In this lesson we'll look at expanding our scales beyond the one octave. Having established that scales contain a series of seven notes that lead us back to the tonic note an octave above, it's possible to look at continuing these notes both above and below this and thereby increase our familiarity with the fingerboard. Let's start with G again, and revisit our first set of notes in the scale starting on the open G string:

G Major Scale - first octave:

G                 A                  B                 C                     D                E                F#              G

And now let's play the same set of notes, but beginning on the G one octave above (note how this pattern is identical to the C Major Scale, only starting on a different note):

G Major Scale - second octave:

G                 A                 B                C                    D                E                 F#               G

Let's group these together in one continuous pattern now. We'll also change our note values to quarter notes/quavers, which encourages playing the scales with alternate picking (down up down up etc):

G Major Scale - two octaves:

First Octave

Second Octave

G       A       B       C        D       E        F#    G

A       B       C       D       E        F#    G

Now here are two octaves of the A Major Scale starting on the second fret of the G string and going up to the fifth fret of the E string two octaves up:

A Major Scale - two octaves:

First Octave

Second Octave

A       B       C#     D      E       F#    G#    A

B       C#     D      E       F#    G#    A

Things get a little trickier when looking at playing two octaves in C and D. In order to cover all the notes it's necessary to shift the position of the hand on the neck. This also means the little finger starts to get a workout. Be sure to pay attention to the suggested fingering as this will guide you to know when to shift.

C Major Scale - two octaves:

First Octave

Second Octave

C      D       E        F      G       A       B      C

D       E        F       G        A        B       C

D Major Scale - two octaves:

First Octave

Second Octave

D        E       F#    G      A       B      C#    D

E       F#     G       A        B       C#      D

We'll take a closer look at position shifts in the next lesson on scales. For the moment, whilst it's useful being able to shift position up the neck, it's also worth becoming familiar with all the notes that are available in the first 'open' position. Here are the C and D scales again, but we don't reach the tonic above or below, we just play through the notes of the scale either side of the single octave:

C Major Scale:

One octave

G        A       B      C       D       E        F       G

A        B      C       D       E       F       G       A

D Major Scale:

One octave

G       A       B      C#    D       E       F#     G

A       B      C#    D       E       F#     G      A

With sixteen notes at our disposal it's possible to lead quite a successful career as a mandolinist without having to move beyond the realms of the first position. But being able to move around the fingerboard a little more adventurously can be rewarding as it opens up new melodic possibilities, and also enables us to play with others more effectively.

Relative Minor Scales:

With this wider range of notes available to us we can reveal another bonus feature of scale patterns which can expand our playing with very little effort. Previously we looked at changing the notes of a scale to play Natural Minor Scales that flatten the third, sixth and seventh steps of their Major counterparts. Major keys also have a relationship with their relative minor, which are a different minor key. These are as follows:

G and Em

D and Bm

C and Am

A and F#m

If we look at the two octaves of the C Major Scale for example, we can see how we can use the same notes to play the A Natural Minor Scale, all we need to do is start on the sixth step of the C scale, or three steps down from the tonic.

C Major

C Major

A Minor

This trick applies to all Major keys, so try it out with the scales listed above, identify the tonic note of the  Relative Minor key you want to play, and play through the same notes of its Relative Major scale. You can read more about this at SimplifyingTheory.com, and we'll also look at how to use this when playing chords in the next lesson.

© Nic Zuppardi 2020