A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Coursera – DYM Lesson 1 videos (4)

Video #4 from Coursera’s Developing your Musicianship class centers on how to construct a major scale. It delved into intervals, whole steps & half-steps – so basically the theoretical increments and the physical increments.

Also, today I discovered that the class has an online message forum. I read through a lot of it and found it very useful. The students have a wide range of musical experience and ability, with some having been involved in music for 3 decades or more and others as wet-behind-the-ears as I sometimes feel. I’ll post up some stuff that I learned while reading posts there later. The posts about major/minor intervals vs. perfect intervals really cleared up why they’re named like that for me.

4. Structure of the Major Scale (4:23)

The video begins with a review of what an interval is (the distance between two notes). I’m glad to note that I could figure these out by counting from one note to another, alphabetically, fast enough to be able to follow along with the video. All those alphabet videos I watch with our toddler must be paying off.

The next topic discussed were whole steps and half-steps. The half-step is described as the distance when moving from one note to the next available note. A whole step is described as two halves together.

On a keyboard, the half-steps are any two adjacent keys, regardless of whether they’re black keys or white ones. Whole steps basically skip a key, so moving from one white key to another if its separated by a black key would count. In all circumstances, you have to skip over one key for it to be a whole step. If we had a keyboard with only 5 keys, moving from 1 to 2 would be a half-step. Moving from 1 to 3 would be a whole step (we’d skip over 2). Professor Russell says that its important to understand steps because of their use in constructing the major scale.

He then presents the formula for constructing said scale:

whole step, whole step, half-step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half-step

After demonstrating the formula by playing a C major scale, he continues by showing how that formula can be used to generate a major scale starting on other notes. It was a little hard to see, due to the angle of the camera in the video, but that information is readily available online, so I’m sure most students who were completely new to it had the means to explore it more deeply.

Finally, he closed with a piano song that illustrated the major scale. At its completion, he said that the song should be useful as a memory aid, but it really did nothing for me. I actually dozed off both times that I watched the video, at that part. I think there’s just something about that particular style of piano music that elicits an odd response from me, which doesn’t really happen frequently otherwise. Other people in the forum were raving about the song though, so to each their own.

Here’s some stuff I wrote about the major scale when I was first looking at it on bass:

And here’s the list of write-ups for the other videos in this lesson:


One response

  1. Pingback: Coursera – Developing Your Musicianship Lesson 1 | Ugly Bass Face

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