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Thread: A different approach to constructing scales

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    A different approach to constructing scales

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    I studied Jazz for a while in school, and I had a teacher who was basically like the Buddha of guitar playing (still is). When I was expressing frustration as to when I should play the Ionian scale and when to use the Lydian scale instead he shared this little pearl of wisdom. The following is a way to construct the "correct" set of scalar tones from any three or four note chord (he calls it "The Sentence", but I am going to paraphrase since it has been a long time):

    The correct scale for any triad or four note chord can be found by placing notes one whole step above each of the chord tones, stopping only when you double a note or get 2 consecutive half-steps.


    You start from the tonic of the chord and keep adding notes in this fashion until you have a full scale. Some interesting results from this process are:

    C - E - G major chord = C - D - E - F# - G - A - B (Lydian scale not Ionian).

    C - Eb - Gb - Bb half-diminished chord: C - D - Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb (6th mode of the melodic minor modes).

    This really helped me see scales in a different light. They are notes that reflect the sentiment of the chords they are associated with, not just notes in a line. I was able to grasp the altered ii/V relationship and chord substitutions much more easily as well.

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