Why learn patterns instead of intervals?

Guitar Tricks Forum > Music Theory > Why learn patterns instead of intervals?

mrsoul55

Registered User

Joined: 07/11/14

Posts: 13

I'm wondering why patterns are taught instead of teaching intervals. I learned the pentatonic patterns but had a really hard time connecting them. Plus I could never tell where the root was. Then I was worried I'd have to learn new patterns for the major/minor scales. Once I started thinking about it from an interval perspective it was very easy to figure out where the root was located and how everything connected. Plus switching between minor and major in different keys is much simpler. So what is the reasoning behind teaching patterns instead of intervals?

#1

I'm wondering why patterns are taught instead of teaching intervals. I learned the pentatonic patterns but had a really hard time connecting them. Plus I could never tell where the root was. Then I was worried I'd have to learn new patterns for the major/minor scales. Once I started thinking about it from an interval perspective it was very easy to figure out where the root was located and how everything connected. Plus switching between minor and major in different keys is much simpler. So what is the reasoning behind teaching patterns instead of intervals?

bookas58

Full Access

Joined: 10/27/12

Posts: 75

Basically because the patterns are transferable between keys and strings . For example , the Cmajor scale with the root on the 6th string at the 8th fret , move it and use the root note at third fret of the 5th string or the fourth string at the 10th fret and the pattern remains the same except for the second string , because it is tuned to a 3rd above the 3rd string and not a fourth like all the rest

#2

Basically because the patterns are transferable between keys and strings . For example , the Cmajor scale with the root on the 6th string at the 8th fret , move it and use the root note at third fret of the 5th string or the fourth string at the 10th fret and the pattern remains the same except for the second string , because it is tuned to a 3rd above the 3rd string and not a fourth like all the rest

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 5388

Originally Posted by: mrsoul55

I'm wondering why patterns are taught instead of teaching intervals.

Great question. Three inter-related reasons.

1. Because intervals (and as a result, scales and chords) actually form graphic-visual patterns on the fretboard.

2. Because you can play the same note in more than one place on the guitar, so the same intervals can be played in multiple configurations, on the same string or even different sets of strings.

3. The result is that patterns are a convenient way to perceptually and conceptually memorize and recall musical information. This particular shape makes that particular sound.

However, patterns should not be taught without also the intervals that form them. Intervals are more fundamental and patterns are merely the result, the consequence of the intervals.

That's why I always teach scale and chord patterns by means of their scale degrees, or interval. I agree with what I think is your point. Sometimes students are handed a fretboard graphic image with only dots or circles. That's flawed teaching in my estimation. The scale degrees are WHY the pattern is shaped the way it is. :)

Here's a link to my tutorial on the C major scale as an example.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=363

Originally Posted by: mrsoul55

I learned the pentatonic patterns but had a really hard time connecting them.

I have a whole tutorial oh the how and why of pentatomic scales, with intervals and why they form the boxes.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=296

Hope that helps. Please ask more if necessary. Best of success!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#3

Originally Posted by: mrsoul55

I'm wondering why patterns are taught instead of teaching intervals.

Great question. Three inter-related reasons.

1. Because intervals (and as a result, scales and chords) actually form graphic-visual patterns on the fretboard.

2. Because you can play the same note in more than one place on the guitar, so the same intervals can be played in multiple configurations, on the same string or even different sets of strings.

3. The result is that patterns are a convenient way to perceptually and conceptually memorize and recall musical information. This particular shape makes that particular sound.

However, patterns should not be taught without also the intervals that form them. Intervals are more fundamental and patterns are merely the result, the consequence of the intervals.

That's why I always teach scale and chord patterns by means of their scale degrees, or interval. I agree with what I think is your point. Sometimes students are handed a fretboard graphic image with only dots or circles. That's flawed teaching in my estimation. The scale degrees are WHY the pattern is shaped the way it is. :)

Here's a link to my tutorial on the C major scale as an example.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=363

Originally Posted by: mrsoul55

I learned the pentatonic patterns but had a really hard time connecting them.

I have a whole tutorial oh the how and why of pentatomic scales, with intervals and why they form the boxes.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=296

Hope that helps. Please ask more if necessary. Best of success!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

bookas58

Full Access

Joined: 10/27/12

Posts: 75

Good reply Chistopher , fits right in the slot after my experience yesterday , On Friday mornings , i donate my time to a group called Communify , They have a music group for people with difficulties , both physical and mental , it takes their mind of their problems for a few hours at least . We put this little number called " IT'S A NEW DAY" , its in Bm , capo 2 , so C major or Am open patterns work over it , after the second verse there is a bridge where the dynamics drop off and then build again to the last verse . Now we have this girl called Doodie ( real name is Judy ) and she finger picked the bridge on her nylon stringed Ibanez Classical and it sounded really good .Now Doodie is good with all the open chords and most bar chords and when she warms up she always plays some finger picking classical and is quite good at it . While we were having a break , Dan ( the music co- ordinator ) told her he liked what she played over the bridge and asked if she had any teachers . Her reply was that she had been playing for 15 years and had 4 teachers during that time . She then looked straight at me and said " do you need to know scales to play lead ? " . Dan's jaw almost landed in his lap and I almost fell of my chair . Obviously , these teachers had taught her to play this classical stuff note for note and never explained scales on why certain notes work for certain chord changes . When I mentioned learning pentatonics , I got a dumbfounded expression. What i'm trying to get across is that Christopher's answer explains it from 2 different aspects , whereas some teachers don't address it at all.

#4

Good reply Chistopher , fits right in the slot after my experience yesterday , On Friday mornings , i donate my time to a group called Communify , They have a music group for people with difficulties , both physical and mental , it takes their mind of their problems for a few hours at least . We put this little number called " IT'S A NEW DAY" , its in Bm , capo 2 , so C major or Am open patterns work over it , after the second verse there is a bridge where the dynamics drop off and then build again to the last verse . Now we have this girl called Doodie ( real name is Judy ) and she finger picked the bridge on her nylon stringed Ibanez Classical and it sounded really good .Now Doodie is good with all the open chords and most bar chords and when she warms up she always plays some finger picking classical and is quite good at it . While we were having a break , Dan ( the music co- ordinator ) told her he liked what she played over the bridge and asked if she had any teachers . Her reply was that she had been playing for 15 years and had 4 teachers during that time . She then looked straight at me and said " do you need to know scales to play lead ? " . Dan's jaw almost landed in his lap and I almost fell of my chair . Obviously , these teachers had taught her to play this classical stuff note for note and never explained scales on why certain notes work for certain chord changes . When I mentioned learning pentatonics , I got a dumbfounded expression. What i'm trying to get across is that Christopher's answer explains it from 2 different aspects , whereas some teachers don't address it at all.

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 5388

Thanks for relating your story. It's a great example of how an individual can look at the guitar & grasp that certain patterns make certain sounds without being aware of the names or concepts involved.

Originally Posted by: bookas58

What i'm trying to get across is that Christopher's answer explains it from 2 different aspects , whereas some teachers don't address it at all.

Good point. And some students are satisfied with that level of instruction if it gets them what they want: to play some music on the guitar! Good enough is good enough.

But obviously the more you understand conceptually, the more knowledge you have the potential to apply to making more & better music.

Thanks for the story!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#5

Thanks for relating your story. It's a great example of how an individual can look at the guitar & grasp that certain patterns make certain sounds without being aware of the names or concepts involved.

Originally Posted by: bookas58

What i'm trying to get across is that Christopher's answer explains it from 2 different aspects , whereas some teachers don't address it at all.

Good point. And some students are satisfied with that level of instruction if it gets them what they want: to play some music on the guitar! Good enough is good enough.

But obviously the more you understand conceptually, the more knowledge you have the potential to apply to making more & better music.

Thanks for the story!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

eduarosipova1980

Registered User

Joined: 02/05/19

Posts: 1

Her reply was that she had been playing for 15 years and had 4 teachers during that time . She then looked straight at me and said " do you need to know scales to play lead ? " . Dan's jaw almost landed in his lap and I almost fell of my chair . Obviously , these teachers had taught her to play this classical stuff note for note and never explained scales on why certain notes work for certain chord changes. psiphon

#6

Her reply was that she had been playing for 15 years and had 4 teachers during that time . She then looked straight at me and said " do you need to know scales to play lead ? " . Dan's jaw almost landed in his lap and I almost fell of my chair . Obviously , these teachers had taught her to play this classical stuff note for note and never explained scales on why certain notes work for certain chord changes. psiphon