Learn how to play the Conspirian scale!
Conspirian seems to work over almost any chord progression as a blanket scale, and it’s just a Blues scale with an added major 7th.
To learn this scale you have to work out where all maj7s are located in and around every Minor Pentatonic shape.
The better you know your Minor Pentatonic scales, with all its intervals, the easier this is.
The Em shape
The chordacus image below shows you how the Conspirian scale is built from the Em chord shape, the Em shaped Pentatonic scale and the Em shaped Blues Scale. Simply add a maj7 to get Conspirian.
When practising the scale use this formula:
- Minor Pentatonic
- add b5 (Blues)
- Minor Pentatonic
- add maj7
- Minor Pentatonic
This will ensure that you make all the important connections in your head and hands.
The video lesson below shows you this in detail.
The Am shape
The Am shape is almost as easy to phrase with as the Em shape you just learned.
Can you see how the chord has a Minor Pentatonic, a b5 and a maj7 around it?
When you can play this in Am you need to move it around the cycle of 4th, goes like this: Am – Dm – Gm – Cm – Fm – Bbm – Ebm – Abm – Dbm – Gbm – Bm – Em.
When you can play this to a metronome as the video show you can stop practising the Am shaped Conspirian scale. Time to move on to the Dm shape.
The Dm shape
Again, the Dm shaped Conspirian builds like this:
Dm chord shape, the Dm shaped Minor Pentatonic, the Dm shaped Blues scale, add a maj7 and you’ve got your Conspirian scale.
Can you see all this in the Chordacus image below?
If you sing the intervals as you play the scale, you’ll make a stronger connection between the scale, the actual intervals and how your ear recognise them. You’ll probably develop twice as fast if you sing along.
The Gm shape
As we add Conspirian intervals to our Gm shaped pentatonic, it goes from being awkward to a real winner with the maj7 and the b5 on those two top strings.
The Cm shape
The Cm shape might feel awkward at first. If you are having problems improvising with it, translate licks you like from other shapes to the Cm shape.
Can you see how the scale is built from the Cm shaped chord, pentatonic and Blues scale?
This exercise connects all Conspirian shapes with each other. For complete control make sure you can play the exercise in all twelve keys. Simply run the exercise through the cycle of 4th.
This is played in triplets in the video, which is a good benchmark but also try other rhythms.
Cycle of 4th
This final exercise really nails all those Conspirian shapes as you find the closest shape possible, moving through the cycle of 4th.
Practise to a click, start slowly and increase with a couple of BPM every time you’ve played through five shapes.
Look out for b5’s and maj7’s in the improvisation below. Can you see the little “box shapes” the 4, b5, 5 and the b7, 7, R form?
Playing around with a scale that has these extra notes gives you a wider palette to choose from when you improvise.
Also, as you avoid any 2’s and 6’s you could apply this scale to any minor chord, no matter what mode it should have been.
The Conspirian scale is a Spy Tunes exclusive, it fills an important gap in understanding scales on the guitar.
When you learn how to play the minor modes you will add the intervals b2 or 2 as well as the b6 and 6 to you Minor Pentatonic to build all minor modes.
This means that the other two areas to fill are the b5 and maj7.
With modes, you have to pick the correct one over each chord so if the chords are II – III – VI, you’d play Dorian, Phrygian Aeolian. You would have to get the correct mode over each chord or you’ll end up playing the wrong notes.
With Conspirian, you could use it over any of those chords as you avoid the modal notes (the 2’s and the 6s)
This means that Consprian can always get you out of trouble when improvising.
The intermediate guitar course discusses this further and provides you with actual examples, using real songs.