Gareth Montanarello

31-Day Scale Challenge #2

Back in March, I made a 31-Day Scale Challenge to ease some of the boredom of practicing scales. It was surprisingly popular and ended up being one of my most-read posts, so thank you to everyone that read it and sent in so much positive feedback! I am back today with another 31-Day Scale Challenge, this time with even more scales.

The Last Challenge

I created the last challenge by plugging 31 scales and the 12 possible root notes into a random list generator. Since I usually play three scales per practice session, I put three scales per day onto a blank calendar spreadsheet. You can see the original here.

The New Challenge

The concept for this challenge is the same as the last one: practice new, hopefully unfamiliar scales each day to develop intonation and knowledge of the fingerboard. The only difference is the number of scales: up from 31 to 52. The first 28 (and the last 3) are the same, but I added the modes of the Double Harmonic Major, Neapolitan Major, and Neapolitan Minor scales. Here's the entire list:

  1. Ionian (Major Scale)

  2. Dorian

  3. Phrygian

  4. Lydian

  5. Mixolydian

  6. Aeolian (Minor Scale)

  7. Locrian

  8. Harmonic Minor

  9. Locrian #6

  10. Ionian Augmented

  11. Dorian #4

  12. Phrygian Dominant

  13. Lydian #2

  14. Superlocrian bb7

  15. Melodic Minor

  16. Dorian b2

  17. Lydian Augmented

  18. Lydian Dominant

  19. Mixolydian b6

  20. Aeolian b5

  21. Superlocrian

  22. Harmonic Major

  23. Dorian b5

  24. Phrygian b4

  25. Lydian b3

  26. Mixolydian b2

  27. Lydian Augmented #2

  28. Locrian bb7

  29. Double Harmonic Major

  30. Lydian #2 #6

  31. Phrygian b4 bb7

  32. Harm. Minor #4 (Hungarian Minor)

  33. Mixolydian b2 b5

  34. Ionian Augmented #2

  35. Locrian bb3 bb7

  36. Neapolitan Major

  37. Lydian Augmented #6

  38. Lydian Augmented b7

  39. Lydian Dominant b6

  40. Locrian Major

  41. Locrian nat. 2 b4

  42. Superlocrian bb3

  43. Neapolitan Minor

  44. Lydian #6

  45. Mixolydian Augmented

  46. Aeolian #4

  47. Locrian Dominant

  48. Ionian #2

  49. Ultralocrian bb3

  50. Whole-Half Diminished

  51. Half-Whole Diminished

  52. Whole Tone

After plugging everything into a random list generator and copying the results to a calendar, I got this:

I think mindlessly playing these scales on their own would defeat the purpose of the challenge. To that end, I suggest finding ways to make playing each scale an active process: use bowing variations (I like Strokin'); sing along, either in harmony or a note ahead; turn on a drone; experiment with different rhythms and subdivisions; try multiple fingerings; slur tetrachords; start the scale in reverse; etc. I usually don't do any of those things right away, but I always strive to internalize everything I play on multiple levels. Please let me know if you have any other practice suggestions!

If you want to create your own scale challenge, I included a blank calendar, a list of scales, and the PDFs of the first and second challenges in this folder. Here is a link to the list generator, too.

I also created a poster that has all the scales from the above list with their corresponding scale degrees. You can get one here if you are interested!

Did The Last Challenge Help Me?

As nerdy as it was, I do think the last challenge was beneficial. I felt the greatest improvement in thumb position where simply moving a half step or augmenting an interval can throw off your entire perception of pitch and note location. I consistently had to find new ways to maintain pitch and resonance as the usual landmarks became less relevant with the increasing number of chromatic alterations. Arguably I could have done the same work with conventional practice routines, but this was much more fun. I look forward to doing the same work with this challenge too!


I haven't written much (besides analysis papers) this summer so I will be getting back into a regular posting schedule soon. If you try this challenge or want to give feedback please let me know, either in the comments or through the contact section! Don't forget to subscribe if you haven't already!


Scale Poster

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