The relationship between chords and scales

Scales are typically known as more complicated than chords. There are normally some more notes to memorize, but it's nevertheless the same kind of logic.

The difference between chord and scales are in simplifying terms:

  1. The chords are in general consisting of fewer notes.
  2. The chords are to make the harmony, while the scales are to make the melody.

We know that the C major chord consists of the notes C, E and G. To get a C major scale we just add D, F, A and B.

The thing is, all chords built from the notes C, D, E, F, G, A and B will sound fine when put together in chord progressions. C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am and Bdim consists all of notes from the C major scale.

It's also good to know which notes that belongs to the scales of the chords if you want to use embellishments in your playing. (Watch a video with guitar embellishment).

So, you can say that chords are a group of tones belonging to a scale. When you know the scale and how the notes are arranged on the fretboard you can catch on to the related chords.

The scales are often easy to learn on the guitar because they are of the same patterns, often referred to as a "box", and can be moved to another fret starting on another root note. All scales in a certain category have the same interval formula, this become even more apparent if you are learning piano scales.

Chords and scales are often combined in a musical piece. Sometimes we say that we play a scale over a chord. This means that the rhythm guitar for example plays the G7 chord, and the lead guitar is playing the G pentatonic scale. So when the chord changes next time, the scale changes to (although it's possible to use the same scale over many different chords as long they are related).

See all articles about guitar.

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