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What are scales? Why do we practice them? What’s the point?



In this video lesson, guitarist Zakk Jones goes through 12 steps to help you break out of the usual prosaic monotony of scales.

If they’re such an axiomatic part of music, why are we continually told to practice them the SAME exact plodding, pedantic way and then be expected to create awesome music out of them? “Remember to practice your scales, kiddo” has become the musical equivalent of “Eat your vegetables, then you can get dessert!” Why not have our cake and eat it too?

Scales are MELODIES – but when we play them simply as an exercise, going up and down just so we can check off a box on our practice sheet, we’re ultimately doing a disservice to the exponential potentials of these musical ingredients. How many of your favorite songs, melodies, hooks, riffs, and solos are composed of entirely robotic “scale-like” passages? Not many, I’ll bet.

This video goes through 12 steps that will help you break out of the usual prosaic monotony of “do re mi fa so la ti dooooo” – The steps offer you different intervallic, triadic and melodic considerations within any given scale or mode. These are not at all exhaustive, I highly encourage you to adjust, edit, and create your own steps, transposing them to new keys and playing them vertically and horizontally all over the fretboard – ultimately I hope you can begin to find a newfound joy the next time someone tells you to “practice your scales”.

Do you really know your major scale?

All exercises are to be transposed in every key in as many octaves as possible.

Try these in all positions – vertically and horizontally
Use different modes or parent scales
Do them in time, with different rhythms, with a swing feel, etc.

Add component musical elements like dynamics, articulations, style/genre, timbre, effects…start to make it personal
Edit, adjust, and come up with your own variations!

If you enjoy this lesson, follow me for more or take a private lesson!

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