Magazine article Guitar Player

Jazz Improvisation: Managing the Whole-Tone Scale

Magazine article Guitar Player

Jazz Improvisation: Managing the Whole-Tone Scale

Article excerpt

THIS MONTH WE WILL TURN our attention to the structure and application of the whole-tone scale. It is a particularly assertive member of the scale family, and when used with discretion can have great expressive power.

Knowledge of scales is often thought to involve more pain than pleasure, and this is because scales can be musically domineering, and can lead to stiff, cold, calculated improvisations. But of course, there need not be such an unhappy ending. With a thorough understanding of the construction and applications of scales, you can make them what they should be: a help rather than a hindrance. Therefore, it is essential that you acquire the ability to construct any given scale immediately on the fingerboard--from any point. Furthermore, it is essential to know where any given scale may be used. Developing these skills will transform obstacles into tools. With this in mind, let's move on to the scale.

Structure. This is the easiest to memorize of all the scales; it is composed simply of whole steps. In previous articles over the past year-and-a-half, the scales were learned by getting to know the locations of the half-steps within the scale (e.g., a major scale's half-steps are between the third and fourth and seventh and eighth steps). In the case of the whole-tone scale, there is nothing to learn--there are no half-steps.

Note that the octave has a smaller number of divisions than usual; the whole-tone scale covers it in seven scale steps (a major scale uses eight).

Application. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.