One of my students wanted to learn how to play What Do I Know? yesterday.  It’s one of about 19 songs in the current UK top 20 (!) that are from Ed Sheeran’s latest album.  Upon hearing it, my first thought was that it’s a lot like Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself:  same key, same kind of riff.  Coincidence? Hardly. After a quick glance at the internet I saw that Sheeran actually co-wrote Love Yourself.  Un-belieber-ble.

Anyway, I thought it was a good opportunity to take a look at the Emajor scale in 10ths. 10ths are really pleasing to listen to and by learning this scale you’ll have everything in place to tackle these two riffs (and in the process get your fingers around some new shapes).

E Major Scale in 10ths

I’ve highlighted the range of the scale that both riffs cover, and you might have noticed that I’ve extended the scale one degree above the octave (circled) .  This is just to accomodate the range of notes in Love Yourself.  Leave this out if you want to play an exact one octave scale in 10ths.

A 10th is a compound interval (which means it’s an interval greater than an octave) but it’s essentially the same as a 3rd.  If you’re not sure what that means:  play the 1st and 3rd notes of the major scale (Fig 1).

scale 3rds
Fig 1 – 1st and 3rd notes of E major scale (circled).

Then, without moving the 1st,  move the 3rd an octave higher (Fig 2) – that’s a 10th. 

3rds and 10ths
Fig 2 – Moving the 3rd an octave higher to create a 10th

You can read more about this by clicking here, if you like.  Here’s a link to a printable version of the scale:  Emajor Scale in 10ths.

Learn the scale, and you’ll be able to work out the riffs from the video (there are slow versions of each).  If you want to check out some other songs that use 10ths in a similar way, try: Holiday (Green Day); Scar Tissue (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Blackbird (The Beatles).

Thanks for reading!