The Chromatic Scale

Published on 26 January 2016
For more information from the source site of this video please visit: The Chromatic Scale The chromatic scale is made up of all the notes we use in the Western system of music. The scale has 12 steps, but commonly we use 17 different names for the notes on this scale. Why bother to learn anything that confusing? Well, knowledge of this scale is the key to naming all the notes on the guitar fretboard. And that's just the beginning of how it'll help you. It is also an absolute essential foundation to studying guitar music theory, without which it is extremely difficult to progress beyond the beginner stages of guitar playing. Here is one way of playing the chromatic scale in E: (see video). Notice there's something a bit weird about this scale-- the names of the notes don't seem to follow any kind of logic do they? The reason for the weirdness is that the naming of the notes on this scale was evolved not by guitar players but by keyboard players... explains it all really doesn't it!? Let's take a brief historic peek into this wacky world for a moment: Imagine a keyboard with nothing but white notes. How would you know which note was which? Well you could colour some of the notes like this: (see video). Then a really clever idea might be to make those coloured notes higher and narrower than the white notes... ..Which gives players the additional advantage of being able to locate notes by touch alone, freeing up their eyes to read the music. It also enables them to span at least an octave with one hand. This is a potted account of the thinking behind the development of how notes are laid out on a modern keyboard instrument. And this is also the best way to visualise how the notes of the chromatic scale are named. Firstly, the white notes are named after the first five letters of the alphabet ABCDEFG. Then, for reasons that emerge much later as you explore the subject of music theory, each black note is given two possible names. The black note to the right of the note C can be called C# which means one step higher than C, but it can also be named Db meaning one step lower than D. If you're wondering why this particular pattern was chosen, take a look now at how the black notes are grouped on a keyboard: See them in clusters of two and three? Well it is this pattern that gives the keyboard player his orientation: For example, notice that the note C always comes just before the group of TWO black notes? ..the note D always comes after the group of TWO black notes? And so on. So each note's position is uniquely definable by this pattern -- neat eh? Meanwhile back at the guitar... We are really still back where the keyboard was 500 odd years ago before all these clever ideas were thought up! This means that although the sequence of notes we play is the same as the keyboard player -- we cannot see the difference between the natural notes -- the white notes on the keyboard and the accidentals -- black notes on the keyboard: There is absolutely no visual clue as to the difference. So the trick is to bear in mind the layout of the keyboard and appreciate how it influences the naming of notes on the guitar. Put simply, the notes of the chromatic scale are named after the first seven letters of the alphabet with each of those letters being followed by a sharp except E and B: A useful view when you are working in the opposite, descending direction, is to think of each note having a flat after it except for C and F : Note that the chromatic scale can be applied to any string in this fashion to work out the names of the notes at each fret. So you can see that a fluent knowledge of the chromatic scale helps shortcut the process of learning guitar and removes a great deal of guesswork and the need to memorise things. Over in the Guitar Gym (section of http:/ there is a session on Chromatic chanting, which I strongly recommend for anyone who has the slightest difficulty memorising this scale. Great fun and very, very effective. Hope you found that interesting. Once you have had a bit of practice using the chromatic scale to work out note names, then I look forward to seeing you in the next theory lesson where we look at tones, semitones and the Major Scale Formula. Bet you can't wait!