Massive CAGED workout

I. Introduction

Today we will write and play the scales you know in intervals aka scale degrees.  The degree of the note in the scale is a number from 1 to 7. The first note of the scale is the “first degree” and you will write down “1” in the diagram. The second note of the scale is the “second degree”, and you will write “2” in the diagram, etc.

For example, the C major scale is made by the notes C D E F G A B. When you write the scale patterns over the diagrams, you will write “1” wherever there is a C, “2” wherever there is a D, and so on and so forth.  Try to do this right now with one of the patterns for the C major scale.

For CAGED use this link.  (The yellow dots are the roots, each to be marked with a “1”).

For 3 NPS use this link.  (Note that the numbers in the diagram do NOT refer to intervals but fingers to be used for each root note, so don’t let that confuse you.  Any note marked with a number will turn out to be a “1” on your sheet.)

The formula for the major scale is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

The formula for the minor scale is 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7

The formula for the major pentatonic is 1 2 3 5 6

The formula for the minor pentatonic is 1 b3 4 5 b7

For blank fretboard diagrams, use this link.

II. Assignment

Your assignment is to write out every scale pattern that you’ve memorized in numbers, and play the scale all the way through the entire position, starting on the lowest root, ascending all the way to highest note in that shape, then down to the lowest note, and then ascend back to the root you started on.

From there, play the scale with a “pedal point” pattern.  This means the you play first note then the second, then first then third, then first then fourth, etc.  So for the minor pentatonic you’d play 1, b3, 1, 4, 1, 5, 1, b7, 1.  Then move to the next octave (in same position) and go as far as you can until you reach the top note of the position.  To descend, do it in reverse where the pattern might go b7, 1, 5, 1, 4, 1, b3, 1 the next octave down.

For more advanced players, choose any mode of major, melodic minor, harmonic minor, etc.  For reference you can use this link.

III. The Theory Behind the Exercise

Why Should We Do All This?  We will explain by using an e note.  Play any e note on the guitar.  What “feeling” is communicated by that note?  It is sad or happy?  The correct answer is that this note ALONE has NO FEELING. Your brain does not associate any feeling to a single pitch without a context (chord or key).

Your brain, on the other hand, WILL associate a very specific feeling to this note if you play it together with a chord. . . the problem is that the feeling will change depending on the chord!  And here’s where the note degrees come in to help us!

As it turns out, a single note has no “emotional” meaning. . . but the FIRST note in a key will have a specific feeling when played over the tonic chord (the chord with the same name of the key). That is, if you play the C note over a C major chord, it will sound in a very specific way: very “stable” and “relaxed”/

Now if you change key, and you try playing the D note over a D major chord (D is the first note in the D major key. . . ) then this will give the SAME feeling! That is every time you play the first note over the tonic chord in a major key, it will sound EXACTLY the same, regardless if you are in C major, D major, F major, or B major.

In the same way, every time you play the SECOND note of the scale over the tonic chord (D over C major, E over D major, etc. . . ) it will sound the same way in all the major keys. It will sound different than the first note, of course. And every time you play the THIRD note of the scale over the tonic chord (E

over C major, F# over D major, etc. . . ) it will sound the same in every major key. And so on for all the notes.

The same thing happens in the minor keys of course: every time you play the first note over the tonic chord in any minor key, it sounds the same, and the same for the second, third. . . , seventh note.  This means that the key to really understand how to make music passes through learning where the scale degrees are in the scale patterns. . . and the best way to learn them is to write them down as we have explained above.