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Thread: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

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    Default The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    pardon my ignorance you theory heads but i'm a rather unschooled player...

    anyhow...i was wondering if the notes in a scale used to compose a song would be considered the key....for instance, if i took an Am pentatonic scale, used the ii iv & v notes as my chords, would the key of the song be considered Am or Am pentatonic (or neither?)...
    Last edited by bellicose; 06-04-2004 at 05:46 PM.

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Quote Originally Posted by bellicose
    pardon my ignorance you theory heads but i'm a rather unschooled player...

    anyhow...i was wondering if the notes in a scale used to compose a song would be considered the key....for instance, if i took an Am pentatonic scale, used the ii iv & v notes as my chords, would the key of the song be considered Am or Am pentatonic (or neither?)...
    I'll admit my music theory isn't great, but here's how I interpret it...

    If you were to construct a song like that, you could use Am or Am pentatonic for a solo.

    I see pentatonics as a 'safer' scale. If you look at the minor modes (i.e. dorian, phrygian, aeolian), then the second and the sixth of the scale can change as you change between the minor modes. The pentatonic omits the second and the sixth, so you can avoid clashes more easily. The same is true of the mafor modes (ionian, lydian, mixolydian), except it is the 4th and the 7th that can change, and that are omitted in the pentatonic.

    A few years ago I tried to put the time in to learn the various rules, I don't bother so much now.

    As far as I remember, the way to guarantee you'll stay in key is to use only the scale-tone chords for whatever key you intend to solo in, or to use modes to fit the chords in the rhythm.

    Back to scale-tone chords; the C magor (ionian) scale (for example) contains the 'D' note, but if you were to play a D major chord, the third of this chord is F#, which is from outside the scale, so if you were to solo in C major and hit F a few times while this chord was behind the solo, it may sound a little off.

    The problem here (to me) is one of trying to apply 'science' to an 'art' - there are so many exceptions to the rule, where mixing scales/keys/playing 'outside' notes as passing notes etc can work. I know it sounds corny to say 'play what sounds good to your ears' but it's the truth. Someone can write a solo using a basic pentatonic scale and it may sound better than someone elses solo where they've used all kinds of clever scales and modes.

    Just my opinion based on my limited experience of course

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    i sort of get what you're saying, but you're a bit ahead of me...

    I was asking if a scale is a key and vice versa...

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    well a scale is a group of notes (pattern) that can be used across the fretboard to suit any key. your questions kind of weird but i guess if the scale is fitted into that key it is that key.....??? but a scale is just used to solo over any given key thats it, you just to have memorize the scale then fit it into the key you want and thats it.

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    im in kinda the same situation of knowing NO theory, i don't suppose anyone knows some good websites to explain all this stuff?

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Go through every lesson on this page and you won't be too bad at theory.
    http://www.zentao.com/guitar/theory/

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Know the notes on the gtr neck like the "back of your hand".

    You could know all the theory in the world, if u don't know the neck, it won't help.

    I suggest sight reading f-in' everything in all positions, and picking a scale and running it in every position, horizantal, vertical, from from every finger.

    Takes years. I sometimes pick something like: a Gb mixo b2 scale and see if I can run it in position 5, starting on the 3rd degree, with my 2nd finger, and see how quick i can run it.

    I also sing everything I play @ the same time. What good is great fingers & mind if the ear can't keep up?

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Quote Originally Posted by presa_tito
    Go through every lesson on this page and you won't be too bad at theory.
    http://www.zentao.com/guitar/theory/
    Great resource!

    Thanks
    Farkus
    2007 Strat ('78 bridge, a2 Pro neck)
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    Fender, Mesa, Marshall Amps

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Quote Originally Posted by bellicose
    if i took an Am pentatonic scale, used the ii iv & v notes as my chords, would the key of the song be considered Am or Am pentatonic (or neither?)...
    A minor.
    A minor pentatonic is just A minor with the 2nd and 6th scale degrees omitted.
    A minor is the relative minor of C major, meaning that A minor and C major scales have the same notes.

    The key of a song (in western music) is considered either major or minor. Not major pentatonic, not lydian, etc.

    I can't really get too in-depth here, so get yourself a theory book that explains the major and melodic minor scales, modal theory and chord-scale-relations. That should get you started.
    Or just find a guitar teacher to teach you these things.
    Last edited by BornToShred; 06-09-2004 at 02:14 AM.

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Quote Originally Posted by BornToShred
    A minor.
    A minor pentatonic is just A minor with the 2nd and 6th scale degrees omitted.
    A minor is the relative minor of G major, meaning that A minor and G major scales have the same notes.
    Sorry to be picky put A minor is the relative minor of C major:

    A minor - A B C D E F G A
    c Major - C D E F G A B C
    G Major - G A B C D E F# G

    So if you play A to A in G major you actually have a dorian mode - A B C D E F# G A - Santana anyone?

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Quote Originally Posted by moog1000
    Sorry to be picky put A minor is the relative minor of C major
    Sorry. I knew that, but i typed it incorrectly.

    Sometimes my fingers work faster than my brain.

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    I knew you knew you that. You were just testing weren't you!

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Quote Originally Posted by moog1000
    Sorry to be picky put A minor is the relative minor of C major:

    A minor - A B C D E F G A
    c Major - C D E F G A B C
    G Major - G A B C D E F# G

    So if you play A to A in G major you actually have a dorian mode - A B C D E F# G A - Santana anyone?
    Spot on. E minor (pure) is the relative minor of G major.

    Here's another way I look at scales and keys; they are both just bunches of notes, put together according to someone's logic. There is nothing to stop you trying to write a song based on the A phrygian scale (for example). It's your song! (When I first tried to do leads, I had no idea about scales, so I tried to do it using the notes from whatever chord is in the rhythm, and chucking in other notes as passing notes whilst steering clear of semitone clashes. I wan't (and still aren't) very good at it).

    In that way, then you could say that a scale is a key.

    Look at the C major scale given above. If you wrote a song using only those notes with C as the root, it would be in the key of C major, and you could use the C major scale for leads, if you wanted. Some people may use other scales in C.

    For a song to only use notes from this scale, then you need to use scale-tone chords. Say you wanted to play a D chord. Find D in the C major scale, then count to the 'third' above it (F in this example), and a 'fifth' above (A in this example). This is D minor. If you number the notes in the scale in order, then the chords you would form using 1 - 7 as the roots would be major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished respectively. It's no coincidence that modes formed from a scale follow this major, minor, minor etc pattern also.

    In fact, the simplest way I find to play modes is to write a song using only scale tone chords, select the scale I play leads in as being the same as the key of the song, then just change the root note I'm using to tie-in with the root of whatever chord is being played in the rhythm.

    I'll chance my arm here though and say that most songs I hear don't use scale-tone chords (I often don't even manage to stay in one key in a song ), so that's when selecting scales becomes really fun. I try to select based on the general 'feel' I'm aiming for (example A phrygian played against an A major chord is supposed to sound Spanish), getting the root right, and trying to prevent clashes between rhythm and lead parts.

    I find it helps to remember music is more of an art than a science

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    Tone Member moog1000's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Quote Originally Posted by southadc
    .

    I find it helps to remember music is more of an art than a science
    Yeah you're not wrong. Unfortunately I come from the school of science and maths, and whilst my playing suffers from being overly calculated, I can come in handy on these threads!

    Most modern contemporary songs can be classed as either major and minor, and most songs do use scale-tone chords, but because the song maybe modally-based it may not appear that way. i.e. Sweet Home Alabama

    Chord Prog: D C G.
    Key: D major right? Wrong, G major, but we take it as D mixolydian.

    So although the song is really based around D mixolydian, it is in G, making the chord prog a V IV I prog using scale tones.

    I think we could be here all day with this one....

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Quote Originally Posted by moog1000

    Chord Prog: D C G.
    Key: D major right? Wrong, G major, but we take it as D mixolydian.

    So although the song is really based around D mixolydian, it is in G, making the chord prog a V IV I prog using scale tones.
    Ah, I see

    Quote Originally Posted by moog1000
    Yeah you're not wrong. Unfortunately I come from the school of science and maths, and whilst my playing suffers from being overly calculated, I can come in handy on these threads!
    Ditto - I'm a chemical engineer, so I try to be a bit too technical sometimes! Unfortunately, whilst I'm reasonably OK at being able to figure out how chords and scales and stuff work and go together, do you think I can actually remember any of the scale patterns when I try to improvise a solo? Usually end up in patterns one and 2 of the minor pentatonic

    Maybe we need something definitive in the vault about scales and stuff, 'cos you're right, we really could be here forever trying to unravel it all

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Wow a Chemical Engineer! I always loved chemsitry at school, and wished I'd studied it further. But I did music instead, got a BA in music theory and now work as an IT Analyst! Dumbass.....

    What I do when it comes to solos is work round the chord rather than the key. Instead of worrying about scale shapes etc. worry about notes. A guy further up in the thread said 'learn all the notes on the board'. That's what I did, and now I apply 'notes' in solos rather than a pentatonic shape etc. Admittedly some of the stuff I play is pentatonic based, but then I can move away and whack a 6th or something in there to change it about.

    A good example of this is when I played in a band as the bass player and we covered Crosstown Traffic by Hendrix. It came to a bit where the guitar player had a solo over the C7 - F7 vamp. He said 'what key is it in?'

    Now C7 derives from C mixo which is: C D E F G A Bb C, F7 is F G A Bb C D Eb F. Spot the conflict? E in C and Eb in F. He was playing C major (dominant) stuff over the F7 which sounded awful! If he had approached the chords separately rather than trying to play in C dominant over everything, it would have been OK. C minor pentatonic could have worked as well, but he couldn't grasp C minor over C7 either.

    Music, it's a crazy thing....

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Quote Originally Posted by moog1000
    Wow a Chemical Engineer! I always loved chemsitry at school, and wished I'd studied it further.
    The funs does wear thin occasionally, believe me "Oh joy! Another calculation"

    Quote Originally Posted by moog1000
    A good example of this is when I played in a band as the bass player and we covered Crosstown Traffic by Hendrix. It came to a bit where the guitar player had a solo over the C7 - F7 vamp. He said 'what key is it in?'

    Now C7 derives from C mixo which is: C D E F G A Bb C, F7 is F G A Bb C D Eb F. Spot the conflict? E in C and Eb in F. He was playing C major (dominant) stuff over the F7 which sounded awful! If he had approached the chords separately rather than trying to play in C dominant over everything, it would have been OK. C minor pentatonic could have worked as well, but he couldn't grasp C minor over C7 either.

    Music, it's a crazy thing....
    Ouch! C minor pentatonic - C Eb F G Bb C? Would the C major pentatonic blues (C D Eb E G A C I think) have worked if the major and minor thirds were used cautiously? (I'm a little hazy on this one, maybe this is where a BA in music is handy).

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    Tone Member moog1000's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Quote Originally Posted by southadc

    Ouch! C minor pentatonic - C Eb F G Bb C? Would the C major pentatonic blues (C D Eb E G A C I think) have worked if the major and minor thirds were used cautiously? (I'm a little hazy on this one, maybe this is where a BA in music is handy).
    You can usually get away with the b3rd against 7th chords, even better if you added in the natural 3rd and like you say used them cautiously. That's what I mean by working with chords and not keys, knowing to put the E natural against the C7 and the Eb against the F7.

    It all makes sense in the end...honest

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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Quote Originally Posted by moog1000

    It all makes sense in the end...honest
    Yeah, I decided not long ago that the only scale I need to be using is the chromatic one, used cautiously

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    Tone Member moog1000's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Relationship Between Scales and Keyes

    Quote Originally Posted by southadc
    Yeah, I decided not long ago that the only scale I need to be using is the chromatic one, used cautiously


    You've nailed it! The scale to end all scales. When people start getting shi**y about what scales they used in a piece etc. just reply back that you used the chromatic scale and watch them shut up! It's like all the encompassing scae that is never wrong!!

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