Since the goal of this type of practice is rapid recall and succession through scales, I only play half of the normal scale pattern (either just going up or just going down). I find that playing all the way up and down a scale provides too much time for me to think about the next scale in the sequence that I am going to play. In jazz improvisation, there are times where the chord changes happen very slowly (example: every two measures) giving us plenty of time to prepare for the key center of the next chord. However, there are also times where the chords change very quickly (example: every two beats) and we need to be able to change key centers in our mind at a pace that keeps up with the chords. I find that limiting my time on each scale by just traveling up or down (not both) better simulates these more challenging musical performance situations.
For these examples, I decided to list only 12 scales using the names that are most commonly found in most circle of 5ths diagrams. I already discussed in my video Learning Music With Ray: Memorizing vs. Understanding (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jPLZJobO44) the fact that there are only 12 different tones in music (within 1 octave), but there are many possible pitch names for the various tones. I used a graphic that displays 21 possible pitch names in many of my videos to help people understand this concept. However, the purpose of today’s lesson is to rapidly cycle through each scale in either a chromatic or circle of 5ths pattern. If I were to include multiple names of the same scale (enharmonically equivalent to each other) in these exercises I would not be changing scales each time (sometimes I would only be changing scale names while playing the same scale). That would defeat the purpose of this exercise.
When traveling chromatically, the correct process is to use a pitch’s sharp name when traveling up and its flat name when traveling down. I did not follow this process since I am naming scales and not individual pitches. I wanted the names I used to be the most common names found in most circle of 5ths diagrams, so that the majority of students would be able to relate to them when practicing.
I also chose to write out each scale (for each exercise) using accidentals to name each pitch (instead of a key signature). Again, I chose to do this for the ease of the student when reading the visual examples. I did not want any other aspects of music theory (like remembering to apply a key signature) to get in the way of accomplishing the main goal of the lesson. However, please remember that the main goal of this style of practice is rapid recall. Students applying these practice techniques should have already mastered the base knowledge and understanding of key signatures, scales, chromatic and circle of 5ths movement. In addition, they should already have all of the major scales committed to memory. Now we are trying to gain a more rapid response time when recalling the knowledge that we have already gained an understanding of.
The patterns that I provide in this video are only some examples of how I try to increase my response time when recalling rapid scale changes. As I explain in the video, other variations can be applied to the order in which the scales are practiced and the patterns used to change from scale to scale. My hope is that the examples provided in this lesson with not only provide you with literal examples of advanced scale practice methods, but also help you to understand how to develop you own variations on these practice examples.