I've learnt 5 major scale patterns so far, but I don't understand how to apply them to make music.

closed as too broad by Tim, Richard, MattPutnam, Matthew Read Mar 9 '17 at 22:45

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Try playing the scales you have learned using sequences besides just going up and down the scales. For instance, you can start on the first note and play every other note of the scale (playing thirds). Maybe try playing the first 4 notes of your scale, repeat starting on the second note, then on the third, etc.

Just by mixing up the way you play notes within the scale, your ear will start to get some ideas you like that you will be able to turn into "licks" which will become part of your music vocabulary.


The notes from a scale are somewhat like the letters that make up words, except while all letters do not happily follow each other to make readable words, these notes will follow each other, in pretty well any order, to make short tunes, called phrases; then you can join several phrases together to make a tune.

Assuming you've learnt the notes from one individual scale in 5 places on guitar, you can play the same phrases in different places, and also switch from one position to another if the fingering is easier.

Initially, start and finish your phrases or tunes on the root note, which will give it a feeling of starting a journey from home, and ending it in the same place - bit like real lfe, in many ways!

Quick and slow notes will make tunes and phrases sound different - even if you play up and down a scale, using different length notes, it stops sounding just like a scale, and almost becomes a tune.

Or, looking at in another way, taking Western music generally, most tunes and songs will use only (or mainly) those notes from a scale that you have learnt. So, if you want to play a tune that exists, you'll find most, if not all of the notes that make that tune within those scale notes.

  • Thanks for your answer sir, but I was not really curious about the theory, more like how to play a "Lick" out of a scale pattern or so... – Vigi Menyhárt Gyula Mar 9 '17 at 15:49
  • Short of telling you which notes to actually play, the answer does that! – Tim Mar 9 '17 at 17:37

Try using portions of the scale like @mikeford suggests, but also consider how to apply rhythms. Below are two charts.

  1. Select portions of the scale (or chord.) Here are tips from Jamey Abersold for learning scales and chords for any song. It's meant to be preparation exercise for jazz improvisation, but it's also a nice methodical, progressive approach for transforming a plain scale (or chord) into musical ideas.

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  1. Use a similar approach for applying rhythm. This chart gives basic patterns to fill a bar in common time.

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You could try something like selecting two of the Abersold patterns using one of the rhythmic modes/patterns. Some combinations may work better than others.

Probably my favorite example of a real melody based on a simple scale is beginning of Joy to the World. It's just a descending scale with a distinctive rhythm. From the 2-beat rhythm chart, it's sort of a combination of patterns #1 & #3.

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