Major Scale: Improvising & Jamming

The Major Scale is great fun for jamming and improvising, in this lesson I show you how to use it with backing tracks, on your own with a looper pedal or with a friend if you are jamming! We saw in the last lesson how the Major Scale and the Chords from the key fit together to make a "key" and that the scale fits over all the chords in the key. Now we want to put that knowledge into practice! Before you start jamming you'll need to know The Major Scale Pattern 1, which I kind of assume most of you will have learned on my Intermediate Method... if not, you might want to check that out!!

So now we're going to get into USING our major scale (Pattern 1) over the chords in the Key of G.

What are the chords in the key of G?

Well you have G, C and D majors, and Em, Am and Bm. You also have F#m7b5 but we're not going to include it for now because it smells and is not very popular ;)

So all the notes sound good over all the chords in the key?

Well kind of. You can play all or any of the notes from the scale over any of the chords, but some notes will sound better than others. The notes used in the chord you play over will sound the most 'stable' and the others a bit less stable. If you stop on chord tone it will sound cool, if you stop on a note not found in the chord it might add some tension - which may be cool or not depending on the situation.

So I have to know all the notes in all the chords when I solo?

Well maybe you could explore that path later, but you're much better off using your EARS!! Let your ears tell you which notes to stop on, thinking about it all is far too much work! With practice, your inner ear will figure it out where the cool sounds are and you'll just play!

So what now?

Start Jamming as much as possible!

Jamming with what?

Well, you have a few options. You can use backing tracks, you can record your own chords into something (recording software like Pro Tools or Garage Band), you can record yourself using a looper pedal - or best of all - find someone to jam with!

Where do I get backing Tracks?

Well, you can buy professionally made backing tracks like my Jam Major series (it's really fun - me and pro mates jamming for you to jam with!) which was designed for people working on their Major Scales, hence the name! You could also Google 'G Major Backing Tracks' and it's very likely you will find a lot! As long as you've got a backing track that uses only G Major notes it will be a lot of fun - the danger is that sometimes you might not know and you might think you're not doing well when in fact the backing track is not staying in the right key!

You can also use regular songs and just solo over them, as long as you know the key you're good to go!

Some popular songs in the Key of G that are fun to try soloing over are:

Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton
Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
Heart Of Gold - Neil Young
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) - Green Day
Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Lyin' Eyes - The Eagles

What chords can I play when I'm recording my own jam track or using a looper pedal?

It depends what key you are in. My Master Major Scale series does everything in the key of G so that you can get used to moving between scale patterns and your ears get familiar with where sounds are located.

In Key of G, you have the following chords: G, C, D, Am, Bm, Em.

So if you play any of those chords, in any order, in any rhythm you can use G Major Scale to solo over them! It's great fun, I suggest you do it as much as possible, and making the rhythm yourself is good for you too because people generally don't work on their rhythm skills as much as they should!

If you want to find all the chords in all the keys and experiment with that you'll need to check out my Practical Music Theory series.

And what chords can I get my jam buddy play to play while I take a solo?

Your jam buddy can play the same chords shown above! I often jam 'in a key' but there is no need to decide the chord sequence in advance. As long as your buddy plays only 6 chords shown above, your solo in G Major will sound right and it will just take practice to make it sound great!

So that’s it?

Yep - just go do it as much as you can!! If you would like to guide you through learning how to use all five patterns then check out Download Master the Major Scale.

Major Scale