The Basics 5 – The Numeric Pattern

We could use the semitone pattern to form all kinds of scales and chords. It is suitable in the beginning but it becomes quite impractical with more complex scales and chords where there are many large intervals. An easier way is to use something as a reference point and just mark the differences for modifications. The reference point that we will be using is the major scale. It is the most “natural” scale. In other words it has no alterations. 

This time instead of a semitone pattern we will use a numeric pattern. It is actually quite simple. Each note of the major scale has a number set to it. So the numeric pattern for the C major scale (C-D-E-F-G-A-B) is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7

(After the 7th note we can either go back to 1 or continue forward to 8-9-10-11-12-13-14. Out of these “new” numbers the most used ones are 9, 11 and 13 and their equivalents are 2,4, and 6 respectively from the “normal” numeric pattern. These numbers (9,11,13) are used with larger chords. We will cover those in greater detail in later lessons.)

So now we can use this numeric pattern as a template and create numeric patterns for scales and chords. When modifying specific numbers we use the “#” (sharp) to raise and “b” (flat) to lower the number by a semitone just as we did with the note names.  Below are some examples of chords and scales and their numeric pattern equivalent.  

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