Saturday, January 22, 2011

Scales and Keys - What You Don't Know

Many people believe they already know everything there is to know on this seemingly simple subject of scales and keys.  I'm going to challenge you on your understanding.  I've taught a lot of smart people -probably just like you- to play by ear and never a week went by that I didn't ask them "What's a major scale?"  

Each time, they'd recite back to me the one-dimensional, factual, book-learned answer.  The answer is a LOT more than the basic fact and you've got to look DEEP.  You must be able to grasp the concept of the scale order and use it to teach yourself to get better.  It's a  simple understanding of 8 notes that provides you with all the answers you will ever need.  The major scale is the cornerstone. 

Forget about notes;
Forget about 88 keys;
Forget about Octaves;
Forget about chords;
Forget about all the different key signatures.

You must look at the major scale order as a ruler that merely lays out the order of 8 notes.  Forget keys, sharps and flats . . . everything.  Just concentrate on the single, mathematical fact.  The key to understanding the major scale concept is understanding that this simple 8-note order is the single, unifying principle that spawns infinite possibilities.  It's the big bang in the universe of music.  You must focus your attention on the one unifying principle and not on the infinite possibilities.

You can know the book-learned side of this 101 concept but not really understand the practical applications.  For example, you might want to:

•  figure out a chord;
•  figure the numerical order of a progression;
•  decipher the numerical order of a progression;
•  figure out what the next progressive key is;
•  figure out where to put the next progressive notation on the staff;
•  quickly identify the relative minor;
•  quickly identify the relative major;
•  figure out your best chord options to play by ear;
•  understand how and why a key modulates to another key and back;
•  and the list goes on and on . . . 

Besides the basic facts, the video goes into some conceptual understandings you may have never thought of before.  I challenge you to watch the video and learn something new.  Make comments.


Joseph Pingel is a pianist, teacher and musicologist.  Click here to get the free companion book to this blog.  See his other sites at and 

© 2011 Keyed Up Inc

No comments:

Post a Comment