Fundamental Music Theory Series: Scales
The very name scales and practicing them makes some piano students want to slam their fingers in the piano lid. Boring! Who wants to play endless scale exercises? Well I can tell you that if you want to learn how to play my music, practicing scales, at least in the beginning is beneficial to you.
All my music is based on the fundamentals of scales.
‘Dark Night of the Soul’. Everything from the melody of this song to the left hand accompaniment is based off an E minor scale and contains one sharp, that is F#. If you practice the E minor scale and can play it fluently in both hands up and down the keyboard, it will help you learn to play this song more fluently. The E minor scale looks like this…
Notice that this minor scale has varying degrees of whole steps between notes E-F#, G-A, A-B, C-D, D-E
This scale also has some half steps F#-G, B-C
There are also names for each of these starting points within the scale using roman numerals (for minor)…
E or i is the tonic or root of the scale.
F# ii Supertonic
G III Mediant
A iv Subdominant
B V Dominant
C VI Submediant
D VII Leading Tone
E i back to the tonic or root of the scale (an octave above the starting point)
(I’ll talk more about these roman numerals later when we cover chords and chord progressions)
Here is a common fingering for an E minor scale…
Work on your e minor scales. Play the hands separately. Left hand, then right hand. Playing just one octave. Then play them one octave hands together. After you can play both hands in one octave then start playing two octaves. Before you know it you can play E minor scales in both hands using the full range of the keyboard.
Keep practicing and next week I’ll cover another music theory fundamental as it relates to my song ‘Dark Night of the Soul’
Until then, happy playing!
P.S. In case you’re wondering, here’s a listing of all the songs in my catalog that were composed/arranged based off the E Minor scale…
- Lamentations of the Heart
- Greensleeves/What Child is This?
- We Three Kings
- The Approaching Night
- Dark Night of the Soul
- The Unknown
- Echoes Through Eternity