July 29, 2011

Whole Tones and Introduction to Scales

A whole tone is made up of two semitones. If you remember from the last lesson, a semitone is the interval between two adjacent notes, which is one fret on guitar. A whole tone, however, is the interval between two semitones, which is two frets. A whole tone can be achieved if one plays a note followed by another note that is two frets higher or lower than the first. Let's use the C note as an example.

A   A#   B   C   C#   D   D#   E   F   F#   G   G#  
    W    H   *   H    W                     

* - Starting note
W - whole tone
H - Half tone/semitone

Semitones of the C note would be C to C# (ascending) or C to B/Cb (descending) while whole tones of C would be C to D (ascending) or C to Bb/A# (descending). If we tried to find the whole tones of G#, they would be Gb/F# and A#/Bb. Different patterns of whole and semi tones create scales. 

Find the C note and play this pattern: W W H W W W H 
You start by playing the C note. For each W, move up two frets. For each H, move up one fret. It could look something like this:

e|---------------------|           e|-----------------|
B|---------------------|           B|-----------------|
G|---------------------| or maybe  G|-------------4-5-|
D|---------------------|           D|-------3-5-7-----|
A|-3-5-7-8-10-12-14-15-|           A|-3-5-7-----------|
E|---------------------|           E|-----------------|

If it sounded like the very familiar DoReMiFaSoLaTiDo scale, you just played the C Major Scale. Each scale is based off of the major scale. Memorize these scale shapes:

   *W W H W W W H*   *W W H W W W H*

   *W W H W W W H*   *W W H W W W H*

If you memorize these fingering shapes, you can play this anywhere on the neck and it will be a major scale. Just apply the same pattern to a different starting fret.

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