Step Patterns

Recall that a scale is a collection of notes (and their octaves) within a given octave to be played one at a time(though you could play them in other ways).

Recall, that a particular scale can be defined in several ways:
1.) as a collection of letter-named notes (specific pitches).
2.) as a collection of relative pitches from a particular pitch (intervals from a root)
3.) as a string of pitches defined pitch to pitch (melodic intervals, step pattern).
... and other definitions exist.

So we can define a step pattern as the pattern of intervals (melodic intervals) going from pitch to closest pitch (through the octave).

So, let's look at an example...
Consider the C-pentatonic major scale
Cpent.maj. = C,D,E,G,A.

C to D is a whole step (W)
D to E is a whole step (W)
E to G is a step and a half (or a minor third, m3)
G to A is a whole step (W)
A to C is a step and a half (or a minor third, m3)

So the step pattern for the pentatonic major scale is W-W-m3-W-m3

Using a step pattern you can find the pitches (tones) in a specific scale.

The Abpent.maj. scale has the step pattern W-W-m3-W-m3. Starting at Ab,
A whole step above Ab is Bb.
A whole step above Bb is C.
A step and a half above C is Eb.
A whole step above Eb is F.
A step and a half above F is Ab.

So the pitches (tones) contained in the Ab pent.maj. scale are Ab,Bb,C,Eb,F.

Looking at other scales already encountered
Pentatonic minor = m3-W-W-m3-W
Chromatic scale = 1/2-1/2-1/2-1/2-1/2-1/2-1/2-1/2-1/2-1/2-1/2-1/2.
Major scale = W-W-1/2-W-W-W-1/2

Given a step pattern, we can define modes of a scale as being connected (or defined) by their step patterns.

Let's take the major scale which has the step pattern
W-W-1/2-W-W-W-1/2.
Take the 1rst interval in the step pattern and placing it at the end of the step pattern we obtain W-1/2-W-W-W-1/2-W.
we continue to find all 7 modes of the major scale:
WW1/2WWW1/2 = Ionian (1rst mode)
W1/2WWW1/2W = Dorian (2nd mode)
1/2WWW1/2WW = Phrygian (3rd mode)
WWW1/2WW1/2 = Lydian (4th mode)
WW1/2WW1/2W = Mixolydian (5th mode)
W1/2WW1/2WW = Aeolian (6th mode)
1/2WW1/2WWW = Locrian(7th mode)

More info on modes can be found at
http://simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/archive/sep27.html

Peace,
Christopher Roberts
snglstringtheory@aol.com


How do I change all those numbers to letters (for notes, chords, etc.)? Here's a transposition chart simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/guitar/8theory3.html

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Last updated December 24, 2002
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