Go Back   UG Community @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com > Music > Musician Talk
User Name  
Password
Search:

Reply
Old 02-05-2014, 09:49 PM   #1
Jaywalk777
"My Leg!"
 
Jaywalk777's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Major Vs. Minor

So I know this question has probably been asked a million times, but what is the difference between the major (Ionian) and Minor (Aeolian) scales?
Now before you go saying that I need to learn intervals and all that stuff, I can tell you that I already know enough about intervals to know what I am trying to ask

I am not asking about the scale shapes and or positions in relation to the chords being played, all im asking is about the "Relative Minor/Major Scales"
For example, lets take the most obvious (to beginners at least) C major and A minor relationship.
If I understand correctly, the chords and scale shapes are exactly the same. Now I know that people will say "the intervals between the scales are different for different notes, and the notes are relative to the chords... etc.

All I'm talking about is if you had 2 boxes labeled Am and CMaj and
Each box had the notes that the scales use in alphabetical order (in this case it really is "ABCDEFG") as well as the chords that go together with each scale jumbled up in a pile (I know this is confusing but stay with me.)

How could one tell the difference between the Am box and Cmaj box if there were no labels
(In other words, how does one differentiate a song from being in the key of A minor or C major, without there being any specifically noticeable tonic?)

I know this is likely very confusing but I hope someone can understand what I am saying and or answer my question without having to ask me a bunch of questions that aren't necessarily needed in order to answer it (sorry, no offense but I just don't appreciate that way of answering)

P.S. I understand that these are very specific conditions, but I phrase it like this to get to the true nature of my question

Cheers!
Here's a llama for your trouble
:llama
__________________
Weast? What kind of compass are you reading lad?

Last edited by Jaywalk777 : 02-05-2014 at 09:50 PM.
Jaywalk777 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 09:55 PM   #2
macashmack
Spongethug Moneypants
 
macashmack's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: New York, NY
The difference is in the sound. If a piece or song resolves to the C major then it's most likely in C major, and if it resolves to A minor then it's most likely in A minor.
__________________
macashmack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 10:17 PM   #3
AlanHB
Godin's Resident Groupie
 
AlanHB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Canberra, Australia
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaywalk777
(In other words, how does one differentiate a song from being in the key of A minor or C major, without there being any specifically noticeable tonic?)


In keys there is always a specifically noticeable tonic. The key of A minor has a tonic of A. The key of C major has a tonic of C.

I do not think you have learnt about keys yet. Learn how to identify the key of a song, and you'll realise that if you play:

C F G (Progression in C major)

Your box shape will function as the C major scale.

or

Am C G (Progression in A minor)

Your box shape will function as the A minor scale.


Identify the key, identify the scale. A lot of people get it backwards for some reason though.
__________________
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
AlanHB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 10:20 PM   #4
sickman411
Motor sensational
 
sickman411's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Portugal
I've got nothing to add to what the other people said but before anyone gets mad at TS or decides to write a lengthy response/rant about the boxes or decides to give TS some info on the fact that scales aren't just patterns on the guitar, please realise that they're metaphorical boxes and not guitar patterns.

Just figured I'd save someone some time and/or protect TS from unnecessary hostility.

Last edited by sickman411 : 02-05-2014 at 10:23 PM.
sickman411 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 11:14 PM   #5
smc818
Banned
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
For me it's every other. The entervals between C to E and A to C
Obviously it's going to sound different.

It's two whole step from C to E. It's 1 1/2 step from A to C.

When you learn intervals names...it's major 3, perfect 4th perfect 5th, natrual 6..ect
Obvilouly when you're a minority it's something of being less than the majority.
Hence Minor 3rd.

D to F.....E to G all have minor intervals to the third note or second arpeggios.
Those are the II and III chords of the maj scale.

F to A.....G to B. Two whole steps for these.
The IV and V chords of the maj scale.

The relative minor is always the 6th or VI of the major scale.
When you play in the Minor key. All you're doing is starting your count from the VI.
So the 6 becomes the I
The 2 becomes the IV
the 3 becomes the V

12345671
67123456

Obviousy the the relative minor to the key of Gmaj is Emin

Last edited by smc818 : 02-05-2014 at 11:24 PM.
smc818 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 11:39 PM   #6
sickman411
Motor sensational
 
sickman411's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Portugal
Quote:
Originally Posted by smc818
...

I'm backing you up in the bit where you say that you should think in terms of intervals from the tonic instead of just the collection of notes.

But you said that two notes make a chord and that's not right. Also, distinguishing a minor key from its relative major by saying you "start counting on the vi" is a pretty lousy, if not just plain wrong, way to describe that difference.

EDIT: Also agree with Sam.

Last edited by sickman411 : 02-06-2014 at 12:38 AM.
sickman411 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 12:33 AM   #7
crazysam23_Atax
Burning away
 
crazysam23_Atax's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: The Frozen North! (read: Northern Wisconsin)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaywalk777
So I know this question has probably been asked a million times, but what is the difference between the major (Ionian) and Minor (Aeolian) scales?

Please call them the major and natural minor scales, respectively. Ionian and Aeolian are modes, and that's a whole different thing.

Quote:
Now before you go saying that I need to learn intervals and all that stuff, I can tell you that I already know enough about intervals to know what I am trying to ask

I am not asking about the scale shapes and or positions in relation to the chords being played, all im asking is about the "Relative Minor/Major Scales"
For example, lets take the most obvious (to beginners at least) C major and A minor relationship.
If I understand correctly, the chords and scale shapes are exactly the same. Now I know that people will say "the intervals between the scales are different for different notes, and the notes are relative to the chords... etc.

Well...play a major scale. Now play a minor scale. Can't you hear the difference?

Quote:
All I'm talking about is if you had 2 boxes labeled Am and CMaj and
Each box had the notes that the scales use in alphabetical order (in this case it really is "ABCDEFG") as well as the chords that go together with each scale jumbled up in a pile (I know this is confusing but stay with me.)

How could one tell the difference between the Am box and Cmaj box if there were no labels
(In other words, how does one differentiate a song from being in the key of A minor or C major, without there being any specifically noticeable tonic?)

The only way to tell the difference would to listen and see where it resolves.
__________________
Tunes?

Bandcamp

Now working on my upcoming EP "Discarnate". See the expected track list on my bandcamp.



Terry Prachett is funnier than you! Discworld
crazysam23_Atax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 01:32 AM   #8
20Tigers
1
 
20Tigers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaywalk777
All I'm talking about is if you had 2 boxes labeled Am and CMaj and
Each box had the notes that the scales use in alphabetical order (in this case it really is "ABCDEFG") as well as the chords that go together with each scale jumbled up in a pile (I know this is confusing but stay with me.)

How could one tell the difference between the Am box and Cmaj box if there were no labels
(In other words, how does one differentiate a song from being in the key of A minor or C major, without there being any specifically noticeable tonic?)


So let's take box one and throw in all the notes and chords that make up C major and in another box throw in all the notes and chords that make up A minor. The boxes are identical in every way and have no labels. We'll shake those boxes up so that the contents are in a random order. Then we will invite subjects in to see the contents of the box and decide if it is the C major box or the A minor box.

Well in such a situation there is no way to tell the difference. A scale is simply a set of notes in ascending or descending order from the tonic. That is all a scale is, as soon as we jumble the notes up we can not tell what the mode might be.

Obviously you are using a box as a metaphor for a song. In a song the first note is not always the tonic, the lowest note is not always the tonic, the notes do not appear in sequential order and the order of the notes and chords used are not the same from song to song (even in the same key).

All we can see is that a certain "set" of notes is used in these songs. When we extract these notes and arrange them lowest to highest they are the same notes that are in C major and A minor so how can we tell whether it is C major or A minor?

The thing is that in reality the notes in those boxes (songs) are not randomly jumbled but carefully arranged.

If we have a hundred boxes of C major and a hundred boxes of Am we might run around and at first glance only note they all contain the same set of note and chords and find no other similarities that distinguish the Am group of boxes from the C major group of boxes.

However closer examination will show that within each of those boxes the notes and chords will usually be arranged into repeating patterns with smaller patterns inside the patterns.

Through examination of those patterns we will begin to see that the notes and chords form relationships with each other. We will then begin to see that the relationships in those boxes start to be seen in man boxes. Careful analysis of those patterns would allow us to separate out those boxes so that we can distinguish two clear groups: C major and A minor.

Some patterns might be obvious, for example in one of our boxes we might open it and see that there are twice as many C major chords in that box than any other chord. This would be a strong indicator that it is likely to be in C major.

In our C major boxes we might see that that there is a repeating pattern to the notes and chords. We might notice that the patterns tend to end with perhaps a G7 chord just before a C major chord. We might notice this same way of ending patterns in a whole bunch of the boxes and start to group those boxes together. This would indicate that those boxes might belong together in the same group.

There are so many other relationships that it would take writing a book on music theory to discuss them all, but these are some of the things we might see that would indicate the box might belong in the C major category.

In the A minor box we might see that there are a whole lot more A minors than other chords. We might see the regular use of F major and G major occurring before the A, we might see an unexpected chord in the box like E7 immediately preceding an A minor chord at important points (typically near the ends of the patterns). These kinds of things might lead us to group this other set of boxes into an Am group.

===

The point is that songs are not random. The placement of chords and notes next to each other creates a relationship between those chords and notes. It is the combination of those relationships that create a sense of a tonal centre and determines whether it is Am or C major..

While in this post we have been looking in a box the reality is that we listen to the songs.

When you hear a song the tonic should be the most fundamental sound of a piece of music. It will be the sound that is the most resounding and feels the most stable; the sound that provides a sense of levity to the whole piece of music (or a section of it).

Just as in the boxes though, the tonic is determined by the relationships between it and the other chords/material in the piece of music. As you hear the arranged patterns your ear will be drawn toward a certain chord. Those patterns and the arrangement of the tonal material will establish the sound of a tonal centre and differentiate something in C major with something in A minor.

The best way to consider this is to listen. The difference is sometimes subtle because they are related keys. But you should still be able to hear a change.

Listen to Wild World by Cat Stevens. In the verse he starts his pattern on Am. It goes through the verse to reach an E when he sings "baby I'm grieving" then back to Am again as the verse continues through the same pattern he just played. This time at the end he plays a G7 as the very last chord to set up a modulation to the key of C major for the chorus.

From the chorus it is similar with a repeating pattern (in C major this time) and at the very end of the chorus is an E major which sets up a modulation back to the Am.

The thing to hear is how the chorus and verse are in different keys. You should hear a change.




Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd also use a relative minor/major modulation between chorus and verse.

The verse starts in Bm and then shifts to D for the verse


Bruno Mars - When I Was Your Man is another song that has a minor verse (Am) and a major chorus (C major).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekzHIouo8Q4&feature=kp

There's a ton of other songs that are probably better examples and hopefully we get some more examples from other posters.

The point is the tonal material is not just thrown into a song randomly as in the metaphorical box you described. There are certain harmonic and melodic patterns and relationships that are formed by the careful arrangement of the tonal material. So although it is not in an obvious ascending order like the scale is, it will be in some kind of order and THAT is what will determine whether it is C major or A minor.

Keep in mind that sometimes the mixture of primary and secondary chords is so abundant that a piece of music can be "tonally ambiguous". That is to say that it could go either way or be somewhat unclear as to exactly where the tonal centre actually lies. In other instances the tonal centre is absolutely crystal clear and without any doubt.
__________________
Si
20Tigers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 02:27 AM   #9
smc818
Banned
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Quote:
Originally Posted by sickman411
I'm backing you up in the bit where you say that you should think in terms of intervals from the tonic instead of just the collection of notes.

But you said that two notes make a chord and that's not right. Also, distinguishing a minor key from its relative major by saying you "start counting on the vi" is a pretty lousy, if not just plain wrong, way to describe that difference.

EDIT: Also agree with Sam.


what are you trying to get Sick?
From the root to the V is a perfect 5th
From the V to the octive is a perfect 4th

Im i wrong to think in this way. When I circle up to the sharp side.
I want to raise notes. So i want to raise the 4th or 5th..Id augment them

When I cycle down to the flat side.
I'd flatten the 6 or diminish the 5th

The natrual minor for example.
The way I understand it.

The interval from Root to -3, 4 to -6 , 5 to -7, all have minor intervals.

The 2 acts like a leading tone to the 3. The 5 acts like a leading tone to -6.
Another way of saying it is..it's causing tension.
So when you raise the -7 to a 7. The 7th raises tension towards the octive.
The 7th is also a minor3rd interval to the 2.
I just see those notes that's not in the arpeggios as options to how much
tension a musician wants to create when going from arpeggios to arpeggios.

Last edited by smc818 : 02-06-2014 at 02:52 AM.
smc818 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 05:12 AM   #10
AlanHB
Godin's Resident Groupie
 
AlanHB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Canberra, Australia
^^^ Basically he's saying:

1. That a chord is technically 3 notes played at the same time. 2 notes at the same time is referred to as a"dyad".

2. That the root in a minor key is the first note, 1, not 6.
__________________
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
AlanHB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 06:04 AM   #11
smc818
Banned
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
The samething as the 5 chord or sus 4 chord.lol
They both have perfect 5th intervals. it dosnt clash when our earr hears it.
it's like pure tone.

If want to add another perfect 5th intervals. I play Asus9.
The chords sound beautiful whether i pluck it or strum it.

The reason why I left the 5th out...for the moment.
Was just to focus on the interval different between a maj3 and minor 3rd.

I know the root of the minor key is the I.
The intervals between the notes dosnt change just becuase you put the VI chord in the I position.

I dont have problem with adding the 6 note to a maj chord.
It sounds nicer to me sometimes.

Last edited by smc818 : 02-06-2014 at 06:34 AM.
smc818 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 07:05 AM   #12
AlanHB
Godin's Resident Groupie
 
AlanHB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Canberra, Australia
^^^ Try to think of the minor scale as its own unique scale rather than a derivative of the major scale.
__________________
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
AlanHB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 07:57 AM   #13
liampje
UG Addict
 
liampje's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
It depends where the music resolves.

If it resolves to a minor chord (''sad'' sound) it is said to be minor. When a song resolves to a major chord (''happy'' sound) it is said to be major.
__________________
AC/DC cover by me
EXTREME
Pocket Pod


Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggaraMine
Lydian isn't going to make you sound like Steve Vai.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Mc
Well, not without a fan, at least.
liampje is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 08:10 AM   #14
Jehannum
Registered Abuser
 
Jehannum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Birmingham, England
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaywalk777
How could one tell the difference between the Am box and Cmaj box if there were no labels
(In other words, how does one differentiate a song from being in the key of A minor or C major, without there being any specifically noticeable tonic?)


I hope this thread has given you the answer already. I remember wondering the exact same thing when I was learning.

The notes in the Am box and the CMaj box are the same. You couldn't tell the difference if there were no labels. In fact, there is no difference. The manufacturer could sell the boxes as USABLE IN A MINOR AND C MAJOR !!

That should tell you that a key is more than just a set of notes; it's also about how you use those notes in the music. In tonal music there will always be a tonic, a note where a melody or harmony sounds final or resolved.

The order and sequence of notes or chords determines the tonic. Your brain will recognise certain progressions as leading to either C or A, and it will recognise the sound of the resolution when the tonic is reached.

This is where theoretical has to meet the experiential. There is no simpler or better explanation of musical resolution than with reference to actual experience of hearing music.
Jehannum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 08:27 AM   #15
20Tigers
1
 
20Tigers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by liampje
It depends where the music resolves.

If it resolves to a minor chord (''sad'' sound) it is said to be minor. When a song resolves to a major chord (''happy'' sound) it is said to be major.

Please don't propagate the myth of associating "sad" with minor and "happy" with major,

It is not productive when so many sad songs are major and so many minor songs are not sad. Use different adjectives.

EDIT: just as a few examples: According to some the saddest song ever written is Hank Williams' I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry which is in the key of C major.
Another sad song is Ella Fitzgerald singing I'm Thru With Love in the key of F major. Everybody Hurts is also in a major key (you could maybe argue a modulation to a minor key in the bridge but that is the more uplifting part of the song).
__________________
Si
20Tigers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 09:31 AM   #16
xxdarrenxx
UG Fanatic
 
xxdarrenxx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Quote:
Originally Posted by smc818
The samething as the 5 chord or sus 4 chord.lol
They both have perfect 5th intervals. it dosnt clash when our earr hears it.
it's like pure tone.

If want to add another perfect 5th intervals. I play Asus9.
The chords sound beautiful whether i pluck it or strum it.

The reason why I left the 5th out...for the moment.
Was just to focus on the interval different between a maj3 and minor 3rd.

I know the root of the minor key is the I.
The intervals between the notes dosnt change just becuase you put the VI chord in the I position.

I dont have problem with adding the 6 note to a maj chord.
It sounds nicer to me sometimes.


That you find the p5 interval a "pure tone" is an opinion based on the physical aspect of one's ears, and has little to do with the art of music.

To compare it, it's like a picture in bad lighting.

You might discard the photo for being to dark, but this is in no way changing what is in the picture.

Eyes and ears and nose don't naturally like extensive uneasy balances. It's tiresome for your brain when it's to extreme fir too long.

That's probably why a lot of composers like the (early) morning for writing music, cause ur ears are fresh outta bed and unbiased or restless from an entire day worth of sounds and noises.

It is an important aspect in music when it comes to making harmony work or interesting, but be aware between a musical difference and a physical easier-on-the-ears difference.
__________________

The "Re-incarnation of Plato" Award 2009
(most intelligent)
The "Good Samaritan" Award 2009 (most helpful)

My Youtube Channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/xdarrenx

Who's Andy Timmons??

Last edited by xxdarrenxx : 02-06-2014 at 09:39 AM.
xxdarrenxx is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 12:55 PM   #17
GuitarMunky
I play guitar n stuff
 
GuitarMunky's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: on your back
Quote:
Originally Posted by 20Tigers
Please don't propagate the myth of associating "sad" with minor and "happy" with major,




it's not really a myth. It's just a way to describe the difference in sound in a non-technical way, and not meant to be taken strictly. It's a reasonable generalization, not a rule of any kind.

I remember when a teacher described it that way to me….. It made sense to me, but I never took it to mean that it would be impossible to have a happy song with minor chords or vise versa.

Last edited by GuitarMunky : 02-06-2014 at 01:47 PM.
GuitarMunky is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 01:14 PM   #18
Jaywalk777
"My Leg!"
 
Jaywalk777's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by sickman411
I've got nothing to add to what the other people said but before anyone gets mad at TS or decides to write a lengthy response/rant about the boxes or decides to give TS some info on the fact that scales aren't just patterns on the guitar, please realise that they're metaphorical boxes and not guitar patterns.

Just figured I'd save someone some time and/or protect TS from unnecessary hostility.


Why Thank you good Sir
__________________
Weast? What kind of compass are you reading lad?
Jaywalk777 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 01:49 PM   #19
Jaywalk777
"My Leg!"
 
Jaywalk777's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
I feel like so far 20Tiger's and Jehannum's posts have been the most helpful because they appreciate and understand my question
But I noticed that whilst writing this question I somehow completely forgot about hearing the "sound" of the scale/Key, not in terms of "happy" or "sad" but in terms of major and minor. And not to take the position of someone who actually knows something but "liampje" I get what you are saying but sometimes that is not always the best way to think about it, and I feel that if the chords had to be compared to something, comparing them to"dark"and "light" would be better even though that still doesn't always apply. and that brings me back to the original question because, from the standpoint of someone (myself) reading scale shapes and chords that work with each scale (jguitar . com) as 20Tiger's and Jehannum's said there is no way to tell the difference, or it could go either way. But when listening to the music it is a whole other story. The sound of something minor is indistinguishably (is that a word?) minor, and the same for major.

. As 20T said, I notice immediately that the verse of wild world is definitely minor, when it goes from the E chord to Am, that is just a transition that in my mind I recognize as minor, and the Chorus sounds like a whole different song, but it blends well (as a song).
And the Bruno Mars song is a great example of why keys in music confuse me, because I remember looking up the key of that song, and wiki saying it was A minor. and once again if we step away from the patterns of chords and everything and just go back to the two boxes, we could assume that both the boxes are (or could be used as) A minor even though one is minor and the other is major, it is relatively easy to tell which parts of a song are minor or major but in a song that switches from minor to major as much as Bruno Mars's does how can one tell what the true key is (I know it doesn't necessarily matter but still" because it's never gonna say "Well the verse is A minor, but then the Chorus is C major, and the next verse is Minor again, etc.."

This brings up another question though, "what is the key of a song that changes key multiple times from two extremely different keys, for example E minor and C major?"
Would it just be considered both?

And crazysam23_Atax
Quote:
Please call them the major and natural minor scales, respectively. Ionian and Aeolian are modes, and that's a whole different thing.


You know what I meant, and what is the difference between A natural minor and A aeolian?

I understand the majority of this post probably makes no sense (as most of mine dont to people) but I appreciate those who answered for taking the time to try and help me understand.

I have been looking at scales as I said earlier on paper and not actually hearing them, and that is something that I just now noticed, instead of looking at music I should listen to it.
__________________
Weast? What kind of compass are you reading lad?
Jaywalk777 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 03:54 PM   #20
liampje
UG Addict
 
liampje's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarMunky
it's not really a myth. It's just a way to describe the difference in sound in a non-technical way, and not meant to be taken strictly. It's a reasonable generalization, not a rule of any kind.

I remember when a teacher described it that way to me….. It made sense to me, but I never took it to mean that it would be impossible to have a happy song with minor chords or vise versa.

^^^^

It's the reason why I put sad and happy between "''.
__________________
AC/DC cover by me
EXTREME
Pocket Pod


Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggaraMine
Lydian isn't going to make you sound like Steve Vai.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Mc
Well, not without a fan, at least.
liampje is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:40 PM.

Forum Archives / About / Terms of Use / Advertise / Contact / Ultimate-Guitar.Com © 2014
Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.