The Major Scale: Part 10: Introduction to Position Playing with the 7BP's

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Music Theory: Practicing the 7BP's

You should now have an understanding of what the 7BP’s are. To repeat, they are the seven basic positions for the left hand that begins with the 1st finger. Each position starts on a degree of the major scale. Here are the 7BP’s that we have covered so far in the key of F major:

F Major 001

Tonic/1st Degree Position

F Major 002

2nd Degree Position

F Major 003

3rd Degree Position

F Major 004

4th Degree Position

F Major 005

5th Degree Position

F Major 006

6th Degree Position

F Major 007

7th Degree Position

Each of these position are presented here in order because we are in the key of F major. What would happen if we were in the key of C? Well, the lowest note on the 6th string that is closed is the note F. That’s why the 1st degree position starts on F. But, in the key of C, F is the 4th note in the scale. Meaning, its the 4th degree, and as a result the lowest left hand position in the key of C major is the 4th degree position. 

IMG 6736B908A2D1-1

C Major Scale: 4th Degree Position

Notice how the C major scale can occupy the same space as the F major scale. In fact, almost all the notes are the same except for the the Bb in the F major scale. There is no Bb note in the key of C. 

Position Playing with the 7BP's

So, to repeat, if we were to look at the fretboard from the perspective of F major, the lowest position you would see is the 1st degree position. If we switch gears and look at it from the C major perspective, you would find that the lowest position is the 4th degree position. Look at how the fretboard changes when we switch from C major to F major in the following example:

Position Playing C to F

Position playing with 7BPs: Key of C to the Key of F

This simple “switching” from one key to the next without moving out of the position is what position playing is (for the theoretical minded: you can think of this as a kind of voice leading for scales). The unwritten rule to follow is to be able to play/solo/improvise in one area of the fretboard. You’ll be able to carry motifs (musical ideas, riffs, licks etc) through the chord changes and adapt them if you have to. 

Make no mistake this is a hard thing to do and depending upon the key that you are going to you might have to shift a little. To illustrate this further, one way to handle this key change is to move the fingering until you match the tonic (remember they were identified by the letter T)  with the right letter. So, if you pay attention to the tonic in the C major 4th position and match them with the new tonic (F) you can see that you have to shift up a number of frets.

Shifting Positions Example

Shifting Positions From the Key of C to The Key of F

You can do this. There is nothing wrong with doing this. In fact, you might have to do it like this for a while until you get used to switching keys in the same area of the fretboard. The idea is that you have both approaches at your disposal. When you play music anything can happen and the more you have at your disposal the better.

Practice Sessions: C Major Scale Positions: 7BP 

We did the key of F so lets cover the key of C before we move on. I’ve picked up the pace and repetitions. Its time to practice.

Questions and Answers

Last weeks Q&A....

1. A _________ is a scale that is derived from the major scale.


2. If you take any key and go to the 6th degree you will get the starting point of the relative __________ scale.


3. The natural minor can also be called the _________ minor or ________ mode.

relative, aeolian

4. The natural minor scale sounds ______ when compared to its parent major scale.


© John Culjak 2016-2017