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Play a One Octave Major Scale in Any Key Instantly.
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Honorary tenured advisor

May 24, 2016 - 1:55 pm
Member Since: January 19, 2014
Forum Posts: 973
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I've noticed that a lot of people become freaked out over key signatures.  They see a number of sharps or flats in the key signature and immediately think they can't play that piece, because it's too hard.  The truth is, however, that there's nothing any harder about playing a sharp or a flat than there is a natural note.  The hard thing about the violin is avoiding playing somewhere in between the sharp or flat and the natural. 

The normal tuning of a violin makes playing a single octave major scale very simple anywhere on the instrument.  The reason this is so is because the strings are tuned to major fifths. Every major scale is exactly the same.  It's whole-step, whole-step, half-step, WHOLE-STEP, whole-step, whole-step, half-step. One reason that I put the WHOLE-STEP in the middle in all caps is because this is the point where we will change to the next higher string when playing a scale.  It's the step that leads to the Major fifth -- which is, conveniently, the same location that your first finger is on currently, but one string over. 

Major scales, are said to be composed of two "tetrachords" joined by a whole step.   The second reason for the all caps WHOLE STEP  is that this is the one that binds those two "tetrachords" together.  It turns out that a tetrachord just means that the eight notes of the scale are divided into two four note pieces. They are  joined together by a whole step. If we look at each tetrachord individually we see that they are exactly the same. Whole-step, whole-step, half-step -- with that WHOLE STEP in the middle gluing them together.  

So, technical mumbo-jumbo aside, pick a spot on the D string, the E note for example, (which would be the Key of E) and put your first finger there.  Now starting from there, finger 2 is a whole step (F#), another whole step to finger 3 (G#), then a half step to finger 4 (A).  That's the first tetrachord.  Now move finger 1 directly across from where it was to the A string (that will be a B).  Play finger 1 (B), a whole step to finger 2 (C#), a whole step to finger 3 (D#) and a half step to finger 4 (E).  That's the second tetrachord.  The WHOLE STEP that glued the tetrachords together was made when you changed strings.  

Now, you can start anywhere on the neck and play a one octave Major Scale in any key you want in any position on the neck that you choose. If you want to play a second octave, simply place your first finger on the last note in the current octave and do that same thing starting from there. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

California, the place of my heart
May 24, 2016 - 2:14 pm
Member Since: January 11, 2012
Forum Posts: 4180
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Great explanation Uzi.

Thank you!   

BTW... I was thinking of you last night.  I was Watching CNN, Anthony Bourdains, Parts Unknown and he visited Georgia.  It was a good show and I loved seeing the food and the custom.. (oh those dumplings).  Included was some history and culture...and a lot of drinking.   :)  Ha  It was nice, one of the parts of the show everyone was having a family dinner and drink and there was a guitar playing. The narrator likened the music to Mariachi Music (Mexican).... anyway.. I certainly enjoyed the show.

Again... thanks for the tips on playing an octave scale in an instant. This was the way that it was taught in my Fundamentals of Music class. Except of course we learned on a piano. :)

Take care!

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato


May 27, 2016 - 12:57 am
Member Since: October 10, 2011
Forum Posts: 184
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If I get a bit lost sometimes, wondering what major scale I need for what mode in what key, I'll find that major scale tetra chord, and then I know where I am and what I'm doing. Very handy to orientate one's self me thinks.

... a bit of a side track on this, but sorta related. There are only 7 different closed finger patterns for the major scale over 4 strings. I've learned to recognize these closed patterns when going up the finger board over 4 strings, and then take these patterns modal. Once you know which finger pattern you're in you can play around 3 or 4 strings if you want... shift up or down a whole or half step and play in that finger pattern. If you're a half step out in finding the correct finger pattern, no biggie, a quick correction that no one notices... and keep on playing. 

"Striving to attain Mediocrity"

Brora, North-east Scotland
May 29, 2016 - 3:44 pm
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 3741
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Yup - nice description and explanation, Uzi thumbs-up

The tetrachord is interesting - just play the first four notes (or second four) - in whatever key - let's say D -   D, E, F#, G - and those notes alone, as the intro to a tune.....   is the tune going to be in D or G ?   ( for the sol-fa folks it's like do, re, mi, fah (in D) - ***OR*** - is it soh, lah, ti, do (in G).   And that's because, precisely as Uzi says, the intervals between the notes of the lower and upper four notes are both 2, 2, 1. ( whole, whole, half)

And I suspect it is used, or variants thereof, to sometimes introduce a subtle change of key in a tune....  jings - I'm trying to think of a couple of pieces I'm pretty sure change key by a fourth but they're not coming to mind right now...  Oh I got one... noooo - it changes to the fifth...  no matter, it'll come back to me..  grrrrrr

"Whisky Before Breakfast" starts like that, but, if there is the slightest question in the attentive listener's ear, it resolves pretty quickly to the tonic (key of D) once the following bar arrives.  ( LOL - doesn't apply if you know the tune already - "name that tune in 4 notes" lol  - but you could still be surprised if it is a first-listening to a tune that's new to you......  ).   Ain't it wonderful how music "works" and goes beyond the notes-on-a-pagethumbs-up

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

Fort Lauderdale
June 10, 2016 - 1:30 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 16062

The intervals are the same. Exactly.
Thanks for the post.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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