Jump to content


Photo

Learning scales


  • Please log in to reply
24 replies to this topic

#16 Arundodonuts

Arundodonuts

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 6180 posts
  • Member: 30881
    Joined: 14-May 08
  • Stockport

Posted 22 August 2018 - 18:49

There is only one minor scale.

 

As shown by the fact that you do not have 3 different key signatures - one for natural, one for melodic, and one for harmonic.

 

There is only one key signature.

 

What happens when people compose music is that composers choose the notes which make a strong cadence when they want a strong cadence. That is called a 'harmonic scale'.

 

Or composers choose intervals which are easier to sing. That is the 'melodic' scale.

 

But there is only one minor scale.

 

OK would you accept there are different versions of the minor scale? You have already mentioned harmonic and melodic and if you want to define the minor scale solely by it's key signature, that's the natural minor. So 3 versions.


  • 1

#17 Steven Carr

Steven Carr

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 121 posts
  • Member: 286204
    Joined: 16-July 11

Posted 22 August 2018 - 19:10

There are indeed 3 versions.

 

 

In major scales, the notes needed to make a strong V-I cadence and the notes needed to make intervals easy to sing are all identical to the notes on the 'natural' scale.

 

So for major scales, all 3 versions , natural, harmonic and melodic are identical.

 

It is an interesting question as to what a scale is. 

 

As far as I know, nothing is ever described as 'Being written in A minor Melodic'.

 

 

So what exactly is a scale?  


  • 0

#18 sbhoa

sbhoa

    Maestro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 22870 posts
  • Member: 24
    Joined: 31-October 03
  • Tameside

Posted 22 August 2018 - 20:03

There are indeed 3 versions.

 

 

In major scales, the notes needed to make a strong V-I cadence and the notes needed to make intervals easy to sing are all identical to the notes on the 'natural' scale.

 

So for major scales, all 3 versions , natural, harmonic and melodic are identical.

 

It is an interesting question as to what a scale is. 

 

As far as I know, nothing is ever described as 'Being written in A minor Melodic'.

 

 

So what exactly is a scale?  

I describe a scale or key as the alphabet we are (mostly) using for the piece.


  • 0

#19 Arundodonuts

Arundodonuts

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 6180 posts
  • Member: 30881
    Joined: 14-May 08
  • Stockport

Posted 22 August 2018 - 21:01

It is an interesting question as to what a scale is. 

 

As far as I know, nothing is ever described as 'Being written in A minor Melodic'.

 

 

So what exactly is a scale?  

A derivative of a mode?


  • 0

#20 zwhe

zwhe

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 147 posts
  • Member: 898658
    Joined: 19-January 18

Posted 24 August 2018 - 13:55

Just to be a touch pedantic, a scale is not a key, but the notes of a key. So, for example, a piece is in the key of A minor. The three key chords of A minor are A minor, D minor and E major - which has a G#. If you take each note in turn from these notes it will give you the harmonic scale of A minor (ie from the harmony) If you are writing an ascending melody in the key of A minor, it is usual to raise the 6th and 7th notes by a semitone (compared to the key signature). This doesn't happen with a descending melody, which is where the melodic minor scale comes from. The natural minor has the same notes as the related major, but if you actually wrote a piece using only these notes, it would no longer be in the key of A minor, but the aeolian mode starting on an A!

 

To go back to the issue of learning scales, most of my pupils learn both well before any exams and then they can choose which to concentrate on themselves. If they are slow learners, then I only teach them the harmonic scale to begin with as it is easier for most people to remember.


  • 0

#21 dorfmouse

dorfmouse

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1277 posts
  • Member: 1946
    Joined: 18-August 04
  • Germany

Posted 24 August 2018 - 17:00

zwhe - why can't you call the aeolian mode starting on A "A minor natural?" Puzzled!
  • 0

#22 Cyrilla

Cyrilla

    Maestro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 14373 posts
  • Member: 99
    Joined: 09-November 03
  • Croydon, South London/Surrey

Posted 24 August 2018 - 22:42

There's also the la pentatonic which is another minor scale.

 

Dorian and Phrygian modes are also variations on the Aeolian.

 

I would have defined a 'scale' as a pattern of pitches which have specific intervals between the consecutive notes in the sequence.

 

:)


  • 1

#23 zwhe

zwhe

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 147 posts
  • Member: 898658
    Joined: 19-January 18

Posted 25 August 2018 - 06:41

I was just trying to give a brief explanation of the difference between a scale and a key. If you think about it the other way, try looking at some simple music that has no key signature and work out if it is in C major or A minor. The 2 main things you are looking for in A minor are the end note or chord and the F# and G# accidentals. If there are no accidentals, you would assume it is in C major. The aeolian mode is very rarely used, but sounds like a mixture of the two - it uses A as the key note, but the notes of C major. Try googling it - there are a few pop songs that use it so you should find some on you tube.

Alternatively you could just forget the whole thing as it is completely unnecessary in order to play an instrument!


  • 0

#24 elemimele

elemimele

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 782 posts
  • Member: 895612
    Joined: 17-July 16

Posted 25 August 2018 - 10:23

The abrsm little red book actually (for once) hits the nail on the head about the notes of the harmonic scale. It points out that the 6th and the 7th in the harmonic minor scale are separated by an uncomfortably large step, but both notes are necessary to build the harmonies of the appropriate minor key, and therefore it is quite necessary to include them in the series of notes that we call the harmonic minor scale.

Otherwise, the whole situation is a lot less complicated than the nomenclature would suggest. There are a lot of notes. A good tune contains only a subset. That's the key. Occasionally extra notes creep in for special effect. They're accidentals. Some accidentals are particularly useful, in order to make music more singable, or in order to fill out chords nicely. The 6th and 7th in pieces with a minor key are particularly prone to alteration.

Many musicians believe that it's easiest to understand the subsets of notes by playing them in order. That's scales. They have a problem with the notes that very often get adjusted by a semitone, because the two adjacent notes (the note from the key signature and the adjusted note) never actually happen side-by-side in real music (they're alternatives), so you can't (realistically) practice them both in the same scale. This means that people who want to play all the notes in order, and yet also want to practice all the notes they're likely to use, have to derive orders that include both variants.

 

In terms of learning both forms, you have to decide why you are learning a scale. Is it to learn about the relationships between the notes, or is it to develop finger dexterity? If a pianist is learning scales in order to understand the theory of music, and the relationships between notes, then I personally think he'd do better to abandon playing scales, and instead sing. If someone is learning for finger dexterity, then it's questionable whether the ability to play both the melodic and harmonic forms is any more valuable than the ability to play any other commonly-encountered pattern of notes. One might do better to turn to Hanon. But that's the uninformed opinion of an amateur.

 


  • 1

#25 Danish

Danish

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Member: 899150
    Joined: 31-July 18

Posted 13 September 2018 - 11:52

I've learned harmonic and melodic on piano. But I love the sound of the wider interval in harmonic scales, so that's what I'm doing for my recorder exam.
  • 0