Synthetic Scales

Welcome back! In this lesson I want to show you how to make up synthetic scales. A synthetic scale is a scale that is not diatonic to the major or minor scale, rather, a scale a composer constructs. There are several ways to construct a synthetic scale, there are 12 possible tones and you can select any combination. One really great way to construct scales is to use triads; take any two triads and put them together and you will get a six tone scale.

Example 1. Here we'll use the notes from a Am triad (A, C, E) and a Cm triad (C, Eb, G). Because there is a C in both triads, you will only get a 5 note scale (A, C, Eb, E, G), which is similar to a blues scale in A, except there is no D note.

MP3 - Example 1

Example 2. Once you construct a scale you can build chords from it and use it to construct songs. To build chords you can stack every other note or any combination you can think of. This line is from the same scale in example 1; I'm mainly just playing the 1st, 2nd and 5th scale tone off each note of the scale. You can play this with chord shapes if you wish, I just chose to arpeggiate the notes.

MP3 - Example 2

For Example 3 we will take the triads Am and Eb major, which will give you (A, Bb, C, Eb, E, G), which is right from the A symmetrical diminished scale.

MP3 - Example 3

Example 4. Here is a line constructed from the scale in Example 3, the line starts out with a pentatonic type run in the first two beats and then quickly moves down the neck incorporating the Am and Eb major triads. You might want to try to play this with more of a swing feel.

MP3 - Example 4


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Mike Campese is an all-around music performer, session artist and teacher competent in many musical styles, electric and acoustic. He has studied at G.I.T. (Honors Graduate), and with Paul Gilbert, Norman Brown, Stanley Jordan, Scott Henderson and Keith Wyatt.

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