How to Use Scales as a Tool for Songwriting


When it comes to writing a song, there are many different approaches and techniques that can be used. One of the most effective tools for songwriting is the use of scales. Scales are a fundamental aspect of music theory and can be a powerful tool for creating melodies, harmonies, and chord progressions. In this article, we will explore the basics of scales and how they can be used as a tool for songwriting.

First, let’s define what a scale is. In simple terms, a scale is a series of notes arranged in ascending or descending order. The most common scale used in Western music is the major scale, which consists of seven notes and follows a specific pattern of whole and half steps. Other scales, such as the minor scale, also have their own unique patterns and sounds.

Now, you may be wondering, how can scales be used in a practical way for songwriting? Well, let’s look at some examples.

Scales can be used to create memorable melodies in a song. By using the notes of a particular scale, you can easily create a cohesive and harmonious melody. Let’s take the C major scale, which consists of the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. By using only these notes, you can create a melody that sounds pleasing to the ear. This is because the notes in a scale are carefully chosen to work together in a harmonious way.

Scales are also useful for creating harmonies in a song. A harmony is when two or more notes are played simultaneously, creating a pleasing sound. By using the notes of a particular scale, you can easily create harmonies that support and enhance the melody. For example, if the melody of a song is based on the C major scale, the chords used in the song can also be based on this scale. This creates a sense of cohesion and unity in the music.

Chord progressions:
Chord progressions are a key element in songwriting, and scales can be a helpful tool in creating them. A chord progression is a series of chords played in a specific order. By using the notes of a scale, you can easily create chord progressions that sound pleasing to the ear. For instance, the C major scale can be used to create the chord progression C major, F major, and G major. This progression is commonly found in many popular songs and is an excellent example of how scales can be used to create chord progressions.

Creating Variations:
Scales can also be used to create variations in a song. By altering or adding a note from a scale, you can create a different sound and add interest to your song. For example, you can start with a melody using the C major scale, and then add a flattened third (C, E♭, G) to create a minor sound. This simple alteration can completely change the mood and feel of a song.

In conclusion, scales are an essential tool for songwriting. They provide a solid foundation for melodies, harmonies, and chord progressions, and can also be used to create variations in a song. As you become more familiar with scales and their patterns, you can use them to create more complex and intricate music. So the next time you sit down to write a song, remember to use scales as a highly specialized and logical tool to enhance your music.