Making sense of scale and chord shapes

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Here is brief look at the impact of guitar tuning on scale and chord shapes

Any scale or chord of a particular type has notes that must occur spaced out at various musical distances (semitones) from the scale start note, or chord root.

Each of these notes makes an interval with that start note or chord root (remember an interval always involves precisely two notes, some number of semitones apart (with 0 semitones meaning they are identical notes, such as playing the 5th fret on the bass E strimg, and the open A string). The specific spacing determines the sound palette of notes you have to use to create tthe sound flavour of that scale or chord … but with a scale, there are additional steps you need to take, based on which notes you emphasise, to successfully bring out that sound flavour. That is the topic of another blog.

For example, to create a minor pentatonic, the notes required are found at 0, 3, 5, 7 and 10 semitones from whatever the scale start note is you chose. They are also found at all octaves of these.

Every scale and chord can be specified like this, but usually we use musical symbols or words, rather than literally using semitone distances. The same minor pentatonic is then written as 1, b3, 4, 5, b7. You can see that b7 is the musical symbol for a note located 10 semitones above the scale start note. Again, all octaves are implied.

How do you create the minor pentatonic starting at the note A on the G string? Simple. The note A is found at fret 2. The required notes must be at frets 2+0, 2+3, 2+5, 2+7 and 2+10 (2 5 7 9 12) and start again 12 frets (the octave) higher.

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