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THE CHROMATIC SCALE


The Mother of all scales, the 12 tones of the chromatic scale cover the entire fretboard. Sometimes, I think that there really is, only this one scale and that all other scales, arpeggios, and patterns are just derivitives of this Mother Scale.

When we improvise aren't we just applying the notes from the chromatic scale in some sort of logical fashion to best express our ideas ?. By selecting notes from the chords, we create consonance by sounding inside, by adding passing tones and approach notes to our chord tones we create tension. We could in fact simply rate each note of the chromatic scale to a chord type and give it a rating from 1 to 10 as to whether it is Consonant at one end of the spectrum, or Dissonant at the other end, or somewhere inbetween.

To a certain extent I think this may be true, however for most of us we need the restrictions of Scales and Modes to enable us to keep a reference point to what we are trying to create. Modes and scales will always lead us back to a safety zone that will work for all the different chord types. It is also fair to speculate that by applying some Chaos Theory to our improvisations we may actually stumble onto something unique which will also work.

Anyway, apart from my going off on a tangent, this scale can by applied to just about any chord progression, use a little chromaticism to spice up your playing. Try playing a certain phrase, with just a few notes, then play it again up a semitone, then again up another semitone before resolving back to the chord. It's bound to get a few strange looks from the audience, so make sure you look like you meant it !!






Chromatic Scale Patterns