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why learn scales?

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why learn scales?

Post by Asernume2 on Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:30 am

I don't really like to do anything where i dont understand the purpose of it, so how exactly does practicing scales relate to becoming a good player?

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Re: why learn scales?

Post by Thomandy on Mon Nov 17, 2008 6:10 am

Asernume2 wrote:I don't really like to do anything where i dont understand the purpose of it, so how exactly does practicing scales relate to becoming a good player?

Hi Smile This is answered several times in great ways, so use the searchbutton and you will find the answers to that Smile
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Re: why learn scales?

Post by Asernume2 on Mon Nov 17, 2008 6:46 am

Yeah i dont really find anything.

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Re: why learn scales?

Post by 07dwarves on Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:04 am

I asked my partner, Snowwhite, and they said the reason was because every song is made from some scale.

You want to be a music god do you not?

You want to be able to play any song by ear do you not?

I am totally new so I can only tell you the reason why I am going to start doing scales tomorrow. The reason is because I want to be able to play nearly anything I hear just by ear. And to do this it would be good if a person had mastered recognizing intervals and scales.

I have seen bands play in bars before. I know this is kind of low brow, but one thing that seemed almost magical was that one time I saw every guy in the band trade places so each person was on a different instrument. Every single person in the band was a hard hitter no matter where they traded places.

Some people can pick up a plastic recorder and hammer out a Mozart song or a Coldplay song then walk over to the piano and nail the same tune there too.

Music is a vast world of mathematics, science, and all sorts of mysteries. Why would any person not want to know scales? I can not comprehend such a position? Utterly unfathomable.


Last edited by 07dwarves on Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: why learn scales?

Post by Asernume2 on Mon Nov 17, 2008 1:30 pm

Hey, i wanna be able to play by ear too, but i don't see how doing scales is the best way to learn it.

Surely the best way to play by ear is to actually practice playing by ear.

There are people who been practicing in a classical fashion for years and they are unable to play by ear or improvise, some are even unable to play without sheets, but they have practiced plenty of scales.

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Re: why learn scales?

Post by VictorCS on Mon Nov 17, 2008 2:29 pm

Scales are the building blocks of music, and it probably the most important when you wana make music yourself, playing by ear is hard even if you know scales, and a piece doesnt have to be made with one scale, it can go over to another scale or mode.

I dont usually look at the piece and figure out what the scale is, but it happens I see what scales are used after I've learned a piece. And I dont play much by ear either. But I do make some music, posting one very soon here, and when making music, scales are very good to have.

Scales are a must if you wanna improvise, lets say you have a rythm guitar that plays a chordprogression made from the C scale, then the main guitarist can solo over the chordprogression using the C scale, and it WILL sound good. If you have a friend on another instrument, let him play a progression while you play a the scale on a piano. Usually this will sound pretty good.

To be able to play different instruments you need to learn how to play them, but if you know the theory for one, you basically know them for all, but you cant go from piano to a guitar, you will need a couple of months on the guitar to make love with it. But a recorder you should be able to learn in no time. Different instruments are different in the way they are play'd, some easier, some harder. But they're all using the same rules.
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Re: why learn scales?

Post by 07dwarves on Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:31 am

Dear Victor,

I always enjoy reading what you have to say. I like what Thomandy often writes and I like Christian's comments too. As you might have been able to surmise, I can wrap my head around a particular comment or piece of information and I try hard to come up with some understanding.

I found this link on the internet about why a person should practice scales:

"Learning the scales is like learning the ABC's when learning to read: not so exciting, and it doesn't get a lot of practical use in everyday life, but trying to learn piano without learning the scales is like trying to learn to read without first learning the alphabet. It can be done, but the "shortcut" only winds up handicapping a novice player. The counter-argument has been made that the scales mainly use fingers 123, which are already technically strong compared to fourth and fifth fingers, which are weak because of anatomical limitations. This argument's weakness, however, is in realizing that the purpose of learning and practicing scales has little or nothing to do with strengthening fingers 1,2, and 3 - although this is a pleasant benefit. Practicing scales with rigid tempo and in a legato (connected) style helps lay the foundations of rhythm and fluidity of motion.

The scales are essential, because 99% of music is built on them. One can find the scales, or portions thereof, in songs of every complexity, from the simplest one-note rendition of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" to the complicated classical pieces and even almost all modern songs.

When one plays the melody of "Mary had a little lamb" in C major, you can be pretty sure that it doesn't have a wild bluesy part with a lot of black keys. OK, we exaggerated a bit, but we were still very very close. Try to play "Mary had a little lamb" on black keys only. You can make it, and when you can do it, you probably can do it forever. It's easy to remember to only use black keys after all. Conclusion: Scales are very good help in memorizing. If you remember the key of your piece, memorizing eases.

When you try to play some piece by ear, and you have figured out that it is in major key, the rest will come a lot easier. You will now know that the black keys aren't the first candidates for the right notes, if you want to play it in C major. Or if it sounds bluesy, you will presumably need some "blue notes", which you can always find in blues scales (there are various). Conclusion: Knowledge of scales is good for playing by ear.

When you play in parties, and you've finished your highly virtuosic piece and everybody is fascinated by your playing (the situation is fictional, it doesn't happen for real), somebody brings to you sheet music for some piece. But then you see, it has six(!) flats. This is no problem for you, because you instantly know it's either Gb major or Eb minor and what the black and white keys are. And then everybody at the parties considers you as a miracle. Conclusion: Knowledge of scales is absolutely essential for sight reading."


http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Piano/Scales


This kind of goes with what you have mentioned. Hope that I have helped to paint a clearer picture.

Happy fingering!
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Re: why learn scales?

Post by yokewong on Tue Jul 20, 2010 5:39 am

Scales are the foundation to any types of western music. Itís the building block to composing music. Learning scales will provide yourself with a roap map, basic understanding of the structure and how a piece of music works. It enables you to interpret the piece of music or connect and communicate with the composer.

As your fingers get accustomed to the different scale exercises and runs, you will have an easier time executing a difficult piece of music. It will also help with your sight-reading abilities.
If you are thinking about composing or improvising, then scales are the tools to help you accomplish that. Without scales, itís like eating without utensils. It can be done but it'll be slower and will have a harder time. Youíll tend to hit a roadblock at certain point.

When you practice scales, you are also practicing your reading skills, dexterity of your fingers, rhythm, timing and accuracy. Itís like hitting multiple birds with 1 stone.

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Last edited by yokewong on Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:04 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: why learn scales?

Post by Pianoted on Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:00 pm

I don't question the necessity to learn scales, but there are some other things about them that puzzle me.

When I was looking for material about major scales on the internet I found out they are not always listed in the same way. For example Thomandy in his tutorial listed them by the white keys they start on (from C-scale to B) then the scales starting on black keys in row from C# (or Db = D-flat) to Bb (A#.) Let me mention I think this is a very logical order in which to practise them.

On the other hand the links given in the forum Scales & Arpeggios in PDF the scales are listed in the order they appear in the circle of fifths. That is, the scales with the fewest sharps are listed first and the ones with the biggest number of sharps last. Then they list the scales according to the number of flats the same way. So it is with most websites explaining major scales I found.

Which order is the most appropriate? Is it the by the circle of fifths (which I still don't understand very well!) Or doesn't it matter, as long as one practises all the scales?

Another thing, like I mentioned above, each black key on the piano can draw it's name from two white keys. If it's named after the white key to the left of it, it's called a sharp (#, like C#) or the white key to the right, then it's called a flat (b, for example Db.)

What is it that decides which name the scale gets? I often see someone talking about C# major scale, or Db major scale, which is the same scale. From what appears to me this is only to confuse the piano student!
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Re: why learn scales?

Post by VictorCS on Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:57 pm

About the C# vs Db cale I dont know, but I suppose it goes down in the end? So it hits flat? That was a question.

The most logical way of practicing them has to be C major, C# major, D major, D# major, E major, F major etc... And then do the minor scales and penatonic scale and these weird eastern scales ^_^

The circle of fifths order them by fifths, C G D A etc... The circle of fifths I myself find to be the map to figuring what key a piece is written in, nothing more really.

Dont know what way it's best to learned them in, but I did the 1 to 12 Cool
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Re: why learn scales?

Post by Pianoted on Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:03 am

Thank you VictorCS, I agree with you that it seems the most logical way to learn the scales beginning on C and working your way up the keyboard every major scale up to and including G.

But you just made me understand why it's called the circle of fifths. Every new key/note in the circle is a fifth from the previous one. Thanks for that, we can always be learning something new!

Maybe it's not such a bad idea to practise the scales according to the circle of fifths. Then you learn the circle at the same time. Probably helps you learning songs.

I'm now studying a song that was in C major but I transposed it to A major, since it was written and played in the latter key originally. It helps me figure out the accompaniment to the melody knowing which keys I'm supposed to play (key signature.)
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