Title: Scales at a Glance, Setting Music Theory on Its Ear
Author:Clea Saal
Genre: Music Theory
Tag line: A book that proves that studying music theory does not have to be a form of torture. It will enable you to understand scale and chord theory without resorting to memory. No knowledge of musical notation required.

Technical details:
Publisher: VirtualBookworm.com
Published: December 2001
Versions: Paperback
Language: English
Dimensions: 6 in. x 9 in.
Page Count: 152 pages
Weight: 1 pound
ISBN: 1-58939-114-4
Price: $12.95
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Table of Contents

Part 1: A Few Basics

Chapter 1: A Short History of This Book

Chapter 2: Glossary

Chapter 3: How to Use This Book

Part 2: All Kinds of Scales

Chapter 4: Basic Rules for Scale Construction

Chapter 5: Basic Pattern Scales

Chapter 6: Major Scale

Chapter 7: Minor Scale

Chapter 8: The Modal System

Chapter 9: Chord Construction Kit, and Kinds of Chords

Chapter 10: Of Chords and Scales

Chapter 11: Variations of the Major and Minor Scales

Chapter 12: The Pentatonic Scale

Chapter 13: Scales by Style

Chapter 14: Exotic Scales

Chapter 15: And What About Non-Western Systems?

Part 3: Beyond Scales

Chapter 16: Introduction to Part Three

Chapter 17: Of Dots and Lines... No, I Don't Mean Morse-code

Chapter 18: Progressions and Harmonization

Chapter 19: Basic Improvisation Techniques

Appendixes

Appendix A: Questions and Answers

Appendix B: Clefs and Key Signatures

Appendix C: Blank Circles

Appendix D: Cut-out Rings

Scales at a Glance: Setting Music Theory on Its Ear (music theory)
Scales at a Glance
(click to purchase)

Chapter 1: A Short History of This Book

This book is all about scales (as you can probably tell by reading its title, and, since you are reading this, I will go so far as to assume that either you are at least slightly curious about the subject, or a teacher told you to read this).

To begin with, I want to point out that this book starts from absolute zero, even if it gets to a fairly advanced level. On the other hand, if you are already somewhat familiar with the subject,you are still likely to find some additional information here, not to mention a fresh, and hopefully more enjoyable and understandable, perspective.

Unlike most people, I use a visual approach to the understanding of scales ( those music thingies, not the ones you are likely to encounter on a fish). This system is designed to help you understand them, quite literally, with a single glance.

It all started in a fairly simple way: I was trying to figure out an exotic scale, minding my own business, working out its structure (if you

don't have a clue as to what I'm talking about don't panic,I'll explain it later), when, as I was trying to visualize it, I found a way to express it that was both unbelievably simple, and applicable to any scale, regardless of its origin (whether or not that scale happened to be based on the octave, as it is understood in Western music). It seemed to be a very practical system, and I had never seen something like it used in a book (although I must confess that I haven't read every music book ever written). The more I thought about it, the more I liked it as a generalsystem.

I was already using this particular approach, and I had confirmed how effective it could be, when it was pointed out to methat, unfortunately, one of the main problems confronting most music students is the highly effective anti-theory vaccine we findin most text books, and other such materials (if you have studied music before, you probably know what I mean). Luckily this is nota hopeless situation. Even if tradition dictates that one must enjoy the study of music, and especially theory, in spite of teachers, I still believe that it can be made into an enjoyable experience (no, I don't think that, given a choice, going to the dentist for root canal is necessarily a less painful option).

I was finally persuaded to turn this system into a book when I tried to explain something about a scale to someone very dear tome, who, whenever I mention anything having to do with music, gives me the same look she would give me if I were speaking to her in Chinese (those of you who speak Chinese, please substitute for another language). To my surprise, when I explained it this way, I finally got her to understand what I meant.

But getting back to the subject of scales, it is very important to get to know them, since they are, together with rhythm, the most basic building blocks of music. In other words, we won't get very far hating them and turning a lovely shade of green whenever they are mentioned in our presence. The first problem we must overcome is the fact that learning them has traditionally been based upon memorizing rules, intervals and structures (if you were lucky, otherwise you were merely presented with a considerable stack of staff paper).

The idea of resorting to memory doesn't sound so bad at first,but when you realize that, if we use the Diatonic Scale as an example (C, D, E, F, G, A, B), with its twelve tones and its seven modes we have a grand total of 84 'different' combinations, I'ms ure you'll realize that you can think of a few other things you'd rather do with your memory resources. And then you must keep in mind that the Diatonic scale is just a single scale among many, so this number must be multiplied by the number of scales that you deem to be necessary for your goals (a decision that must be based on personal taste and preferences). As you can see the task itself is formidable, but there is no reason to panic.

Our goal here will not be to memorize every conceivable scale,but rather to understand the basis of the theory governing scale construction. Scales are really built by combining a mere handful of different intervals, and the structure of any given scale is simply the result of adding those intervals together in a particular order, and analyzing how they relate to one another.

In this book we will study some of the most important scales(as well as others that are less familiar), in order to discover how to apply those principles to any scale. We will also learn what the different modes are, and how to take advantage of them,as well as the basic principles of chord construction. We will also see how do chords relate to scales, how do you deduce the chords that are to be found within the structure of a particular scale, and how to find a scale that fits a given chord. But the most important thing is that you will hopefully learn enough to be able to work with the scales, rather than against them.

Even though this book is very specific, it also starts from zero, it does not include, nor does it require, any knowledge of musical notation (but, considering the importance of this particular aspect, a brief chapter on the subject is included toward the end). I would also like to point out that, since this book is aimed at all kinds of people, I do not focus on any particular instrument, but, if you play one, I strongly recommend that you play each scale to hear how it sounds. After all, theory for the sake of theory is not really all that useful. It is a tool, and it must be used as such. This is merely a book of scales that will hopefully guide you, and maybe even open a door or two,but in the end, you are the one who has to learn from it, to understand its contents and, finally, put them to some use. No book can learn for you.

I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that there are some chapters that are apparently very short (maybe only a couple of pages long), but this can be deceiving, as some of them present quite a bit of information. Please take your time,since it is not a good idea to speed the construction processalong by cheating on the foundations. Remember, the goal here isto learn. There is no hurry, and the only real reward is a greater understanding of the subject.

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Chapter 2: Glossary

Yes, I know that the glossary should be at the end, but since,as I have already stated, this book does not assume any previous knowledge, we will make a quick stop to clarify the meaning ofs ome basic terms. Some of them will probably seem obvious, even to the uninitiated, feel free to skip over the ones you are familiar with. I would also like to point out that defining any given termin a few words is bound to be somewhat problematic, because it always leaves plenty of loose ends, so I want to warn you that most of these definitions are extremely simple, and will be, for the most part, complemented later on. In fact some of these terms have a whole chapter devoted to them.

1.0) Note- Notes are to music what letters are to words. That is, they are the minimum identifiable sounds. Just like letters,notes have names, unfortunately, these have little or nothing todo with the sounds they represent. What I mean by this is that the name of F is just as similar to the sound it represents, as the shape of the character known as A is to the way in which we pronounce it.

1.1) The Names of the Notes- There are two main systems for naming the notes. One of them uses names, the other letters. The first system (the one using names) is used throughout most of the world. In it, the names of the notes are Do(Ut)-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti(Si). This system was created by Guido d'Arezzo (for the trivia question of the day, he was Italian and lived between 990 and 1050). The second system is used mostly in English and German speaking countries. This system is in fact older, and it uses letters rather than names to identify the different notes. It is connected to the previous system in the following way C=Do/Ut, D=Re, E=Mi, F=Fa, G=Sol, A=La, B(Ger. H)=Ti/Si. It is interesting to note that both systems present a couple of regional variations, such as the use of Ut instead of Do in France (OK, Ut was the original name for that particular note), or the use of H rather than B in Germany (a note of caution, in German, B=B). Later on it will become clear just why does the letter-based-system begin with C rather than A, but, for the time being, I'm afraid you will just have to trust me on this one.

2.0) Tonic- The tonic is the note that lends its name to the entire key. It is the note that sets the tone, if you will. It can, in fact, be any note, that is to say the octave can begin at any point, since it represents a convention that indicates how a particular piece of music is to be written, played and so on. The tonic is the starting point for the scale in which the music is written, regardless of what kind of scale is being used, be it A Major or F Minor.

2.1) Octave- From the Latin word for eight, the octave represents the eighth note, and it has the same name as the tonic. The octave doubles the frequency of the tonic. To understand this, I'm afraid we will need to understand something about the nature of sound, so here it goes. Sound travels in waves, these waves are measured in Hertz (Hz.). Pitch is directly proportional to the number of Hertz (more Hertz, higher pitch). Now, combining what we have so far, we have that the octave doubles the number of Hertz of the tonic, so, using A as our example, we have that 110 Hz., 220 Hz., 440 Hz. and so on, all represent the sound we know as A, although obviously in its different octaves. For the record the human ear can perceive sounds with frequencies ranging approximately from 20 Hz. to 20 kHz. (20,000 Hz.), a range of approximately ten octaves, although, for the most part, only seven or eight of these are actually used to produce music.

3.0) Whole step/Half step (Tone/Semitone)- Steps and half steps enable us to measure the distance between two notes. One of the easiest ways to visualize them is through a piano keyboard. If,between two white keys, there is a black one, then those white keys are separated by a whole step (or whole tone), and the black key represents the half step (or semitone) between them. If between two white keys there is no black key, then the white keys themselves are separated only by a half step. So, as we can see,the octave is made up of twelve half steps, or six whole steps.

4.0) Sharp and Flat- As you can see in the previous figure, inaddition to the seven white keys representing the "natural" notes,there are also five black keys representing the half steps in between. These notes have their own names in connection to those notes closer to them, unfortunately this also means that they have two possible names each. Using C as our example, we find that the sound that is to be located a half step above it, is known as "C sharp", this is usually indicated in the following way:C,""is the symbol used to indicate that the note is sharp, and therefore its pitch is half a step higher than the note used as a reference. That same key, is also to be found a half step before D, and so it can also be known as "D flat" which is usually represented as "D",""is the symbol used to indicate that the note is flat, and therefore its pitch is half a step lower than the note used as a reference.

4.1) Enharmonic- Enharmonic is the word used to indicate that one note has really the same sound (or pitch) as another, as is precisely the case with C and D. Both names represent in fact the same note, which is two be found, in a keyboard, in the black key separating C and D. We have to keep in mind that, even though enharmonics represent the same sound it is very important to learn to give them their proper names, because, within a scale, an augmented second is not the same thing as a minor third, even though both intervals are enharmonics (seconds and thirds are explained later on). To further complicate matters, we may also encounter cases such as E, which, even though it is an enharmonic of F, sometimes we must stick with that E (the explanation for this will be found in later chapters, if you are curious about it, I'd suggest you look for it in the chapter dealing with the basic rules for scale construction).

4.2) Double Flat and Double Sharp- If things weren't complicated enough, sometimes a note can be modified by two flat or sharp signs, thus it sometimes becomes an enharmonic to more than one sound. For instance F, is an enharmonic not only to E but also to D. If it makes you feel better, it really sounds a lot more complex than it is. Once you understand the reasoning behind it, you will realize that it is fairly straight forward.

5.0) Scale- Here we are. Now if you look this word up in a dictionary, you will find many definitions, ranging from fishes,to measurements, to mountain climbing, but here we will focus only on musical scales, that narrows it down. To keep it short, a scale is nothing but an orderly sequence of notes (to be found within a single octave, for the most part), which is used to create a melody, harmonize it or improvise over it. There are many kinds of scales, but they can be divided, according to some basic traits,as follows:

5.1) Basic Pattern Scales- These scales are extremely simple, since they are built around a single pattern. It can be by half steps (Chromatic scale), whole steps (Whole Tone scale), or by combining both kinds of intervals regularly (whole step/half step, or half step/whole step). With the exception of the Chromatic scale, these are not frequently used.

5.2) Major Scales- There are plenty of scales that can be included in this group, since its name only means that, between the tonic and the third degree there are two whole steps, however, the name is usually reserved for the scale that is known as the Diatonic Major scale, which lies at the root of most Western music, or, when it is so stated, to one of its variations such as the Harmonic Major scale. All other scales beginning with a major third are usually considered as exotic scales.

5.3) Minor Scales- Just as with the major scales, there are numerous minor scales, since their name only means that, from the tonic to the third degree there is one and a half steps, but the name is usually reserved for the relative minor of the Diatonic Major scale, or a variation such as the Harmonic Minor scale, or the Melodic Minor scale (we will get to the relatives later, but I promise it has nothing to do with aunts and uncles). There is also a sub-group from these scales: that of the semi diminished (also known as half diminished), or even diminished, scales, these have a minor third and a diminished fifth.

5.4) Pentatonic Scales- Pentatonic scales have only five notes, or tones. They are fairly common, especially in Popular and Eastern music. They come in many forms, but the name is usually reserved for a five note scale that is derived from either the Major or the Minor scale. All other pentatonics are classed as, you guessed it, exotic scales.

5.5) Exotic Scales- We have encountered them often enough, so here we are with the exotic scales. The name is used to describe all of those scales that are foreign to traditional Western music, and more often than not, they present a nice riddle for traditional music theory.

5.6) Scales by Style- These scales have become so closely linked to a particular kind of music that they take its name, like the Blues scale, the Jazz scale or the Bop scale.

6.0) Degrees- The degree is the position of a particular note within the scale. Using our true and tried example of C Major, we have that C is the tonic, D represents the second degree, E the third, F the fourth, G the fifth, A the sixth, B the seventh, and C is the octave which, as you probably already noticed, has the same name as the tonic.

6.1) The Names of the Degrees- Just as the notes may be referred to by either name or letter, so can the degrees be referred to by either number or name, so, just for the record, the names of the degrees are: for the first degree, tonic. For the second degree, the corresponding name is supertonic. For the third degree the name is mediant. For the fourth degree the name is subdominant. The fifth degree is the dominant. The sixth is the submediant, and finally the seventh is the seventh. Of these, the names that you are most likely to encounter are tonic (first) and dominant (fifth).

7.0) Interval- An interval is the distance between two notes as expressed in steps and half steps. Unless otherwise specified, it is always ascending (that is from lower to higher pitch). It can be expressed in two different forms.

7.1) Interval in Steps- Intervals can be defined in steps and half steps, for example, from E to A we have an interval of two and a half steps (you will understand why later on, but the figure of the keyboard may provide you with an answer).

7.2) Interval by Degrees- Just as an interval can be defined in terms of steps and half steps, it can also be defined in terms of degrees, by counting how many notes there are in between. Getting back to our previous example, we may say that the interval between E and A is a perfect fourth (between E and A there are four notes E-F-G-A, about the perfect bit, we'll get to it in a moment).

7.3) Kinds of Intervals- This one is going to sound complicated, but here we go. When we define an interval in terms of degrees, we can find several words used to describe it (such as a perfect fourth, as we saw in the previous example). These words are major, minor, perfect, augmented and diminished (we won't get into double augmented and double diminished, but they do exist).

These intervals relate to each other in the following way: if you reduce a major interval by a half step, you get a minor interval. If you reduce a minor interval by a half step you get a diminished interval. If you increase a major interval by a half step, it becomes augmented. By reducing a perfect interval by a half step you get a diminished interval. If you increase a perfect interval by a half step you get an augmented interval. In the Major and Minor scales both the fourth and fifth degrees are perfect, as are the tonic and the octave.

8.0) Structure- The structure of a scale is merely the way in which the different degrees relate to each other. Thisr elationship can be found in the way in which whole steps and halfsteps are combined, producing a specific sequence of intervals between them, which in turn allows us to recognize the scale as a whole.

9.0) Mode- The different modes are really the same scale with different starting points. In this system any "degree" can become a tonic, for instance, D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D would be the second mode of the Major sca le (though in the modal system each mode, including the first, has its own name, the Major scale is known as the Ionian mode, the second mode is known as the Dorian mode). In each one of the different modes we encounter a different distribution of steps and half steps even though we are not really changing a single sound.

10.0) Chord- A chord is made up of three or more notes played simultaneously (or almost simultaneously, depending on the instrument). It is usually constructed by piling up thirds (C-E-G,using the most traditional example, make up the chord, or triad,known as C major).

11.0) Rhythm- Rhythm itself has absolutely nothing to do with scales, yet, without it, we would have no music, since it is probably the first element that allows us to identify the sounds we know as music as such. It breaks down time, and it is aroundt his basic division that all the sounds are organized.

12.0) Melody- Together with rhythm, melody represents the mainline around which the other elements, those that complement it,such as harmony, are incorporated.

13.0) Progressions- A progression is a series of chords that harmonizes (accompanies) a melody. There are three main kinds of progressions. We will learn a little about them in this book, but this is not a book about harmony. Anyway, these three types are:the progression by fifths, the diatonic progression and thec hromatic progression.

14.0) Improvisation- The improvisation is a place within a particular piece of music in which the musician has the opportunity to create something new right on the spot (or at least that is the idea), by following a known progression.

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