3 scale exercises you should know

There are so many ways to practice your scales, but some of them will really help you get some new tools to make more interesting lines. In this lesson I will go over three scale exercises and why you should practice them and how you can use them.

The Scale and the positions

I am going to only use one position of the C major scale in this lesson, and you should probably just start by going over it in one position as well.

If you really want to work on this you would need to check it out in the remaining 4-6 positions that you have for your major scales and other scales as well of course.

The scale is shown in example 1

3 scale execises you should know - ex 1

The scale exercises

The first exercise is to play the major scale in diatonic 6ths. THe 6th is the inverted interval of the 3rd (so C to E is a 3rd and E to C is a (minor) 6th) and since most of the harmony we are working with is 3rds based then this makes the 6th an easy interval to use in lines without sounding out there or intervallic. The examples later in this lesson will also show that.

3 scale execises you should know - ex 2

Playing diatonic arpeggios of triads or 7th chords are essential to understand the harmony that is contained in a scale or key. What we often forget is that especially the triad inversions are also very strong melodies, and practicing those in the scale will give you a much stronger overview of each note in the triads. It will also give you some very strong melodic structures to put to use in your lines.

3 scale execises you should know - ex 3

I have only shown the 1st inversion triads here, but you should also have a look at the 2nd inversion triads!

Stacks of 4ths are a very important part of the more modern jazz sound since they are connected to pentatonic scale sounds and suspended chords. Playing stacks of 4ths in the scale can prove a bit difficult, but will then also help develop several aspects of both right and left hand technique!

3 scale execises you should know - ex 4

The scale position that I’ve used is of course 3 notes per string (3 nps) and that makes the fingering very predictable and therefore easy to play, but in the end it is not too important what you use. There will also be pros and cons for strict postion, caged or 3nps systems in terms of fingerings and knowing all of them can be an advantage. As an example 3nps systems are quite stretchy and can be hard on your left hand in the lower positions.

Putting the exercises to use in lines

It is important to spend time using the things you practice in your scales to make music. Just improvising with whatever scale exercise you just did is not a very useful approach for most people, and you are often better of trying to sit down and come up with different ways of incorporating the material by composing lines.

The firs example is mainly using the 6th interval, but actually touches on the other two exercises as well. The line starts out with a 6th skip from the 5th to the 3rd on Dm7.  From there it ascends up a stack of 4ths and resolves that with a descending scale run. On the G7alt it is using a 6th drop both from Ab to B  and Eb to G to break up a scale line. It resolves to the 9 (D) of Cmaj7.

3 scale execises you should know - ex 5

The triad inversions are the base of the 2nd example where it starts out with a 1st inversion F major triad on the Dm7. The rest of the Dm7 line is an Fmaj7 arpeggio. On the G7alt the line consists of connecting two 1st inversion triads: Db and Abm. From there it resolves down to the 3rd of Cmaj7.

3 scale execises you should know - ex 6

Whenever I am using the 6th interval I am skipping between two chrod notes. In example 3 it is from the 3rd and up to the root. From there the line continues with the rest of a Dm7 arpeggio and then a descending scale line. On the G7alt the line is based on two stacks of 4ths from Eb and F  over the G chord from there the line resolves to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7.

3 scale execises you should know - ex 7

I hope you can use the exercises and the concept of applying them to your music to get some new lines and also to have a better command and udnerstanding of your scales.

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

3 scale execises you should know

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