This is a resource of scales and theory for you to revisit and refer to. For each scale, we’ll show you how to play it in two positions, and Sam will talk you through the theory behind it.
Use Scale Library to learn how to play scales and also to understand chord-scale relationships and music theory better.
In jazz, we often convert scale note names to numbers. So in the key of C major, C is your one chord (usually written with Roman numerals, I), Each chord in the C major scale is given a number: I II III IV V VI VII
To make things more confusing, any chord has it’s own scale degrees. For example the II chord of C major is D minor 7. The chord D minor 7 has root, a 3rd, 5th, and 7th. When we refer to chords we use roman numerals, when we refer to scale degrees, we use regular numbers.
How to practice scales
Improvising is like talking, and scales are a key part of your vocabulary. Your primary goal with scales, should be to hear them—to know recognize their sound, and be able to hear them in your head.
To get to that point, you need them to be muscle memory.
Follow these steps to learn any scale:
Step 1. Commit it to muscle memory
- Always use a metronome
- Play the scale slowly up & down
- Play the scale in 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths and 7ths
Step 2. Sing and hear the scale
- As above, but sing the scale while playing it slowly
- Use our chord color audio and improvise over the scale
Step 3. Build speed
Learning scales is a mechanical process, there is no skipping putting in the practice for them to become second nature. Beyond these three steps, you’ll want to start applying the scales to songs, and finding ways to use them musically.
As always, make sure to start slow. There’s a lot here to cover!