Chapter 1: The 7 Positions of the Scales
Every key can be broken into 7 Positions of scales on the guitar neck if it is played 3 notes per string.By examining these 7 Positions, you will uncover every possible location that a key can live on theguitar fingerboard.Most guitar players only learn the first position, which would mean that they play the scale with thelowest note as the root. For example, playing a G major scale starting on a low G at the 3rd fret on the6th string. Sort of a “barre chord” approach to playing scales. That’s fine, but it is just the beginning.Why 3 notes a string? I see it as physics. It’s there to be learned, and it fits comfortably under thehand. Plus, you’ll uncover all of the possibilities of playing a key anywhere on the neck and see howone position of a key relates to the other. In real music making, I never stick to or even think of 7Positions, but for practice sake, I impose them on myself, and now onto you, the student.
Aren’t the 7 Positions Just the modes?
Good Question. No. The Positions are not modes, even though they seem to be, and could be. Here’s why.Please burn this next piece of information into your mind:The best definition for a key or tonality is a
central tone around which the others revolve.
Many people simply think of a key as “the notes of the scale”, but there’s more to it.If we are playing in the key of C, all the notes will behave a certain way, in relation to C as the center.You’ll need to forget about the guitar for a minute to understand this.Play or sing a C major scale up to and stopping on B. Notice how the B is pulling up to the next C.Once the center is established, all the notes serve the center and behave / revolve around it in a certainway.Think of the central tone as you would think of the sun, and the other notes are the planetsrevolving around it, and being ruled by its gravitational force.Most students think of scales as “staircases” of notes that can only start on the root. That does describewhat a scale looks like, but does not really address the phenomena of a “key” that a piece of music isin. Just remember, a key or tonality is a central tone around which the others revolve.In D Dorian (the same notes as C major) the central tone is D, not C even though the notes are thesame. The sound and behavior of the notes is completely different. “So What” by Miles Davis and“Impressions” buy John Coltrane are not in the key of C! They are in D minor . D Dorian has thesame notes as C major but the behavior of the notes is completely different.