It definitely doesn’t look very intimidating, but “Diatonic Major and Minor Scales” by Andres Segovia is by far one of the most classic and dense scale books that almost every guitar player goes through. Segovia is without a doubt one of the greatest guitarists to have ever touched the instrument, and has a whole host of big names that have called him their teacher. He was very strict with his students (they had to practice just scales and exercises for at least 2 hours every day, let alone the other stuff!), and his ideas on scales were nothing short of revolutionary. With this week’s post, I wanted to touch on just a few of his famous scale shapes and talk about the thinking behind them. Hopefully, this will serve as an introduction to those who aren’t yet familiar, or a quick reminder to those who may have been putting them off and need to do some revisiting.
The main thing that separates Segovia’s scales is all of the shifts he likes to do. Rather than keeping a scale in a nice and easy position (which obviously you should still work on) he challenges you to really know your fretboard. This can make things extremely difficult, as you’ll see. He would always stress to his students to try and make all of the shifts sound clean and natural, so that a listener couldn’t tell the difference in tone. This can take years of work.
Here’s the first example from the book. It’s just a C Major scale, but really pay attention to the fingerings.
Again, the goal here is to make that shift on the 3rd string nice and smooth. This scale is great for learning shapes for different octaves of the major scale and an excellent place to start with when you're first trying out Segovia scales.
The next example, an A melodic minor scale, is a bit tougher. In the book, he descends down a natural minor scale, as classical people like to do, but we'll just ascend for now, and keep the descending for the 3rd example. This one's fingerings are even tougher, since there are more shifts and a third octave.
Getting pretty tough, huh? Well, I'll leave you with this guy (there are a lot more in the book which you can check out from Amazon here). This is just another major scale, this time in the key of G, but is a real kicker. Not only does it have some pretty serious shifts and a huge range, but he actuallys fingers it differently ascending than he does descending. This one takes some time, but is definitely worth the effort.
Whew! These are just the first three! I can't tell you how much I feel like I've improved my playing with these scales though. There are A LOT of other guitar players who will tell you the very same thing.
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Guitar Instructor, Co-Owner
Falls Music School