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#1
Ive recently gone through some brian may solos to find out what notes he uses and ive found that he usually uses each note at least once except for 1 or 2.

In the killer queen solo he uses all notes except C#, in bohemian rhapsody he uses all the notes except A, and in play the game he uses all of them except C# and F#.

It seems pointless to have a scale were there is only one note not used. Im still learning theory but the way I see it if scales were actaully used in these solos it seems a little pointless since they are so broad.
#2
They are very very very useful. I imagine the notes he uses outside the scales are just passing notes. It's not uncommon to use notes outside of scales, however, they aren't usually emphasised.

If you know your major scale through and through, then everything else in music will make a lot more sense.

Edit: Just going to let you know, using a scale doesn't mean you aren't allowed to use notes outside of it. Scales are more or less guidelines.
Last edited by Regression at Jul 14, 2009,
#3
even if he plays a ton of notes outside the scale, the scale still provides a point of reference and a melodic center
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#4
doesn't that just mean he uses chromatic passage notes / a combination of scales eh?
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#6
Quote by TheRobbo7108
I once thought like you but learning scales opens doors, it can help you find your style


Definitely. Music theory are not rules, they are guidelines to help you write things that sound good, and to bring out a certain sound in your playing.
#7
just because you are playing within a scale doesn't mean you have to use every note from it. The real trick is knowing what notes to use when, scales are just guidelines to help you find the right notes more easily
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#8
Yea I think the main point you'll want to take from this thread is basically what someone else already said up there; the notes outside the scale usually aren't emphasized as key notes in the solo, they just give it an interesting transition

What you'll find if you keep playing is you don't need to know scales to play a solo, you need to know scales to know why your solo sucks.
#9
The excluded notes may be extremely dissonant. This does not mean they may never be used but just in careful context--or not.
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#10
Knowing the key, chords and scale helps you understand how EVERY note on the guitar will sound in that context.
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#11
Quote by mikeyb9m3bek
Ive recently gone through some brian may solos to find out what notes he uses and ive found that he usually uses each note at least once except for 1 or 2.

In the killer queen solo he uses all notes except C#, in bohemian rhapsody he uses all the notes except A, and in play the game he uses all of them except C# and F#.

It seems pointless to have a scale were there is only one note not used. Im still learning theory but the way I see it if scales were actaully used in these solos it seems a little pointless since they are so broad.



Yeah, I know what you mean. I feel the same way about words in language. I mean if you use all the letters, what do you need words for?
shred is gaudy music
#13
methinks the TS didn't look at it in a musical context. he just saw that all the notes except one or 2 were used. not that it changed keys or anything else that would warrant using different notes.
#14
Quote by z4twenny
methinks the TS didn't look at it in a musical context. he just saw that all the notes except one or 2 were used. not that it changed keys or anything else that would warrant using different notes.


Such as the simple fact that most music has accidentals in it. People take theory too strictly and think it's a rule, not a way to describe music
#15
so you can essentialy play the odd note out of a scale? Chromatisms wont sound bad?
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#16
Quote by timeconsumer09
Such as the simple fact that most music has accidentals in it. People take theory too strictly and think it's a rule, not a way to describe music

+1

I've played music on alto sax with like 3 #'s but only one from the key signature was used and the rest were written in as natuals and there were also flats that normally wouldn't be there. My new marching music has accidentals gallore.
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#17
Quote by BladeSlinger
+1

I've played music on alto sax with like 3 #'s but only one from the key signature was used and the rest were written in as natuals and there were also flats that normally wouldn't be there. My new marching music has accidentals gallore.


MARCHING BAND FTW!
#18
learning scales was the key to improv for me. may not work that way for everyone else but once i learned the scales and modes i began to see the fretboard COMPLETELY differently. it's hard to explain *how* i see it now exactly, but long story short: scales are helpful.
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#19
The thing about Brian Mays solos in this sense are that the notes that he centers around are the notes in whatever scale the situation calls for. If I do a chromatic run from C-E and then from G-C, while emphasizing those outside notes, I'm quite possibly functioning in C major. Knowing the scales helps you know what to play over certain chords so it doesn't sound more interesting than just monkeying around with just the notes of the chord.
#20
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This will be my sixth year. I got recruited in 7th grade because our band is really small. We did a 5A show with a 3A band....I can still play that **** from memory after 5 years.
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#21
I those examples Brian is either playing through some key changes, and therefor uses more notes then the usual 7 in a Diatonic scale or is simply adding out of key notes, usually as passing tones. A good example is the blues scale, its the minor pentatonic, with an added b5, this adds dissonance, and interest to the minor pentatonic, which can sometimes be boring.
#22
Scales aren't useful at all. You should just play completely random notes, I'm sure that's exactly what Brian May does.
#23
Also, heres another lick that I've used/seen used, and it uses plenty of out of key notes.


e]------------------------------------------------------12//15//17v~19p18p17h19p18p17---------]
B]------------------------------------17p16p15h16h1717v~--------------------------------------]
G]----------------------------12h14h15--------------16v~--------------------------------------]
D]--------------------12h13h14----------------------------------------------------------------]
A]--------11v~12h13h14------------------------------------------------------------------------]
E]10h11h12-----------------------------------------------------------------------------12\\4p0]


Played over a E7 chord, this lick has plenty of out of key notes, the b5, m3 and Maj7 are all out of key assuming we're in A Major and the E7 is part of a I-IV-V progression. But to my ears atleast it sounds good, despite the out of key notes. Most of which are used as passing tones.
#24
Playing all notes doesn't mean that he didn't use scales.
Many songs modulate the progression (change keys) , and the major and pentatonic
are not the only scales, I could use a different scale over each chord and still sound good.
That doesn't mean you can't play notes outside the scale... if you know they won't sound like ****.

Plus, they are really useful for composing if you know some theory.
#25
Firstly scales are helpfull. You dont have to know that your playing them to be playing them. They are the most usable concept in music I have encountered in my time playing guitar, and when scales are mixed, the melodies they produce are amazing.

Sometimes when guitarists, like Brian May mix scales it gives the looker on the impression that they are not using ANY SINGLE SCALE, and therefore one comes to the conclusion that there is no scale being used, but i tell you this there is no line of notes that can be played in music that cannot be directly or indirectly traced back to a scale. Feel the mood of the notes, the so called relative pitch, because that is what should be used to recognize a scale. One should "hear" for a scale rather than inspect the notes being used, inspecting notes can be misleading especially when complex scales are wrapped around each other, one would need formal training in music at an advanced level to understand, not all but some pieces.

But the scale should not be the primary driving force behind your music. Remember music theory was developed to help understand the complex nature of music not the other way around. Yes guitarists do centre their solos around certain notes, but its all about feeling. Feel the notes you want to improvise with rather than looking for a note in a scale to make sure you dont hit a wrong note. Some guitarists become what i call chronic scale players, all they capable of is cracking it up and down a scale. This is not the point of music. Music is an expression of what is in the creative nature of a soul....and scales if used with imagination the way Brian May uses them can produce wonderfull music....however if used only in one way, without intent to use the imagination scales will kill creativity, fast and quickly.
Last edited by StringCutter at Jul 16, 2009,
#26
When it comes to improvising, scales aren't as useful as you folks seem to believe. They're essentially a dead end.

I find a far more useful approach is to work around the chord tones in a given progression. I'm certain that this is how Mr. May works out his solos, as opposed to thinking "for this I will play an A minor scale with some accidentals". That's not to say that the latter approach doesn't have it's own use - it certainly does. I just think it can be somewhat limiting.
#27
Quote by Beserker
When it comes to improvising, scales aren't as useful as you folks seem to believe. They're essentially a dead end.

I find a far more useful approach is to work around the chord tones in a given progression. I'm certain that this is how Mr. May works out his solos, as opposed to thinking "for this I will play an A minor scale with some accidentals". That's not to say that the latter approach doesn't have it's own use - it certainly does. I just think it can be somewhat limiting.


How can it be limiting? How is it any different than "working around the chord tones"?

It's not like you have to push a button on your guitar to choose which scale to use before you start playing.

Even if you base your improv around a certain scale, all the other notes are still going to be there if you want to use them.
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#28
Quote by Guitartist
How can it be limiting? How is it any different than "working around the chord tones"?

They are two different approaches. Both have their place, but thinking in terms of chord tones opens up many new possibilities. I'm not very good at explaining this stuff, and I don't feel like making a big post right now, but I'll try to explain briefly why thinking only in terms of scales is limiting (I'm sure someone else can do a much better job though).

Many times with simpler stuff, taking the scale associated with the key and improvising with only those notes will get the job done. Nothing wrong with this approach, and it's great for say fast runs when you don't have much time to think. But if you have a more complex progression, say one that temporarily modulates to a different key, simply playing the same scale over it could sound really off. You may counter with "well just change the appropriate scale then", but that is over-complicating matters. You need a total rethink of what you're doing, whereas by simply targeting the chord tones, making them the notes to aim for when resolving a phrase, and considering that any other note could be used for colour, you're simultaneously making life easier for yourself, adding spice to your playing, and breaking out of patterns that scales can so easily dictate.

I hope that gave you an idea of what I mean. Hopefully though, someone else can elaborate for me because I'm pretty rubbish at transferring what's really in my head to words.
#29
Quote by mikeyb9m3bek
Ive recently gone through some brian may solos to find out what notes he uses and ive found that he usually uses each note at least once except for 1 or 2.

In the killer queen solo he uses all notes except C#, in bohemian rhapsody he uses all the notes except A, and in play the game he uses all of them except C# and F#.

It seems pointless to have a scale were there is only one note not used. Im still learning theory but the way I see it if scales were actaully used in these solos it seems a little pointless since they are so broad.


Scales are more like a foundation than an absolute. If you don't know the rules, you cant break them. Also, all of the notes, excluding one is actually a chromatic scale that just chooses to omit a particular note. Also, depending upon the situation, it can be possible to merge into different keys and ultimately use all notes.

Scales really really arent as complicated as you think. They are sequences of notes that are identified as strong intervals. Once you have the sequence, you can rephrase it easily into different modes. There are like an infinate amount of modes and scales.

Good luck learning music theory, dont let it beat you.
#30
Almost every song you've hear in your entire life was based off of the major or the minor scale. How does that make you feel?
i don't know why i feel so dry
#31
Like Charlie Parker once said "You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail"

What this means (at least for me) is that you need to learn the theory to learn to play without it. You need to know the rules to break them.
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#32
Quote by MadAudioMan
Also, heres another lick that I've used/seen used, and it uses plenty of out of key notes.


e]------------------------------------------------------12//15//17v~19p18p17h19p18p17---------]
B]------------------------------------17p16p15h16h1717v~--------------------------------------]
G]----------------------------12h14h15--------------16v~--------------------------------------]
D]--------------------12h13h14----------------------------------------------------------------]
A]--------11v~12h13h14------------------------------------------------------------------------]
E]10h11h12-----------------------------------------------------------------------------12\\4p0]


Played over a E7 chord, this lick has plenty of out of key notes, the b5, m3 and Maj7 are all out of key assuming we're in A Major and the E7 is part of a I-IV-V progression. But to my ears atleast it sounds good, despite the out of key notes. Most of which are used as passing tones.

I use alot of out of key notes when I play, more now than I used to.. more chromatic licks, but i've spent the last 4 or so years learning theory and practicing scales. Just because he's playing out of key notes doesn't mean he doesn't know what he was doing.. learn your theory, you wont regret it
#33
^I do know my theory... And I never said Brian didn't know his. Why do you assume this? Infact, learning when to use tasteful out of key notes is a very important skill and something you see in the better guitarists.
#34
Quote by Eastwinn
Almost every song you've hear in your entire life was based off of the major or the minor scale. How does that make you feel?

I'd say about 20% of the stuff I listen to (at least wilfully) doesn't use those scales at all, and a further 30 - 50% uses other ones in spades. How does that make YOU feel?
Last edited by Beserker at Jul 16, 2009,
#35
Quote by Beserker
I'd say about 20% of the stuff I listen to (at least wilfully) doesn't use those scales at all, and a further 30 - 50% uses other ones in spades. How does that make YOU feel?


That's cool, but you're not the TS, to whom I was speaking.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#36
lol ok. But that's still an assumption. I'd say in general us guitarists listen to a lot more non-major or minor stuff than your average person.
#37
Quote by Beserker
lol ok. But that's still an assumption. I'd say in general us guitarists listen to a lot more non-major or minor stuff than your average person.


Oh yeah, it's a pretty big assumption, but at least it gets the message across. Even if he listens to more music that's not major or minor, there are still going to be scales unless he listens to atonal music, which I would doubt just for the sake of doubting. I could have just said scales instead of specifically the major and minor scale but I was hoping to save him from the trap of looking for other scales besides major or minor to get out of a writer's block or something.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#38
Quote by Eastwinn
I was hoping to save him from the trap of looking for other scales besides major or minor to get out of a writer's block or something.

It's helped me out many a time before. I'm sure it could help others too, if they know roughly what they're doing.
#39
Quote by Beserker
They are two different approaches. Both have their place, but thinking in terms of chord tones opens up many new possibilities. I'm not very good at explaining this stuff, and I don't feel like making a big post right now, but I'll try to explain briefly why thinking only in terms of scales is limiting (I'm sure someone else can do a much better job though).

Many times with simpler stuff, taking the scale associated with the key and improvising with only those notes will get the job done. Nothing wrong with this approach, and it's great for say fast runs when you don't have much time to think. But if you have a more complex progression, say one that temporarily modulates to a different key, simply playing the same scale over it could sound really off. You may counter with "well just change the appropriate scale then", but that is over-complicating matters. You need a total rethink of what you're doing, whereas by simply targeting the chord tones, making them the notes to aim for when resolving a phrase, and considering that any other note could be used for colour, you're simultaneously making life easier for yourself, adding spice to your playing, and breaking out of patterns that scales can so easily dictate.

I hope that gave you an idea of what I mean. Hopefully though, someone else can elaborate for me because I'm pretty rubbish at transferring what's really in my head to words.


"Chord tones" are - by definition - parts of a scale, broseph.

Am chord is built using notse from the Am scale, G chord is built from the G scale, etc.

If you're focusing on chord tones, you're using scales.

All you're saying is that people should play the chord changes instead of sticking to one scale.
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Last edited by Guitartist at Jul 17, 2009,
#40
Quote by Guitartist
"Chord tones" are - by definition - parts of a scale, broseph.

Am chord is built using notse from the Am scale, G chord is built from the G scale, etc.

Thanks, I didn't know that.


If you're focusing on chord tones, you're using scales.

All you're saying is that people should play the chord changes instead of sticking to one scale.

Not exactly. The notes you play may or may not be within one scale. Basically, it's just a different way of thinking about it. Your playing WILL sound different if you take this approach - try it and see. Ultimately, it doesn't matter how you get to the notes but just that you get to them, but there are different ways to do this other than thinking in scales. This is one of them. The fact that either way you will end up playing a scale or scales is not the point. This is advice straight from the mouth of the many extremely experienced improvisers I have talked or played with, or read articles by. If you choose to ignore it, that's your problem.
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