Working on the Ionian b2 Scale Group

I've spent a little of my practice time over the last two weeks looking at the Ionian b2 scale and some of its modes. I thought it might be useful to post something here about the approach I've taken so far and how I aim to continue the learning process this week.

I started by just playing through a couple of positions of the scale by sight from Arpeggio & Scale Resources. The point of this was just to hear the scale and decide whether I wanted to do anything with it. I liked the sound and after trying out a few different modes decided that I'd start by focusing just on what I refer to as the Superaugmented Natural 3 Scale.

After that I learned all five CAGED positions over the course of about a week, and spent the next week getting familiar with moving between them and playing in any "key". In fact at this stage I was using a drone (I like Tanpura Droid on my phone because it's simple and sounds OK) but I also started experimenting with chord qualities as well. This scale works well over either major 7 or dominant chords, which makes it versatile but also ambiguous.

At this point I've got the sound of the scale in my head and I can play it anywhere on the fingerboard in any key, but the nature of CAGED is such that there are still some "sticky" spots that prevent me from moving freely around the scale. My job this week is to fix that by playing the scale in three-note-per-string (3NPS) patterns up and down the fretboard in a different key each day. 3NPS is a great complement to CAGED because it cuts across adjacent pairs of boxes and starts to "get you out of the cage". The aim is to be able to move around the scale at will; CAGED is just a step in the process.

I'll start by just playing the pattern straight up one position, slide up and go down the next and so on, once up the fretboard and once back down. After that I can be freer about making lines out of the scale as long as I stick to those positions. I'm lucky enough to have a lot of time with my guitar this month so rather than one long session I'll be doing this several times throughout the day to aid memorization (this is a very useful technique if you're able to apply it).

Once I have this stage completed I'll start looking at applications and modes. I like to learn one scale in the group thoroughly before going onto modes because the latter can be confusing if you don't have the fingerings down cold yet. If you do, though, the modes usually come very easily.

I'll check in in a week's time with a progress report...