Know the 3 King of Scales – The Major, Minor & Dominant

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Music and playing the guitar is like taking a walk in a place called Music Land, a mountainous place where a traveller strolls along to visit.

If the path of The Major Scale gives you the feel of the most natural walk, then the other 2 scales give you one that is sad or melancholic and adventurous or edgy. Together, the Major, Minor and Dominant, they are the 3 King of Scales.

Joe Pass, the legendary jazz virtuoso says that when he plays, he thinks jazz with only 3 types of chords. The Major, Minor and Dominant. The rest are just derivatives of that. So it’s good to get acquainted with them.


Check out the best way to understand the major scale if you have not.


And here’s the plot on how you can understand these three kings.

  • The Major is the Stable Kind King
  • The Minor is a Melancholic Drama King.
  • The Dominant is an Adventure Seeking King.

The Major King
always walk up the mountain from his home like this. This is his groove.
From Home (his palace?),
he will    SKIP  ^   SKIP  ^   STEP  SKIP  ^   SKIP  ^   SKIP  ^   STEP
The way he travels will make him sound authoritative and strong.



The Minor King
 has this groove
From his palace,
he may    SKIP  ^  STEP SKIP  ^   SKIP  ^  STEP SKIP  ^  SKIP ^
The way he moves, it will always sound sadder than the Major King. (It has the stepped back 3rd which gives it a minor sound)

[Image of Scale coming soon]

The Dominant King  has a very different groove
From his palace,
there are several ways but he may SKIP  ^  SKIP  ^  STEP SKIP ^  SKIP ^ STEP SKIP
He will always sound a bit curious but still with the confidence to still go and explore places. (It has the stepped back 7th)

[Image of Scale coming soon]

The key is to learn this, is to recognise how these 3 scales sound like to you. Maybe you have a different way of describing the Kings of Scales.

Exercise Recognising These Kings

  1. Play these scales, up and down the guitar. Get used to the scales and how it feels.
  2. Play each of these scales for 10 minutes each.
  3. Try to describe the scale in your own words.
  4. Find out which note or notes make these scales different with respect to the major scale

 

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