Scale Permutations For Guitar

A scale permutation (sometimes called a “sequence”) is one of several possible ways in which a scale can be ordered or arranged.

Before applying a permutation to a scale, you first have to learn your scale well enough and be able to play all the right notes and be creative enough to play the correct notes in various patterns/shapes/arrangements.

I find the easiest way to think about permutations is to separate them into two categories, Grouping and Skipping. While in the Scale Permutations video we only touched on one example of each of these types, the combinations are in fact limitless. If you truly want to go deeper into learning and discovering all the wonderful ways to play a scale that you can possibly imagine, then I recommend you try the following:

Learn groupings of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 throughout a scale of your choice, if you have nowhere to start on this, you can use the G major scale shown in the Scale Permutations video, then learn interval skipping permutations of a 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th.

Let’s assume you can do all of these options relatively fluently. The real magic begins when you start to combine these options together. I’ve listed below a few ideas and filters you can use when experimenting with these permutations, remember you are only limited in this exercise by your own creativity and flexibility.

  • Pick a grouping and play ascending, then a different grouping for descending and vice versa, there are approximately 15 different combinations available here in total. You can do the same with skipping.
  • Try alternating between skipping and grouping in the same phrase. Skip ascending and group descending, try this with the same number at first and then start changing the number of notes in your groupings and skips.
  • Learn a scale on one string and try these same exercises on one string. This will improve your skill of position shifting and lead you towards areas of the fretboard you may never have played in.

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