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Hello, im wondering if I should memorize all the scales, major, minor, pentatonic and so on. I can easily play them off the paper, and I can do the chromatic scale fast. Or is it enough just to have all them written on paper?
 

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Hello, im wondering if I should memorize all the scales, major, minor, pentatonic and so on. I can easily play them off the paper, and I can do the chromatic scale fast. Or is it enough just to have all them written on paper?
Depends on what you want to do.

If you want to be a fully functioning musician you need to be able to play a wide variety of scales over the full range of the instrument in any key and in whatever pattern may present itself, instantly and without thinking about it.

My own personal practice routine covers major/natural minor, harmonic minor, melodic minor (I don't play it differently ascending and descending because music doesn't just ascend for long stretches or descend for long stretches), diminished, whole tone/augmented scales in every key. I don't play them just up and down but rather in a variety of patterns. And remember the music doesn't stop at the root, so on saxophone you play every scale or arpeggio from low Bb (or low A if you have it) to as high in the altissimo register as you can.

I cannot even imagine trying to find written scales. If you learn the patterns of intervals it will be orders of magnitude more useful than just reading dots off the page.
 

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What he said. And realize that it all this takes time depending on how you progress. Some people can work on a new scale each day, some a new scale each week, or month. Enjoy the journey. Embrace the process.

My 0.0000002 cents.
 

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Nah, why would you want to learn how to play the fundamentals?

Just play from the heart.



Affirmation vs information.
 

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Yes, absolutely. And then the five basic seventh chords on all twelve pitches - sixty chords, and those are just the basics, there are still more. It is imperative that all these things are memorized, internalized, and imprinted in the brain so that you can still hear them even without your instrument. Hearing, recognizing, and being able to execute these chords and scales is fundamental to being a musician.

BTW; me thinks the doctor is putting you on and hoping that by so doing, you will come to the proper conclusion on your own, which is, of course, yes!
 

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It's a very good thing when you know all the scales and modes within the scales. That way you'll realize that most music is based on the scales with edited notes (NOTES SKIPPED) or added chromatic notes. First be able to play the scales unedited then have fun editing the scales as you play and solo. Musical ideas can be led to and from with scales. We should use our sight reading skills to see the musical logic and then play without reading to personalize the music.
 

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Honestly, you would be surprised by the number of paid professionals who do not have the basics memorized. They get by with sticking to what they know. It works for them, because they understand what product they're selling, and stick to the product that they know. So this question can be answered in two ways.

1) If you know, can perform, and sell a limited number of tunes that you would like to play gig in and gig out, without the knowledge of theory to take you to other places, no you do not need to memorize all scales.

2) If you'd like to do all of the above in addition to being able to take other gigs with projects and musicians you like and respect, learn and memorize EVERYTHING you can.

Hint: If you want to get paid playing this instrument in this day of age, 2 is going to be your better option.
 

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As already stated, the short answer is YES. And especially the part about memorizing them. It's ok to read them off the page as a start, but you'll never really learn them that way. Once you know the 'formula' for a scale, starting with the major scale, play them by ear until you have them under your fingers and memorized to the point you don't have to think about it. Again, start with the 12 major scales. All the others can be derived from them.

p.s. "Or is it enough just to have all them written on paper"? The answer to that is a resounding NO. And the same is true for tunes, chord progressions, etc.
 

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at my kids' "progressive" school, they don't make the students memorize the multiplication tables...it is exasperating to watch my kids try and work out 7x8 or something instead of having it memorized.

I think it would be equally exasperating to have someone in my band that didn't have their scales memorized.
 

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A wise man once told me "play what you know works". Chord/scale relationships are really all about ear training, and they'll inform you as to what works. That may even include playing all the wrong notes on purpose and resolving them to what does work. So yes, memorize scales, at minimum major, dorian, mixolydian, whole tone, diminished and lydian augmented, in all keys.
 

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Hello, im wondering if I should memorize all the scales, major, minor, pentatonic and so on. I can easily play them off the paper, and I can do the chromatic scale fast. Or is it enough just to have all them written on paper?
Something is amiss here. A pianist or violinist reads, then memorizes the fingering of each scale, since each scale has its own fingering. That's due to black keys and changing positions, respectively. That's not the case with the saxophone: each note, regardless of the scale it is in, has the same fingering, except for a few alternate keys.

Why don't you just listen to what you are playing and make sure every next note in the scale sounds right? Assume, by absurd, that there is a missing sharp in the written scale, won't your ear detect it? If yes, why do you need the scale written? If no, you better forget music and marry your boss's daughter.
 

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It really depends on what your goals are. If you just want to play your parts in school band, and you can do that just by reading, then you don't need to memorize anything. But if you want to be a good musician and a good improviser, then yes, memorize all the scales.

A lot of questions about practicing come down to: how good do you want to be? Some people are happy to just get by. Others are driven to be the best they can be. It's up to you.
 

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I had the same question. I started late to play sax and I was wandering wether I should spent all that time in learning those scales rather than havin fun on with some play along etc.. but then I realized that learning sax or any instrument is really much like learning a new language. The more you learn a new langue the more you need to know, phrases, words, and other fundamentals. Scales in music are fundamentals. I know that can be overwhelming to learn and memorize all the info, but I found very helpful really go step by step and enjoy the journey. Major scales are my blank canvas. I needed to master them to fully understand the others.
 

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I agree that it is critical to memorize scales and patterns. However, it is also really important to not make that the total focus of your playing. A very important part of playing music is to play for fun. Your routine should also always include doing fun things that you enjoy. I tell my students that there are three P's for musicians. #1 - Practice - working on new techniques, learning new music, etc. It does not always sound good #2 - Playing - Playing familiar and fun things that we enjoy playing. A bit self-indulgent perhaps, but really good for our emotional well-being. #3. - Performing - Our best work being presented to an audience. This is where everything comes together as a product that we can take pride in presenting. It is good for our audience and it is good for us as a performer. These three P's apply to players at all levels.
 

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More important than memorising all the scales is to memorise one scale of each type and then be able to use your ear (or transposing part of your brain) to play it in all keys.

So for example a major scale you learn TTSTTTS. (EDIT = T= Tone S = Semitone, or some people may prefer W H, ie Whole Half step)

That is all you need to know to be able to play it in all keys.

Think of a melodic minor as TSTTTTS
Dorian as TSTTTST

etc. (no doubt I've got a typo I there)
 

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Rather than getting into details, about which reasonable people can choose to disagree, I would make the following statement:

You DO need to memorize all the scales. How you go about it is up to you and your instructor(s).
 

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More important than memorising all the scales is to memorise one scale of each type and then be able to use your ear (or transposing part of your brain) to play it in all keys.

So for example a major scale you learn TTSTTTS. That is all you need to know to be able to play it in all keys.
That's more or less what I meant about learning the 'formula' for a scale. Pete, I assume T=whole step and S=half step (for maj scale: WWHWWWH). But, out of curiosity what exact terms do the T & S refer to (I guess I should know)?

Once you learn the major scales well, you can also look at it in numerical terms (but it's still useful to know the intervals as well):

Maj scale: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Mel min: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 7
Dorian: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7

etc.
 
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