#1
I've been playing guitar for a couple of years now and somewhat have an understanding of theory. Just the bare essentials though, basically I know most of the pentatonic shapes, all the modes(harmonic,melodic,etc..) a shitload of arpeggios and have a basic understanding of how to harmonize shit.

One of the many things I have yet to learn is how to find the key of a song/riff? I play in a symphonic black/death band and the riffs and chords are pretty much all over the place and I have no idea what to do for leads and solos. Basically I just run off of the octave of the root....

ex.

G-7----3----6
D-5----1----4
A-5----1----4
D-5----1----4

What i would do there is take the note on the D (G) and play some shitty scale up the spectrum of the guitar.

So what I am asking is how do I figure out the key of said riffage and how would I write a tasteful yet shredder solo to it that stays in key and how would I apply the scales and arpeggios that I know?
#2
To find the key of a song, you have to listen to it and find out what note the song resides to. It's usually the first note or chord and/or the last note or chord. Then from there you need to look at riffs and chord progressions to decipher whether it's major, minor, phrygian, etc.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
#3
Harmonic and Melodic are not modes. They're scales.
Those chords imply A harmonic minor, though the fifth in the last chord goes out of scale.
As for the actual question. Analyze. That's it. Watch what your favorite bands do.
#5
It's all relative. Drop C is the same as Drop D, only a full step down. Instead of DADGBe
you have CGCFAD.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
#6
uhm.. if you are in a band.. probably when you re writing a riff, u should pick up a scale\tone right? like.. "hey lets write a song? what tone\key should we use?"..
If you want to improvise on a song thats already written and u dont know the key, well, i usually dont go by hear, but some scales are overly overused.. like Cmajor\Aminor Eminor\Gmajor, Fmajor ... i tend to look at the number of sharps and flats that riff uses.. for example, Cmajor\Aminor doesnt have any flats or sharps.. Therefore if the progression goes, Cmajor, Gmajor, Fmajor, then its a Cmajor progression.. If you want to know if its minor\major, well if it has a Root Note chord minor, its minor, if the root chords is major its a major progression .. pretty simple right? XD

There's a thing called circle of fifths.. Look it up =P It helps me alot...

As for improvising.. The number one rule my teacher said to me.. Okey.. So you know the scales, you know the arpeggios, you can go up and down the neck in 2 seconds.. wha do you do now?

1.- Use Your imagination! Really.. Be free.. listen to chopin, or manson and just doodle something!.. There s no guide!.. Or logic or w\e!.. Otherwise mathematicians would pwn!

Secondly... Like a Cmajor arpeggio.. What you doin really is playin roots, 3rds and fifths.. So u are in fact using a scale.! My teacher calls it Vertical Improv.. If you make the arpeggios follow as the progressions, ur solo will sound like ur progression, giving a progressive sound!.. Thats cool =P Link with scale licks.. Or just be ultra fast for some sweeping =P

3rd. Choose ur ending and beggining notes.! Bend it, pinch it, make sure they go along and they give that feelin!

4rd.- Start slow then shred! For example Kirk said somthing like goind down than takin it to a higher place... XD give it feeling slow, make our minds realize youre goin to pwn!.. Then just burn the guitar neck!.. One thing I do is uhm, like when im goin down a scale.. I build patterns.. like 1\3\1, than start over in a different note.. Than practise til i have it really fast!.. Than just do the whole neck.. Or stop at the middle, bend liek a maniac and reverse the whole thiing.. XD Paul gilbert does that alot.. So you might want to check some of his lessons

5ths-> Licks and phrasing!.. Copy them!... No one will recognize them =P Some licks are really impressive and really simple =P

6tg.- Don't forget! Tappin, sweep, tremolo, bending and pinch harmonics! Don overuse them, practise them and mix them =P

7th-> If you want something epic, to be recorded for etertinity, take ur time.. Epic lines dun come along often and u should record everything that sounds good.. After u have a gazillion melody lines and solos and ideas recorded, pick the best and work on them =P However i never did anything epic.. I just tought it s only logical =P And ask around.. To uncultured, untrained hears their opinions on your stuff.. XD After all you wanna please them too right =P