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Stupid Question

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Defualt User ImageBlinnick
6:55 pm Wednesday
February 1, 2006
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This has been bugging me for a while. So I figured I had to break my silence. What does it mean when you guys are talking about a scale and you write out (for example):
1 2 b3 4 5 6 7 1

Any breakdown or dumbing down would be appreciated.
User ImageBillyJack
8:12 pm Wednesday
February 1, 2006
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First off, your question is not stupid! In fact, quite the opposite. Those numbers are simply a method of learning and without exposure can be very frustrating.

There are 12 notes in western music
A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A (note: for each sharp there is a flat counterpart)
Any of these notes can be your key (or root). Once you decide on what key your in, that note becomes your 1. (in the key of A, A=1)

Now the other numbers 2 and above, represent the additional notes required to create a specific scale. Since the Major Scale is our primary scale, we use it as our reference and break the 12 intervals into just the 7 found in the Major Scale. (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,1)

Now to break the 12 down into 7 it requires a unique formula. The 12 notes have a consistant space in between each of them and this space is refered to as a {s}semitone (or 1/2 tone):

In the Key of "A", they appear as so
A {s} A# {s} B {s} C {s} C# {s} D {s} D# {s} E {s} F {s} F# {s} G {s} G#

In the Key of "C" the space does not change:
C {s} C# {s} D {s} D# {s} E {s} F {s} F# {s} G {s} G# {s} A {s} A# {s} B

The order of the notes never changes but, we do need to skip notes in order to create our scales. Since note to note is a {s}semitone then skipping one would double the space and make it a {w}wholetone (or 1 tone). A combination of {s}s and {w}s create our Major Scale. This is our formula:
1 W W S W W W S 1 (or 1 W 2 W 3 S 4 W 5 W 6 W 7 S 1) Since the formula is always the same, once you learn the spaces, you don't need to write the formula. Without the formula written in you have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1 and that is where the numbers come from.

Here's you some examples of how it works:
Look at the "A" Major Scale:
A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A
A {W} B {W} C# {S} D {W} E {W} F# {W} G# {S} A
(A=1, B=2, C#=3, D=4, E=5, F#=6, G#=7, A=1 again. By using the formula we eliminated A#, C, D#, F & G)

"C" Major Scale:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
C {W} D {W} E {S} F {W} G {W} A {W} B {S} C
(C=1, D=2, E=3, F=4, G=5, A=6, B=7, C=1 again. By using the formula we eliminated C#, D#, F#, G# & A#)

So 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1 are the Intervals of the Major Scale. To create other scales, you modify the Major by flattening or sharpening the intervals of the major.

For example, the Blues Scale = 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7. The key is irrelavent in the formula because the intervals are always the same. The key is needed just to know where to root (1) the scale.
Defualt User ImageBlinnick
2:15 am Thursday
February 2, 2006
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Thanks man, like I said this had been bothering me for a while. Thanks for helping me out. Might take a little while for me to digest but it really helps. Thanks again.
User ImageBillyJack
8:15 am Thursday
February 2, 2006
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You're welcome! I know it sounds like alot. Now that you've read the explaination, here's you some visuals that might help.

G Major intervals in the 3 forms

Now on the piano

The easiest way for me to remember is that there is a halfstep between 3&4 and 7&1. The rest are wholesteps and you have to skip a note.

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