View Full Version : Music Theory

12-30-2008, 01:57 PM
This links you to my Web Site where I store all of my Photos...or most of them anyway. But I also have other "stuff" available there.

One of those extra offerings is a complete set of Blues Scales.

Another that I am starting is some documentation on "Music Theory". The first entry is one describing how to build Major, Minor, Pentatonic and Blues scales from the 12 notes in the Chromatic Scale. All music is built around only the 12 notes in the Chromatic Scale! Well, I guess there might be an instrument that is out of tune that isn't hitting on exactly the 12 Chromatic notes but as a general statement, the 12 notes or pitches in the Chromatic Scale are all that matters.

You can access what I have put together on this topic by going to:

MUSIC (http://mvabercrombie.net/index.html)

Once you get there, look for the RED Eighth Note towards the bottom of the menu and follow the links. It really is some pretty interesting stuff.

12-31-2008, 04:35 AM
My time is VERY limited at the moment Mike, but when I get a little more I'll definitely check it out! OK?

12-31-2008, 10:32 AM
I do keep adding to it. I just added a little presentation on the "Circle of Fifths". For those who are not familiar with it, this "Circle" visually shows how the Keys are related (by their signature number of sharps and flats) and provides a means to instantly pick out the "I" "IV" "V" chord progressions as well as all the notes in the Major Key and even allows you to see the notes in the Major Pentatonic Key.

You do have to do a little more work to get the Minor and Minor Pentatonic Keys but the process is described.

I will continue to add scales and other things of import to the website as I develope presentations for them (and consequently as I LEARN them <LOL>)

MUSIC (http://www.mvabercrombie.net/index.html)

Just follow the links from the Main Menu and the RED Eight Note at the bottom, through to Music Theory and then you'll see the links to the scales and to the one that leads to Scale Structure and to the Circle of Fifths.


Just Another Hired Hand
01-03-2009, 02:04 AM
Nice work MikeA. I am slowly printing some of them up. I am starting the guitar for the second time...I wonder if I'll ever be any good at it...

01-03-2009, 08:30 AM
Playing guitar is a lot like playing golf. You can't beat it. All you can do is play the game. And along the way, you'll have a lot of fun and will get as much out of it as you are willing to put into it.

I found that when starting out, progress is by leaps and bounds and very gratifying if you start out with chords and work on them. If you decide to get further into it like working on solo and improv stuff, it seems to me that it gets progressively more difficult.

Good luck, and if I can help, just hollar.

01-03-2009, 02:18 PM
Are any of you old enough to remember the old "slide rules" that students and engineers used before calculators were available? Fortunately, I am old enough (and still alive I think) not only to remember them but also to have used them!

I got to thinking about how better to show the way the Scale Guitar Patterns "slid" up and down the neck and with each fret that they slid, they formed a different KEY that you would be playing in.

Somthing "clicked" and I thought that the principles of the old slide rules would make a great format for getting a visual on the scale patterns and what frets to play which notes on no matter what Key you were in!

So, I made a "paper doll" cutout pattern for making your own Musical Slide Rule! I have supplied the slide for the Minor Pentatonic Scale including the "Vb" "blues note". I cut it out and taped it together and it actually WORKS!

In fact, I showed it to my son in it's first version and he freaked out over it! He is a musician...plays in a band...he WANTS ONE.

Heck, this one slide scale that I've made replaces 12 printed sheets of paper such as I've uploaded to my site under the scales....24 sheets once I make a Major Pentatonic slide to fit into the base. The Single Base can be used for any slide you have the need for and the slides are the EASY part to make!

You can print off your own copy and assemble it with the directions given at:


Have Scaleular FUN!!!!

I am not going to remove what I've made available but I may be making some cosmetic changes to it. I'd like to mark the 5 scale patterns better for one thing.

The other thing, I'm going to have to experiment some with. I'm thinkng about making the base and the slide out of cardboard (like off the back of a notebook.) You'd have to paste or tape the patterns to the cardboard slide template and would have to tape or glue the fret imprinting to the base, but if you used cardboard, with a thickness of cardboard between the top and the back of the base, you would have a much sturdier slide assembly.

It all depends on how much use you would anticipate getting out of it. If a lot, then definitely the cardboard route would be the way to go.

Just Another Hired Hand
01-03-2009, 10:53 PM
You can print off your own copy and assemble it with the directions given at:


Have Scaleular FUN!!!!

This thing is truly awesome! I'll call it "The fertilizer of your genius." If I were you, I'd copyright it and publish it. It could make you a fortune. I remember (and used) the old slide rule. In fact, I still have mine. Nice work MikeA.

01-04-2009, 12:43 PM
Here's a photo of one that I constructed this morning from cardboard and a lot of Scotch Tape <LOL> Actually, I just used very small pieces of Scotch Tape to tack the printed stuff to the cardboard backing. The cardboard pieces are the backs of Notebooks Pads. It would have been nice if I'd had a Legal Pad to the the full length in one piece for the slide, but it worked out for me in splicing the two pieces together to get 14" out of an 11" piece of backing.

I ended up covering all surfaces with Packing Tape after I had positioned everything with those little pieces of Scotch Tape. I used NO GLUE! I think Verna would have shot me if I'd sprayed adhesive or even opened a can of contact cement in the house and it is too cold outside to work with the glue.

It was no compromise at all though. The tape worked GREAT. And the cardboard version pictured here is much easier to use and of course, will probably outlast me unless Miles gets ahold of it!

I have updated the version that I have on-line on my website with directions as to how to assemble the cardboard version.

The only "error" I have on this Beta version is a positioning problem with the cardboard version. It isn't a problem with the folded version. At the bottom of the scale slide, I made an attempt to name the patterns underneath their color coded starting and stopping frets. That worked fine. But underneath that, I thought it would be a good idea to remind users how to determine what notes were illustrated on the scale.

That makes a difference when you are trying to improvise during a jam session or when you are practicing to recorded rhythms. When chord changes occur, you want to end up on the note of the chord.

The red notes are the ROOT or "I" notes. The light BLUE ones are the "Vb" or blues notes. You can determine from those colored notes what the others are.

The "VII" is the first one to the left of the Red note (toward the Nut) but on the same string.

The "III" note is the closest one to the Red note on the same string but to the right (toward the Bridge).

The "V" note will always be the closest one to the Blue note to the right (towards the Bridge).

The "IV" note will be the closest to the Blue note to the left (towards the Nut).

You can see those notes on the bottom of the scale slide template that I made on my website, however, when making the cardboard version, those notes are trimmed off to allow for the width of the spacers that form the "tunnel" for the slide to fit into. I may come out with another version for the pattern that has those notes somewhere else.

<edited> I have subsequently redesigned the Minor Blues Scale slide so that the notes are seen on the slide as well as the pattern names.

01-04-2009, 10:08 PM
I have added the Major Pentatonic Blues Scale to the presentation on the slide rule on my website.

The Major slide has been improved over the Minor one and I plan to make the enhancements to the Minor scale when I can get a bit more time.

Basically, I've improved the way the patterns are indicated on the scale. None of the connecting lines overlap now so it is easier at a glance to pick out the correct frets that belong to the pattern you are working on.

The other thing I did was make an inconspicuous spot in the "III" and "V" notes in the Major scale. The chord progression is "I" "III" "V" in the Major scales...or at least, that is the most common chord progression with the "V" chord usually carrying a 7th.

Anyway, the Root Notes (the "I" notes) are indicated by a red circle. The Blues note (the "IIIb") is indicated by a light blue circle. The rest of the notes were unmarked...just black circles. Well, I put a small green spot in the center of the "III" note. I put an orange spot in the center of the "V" note.

I really didn't want to go crazy and color code every spot with a completely different color like I did for the Red Root note and the "Blues Note". It would have been too distracting for someone just learning the patterns.

But eventually, you will need at the very least to know where the Root, the "III" and the "V" notes are. You want to land on them as the last note in a set of barrs before chord changes. You want to hit that note that starts off the next chord. It's sort of like saying "hey, there something happening and here's a hint at it! If you don't end the group of chords that way, it sounds like you are not completing at task. Just doesn't usually sound right.

That's about it. Oh, I put another set of cut marks on the slide so you have something to go by depending on whether you are just folding the base or whether you are constructing it out of cardboard. The cardboard version requires a slide that is 1/2" narrower than the folded version.


01-04-2009, 10:21 PM
This is the truth! This idea for the slide rule was entirely original for me. I had never seen anything like it before. But as I was doing research on the scales AFTER I had made the first "folded version" of the apparatus, I found two internet sites that had something similar.

One place sells them for $13.98. I don't know how many or what kind of patterns and scales they provide in that price.

The other place sells PDF plans to make your own for $10 per set of plans!

I'm sure these guys have copyrighted their versions and possibly had a pattent applied for if they included an apparatus. I couldn't see the PDF file...I certainly wasn't going to spend $10 for something I'd already made!

There was just a thumbnail image of the completed one shown and it looked to be of folded paper of some sort. Probalby laminated, creased and then folded and sealed to make the base. That's the way I'd have done it if I were going to market a folded one.

I didn't see one constructed in the manor of the old fashioned Slide Rule like my cardboard version. They might be out there.

But if I were going to market it (which I do not plan to do) I would sell the base and one slide with a different scale on each side. Or possibly print the fretboard on both sides of the base and have the window open on both side so you could just flip it over to get the other scale.

I would offer different slides to be purchased separately for a reasonable amount that would work in the base. Possibly, I'd sell the base separately and allow the purchaser to select one slide to go with it and buy the others as accessories if they needed them. Of course anyone serious about playing the guitar is going to want to have a comple set.

There are possibilities, but it seems that I am a Johnny-come-lately on this scene. So, for what it's worth to you, ENJOY the FREE Slide Rule Plans. I'll add FREE scale patterns as I develop them.

01-11-2009, 01:20 PM
For those who might be interested, I have added the Major and Minor Scales for the guitar, complete with the 5 "patterns" that break the fretboard into practical "blocks" for memorization. You may know these two scales as the Ionian (major) and Aeolian (minor) 7-note scales.

I will not maintain the Pentatonic scales any longer as separate "sheets" for each Key. There really is no need. With the Slide Rule, you get all of those "Keys" in one compact easy to read and far more visual tool.

Granted, you do have to assemble it, but that really isn't that difficult. I just made two slides...one for the two Pentatonic Scales (one on each side) and one for the Ionian and Aeolian (Major and Minor 7-note) scales.

It takes about 10 minutes to cut out and tape the scales to the slide once you have them printed off.

If you are interested at all in learning to play the guitar for anything more than strumming chords (and there is NOTHING wrong with that!) then you really do need some sort of SCALE tool and this really is the best that I've found....and it is FREE!

Check out the updates:


01-12-2009, 01:54 PM
Oh my. I just got through with several HOURS of dinking around with that "E" Minor or Aeolian scale. It isn't hard to pick up if you already know the Pentatonic Blues scale. You're just pulling the "blues note" ("Vb") and adding in the "II" note and the "VI" note.

Do you remember that background music you might have heard in Westerns that were set in the Southwest and maybe centered on a romance with someone from across the border in Mexico? Remember that sad meloncoly music played rather slowly on an acoustic guitar...the stuff that just depressed the hell out of you?

Or maybe the theme song from "MASH"....that's "E" Aeolian played pretty high up on the fretboard in "E" Minor.

Well, that is what the "E" Aeolian is! Instant MOOD with a capital "M"! If you play the notes in this scale with just a bit of shuffle time tossed in and hang on those flats, you will have nailed that sound! Amazing what you can do with just a SCALE and Key change!

And, Aeolian is not the "darkest"! It has three flats while "Locrian" has FIVE FLATS! Good grief...if I played anything in THAT key, I'd probably just get so depressed I'd shoot myself!

02-04-2009, 02:57 PM
I have no idea where to post something like this. Has nothing to do with the Eagles....well, maybe in a very minor way.

I mentioned in another thread the technique of "pinch harmonics" and that I have always found them virtually impossible to accomplish myself. But, the last couple of days, I've been messing around a lot with them and have almost gotten the technique down enough to where I can produce them just about any time I want on any fret and on all but the "E" string (bass string).

The way I practice is to work on some scale to get limbered up. Sometimes, I don't even get away from that scale before retiring. But other times, I might stumble onto something that reminds me of something I've heard.

Well that happened today with the Minor Scales. I hit a couple of notes that reminded me of Bolero (SP) from Walsh's "Bomber" compilation. So I was trying to work it out. But in skipping around the neck looking for a register to play it in, I came across another series of notes that I followed and ended up finding "The Star Spangled Banner" <LOL> If I'm not mistaken, it is in the same register that Hendrix played it. Sure sounded like it! Kind of "funky" with all those squeals from the harmonics with the gain cranked all the way up!

That is the way most of the licks I end up with are "discovered". I seldom start out trying to replicate something. And often, I don't....it's just imrov on the scales. But every once in a while, something slaps me in the face like a dead fish and I can't get rid of the smell until I work it out!

02-05-2009, 03:00 AM
Very interesting, though I know so little about the actual music playing!

02-05-2009, 06:22 PM
Yeah, I'm afraid this is above my head, too!

02-05-2009, 06:30 PM
Yeah, I'm afraid this is above my head, too!

EV and Soda,

Sorry. Many guitarists don't understand harmonics....if that is what you are referring to. But if you pull out a ZZ-Top song where Billy Gibbons has a solo, you'll hear them....things sound "normal" and then the guitar just SQUAWKS. Makes a note that is about an octave higher than what you were expecting. That's a harmonic. Most are Pinch Harmonics that Gibbons plays. Stu uses them too but does it a little differently than most.

You can get "natural" harmonics out of an acoustic easily, but that's a different animal than the artificial...expecially Pinch.

No big deal. But there may be some electric ladies here who might want to give it at try. I recall someone had a Fender Strat.