Lessons By Scale

Want to work with a particular scale?  This is the place!   Major, minor, pentatonics, blues scales, modes, etc…  This auto generated list will update every time I post a lesson (or update an old one) that uses a specific scale, mode, or mood.  This is a new feature (Sept 2014) of FJi, so it may take me a bit to add these “scale tags” to all the old lessons.  Let me know if you have suggestions or don’t see something you think should be there.

Note 1: You may see some bleed over from list to list, as many FJi lessons (especially in our Artist Level) will feature the use of more than one scale in a song!

Note 2: If you have a song or recording that you’d like to jam over but are not sure of the key or scale to use, just send me a quick note with a link to the tune (on YouTube, etc…) and I will be happy to help you out!  Just use the comment form at the bottom of nearly every FJi page. I will then put your submission in our Fiddle Jam Interactive Song Key Archive (FJISKA) for other students to benefit from too!


Major: Do-Re-Me… The King of scales! The “Standard” that all other scales are compared to and measured by! Note Numbers: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Minor: A fairly wide subject with many sub-scales, but here’s the auto-generated list. Note Numbers: all minor-based scales will  always include a b3 but the 6 and 7 can vary (and sometimes even the 2 & 5). Major Pentatonic: 5-note happy and folk-y “gap-toothed” version of Major.  This scale is the basis for nearly every fiddle tune melody you will learn! Note Numbers: 1 2 3 – 5 6 – 8 Minor Pentatonic: Cousin of Major Pentatonic, but darker and cooler sounding. Note Numbers: 1 – b3 4 5 – b7 8 Blues Scale: The coolest of them all!  Your “go-to” jamming default.  Clashes and bangs its way into & on top of nearly every style and chord type!  Note Numbers: 1 – b3 4 b5 5 – b7 8 (nearly the same as minor pentatonic, just add b5) Harmonic Minor: Originally invented and named simply because it makes stronger sounding harmonies than “Pure” or “Aeolian” (mode) minor, it has become a staple of the Gypsy Jazz sound.  Note Numbers: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 – 7 8 (note the very Eastern sounding step-and-a-half jump from b6 to 7). Arabic Scale: This is my own name for this scale (but I think a good & descriptive one). This fun scale is widely used from Eastern Europe all the way through India & Pakistan.  Of note are the four pairs of half-steps and two step-and-a-half jumps!  Note Numbers: 1 b2 – 3 4 5 b6 – 7 8  Mixo-Bluesian Scale: Kind of a secret handshake amongst musicians, this scale is an always moving mix of Mixolydian mode & Blues scale, also called “Major Blues” by some. Note Numbers: 1 2 (b3) 3 4 (b5) 5 6 b7 8 Moods of the Modes: The seven classic greek modes are all related to each other (see our Music Mechanics lessons & courses for more info on this), but here at FJi, I teach them in a “parallel” fashion (all starting from the same note) using the note number system so you, as an improviser, can call upon their unique moods as desired. Ionian Mode: Same as the major scale above!  I gave Ionian a separate category ID behind the scenes so you can find the lessons where it is referenced in context with modes.  Note Numbers: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Dorian Mode: Carlos Santana would not have a career without this scale!  You can see it as a more sophisticated and filled-in blues scale.  Note Numbers: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 8 (E-Z memorization formula = b3 b7) Phrygian Mode: Minor-based Spanish-sounding mode. Note Numbers: 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8 (E-Z memorization formula = b2 b3 b6 b7) Lydian Mode: Major with a sharped 4th.  This scale is used in some Jazz songs.  Note Numbers: 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 8 (E-Z memorization formula = #4) Mixolydian Mode: You will use this mode a LOT in the modern styles featured throughout FJi materials!  It is basically a major scale with a b7 and fits perfectly over dominant 7 chords.  Note Numbers: 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 8  (E-Z memorization formula = b7) Aeolian Mode:  Also called “Pure” or “Natural” minor, or “Relative” minor in the Classical music world. Note Numbers: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8 (E-Z memorization formula = b3 b6 b7) Locrian Mode: I affectionately call this one “loco” (crazy) mode!  You will most likely not use this mode much, but it is used by theatrical composers when they need an unsettled or unfinished feeling (like in police shows while they are looking for clues, etc…).  The reason for it’s unfinished sound is that it actually is identical to a major scale 1/2 step up (and is always trying to pull our ears there).  Note Numbers: 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 8 (~E-Z memorization formula? = b2 b3 b5 b6 b7) V7b9 Scale: This my own term for the scale that is the perfect match for a Dominant V chord with a flatted 9th.  This is an advanced concept that comes up in some of our Artist Level lessons especially with the style of Gypsy Jazz.  Note Numbers: 1 b2 – 3 4 5 6 b7 8 (E-Z memorization formula = b2 b7 only!) Diminished Scales: These tend to be very interpretive!  Basically they are filled-in versions of diminished arpeggios.  They tend to lay a bit awkwardly in the fingers, but can be fairly handy in certain musical situations (like Gypsy Jazz).  Their mathematical uniformity can sound a bit strange to our ears with their alternating whole and half step pattern.  Sometimes Jazz players will throw these in over any chord and then twist their way out of it for effect!  More often, musically, I will just focus on the fully diminish chord’s arpeggio (1 b3 b5 6 8) and fill in the in-between notes with choices from the overall key as needed.  Note Numbers: 1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 bb7 (6) 7 8 (E-Z memorization formula = good luck!  I find this one to be more of a muscle memory than an intellectual one)



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