Music is math, or to put it another way music is made-up of patterns, which are logical in construction and design. There are many different ways of patterning music here we will be dealing with linear ones. This style of writing lines was high fashion in the Renaissance and Baroque eras so check out some of Dowland’s lute Fantasies or Scarlatti’s keyboards sonatas.
The most basic patterning is in a set of 3 or 4 notes, and these can be extended by combining intervals into the equation. As there are so many we will concentrate on the most obvious. The good news is that, as you will only ever be playing across two strings at a time; the math of working out each pattern is easy. An example of a 4 note linear pattern would be combinations of: 3 + 1 (across strings); 2 + 2 (across strings) or 1 + 3 (across strings). See the How to Work it Out Section in the music. Practice this example slowly till your hands and head get it; and all you will have to do is apply the method and mold it to what ever shape or numbers you’re working with as the patterns will all only ever be combinations like this.
Instead of musical examples I have written a study that will incorporate the C major scale (and its modes) in various patterns. I have set out the patterns in single bars before the study along with a handy how to practice section in the music. Each one of the single bars should be practiced in an octave (see musical example) or across one string. In order to really benefit from this article pattern all scales that you use or know.
We all know what a scale is right? I mean its one of the first things we are shown on the fret board; but do you know why? It is to improve left hand dexterity and strengthen coordination between hands. Scales are the simplest way of securing the fret board underneath the fingers. How many of us are stuck playing scales just up and down though? The thought of running endless scales up and down can get boring and tends to put a lot of people off practicing them. The musical study in this article will hopefully help alleviate this and give you devices to use in improvisations and bass line construction. It will also help with cementing the fret board geography in your head as keys especially if you transpose the ideas. Aim to have the fingers land squarely in the allotted fret just behind the wire with only enough pressure to keep the note clean. Good choices of sliding fingers will also help, but as that is personal to each player they have been left out the tab.
So a quick recap: A scale is a series of notes that outline in pitches a certain key or mode. In layman’s terms a scale could be seen as Lego blocks. Try the below diagram across one string to test this out. Each scale has within it the possibility of other scales called modes (see T & T One). These are just a rearranging of the Lego blocks. There are as many scales are there languages, each has its own distinctive sound, syntax and construction. If you worked through last months article you should have at least three ways of playing a major scale across the fret board and be ready to pattern them.
Study One uses the modes of the C major scale. Each mode is targeted (see the targets in the dots) and uses a different pattern. The study ascends the fret board in linear motion and descends in arpeggios (7th chords). That way you get used to seeing, playing and understanding where you are on the fret board. Watch out for those stretches and always practice with a metronome to gain rhythmic stability.