These 7 Major guitar scale patterns are for standard tuning
[E-A-D-G-B-E] and are built in C Major [C is the red shape].
The patterns are the same for all Major key centers [located in different positions than shown]. They always cycle in the same order [follow the small arrows and the line].
The numbers in the circles are the scale components using traditional naming.
We are numbering them based upon the string where the root lives and the finger that will start the pattern. So, 6/2 means the root is on the 6th string and we begin the pattern with a 2 finger.
"The map is not the territory." Alford Korzybski
Music is not pattern playing, yet learning these or other patterns can help us become functional in all keys.
This system is just one way to organize guitar scales in standard tuning. Ultimately, it comes down to octaves. 4 of these scale forms are combinations of two octaves.
Scale patterns are maps [mental and physical]; maps that can get us going. Yet, they are meant to be transcended. When we jam, we work with other vital dimensions of our musicianship, rather than playing patterns. For a simpler starter lesson, check out 7 basic scales at the nut [these are the heels].
Knowing patterns and tone names for every key isn't absolutely mandatory, yet sometimes can be. Both patterns [forms] and tone names/numbering are points of reference. They supply a 'scaffolding' we can transcend once we know them, if we choose. While in a soloing groove, these tones may resonate as points of light or vibrant colors, rather than letter names or numbers or some type of pattern. Our ear & voice are our guides with being melodic.
These guitar scale patterns are movable to any position [each form is always 12 for 1].
They also follow a linear cycle of forms ["Scale Forms always go in order"], each of which contains a fixed position CAGED chord cycle [CForm is for the I chord] & a Pentatonic Frame [some have 2].
As always, look for octave shapes. Both chords and scales [ultimately the same thing] wrap around or fill in octaves. Octave shapes are the basic skeleton of the guitar.
The information on the left of each grid [for right handers] - and on the right of each grid for left handers is still pertinent, but some of the terms I no longer use [they were and are shorthand]. I also think that it is important to know the scale component, rather than just where to a tone is located [a black dot].
Here are what those blocks of information mean:
Root = The tone which names a scale, chord, or key. A root is the tone we build things from and around. On the grids, it is which string the root is on: either 6, 5, or 4. Three patterns are built from the 6 and 5 strings. One pattern for the 4 string. 4-4 and 4-2 are located within the 6/2 & 6/1.
Finger = Which fretting hand finger starts the scale. The first number is for all higher fretted versions of the scale. The number in parenthesis is the finger that starts the scale at the nut for the scale form - the origin.
SForm = Scale Form. It is the lowest possible fingering of the scale pattern - what we are calling the origin and heel.
CForm = Chord Form. It is chord form for the I chord [starting point for the fixed position cycle of chord forms]. In some of the scale forms, more than one chord form is present (those guitar scales which shift positions - with these, the chord forms are fragmented). In a fixed position [scale form], the types of forms follow the CAGED cycle: when we play a fixed position alphabetical chord scale, ascending, the forms are reversed...DEGAC, with 2 repeats. While descending, the forms follow the CAGED cycle in order, with 2 repeats. Which forms repeat depends on which wing we use. Wings are the unisons on each edge of a scale form. We have options.
PFrame = Pentatonic Frame. From the Major, if we 'take away' the 4 & 7 scale degrees, we have the Major Pentatonic. From the relative minor (the same scale as Major, just starting on the 6th scale degree), if we 'take away' the 2 & 6 scale degrees, we have the minor Pentatonic. The pentatonics can be viewed as 'hollowed out' Major & minor scales.
In everyday work, I no longer use the terms SForm, CForm, and PFrame, as they were basically shorthand. I do slip now and again in live teaching scenarios, and use these terms, but in trying to continue the simplification process, I retired them [even though they have/had value]. The core idea with this type of naming is that we understand how these three things are related, overlayed, integrated. All of the shapes and patterns and things are based on octaves. Each of the 7 octaves have a structure, and have tones which we add to create a multitude of scale and chord types.
|Form||The Heel for...|
Each of the 7 scale patterns has a point on the board where it can be moved no lower. This location, we can call its origin. There are 7 origins that lend their architecture to the other tones which are not origins.
We could also think of an origin as a heel [as in a loaf of bread]. The slices always go in the same order, but one of them needs to be [has to be] at or near the nut. These 'first slices' or 'heels' are our 7 origins.
Knowing tone names isn't absolutely mandatory, yet can be. As with patterns, tone names are points of reference. They supply a 'scaffolding' we can ignore (transcend) later, if we choose. While in a soloing groove, these tones may resonate as points of light or vibrant colors, rather than letter names. Our ear & voice are our guides with being melodic.
In a non-reference playing mode, names may not even exist for us. Also, if we decide to rename all of the tones (such as: Frank, or orange, or pretty-bird), we will need to find people who also call the tones by those names [or just go solo with our fabulous new naming system]. Or, convince people that our naming system is superior (or inferior, if you are into that). Whatever we end up naming the tones, it becomes a medium to communicate with other musicianers.
As we build our understanding of standard tuning (or any tuning), we realize how tones interact with tones (i.e. how tones we use to solo, interact with the chords that are being sounded).
One of the best ways to memorize tone names is to say the tone name as we play it. "Say it while we play it."
Also, memorize all of the A's within a scale pattern. And, all of the B's. The C's, etc. And, this will lead to knowing our octave shapes, which as you know, I promote.