Here’s the second part to the story of my rebirth as a scale-ophile! (don’t think that’s officially a word, but I think it should be!)…

…There I was at music college in the UK, studying under some great saxophonists, and musicians. The more I learnt about music, harmony and improvisation, the more I understood the practical application of scales.

I now understood that having that knowledge, both intellectually and aurally, should lead to greater freedom; not to the constriction that I had previously feared.

Through scales practise, I was improving my dexterity and fluency, with greater control of both my instrument and of my mind. The discipline of the practise I was doing actually allowed me deeper into music, it didn’t “straight jacket” me!

As well as practising scales in a very strict way, I was also experimenting with them compositionally, using improvisation. I would pick a scale and mess around with it, trying to follow where my inner ear was leading me.

My favourite definition of improvisation in music, is that it is “spontaneous composition”. I love the creativity of music and I have always loved composing. Even as a child I was always whistling, making up tunes.

In the Summer that I left music college I spent some time in rural France, spending all day practising in remote fields. As well as surprising a few cows, I spent a lot of time working in this creative way with scales.

What l found was that l didn’t try to play anything fast or technically demanding, but l was very simply trying to construct “nice” sounding melodies. Simple melodies, trying to find the notes that my ears were screaming at me to lead them to.

The more l did this, the more l found l was learning about the role, or function, of each note within a scale and how the notes of a scale relate to each other. Very importantly, l was doing this as an aural process; l wasn’t reading it from a book - music is sound, not ink on paper!

Here is a link to a recording of one of the tunes I wrote during this time. It does change key a little, but was conceived using this idea:

CLICK HERE to listen (for free!)

Needless to say, I was now hooked on scales. I loved the discipline learning them engendered and I loved the creative possibilities using them unlocked.

But the story doesn’t end here! Watch out for my next blog post to see what I have done with that love of scales…