#1
Ok, this question is asked ALOT around here, so I'll answer your question(s) here.

Let's get this straight first, genres DO NOT exclude certain scales!
However, if you're using a major scale (and it resolves in a way that makes it major/it's all happy sounding) in a brutal slam death metal song, it won't work well most of the time.

I'll list here some examples of commonly used scales/modes in certain genres, plus some of the common other attributes of the genre.

TL;DR

Quote by z4twenny

the overwhelming vast majority of music is in the major/minor scale. subsequently other variations define the genres like pwrmax said. your country song might be in a major scale, along with that jazz, blues, classical and rock song you wrote. what sets them apart is how they're written, arranged and played. you can take just about any song and rearrange it for a different genre.


Thanks z4twenny


I'll list here some examples of commonly used scales/modes in certain genres, plus some of the common other attributes of the genre.

-----------------------------
----
Death Metal; Chromatic, Phrygian (dominant), Diminished, Minor Scale, Locrian mode

Fast-paced drumming, most of the time with blastbeats and fast bass drum work. Vocals are gutturals/growled/cookie monster style. Guitars are almost always downtuned (or a 7-string guitar is used).

----
Black Metal; Chromatic, Diminished, Minor Scale

Riffs are often repeated alot, with alot of distortion and (harmonic dissonance). Drums follow a standard rhythm, or uses blast beats (depending on the band/song). Guitars are rarely downtuned. Vocals are most of the time black metal 'shrieks'. Bass is commonly buried in the mix.

----
Thrash Metal; Blues scale (depends on the band), Phrygian, Minor Scale

Guitar riffs usually involve (open lowest string) pedal point riffs, vocals are screamed/sang with agression most of the time.

----
Progressive Metal; Go all out!

Prog Metal is often associated with odd time signatures and/or strong structures.

----
Doom metal; Diminished, Chromatic, Minor Scale, Locrian(?)

Veeerryyyyyy slooooow meetaaal. (could use some more info here )

----
Jazz; This depends on what kind of jazz you're playing, but mixolydian, diminished, whole tone scale and bebop are common. Often also chromatics are added to these scales to create tension.

Uses alot of improvisation and weird chords/voicings.Jazz also uses a lot of chord substitutions and modulations, so staying in any one scale for a prolonged period of time is quite rare.

----
Metalcore; Natural Minor scale.

The key of the scale usually revolves around the tuning of the guitar. Dropped C - C Minor, Dropped D - D Minor, Dropped B - B Minor, and so on. Typical riffs ascend/descend the minor scale randomly with palm muted bass ( 6th string ) notes inbetween.

----
Rock; Blues scale, Minor Scale, Major Scale

(need more info here)

----
Ska/Reggae; Mostly Major and Natural Minor

Often a walking bass line with accented rhythms on the upbeat are used, to create a more funky sound.

----------------------------------


Please post other suggestions for genres/scales in this thread so I can add them
Last edited by Keth at Aug 24, 2009,
#2
perhaps anything not metal? typical UG, but what about ska/reggae type stuff, or arctic monkeys type indie type thing, or alternative type stuff ie muse u2?
#3
I think this would confuse too many beginners, as tonality is only a small factor in defining a genre.
#4
Quote by aidan the perso
perhaps anything not metal? typical UG, but what about ska/reggae type stuff, or arctic monkeys type indie type thing, or alternative type stuff ie muse u2?


Yeah, not too familiar with those genres :P
So if you got any suggestions for those genres/bands, give em!
#5
Major and minor for every genre. There you go.
Scales don't define your genre. The energy and style define it.
#6
Quote by KillahSquirrel
Major and minor for every genre. There you go.
Scales don't define your genre. The energy and style define it.


If you would've read my original post, you would've seen that I'm talking about common scales in those genres, not that they define them.
#7
You need more detail than just scales. Example, Death Metal, typically downtuned guitars or 7-string guitars, great use of double bass drumming, vocals that sound like the cookie monster, and the list goes on.

Simply giving a scale isn't going to help someone.
#8
Quote by aidan the perso
perhaps anything not metal? typical UG, but what about ska/reggae type stuff, or arctic monkeys type indie type thing, or alternative type stuff ie muse u2?
For ska/reggae, mostly major and natural minor. The walking bass line in "Walking Away" by Streetlight Manifesto comes to mind (for some reason), it's pretty much a major arpeggio, with a few variations. The bass line to "Stir It Up" by The Wailers is another example, it doesn't go out of the major scale at all.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#9
Quote by pwrmax
You need more detail than just scales. Example, Death Metal, typically downtuned guitars or 7-string guitars, great use of double bass drumming, vocals that sound like the cookie monster, and the list goes on.

Simply giving a scale isn't going to help someone.


Well, I doubt that someone who listens death metal isn't aware of those things, as opposed to not knowing some of the common scales, but it won't hurt, I'll add them in a sec
#10
Quote by pwrmax
You need more detail than just scales. Example, Death Metal, typically downtuned guitars or 7-string guitars, great use of double bass drumming, vocals that sound like the cookie monster, and the list goes on.

Simply giving a scale isn't going to help someone.

+1

the overwhelming vast majority of music is in the major/minor scale. subsequently other variations define the genres like pwrmax said. your country song might be in a major scale, along with that jazz, blues, classical and rock song you wrote. what sets them apart is how they're written, arranged and played. you can take just about any song and rearrange it for a different genre.
#11
If your knowledge of scale use in Jazz does not exceed "urrr... mixolydian?" I don't think you're ready to be writing this article/post/or whatever you wanna call it.
#12
Quote by michal23
If your knowledge of scale use in Jazz does not exceed "urrr... mixolydian?" I don't think you're ready to be writing this article/post/or whatever you wanna call it.


Sorry I want to help man, really sorry.


Why do you think I'm asking for feedback from the community? I'm not claiming that I'm an expert on this subject, not at all actually, but this is a real common answer around here, thought it might save some people's time asking it here.

Oh, and again, sorry for wanting to help people.
#13
Quote by Keth

Oh, and again, sorry for wanting to help people.

the issue is wanting to help people and not having the knowledge. wanting to help people is commendable but giving them misinformation as fact doesn't help.
the regulars have seen this question daily for years now. if it was as easy as making a sticky thread i think it would've been done long before now
Last edited by z4twenny at Aug 24, 2009,
#14
Well, I'm gonna add some more scales and genres to the list, and I'll stress the fact that these scales do not make/break a genre, but that they are just common in those genres.
#15
I read the word "phrygian" next to death metal and stopped reading. Major/minor should be there for pretty much all genres. That's it.
#16
Quote by timeconsumer09
I read the word "phrygian" next to death metal and stopped reading. Major/minor should be there for pretty much all genres. That's it.


This (except I continued reading and found similar things.)

The reason this doesn't work is because "What scale should I use for [genre]?" is a silly question. Giving an answer simply feeds the idea that learning more scales will make you a better guitarist/composer.

If the OP explained how choice of scale is largely unimportant compared to every other factor that makes a genre sound the way it does, I'd sticky it and link it everywhere I can.
#17
Metalcore - Natural Minor scale. The key of the scale usually revolves around the tuning of the guitar. Dropped C - C Minor, Dropped D - D Minor, Dropped B - B Minor, and so on. Typical riffs ascend/descend the minor scale randomly with palm muted bass ( 6th string ) notes inbetween.
Last edited by ibz120 at Aug 24, 2009,
#18
I think for Jazz, you may want to stress that it uses a lot of chord substitutions and modulations, so that staying in any one scale for a prolonged period of time is quite rare.
#19
Ok, added ibz120 and michal23's info! I also changed the title, to better suit the new information. I'm going to bed now, I'll add all of the new info tomorrow



Edit:

Fail, I thought I could change the title of the thread, guess not
Last edited by Keth at Aug 24, 2009,
#21
Quote by isaac_bandits
You should talk about common chord progressions, not about scales.


...and why's that?
#22
Quote by isaac_bandits
You should talk about common chord progressions, not about scales.


That's really only a little better.

Also, by the way, major scale != happy. It can be used in metal, no problem. See here. That riff is in A major. It still sounds 'metal' because of the typical metal pedal tone phrasing, the tone, and the unusual note choice. The implied progression is A major - C# minor.

This forum is obsessed with metal and modes, and both have their fair share of misconceptions.
#23
hey, linking to a point in a youtube vid! nice, never seen that before. I was hoping someone would mention a Chuck riff very good example. Chuck Schuldiner's riffs are a perfect example of how genres aren't defined by scales. second riff in Suicide Machine is using 1,3,4 major scale degrees. How's that for Death Metal? lol
Last edited by Ead at Aug 24, 2009,
#24
Also, what's the tonal and harmonic differences between Yngwie Malmsteen and Bach? Very little, I can promise that but you can still listen to the two and tell them apart.
#25
Quote by Ead
hey, linking to a point in a youtube vid! nice, never seen that before. I was hoping someone would mention a Chuck riff very good example. Chuck Schuldiner's riffs are a perfect example of how genres aren't defined by scales. second riff in Suicide Machine is using 1,3,4 major scale degrees. How's that for Death Metal? lol


Not sure what riff you're talking about -- all of the first couple riffs use more than 1, 3, and 4, if at all. But you're totally right anyway -- looking through all of their albums, it's easy to see how much phrasing matters. Especially on Human.

Oh yeah, to link to a specific time in a video, just append #t=2m43s to the end of a video, replacing 2 with whatever the minute mark actually is and 43 with whatever the second mark actually is.

pwrmax: I think there is more of a difference then you're accrediting, but it's still a great point. I'll remember to use that example in the future.
#27
Quote by Eastwinn
That's really only a little better.

Also, by the way, major scale != happy. It can be used in metal, no problem. See here. That riff is in A major. It still sounds 'metal' because of the typical metal pedal tone phrasing, the tone, and the unusual note choice. The implied progression is A major - C# minor.

This forum is obsessed with metal and modes, and both have their fair share of misconceptions.


That's why I put in my original post, if you use a major scale, and make it sound happy, it won't work really well in a death metal song. I'm aware that there are riffs (like the one from Death, great example) that are in the major scale, but it doesn't sound happy.

Meh, I don't know if that makes any sense, I just woke up
#28
Cover songs perfectly illustrate the point that scales don't define a genre, nor do chord sequences. Heck even the melodies don't really define the genre of music. If you've heard a death metal cover of britney spears or a jazz version of 'my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard' and actually thought about it you quickly realise how little difference the actual choice of notes makes to a song. sounds bizzare, but's it true!
The only 6 words that can make you a better guitarist:

Learn theory
Practice better
Practice more