the main ones, major, minor, blues, pentatonic. Then there's all the chords and variations! i really don't have enough time to do all, and learn, practice pieces.

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I really don't get why anyone would want to learn all the scales all at once, when you're not going to encounter any piece in (say) D# minor (or does anyone here play Scriabin's Op.8/12? - Horowitz's favorite bombastic encore) for at least ten years, maybe twenty years, maybe never.

Learn & practice the scales and key signatures by heart, but only in the keys you're going to be playing your pieces in, and save your grey cells for other things (like the recipe for Tournedos Rossini - yum!). Everything in those scales & arpeggios will get lodged in your long-term memory, just like the multiplication tables you learnt as a kid (you did learn them, didn't you?), and you don't even have to think - your fingers just know what to play by themselves.


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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by Sidokar
One of the issue is that some keys are rarely used in pieces, in particular pieces for beginners or early intermediate. [...] It is good to know each scale in absolute terms, ie what are the notes that go into into the scale without any reference to something else.

I wonder why. What is the point of knowing a scale when you don't even use it for one single piece?

Well, you do not have to learn all the scales at once. It is a gradual process. That said some pieces written in one key will modulate and use other scales as well, so it is usefull to master the scales that you need for the entire piece. As you become more experienced, the pieces yu play will become more complex and so will be the set of scales you need to master.

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When I started doing scales with my teacher I memorized the formula for major, natural minor, harmonic etc. That way I could always build any scale. I haven't memorized all scales yet but I'm close. I work on 2 scales assigned by my teacher each week, this week is F# major and d# harmonica minor. I do the arpeggio and cadence as well. I also have been working out of Keith snells theory 3 book. This has helped a lot in the memory of the scales and key recognition as it makes you write them down multiple times.

As everyone else has suggested I think it takes time. The more you practice the scale the easier it will be to play it. You may not remember the scale fully right off that bat but muscle memory has done wonders for me in that department.

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Thanks for all the feedback. I have basically been doing what others have been doing too. I already have a handful memorized as I play scales almost daily I will continue to what I am doing and focus more so on the keys I use and plan to use a lot.

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Originally Posted by Sebs
Thanks for all the feedback. I have basically been doing what others have been doing too. I already have a handful memorized as I play scales almost daily I will continue to what I am doing and focus more so on the keys I use and plan to use a lot.

By now, you should have a pretty solid idea how various scales sound (major and the various minors). Therefore, had you no book to consult for the correct notation you could use the interval-method you mentioned or you could simply build a scale by ear.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by Sebs
What approach do (or did) you take to know every scale? Major, Natural Minor, Harmonic Minor, and Melodic Minor. I know with time many become memorized but with anything it can easy to forget so what's your fall back or a way to know them all?

Pick a key and learn the doh-re-mi major scale. First learn hands separate and then play hands together. Learn the 3 important chords for that key: I, IV, and V. When you can do two octaves of the scale, do it in contrary motion. And when the chords are automatic, practice their inversions.

After that you will probably want to move to another key. There are only 12.



Quote
For example, do you learn all Major then say "I can flatten 3rd, 6th, 7th to get my natural minor and now I need harmonic so I can raise the 7th from that natural"

I recall a member was once telling me their method in a different post and I searched and could not find it again and also wanted to hear methods that anyone else wants to share.

Everything you need to learn the minor scales can be found in one post by Keystring.

Quote
C major: C D E F G A B C
If you lower the third note, you get the basis of all minor scales.
C D Eb F G * * C.
Your I chord switches from being CEG = C major triad, to CEbG = C minor triad, and this, essentially, is what gives minor keys and scales their minor feel.

You can keep all the notes the same as your major scale except for that third, thus:
C D Eb F G A B C. - voila, your "ascending melodic" scale.
You can lower the 6th:
C D Eb F G Ab B C. - voila, your harmonic minor
You can lower the 6th and 7th
C D Eb F G Ab Bb C. - voila, your natural minor, which incidentally has the same notes as Eb major, which is still also the "relative major".

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2420160/re-minor-scales.html#Post2420160

With this I rapidly learned (3) minor scales once I had the major down pat. And remember to check your fingering with a simple internet search.

Last edited by tbonesays; 04/30/21 04:30 PM.

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I always had trouble remembering the W-W-H etc. formula for major scales. I mostly relied on my ear to tell me when I played a note wrong, which is kind of too late. I adopted a method that worked much better for me after I took a community college piano class where the teacher introduced us to solfege. The half-steps fall between mi and fa and ti and do. I made up a word to remember them 'mifatido'. Playing a major scale from any note, I start off on a series of whole steps, think of the do-re-mi sequence and and place my half-steps at mi-fa and ti-do.

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@tbonesays thanks for sharing that post. I found that useful and easy to follow. What I was doing was using the natural minor as my basis for the minor scales. However, this method lets you use major scales for basis of all scales. It seems pretty efficient. With music I find myself over thinking way too much I think some times I need to just step back and let the process guide me and time.

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