DADGAD Cascading Scales

I remember watching a friend play in DADGAD tuning years ago, and him making the guitar sound like a harp. I was both amazed and thoroughly intrigued at how this sound was cre-ated. Enter the beautiful world of cascading scales.

A cascading DADGAD scale is a lot like its name suggests, it is flowing and smooth and can make the guitar sound just like a harp. The most important thing when playing a cascading scale is to let each note ring out into each other; this is made a lot easier by the inclusion of lots of open strings. Because each cascading scale uses open strings, they are not movable shapes, however you can apply a capo to change the key if needed.

As well as the use of open strings, you can add legato (hammer-ons and pull-offs) to a cas-cading scale to enhance the free-flowing sound. This is more prominent when the cascad-ing scale shape is across two octaves.

DADGAD Cascading Scales Example 1 – Fretted One Octave D Major Scale

Example 1 is a fretted D Major scale (D E F# G A B C#) across one octave. This shape will likely feel familiar to you in both sound and the way that it is played.

DADGAD Cascading Scales Example 2 – One Octave Cascading D Major Scale

Now compare both the sound and fretting of a one octave cascading D major scale (D E F# G A B C#) to the previous example.

DADGAD Cascading Scales Example 3 – Fretted One Octave D Mixolydian Scale

Example 4 shows a fretted D Mixolydian scale (D E F# G A B C) across one octave.

DADGAD Cascading Scales Example 4 – Cascading One Octave D Mixolydian Scale

Here is the same D Mixolydian scale but arranged in the harp-like cascading scale format.

DADGAD Cascading Scales Example 5 – Fretted D Natural Minor Scale One Oc-tave

Example 5 demonstrates a fretted D Natural Minor scale (D E F G A Bb C).

DADGAD Cascading Scales Example 6 – Cascading D Natural Minor Scale One Oc-tave

Next is the D Natural Minor scale arrange as a one-octave cascading scale. I recommend playing the fretted version of the scale and then the cascading version after, to hear the dif-ferent sounds created by the same scale.

DADGAD Cascading Scales Example 7 – Two Octave Cascading D Major Scale

Example 7 is a two octave D major (D E F# G A B C#) cascading scale shape. The first bar will feel familiar to you as you have already learnt it in a previous example.

For more information on cascading scale shapes in DADGAD, check out my brand new book Exploring DADGAD Tuning For Guitar.

Recommended listening

Pierre Bensusan is a master of DADGAD tuning. I recommend listening to the track Nice Feeling from the al-bum Encore.

Need more DADGAD in your life?

Check out my book, The Complete DADGAD Guitar Method, Available now in Paperback, Kindle and PDF formats.

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