1. Scales are arguably the most important part of music. Music and voice are based upon them. Without scales we would not have chords or progressions. A musical chord is made up of three or more single notes put together, while a progression is made up of multiple chords or single notes.

    Musical notes are represented by letters in the alphabet from A to G. For each of the seven notes there is a sharp in front that is also the flat for the proceeding note. For example, D is followed by D sharp. After D sharp is E. The note is called D sharp because it is D plus one half-step. The D sharp is also known as E flat because it is E, down one half-step.

    All notes have a sharp or a flat appear between them except for two instances. B and C are right next to each other, and E and F also. So in the case of B and C, C can be considered B sharp, and B can be considered C flat. The same theory goes for E and F.

    The chromatic scale includes all twelve pitches, each a half-step in distance from each other. Scales named after a note contain seven pitches, some being all natural while others contained sharpened or flattened notes. Once you have discovered which scale you want to play and what notes are pertain to it, you will be able to build a progression.

    For example, the key of C major contains seven notes from C to B. All notes in this scale are natural. To put together a chord progression in the key of C you will find which chords are made up of only natural pitches. A trick to playing a basic progression without having to remember all of the notes in a scale is to play the fourth and fifth chord from your original chord.

    Keeping with C, we count up four to the F chord, and one more to the G chord. If you consult any basic book of scales and chords you will see that the F chord is made up of the notes, FAC. The G chord is made up of the notes, GBD. The C chord is made up of the notes, CEG.

    One more thing to consider is that the notes within the major chords are made up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th note of the corresponding scale. Once you learn the scale you can use that simple trick to piece together chords. Again, using the C chord, you can count the notes in the scale to find that CEG is the C major chord.

    *(C D E F G A B) The 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes are emboldened.

    It takes time to learn all of the scales, but starting with the major scales will give you the ability to at least understand the basics of some of your favorite songs. The major scales are common in popular music, sometimes with just three-chord progressions throughout the entire song. As you progress in your studies you will find that there are other scales that are used in the music you hear too. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the aforementioned tips only work with the major scales, and do not always apply to any others.

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