Supplemental Material for Page 18 (Chapter 2)
The Major Scale
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For "basic info about the major scale" (a little bit of music theory regarding what the major scale is), see the supplemental material for page 16, HERE.
Playing "in position"
As we learned on page 16, we'll follow a basic "rule" on the guitar called "playing in position". Playing "in position" means assigning fingers 1 thru 4 to play (or to "be in charge of") four consecutive frets.
In the fourth form (unlike the first), we will be stretching the 1st finger back one additional fret to reach notes on the sixth and first strings. This is not considered "out of position". Being "in position" may include stretching one extra fret below with your 1st finger (for instance, in fifth position, finger 1 may sometimes stretch back to play the fourth fret) and an extra fret above with your 4th finger. (For instance, the pinky may stretch to play the ninth fret while you're in fifth position.)
Playing the one-octave pattern
I highly recommend working on the one-octave pattern first (not the pattern using all six strings). It's presented on the top part of the page, next to a review of the one-octave first form. You can see that these two patterns look very much alike. The one-octave fourth form pattern should be fairly easy, as it's the same as the one-octave first form, but moved one string over. Follow all the same priniples and practice recommendations as for the first form. (Also, this one-octave pattern does not require the finger strecthes mentioned above.)
Once you're comfortable with the fourth form one-octave scale, move on to practicing the pattern using all six strings. This presents two new concepts.
1. This form differs from the first form in where it starts and ends. Perhaps the most obvious thing for your ear to detect is that it doesn't end on the root. Instead of covering a full two octaves, the fourth form runs out of room on the sixth note of its second octave. It really only covers part of the scale. However, that's perfectly OK. The point is to practice as much of the scale as can be reached without shifting your hand to a new spot on the guitar (i.e. without changing position). As for starting this form, you have two equally good choices. You can start on the root (begin with the 2nd-finger note on the fifth string, effectively "skipping" the first four notes). This is perhaps the best option at first, as it's easier to "hear" the scale statring on its root. The other option is to start on the first note of the pattern: the 1st-finger note (that's stretched one fret below it's "normal" position) on the sixth string. This brings us to the second new concept this form presents, the finger stretch:
2. As mentioned above, this form requires the 1st finger to reach back a fret (or "stretch") for notes on the sixth and first strings.
The position you're in is determined by which fret the 1st finger is normally in charge of, not a fret it stretches to. For example, in the key of D (where the 2nd finger plays the root on the fifth fret of the fifth string), you are in fourth position (because the 1st finger is assigned to the fourth fret), not third position (even though you might start off by playing the sixth string, third fret with the 1st finger.) This is important to keep in mind if you practice this form starting on the sixth string. Set up your hand so you'll be properly "in position" with fingers 1 thru 4 poised to play four consecutive frets Reach back ("stretch") for the 1st finger notes on strings six and one. Don't start off on that sixth string, 1st finger note as if it's exactly "in position", and find yourself stretching up to the rest of the scale.
Here are a few reminders, which were mostly applicable to the first form as well: m
As soon as you’re comfortable playing the pattern in one particular “position”, start moving around to other places. That is, play in various keys as soon as you’re ready.
If you have small hands, you may prefer to start in a higher position, so the frets are closer together. It makes sense to start where the size of the frets conforms reasonably well to the size of your hand. )
It's especially important not to get used to the dots on the neck of your guitar (fret markers) being in a particular place in relationship to your fingers. (For example, you don't want to develop a preference for the 2nd finger to always be on a fret with a dot.) Practice in a particular key, then move up just one halfstep and practice some more. This aligns the dots under different fingers, and keeps you from becoming more comfortable in certain keys than others.
Play evenly. Try to hold each note for the same duration. You should not be able to "hear" where the form switches from one string to another. Try for a smooth, flowing articulation.
What about picking?
Once you can play the six-string pattern comfortably with “all down” picking, consult a teacher regarding “alternate” and/or “economy” picking. The book does not cover picking at all, because teachers tend to have different recommendations.
Using a metronome ("mm")
Using a metronome ("mm") while practicing the major scale is highly recommended. Here's a process I use with my students. Keep in mind that this process is undertaken very slowly, over the course of years:
Once you can correctly play the two-octave major scale slowly and evenly, begin using a mm set at about 72-80bpm, playing one note per click (quarter notes). Be sure to consult with a teacher to ensure that you're playing with correct form and good picking. Gradually increase your tempo until you can play at 144. Then, switch to playing two notes per click (eighth notes) with the mm on 72, and again, very gradually increase to 144. Then, switch to playing four notes per click (sixteenth notes) with the mm on 72 and gradually increase again. This time, 144 is a good goal for serious guitarists, although this may not be attainable for everyone. Fast guitarists play sixteenth notes with the mm on 200bpm or even faster. While picking speed can certainly be developed, everyone has their own limit. Just as we can't all throw a baseball 90 miles per hour, no matter how perfect our form or how much we practice, some guitarists are simply blessed with a potential to pick faster than others.
Another word about forms
Why is this scale form designated "fourth form"? Here's the deal:
As noted in the book, there are five basic "forms" on the guitar. That is, there are five fairly useful ways to approach playing many of the chords and scales. The form with its root played by the 1st (or sometimes, as in this case, 2nd) finger on the fifth string is designated "fourth form". Because the first and fourth chord forms are the most practical and commonly used, Sensible Guitar presents the first and fourth forms of the major scale first, so you'll know the scale forms that correspond to the chords you'll use most often. The second, third and fifth scale forms are presented later, but are equally useful and important. However, when we begin learning penatonic scales (on pg 38), we'll learn the forms in order (first thru fifth), simply because they tend to make more sense that way.
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