Scale Patterns You Don’t Hear Every Day

There are cool things you can do to ordinary scales that will make them sound more interesting—especially when you’re using them to improvise and want to create unpredictable sounds.
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For instance, it seems like just about everybody knows the A minor pentatonic scale [Ex. 1]. But how many people learn how to play this five-note scale in intervals of fifths and sixths, like this [Ex. 2]? It’s a simple pattern, but one you don’t hear every day.

You can also, of course, apply creative patterns to seven-note scales, including, say, the C major scale [Ex. 3]. Wide intervals always sound refreshing, such as melodic sixths [Ex. 4] and harmonic sixths [Ex. 5]. Being able throw in wide intervals randomly is also fun [Ex. 6], but as far as patterns go, my favorite is probably this one [Ex. 7], which crawls up the scale while simultaneously jumping back and forth between remote strings. And all of these approaches can be applied in many different ways. Experiment. And if you can play them fast, well, look out!

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