Hey Guys/Girls.

In the month or so, I've started trying to teach myself theory.

- I've learnt all of the major scales and know how to construct them.

- I know all of the notes of the fretboard.

- I have a basic understanding of how to construct chord progressions/riffs.

I would like to be able to find out how I would find out what key songs are in, example: G, Am, D, F... I'm not sure about what scale this is in, if I was to solo over it, I would have to experiment with different scales to actually get the one to sound right (I have to rely a lot on my ear). I know that 75% of the time the key is what the chord progression starts with, but the other 25% confuses me...

I would also want to learn minor scales and some of the others (I've had a go with all of the modes and stuff, Dorian, Phrygian etc. but that just confuses me more!), which I have had to avoid, because I have found no clear explanation of them...(searched the internet for countless hours... O_o...)

So guys, I would love an explanation for some/all of these things, all help much appreciated.

TL;DR (but please do read ) : I want to be able to find out what key a song is in + minor scales.
Wait.

Roger Waters - 12th May!
Natural minor scale is major scale with a flattened 3rd, 6th and 7th degree - so (in intervals frmo the root) its spelt R 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7

You'll also find that every Major scale has a relative minor scale, the root of which is the 6th of the Major scale - so take C Major

C D E F G A B

The 6th note is A

If you build a minor scale from A you get

A B C D E F G - the same notes as C Major, just with a differnet tonal centre (root)

Another way to look at them is in steps between each note, so where your major scale is WWHWWWH, the minor scale is WHWWHWW

To find out the key of a song it helps if you understand chord scales too - thats building a chord of each degree of the scale by stacking thirds.

Don't worry about modes until you have the major and natural minor, and the relationship between them, nailed. Modes can be derived from the major scale in much the same way as the natural minor can, so once you understand that you'll find you've done most of the work.

Have a look at the Music Theory FAQ Sticky - it should answer most of your questions
Quote by MaXiMuse
Searched for hours but couldn`t find what the Phrygian scale is?
Ever heard of Wikipedia?

I have seen several things about it, all of them I found hard to understand, which is why I came to seek advice from people like you who should know what there talking about.

Quote by zhilla
Natural minor scale is major scale with a flattened 3rd, 6th and 7th degree - so (in intervals frmo the root) its spelt R 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7

You'll also find that every Major scale has a relative minor scale, the root of which is the 6th of the Major scale - so take C Major

C D E F G A B

The 6th note is A

If you build a minor scale from A you get

A B C D E F G - the same notes as C Major, just with a differnet tonal centre (root)

Another way to look at them is in steps between each note, so where your major scale is WWHWWWH, the minor scale is WHWWHWW

To find out the key of a song it helps if you understand chord scales too - thats building a chord of each degree of the scale by stacking thirds.

Don't worry about modes until you have the major and natural minor, and the relationship between them, nailed. Modes can be derived from the major scale in much the same way as the natural minor can, so once you understand that you'll find you've done most of the work.

Have a look at the Music Theory FAQ Sticky - it should answer most of your questions

Thanks so much man, you've really helped me.
I now understand how the minor works, didn't realise it was like the major (WWHWWWH) and it could be constructed like that, all of the websites gave me a much more complicated explanation, not featuring the WHWWHWW.

The other part, I was slightly confused, then re-read it several times, and I understand much more, really appreciated thanks.
Wait.

Roger Waters - 12th May!
Don't worry about modes untill you have a VERY thorough understanding of the major and minor scale. The key of a song is the note or chord a song resolves to. Sometimes it might be easier figure out what notes have been used, and then find the key that contain those notes. The key is still the note the piece resolves to though.

Take a progression like Dm7 - G7 - C
Because that progression resolves to C it's in the key of C major.
Quote by thsrayas
Why did women get multiple orgasms instead of men? I want a river of semen flowing out of my room to mark my territory.

You can play a shoestring if you're sincere
- John Coltrane
Quote by 7even
Don't worry about modes untill you have a VERY thorough understanding of the major and minor scale. The key of a song is the note or chord a song resolves to. Sometimes it might be easier figure out what notes have been used, and then find the key that contain those notes. The key is still the note the piece resolves to though.

Take a progression like Dm7 - G7 - C
Because that progression resolves to C it's in the key of C major.

Sorry, but may I ask, what do you mean by "resolve"? (Sorry for mega noobish question, but I don't get in which context you are using "resolve" in )
Wait.

Roger Waters - 12th May!
Quote by LezPaulEpiphone
Sorry, but may I ask, what do you mean by "resolve"? (Sorry for mega noobish question, but I don't get in which context you are using "resolve" in )

It's where it feels like it's "ending". Take the example i put in my other post. In this progression the C chord feels like "home", where it wants to stay. Hope you understood that.
Quote by thsrayas
Why did women get multiple orgasms instead of men? I want a river of semen flowing out of my room to mark my territory.

You can play a shoestring if you're sincere
- John Coltrane
Quote by 7even
It's where it feels like it's "ending". Take the example i put in my other post. In this progression the C chord feels like "home", where it wants to stay. Hope you understood that.

If that's the case, thanks dude.
Wait.

Roger Waters - 12th May!
Quote by LezPaulEpiphone

If that's the case, thanks dude.

Yes, it actually is. Try and play Dm7 then G7, it feels like something should come after the G7, then play the C and it feels "resolved" or ended.
It is very normal to go from the fifth chord of the scale to the first, like that in the example above. C D E F G A B are the notes of C major which makes the chords:
C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim = triads (three note chords) or
Cmaj7, Dm7, Em7, Fmaj7, G7, Am7, Bm7b5 = four note chords

As you can see the G7 is the fifth chord of the C major scale, also called the dominant chord, and the chord progression is therefore resolved when going from G7 to C. Often you should look for this V - I (Five to One) movement when trying to find the key of the song.
G - Am - D - F is in the key of G major. All the chords fit there, except F, but the F chord is clearly borrowed from the parallel minor (G minor), which is a common thing to do in many songs as the bVII chord is more consonant than the diatonically occurring viio.
^ Thanks guys, I understand much better now.
Wait.

Roger Waters - 12th May!
I'd recommend practicing finding where progressions resolve. It's a bit weird to hear at first. If you want, you could post a few progressions and where you think they resolve and we could check them. This method is way better than trying to match the notes of a progression with the notes of a scale. It isn't too hard to make a progression that using all 12 notes*, so it can become frustrating.

* A#7 - Cmaj7sus2 - C#maj7sus2 - F#m7 - F7 - E. Sounds funny, but it has every note.
Okay thanks for the idea, I'll post up some, and then I'll say what I think it resolves to.

I can't do your one, it's got 2 chords I don't know, and I can't find them on the internet (C#maj7sus2 and the F#m7)

If I do these chords...

G, Am, Bm, C, D.

That sounds like it should be G?

It's not easy, just starting doing this, so don't flame me if I get it wrong. !
Wait.

Roger Waters - 12th May!
Quote by LezPaulEpiphone
Okay thanks for the idea, I'll post up some, and then I'll say what I think it resolves to.

I can't do your one, it's got 2 chords I don't know, and I can't find them on the internet (C#maj7sus2 and the F#m7)

If you don't know a chord, the first thing you want to do, is find the intervals in that quality of chord, and don't worry about how to actually play it, or what the root note is. Its easy to figure those out once you know the spelling of that quality of chord.

So you first have a maj7sus2 chord. Start simple. A major traid. 1, 3, 5. Then you see that it has a seventh (major as well). 1, 3, 5, 7. Then you see that it has a suspended two. This means that the third is replaced by the second (which is major unless stated otherwise). 1, 2, 5, 7. Now worry about what those actual notes are. Its built on a C♯, and you can fairly easily find out that it contains: C♯, D♯, G♯, and B♯. Then if you care to play it, you can find those notes on your guitar, and play them simultaneously, and you have your chord.

The second is a m7. First thing is the m, which means minor. 1, ♭3, 5. Then you see it has a seventh, but since its a minor chord, the seventh is minor too. 1, ♭3, 5, ♭7. Now build that on an F♯ to get: F♯, A, C♯, E. Find those notes and play them.

With time, figuring out how to play any chord will become easy. The most complicated chords will eventually only take a few seconds to figure out, and the simpler ones will be instant.

Quote by LezPaulEpiphone

If I do these chords...

G, Am, Bm, C, D.

That sounds like it should be G?

It's not easy, just starting doing this, so don't flame me if I get it wrong. !

Those chords would resolve to G, yes.

Try this one:

A♭m D♭m7 D°7 E♭7 A♭7
Last edited by isaac_bandits at Sep 7, 2009,
Quote by isaac_bandits
If you don't know a chord, the first thing you want to do, is find the intervals in that quality of chord, and don't worry about how to actually play it, or what the root note is. Its easy to figure those out once you know the spelling of that quality of chord.

So you first have a maj7sus2 chord. Start simple. A major traid. 1, 3, 5. Then you see that it has a seventh (major as well). 1, 3, 5, 7. Then you see that it has a suspended two. This means that the third is replaced by the second (which is major unless stated otherwise). 1, 2, 5, 7. Now worry about what those actual notes are. Its built on a C♯, and you can fairly easily find out that it contains: C♯, D♯, G♯, and B♯. Then if you care to play it, you can find those notes on your guitar, and play them simultaneously, and you have your chord.

The second is a m7. First thing is the m, which means minor. 1, ♭3, 5. Then you see it has a seventh, but since its a minor chord, the seventh is minor too. 1, ♭3, 5, ♭7. Now build that on an F♯ to get: F♯, A, C♯, E. Find those notes and play them.

With time, figuring out how to play any chord will become easy. The most complicated chords will eventually only take a few seconds to figure out, and the simpler ones will be instant.

Those chords would resolve to G, yes.

Try this one:

A♭m D♭m7 D°7 E♭7 A♭7

Thank you for all of that, really appreciated that you take the time to help, cheers (I'm gonna save it all to my computer )

This one, I'm unsure about, but I think it's the Dbm7?
Wait.

Roger Waters - 12th May!
Quote by LezPaulEpiphone
Thank you for all of that, really appreciated that you take the time to help, cheers (I'm gonna save it all to my computer )

This one, I'm unsure about, but I think it's the Dbm7?

The key is just D♭m. The A♭7 is a V chord which leads well to the D♭m which could come after it, and the E♭7 is a V/V, which means its a V chord leading to a V chord. The D°7 is a vii/V/V, which means its a leading tone chord, which leads to a V chord which leads to a V chord. The other two are diatonic.

Try:

Quote by isaac_bandits
The key is just D♭m. The A♭7 is a V chord which leads well to the D♭m which could come after it, and the E♭7 is a V/V, which means its a V chord leading to a V chord. The D°7 is a vii/V/V, which means its a leading tone chord, which leads to a V chord which leads to a V chord. The other two are diatonic.

Try:

So I was nearly right

The F#? (sorry for slow reply)
Wait.

Roger Waters - 12th May!
Quote by LezPaulEpiphone
So I was nearly right

The F#? (sorry for slow reply)

It was G♯ minor, but that was a hard one.
Quote by isaac_bandits
It was G♯ minor, but that was a hard one.

Okay, I think I get it mostly, I just need to practise some more on it.

Although I don't get how it's G#m if the G#m wasn't in the chord progression. (C♯madd9 - Emadd9 - B+ - F♯
Wait.

Roger Waters - 12th May!
Quote by LezPaulEpiphone
Okay, I think I get it mostly, I just need to practise some more on it.

Although I don't get how it's G#m if the G#m wasn't in the chord progression. (C♯madd9 - Emadd9 - B+ - F♯

The B+ has the raised leading tone of G♯m, and C♯madd9 and F♯ are both diatonic to G♯minor. The only chord which doesn't really go is the Emadd9 (it should be Eadd9 to be diatonic), but I like the sound of the minor after the C♯minor, since they're never diatonic to the same key together.
Quote by isaac_bandits
The B+ has the raised leading tone of G♯m, and C♯madd9 and F♯ are both diatonic to G♯minor. The only chord which doesn't really go is the Emadd9 (it should be Eadd9 to be diatonic), but I like the sound of the minor after the C♯minor, since they're never diatonic to the same key together.

Okay, I didn't know that

Thanks man, I think I've got it now, the thread can now rest in peace.
Wait.

Roger Waters - 12th May!