Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Freaking scales!

cut sax 2

I actually made it to a sax lesson yesterday, after missing 2 weeks for Mel’s Christmas hols, 2 weeks for snow, 1 week because Mel was ill, and 1 week because I was ill. Mel could really see my progress. She said she was speechless at my rendition of Misty, and I stood there glowing. And then I asked her to help me add frilly bits to it.

Oh my God.

Up until yesterday I was thinking I could get away with learning major and minor scales and that would see me through. Now I realise that if I want to improvise there are all kinds of frigging scales I have to learn, scales I didn’t even know existed – dorian scales, mixolydian scales, phrygian scales, pentatonic scales, and now Dave has walked in and told me not to forget the blues scales. AAARRRGGGHHH.

And all these scales fit together in a really weird way. For example a Dorian scale in G is really a Gm7 but if you look at the signature on the stave it has one flat which makes it look like F Major. How the hell am I supposed to get my head around all of this? I have stumbled into a nightmare world that is an impenetrable matrix of incomprehensible musical meta-theory. It makes multivariate statistical analysis (that I did in my former life) look as simple as counting on my fingers. And all because I heard that man playing Misty on the sax outside the Co-op in Bakewell. That man has a lot to answer for. I shall track him down and give him what for.


Marilyn said...

Oh dear, that's made me think seriously about going back to the piano. At least I can actually play that but am very, extremely rusty/hopeless. In my experience, everyone (without exception) hates scales! But do you really HAVE to learn all those? Can't you just play by ear - some of the great players did, didn't they? It's supposed to be fun, isn't it?
(Oh, sorry I'm naturally curious but these questions are ridiculous!)(But also, pertinent...)

Sue Hepworth said...

I can't play by ear, Marilyn. I can read music and play from that. If I wanted to stop there, there would be no problem at all. It's because I want to learn to improvise that I have to learn all this other stuff, though I might be able to get away with just SOME of it. And when I said I was overwhelmed, Mel tried to cheer me up by telling me that the wonderful thing about music is that there is ALWAYS something to learn. (I do love playing my sax, and it is fun, just for the record.)

Marilyn said...

I'm just waiting to hear from the man who will hopefully be selling me a clarinet, so I'm going to forge ahead. But I think you can play what you like on any instrument, that's what I've always done (but have been told off in the past for doing so!). I agree, it should be fun and I don't think you always need to stick to the music - after all, there's no law that says you have to and you're not going to break anything. (Unless it's the sound barrier of course...)