#1
To start this example let's say you're playing say C-F-C-G.

That's in the key of C and have a very basic I-IV-I-V progression.

But over those changes when C is going on, do you play stuff in C major?

And also when it switches to IV do you continue playing your C major or do you switch to playing that F and when the G comes up do you switch to the G?

I know someone will say "play what sounds good" but this is musician talk not "play-what-sounds-good talk" so keeping it strictly to theory would be nice.
#2
You could switch over to what chord your playing.(Forget what it's called) Or you could play over using a C major scale.


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#3
It's a diatonic progression in C Major, so playing C Major over the whole thing is safe, and C Major Pent is even safer.

When something is in the key of X Major, that means that it's based off of the X Major scale. If the chords in a progression only use the notes from X Major (like the example you posted, I-IV-I-V) then using X Major over it is the perfect choice. Some notes may conflict with certain chords (playing an F over an E minor might be a bad idea) but for the most part you are safe with just fiddling with that scale. If the progression uses notes from outside X Major, you should still use X Major, but you'll have to avoid certain notes over the weird chords, and include different notes over those chords too. If it gets too complicated, sometimes people resort to just "chord tones" where they only play notes contained each chord over them respectively.
#4
Well, it's a major progression, and its C, so you could use C or any one of its modes, Aeolian=natural minor, and thats on the sixth degree so... A minor or C major, cuz I don't feel like going into it.
#5
This is what makes a guitar player unique. You oculd play c major or you could pay A minor. You could stay in one scale or play a scale relative to each chord. SOme people like to play chord tones which arent necessarily in key but imply more than what actual chord is there. So saying play what sounds good is a musically sound statement
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#6
Jesus tap dancing Christ. You cannot play A Minor over this progression or any of C Major's modes. It does not work that way. No matter where or how you play the notes C D E F G A B over that progression, it will always be C Major, kapeesh?

This was directed at the above two posters.
#8
Quote by Kant
Gotta love contradicting advice :P


Eastwinn is correct. If the progression is in C major, play the C major scale. There are other ways of approaching it (the use of A minor is not one of them), but all of them are far more advanced.
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#9
Quote by Kant
Gotta love contradicting advice :P


It happens on here a lot. Mostly because a lot of people have no clue what they're talking about and yet they post about it any way as if they do -- even with basic stuff. Go with my answer: You want to play C Major over that.

I could explain more deeply why C major is actually your only choice, and how those other two posts a far off, but I'm afraid that will confuse the **** out of you. So, yeah, just play C Major.

EDIT: Archeo ninja'd me big time >__________>
Last edited by Eastwinn at Aug 5, 2009,
#10
You can just play C Major over the whole thing, or you can play F major over the F chord, or G major over the G chord.

All up to you really, they all will have different sounds so it's up to you to play and decide what sounds best to you.

C Major isn't the ONLY choice, you can play a F# over the G chord, and it'll sound nice.
You can also play F# over the C chord if you want, and it'll sound nice.
#11
emphasizing the chord tones is always a safe route
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#12
I guess that makes fooling around in C major and those scales easier, but say it's a more broad C major progression that utilizes some other minor chords and even a B dim. chord, will C major still be a useful and valid scale to play over that progression?
#13
Quote by Kant
I guess that makes fooling around in C major and those scales easier, but say it's a more broad C major progression that utilizes some other minor chords and even a B dim. chord, will C major still be a useful and valid scale to play over that progression?


Yup. As long as you are only using chords from the key of C Major, playing C Major over that progression verbatim will be safe, and C Major Pent will still be safer.

Once you start introducing chords that do not fit in C Major, things get harder. You will still be playing C Major primarily, but you'll have to avoid certain notes. For example, if you had an Ab Major chord in a progression in C Major, you would probably want to avoid the notes A and E, and possibly use Ab and Eb instead while playing over the Ab Major. The reason those notes are singled out is because in Ab Major (Ab C Eb) the notes Ab and Eb are not present in the C Major scale and are effectively replacing the normal A and E in the scale just for the time being. So introducing those notes back in while over top Ab Major would probably sound pretty bad. There are other notes that wouldn't sound great and you'll probably run across them. Use your ears to decide if it's bad or not, ideally.
#14
Sounds good, thanks for the help makes things a lot easier because i have C major down, and i was thinking i was going to have to learn and memorize all the other scales all at once to switch back and forth from C to F to G to C and stuff all at once constantly shifting and i know that would be hard.
#15
I'm not sure if this has been said before (because of the tldr caused by my lack of attention thanks to yet another hard day at school) but...

In improvisation, you should use the right scale for the right chord progression. I have confidence that you know how to find the right scale.

If you want to go further than just using the right scale, you can "play the changes." This means you will do something different (although you will still be using the same scale, if you're using scales) for each different chord. So over X chord you will use X notes within the scale and over Y chord you will use Y notes. This way your solo will sound as if it fits the progression.

The most important change thing you can do is simply use as many chord tones as possible over each chord. So, if you're playing over that C major, try to use as many C's, E's and G's as possible. When the progression switches to F major, use as many F's, A's and C's as possible. This is actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it.
Using arpeggios is a very effective technique at this stage.

After you've got the above down, you could start trying to specifically use chord tones over stressed beats. Usually (in most contemporary music) the first beat of every bar will be rhythmically longer and louder and will have a certain pulse to it. Over these pulses it's best to use chord tones. So simply listen out for the pulses and use chord tones over them. Easy in theory but it can be a little tricky. Just remember the main point here is to accentuate chord tones.

If you do use a nonchord tone, it's best to only move one or two semitones from or to this note, preferably to or from a chord tone. Say that you use a nonchord tone (Bb), it's best to use only the notes that are around that Bb (A, Ab, Cb, C) before (like: A-Bb) or after (like Bb-C) that specific note.
The idea behind this is that nonchord tones are actually dissonant (unstable), and need to be resolved to something consonant (stable), like chord tones, and the best way to do this is by step (one or two semitones). But, somehow, it's also okay if a chord tone is used right before a nonchord tone. My guess is that you can resolve some dissonance before you actually form that dissonance =\. Generally, this is to avoid skipping between non-chord tones, but it's fine if you use a chord tone before and after that skip between the nonchord tones (if F is the harmony: F-G-B-C
There are special names for each permutation of how you use these nonchords in relation to chord tones, but you really don't need to know them unless you're doing a music course.

I barely use that last technique (too difficult) and I don't know too many contemporary musicians that do. I think some jazz improvisers did something similar. I actually got the idea from a classical composing text book and morphed it so it was simpler to understand.

And cbf rereading my post. If there are any grammatical or factual errors, you guys can just deal with it.
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[U]       /|_     `-’       |      [/U]
[U]      //| \      |       |      [/U]
[U]     | \|_ |     |     .-|      [/U]
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        L.
#16
Quote by Eastwinn
Jesus tap dancing Christ. You cannot play A Minor over this progression or any of C Major's modes. It does not work that way. No matter where or how you play the notes C D E F G A B over that progression, it will always be C Major, kapeesh?

This was directed at the above two posters.


IF hes a newer guitarist he can play an A minor scale pattern and yeah it will be in the key of C major. Since most people learn their scales as patterns intially and not theory.
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#17
Quote by TechnoLp
IF hes a newer guitarist he can play an A minor scale pattern and yeah it will be in the key of C major. Since most people learn their scales as patterns intially and not theory.


Scale patterns =/= scales

These patterns are only applicable on guitar. I don't recommend learning scales as patterns only, but as what they reallly are, then applying the patterns to that. Only thinking of them as patterns is very limiting.
#18
Quote by TechnoLp
IF hes a newer guitarist he can play an A minor scale pattern and yeah it will be in the key of C major. Since most people learn their scales as patterns intially and not theory.



you don't seem to understand, C major and A minor contain the same notes. If you're playing over a C major chord progression, and you play those notes.. it's C major, it's impossible for it to be A minor
#19
Quote by King Turi
You can just play C Major over the whole thing, or you can play F major over the F chord, or G major over the G chord.

All up to you really, they all will have different sounds so it's up to you to play and decide what sounds best to you.

C Major isn't the ONLY choice, you can play a F# over the G chord, and it'll sound nice.
You can also play F# over the C chord if you want, and it'll sound nice.


Actually it is. Playing an accidental does not change the fact that you are in C major.
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#20
Quote by blueriver
Actually it is. Playing an accidental does not change the fact that you are in C major.


He was saying that the strict use of only diatonic notes isn't the only choice, not that the key could change if the backing implied C major the whole time.
#21
Quote by blueriver
Actually it is. Playing an accidental does not change the fact that you are in C major.


Yeah, but you get what I meant.

Should have said something more along the lines of you don't have to play only the "notes" of the C Major scale.