Practicing Scales

The traditional method of practicing scales, two hands moving up and down four octaves, is great for technique but doesn't do much to improve your skills as an improvisor. Because you're always starting on the root, reversing directions on the root, and ending on the root, you're using only one seventh  of the possibilities inherent in each scale.

Beginning jazz musicians often play:

D, E, F, G, A, F, E, D

Then: G, A, B, C, D, B, A, G

And: C, D, E, F, G, F, E, D, C.


By going up the Ionian mode, down the Dorian, up the Phyrgian, down the Lydian, and so on, you're starting on each note, reversing directions on each note, and ending on each note of the C major scale.

Example:

Ionian (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C)

Dorian (D, C, B, A, G, F, E, D)

Phrygian (E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E)

Lydian (F, E, D, C, B, A, G, F)

Mixolydian (G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G)

Aeolian (A, G, F, E, D, C, B, A)

Locrian (B, C, D, E, F, G, A B)

Ionian (C, B, A, G, F, E, D, C)

You've only covered half the possibilities. Reverse everything, going down the Phrygian, up the Lydian, and so on. Use the same pattern to practice the melodic minor scales.

Ionian (C,B,A,G, F, E, D, C)

Dorian (D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D)

Phrygian (E, D, C, B, A, G, F, E)

Lydian (F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F)

Mixolydian (G, F, E, D, C, B, A, G)

Aeolian (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A)

Locrian (B, A, G, F, E, D, C, B)

Ionian (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C)

If you practiced this exercise every day, you'd still be starting the C Major Scale on C every day. I think it helps to take this idea even further, starting the C Major scale  on C one day, D the next, E the next, and so on. If this seems like taking things to extremes, remember, the goal is to de-program yourself from years of root-bias conditioning.





-- LadyD Have a heart that never hardens and a touch that never hurts. Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
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