#1
Okay, so I've seen many times here that the major scale is the main port of call for improvising over chord progressions.

However, if the chord progression is something like:

A - Em - G - A

Or something along those lines, clearly using A Major as a tonic, how do you approach the G natural in there?
Theorywise (and I know my modes), I know it's A Mixolydian, but I want to use major scales more.
Would you approach it via modulation, or play D Major, combination?

Just curious
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#2
Use the notes of A mixolydian. Major scales aren't a sure way of sounding good, it's just a good place to start. If you know how modes work then I see no reason not to use them.
#3
Just solo in A major and use the dominant 7th
I'd approach it that way and maybe not focus so much on the scale itself but more like what sounds good (little licks) within each chord

For instance in the A major you can hit the G# all you want but when Em comes you can mess around in Em or D, in terms of modes, all that is is making one note the new tonic of a scale so it really doesnt matter

the main point is dont use G# much in Em or G
#4
^
That could work. Imply A major but then use borrowed notes from the parallel mixolydian.
#5
Quote by pwrmax
Use the notes of A mixolydian. Major scales aren't a sure way of sounding good, it's just a good place to start. If you know how modes work then I see no reason not to use them.


Hes right.

Also,

Its not clearly in the Key of A Major. Let's examine this.

A Em G and A

An *Em *G are not diatonic to A Major. Diatonic would be E and G#m7b5

A mixo is A B C# D E F# G A All of your chords are accounted for in this scale.

Also B minor pentatonic might be fun with this. Do you know why?
Last edited by Sean0913 at Dec 24, 2009,
#6
You can't say for definite that it isn't in a major key - borrowing chords from outside the key isn't automatically going to take the whole piece out of key, it depends how they're used.

And it's impossible to "play B minor pentatonic over it", that's only going to happen if you throw a B min chord into the mix for it to resolve to. I see what you're trying to do there, I just fail to see the point - if you simply look at those chords and want to find a scale that fits then it's A mixolydian or nothing.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Dec 24, 2009,
#7
Quote by sTarbuck
Okay, so I've seen many times here that the major scale is the main port of call for improvising over chord progressions.

However, if the chord progression is something like:

A - Em - G - A

Or something along those lines, clearly using A Major as a tonic, how do you approach the G natural in there?
Theorywise (and I know my modes), I know it's A Mixolydian, but I want to use major scales more.
Would you approach it via modulation, or play D Major, combination?

Just curious
I'm not sure you chose A as the tonal center, but for now, we'll assume that to be correct.
If A is the tonal center and you're using all the notes found in the D major scale, you're in A Mixolydian.

G major fits correctly. Why do you perceive any problem there?

Chords:
I - A
ii - Bmin
iiio - C#dim
IV - D
v - Emin
vi - F#min
VII - G

Saying "I want to use major scales more." is missing the point.
Modes are built on major scales with shifted tonal centers.
You're using all the same notes, but they relate differently.
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#8
Quote by SomeoneYouKnew
If A is the tonal center and you're using all the notes found in the D major scale, you're in A Mixolydian.

A wouldn't then be the tonal center, E would. A would be the key though.
#9
Quote by tenfold
A wouldn't then be the tonal center, E would. A would be the key though.

The tonal center is dependent on how you structure the harmony. A minor and C major share the same notes, the biggest thing that separates them is the chord structure.
#10
Quote by steven seagull
You can't say for definite that it isn't in a major key - borrowing chords from outside the key isn't automatically going to take the whole piece out of key, it depends how they're used.

And it's impossible to "play B minor pentatonic over it", that's only going to happen if you throw a B min chord into the mix for it to resolve to. I see what you're trying to do there, I just fail to see the point - if you simply look at those chords and want to find a scale that fits then it's A Mixolydian or nothing.


I said it isn't the key of A Major, in the sense that Im speaking from a strictly diatonic sense. The Key of a Major has an E major (or a E7) diatonic as well as the G#m7b5. So where did I mis-state things?

Lets just put it out there: "is it a fact that a Key of music has nothing to do with diatonic harmonization, and that you can play anything you like and be in Key as long as the tonal center is obvious?"

You can use anything you want, but when I approach the analysis of something I take it from inside then outside. I see Diatonic, and then alterations and deviations. If it's altered, then I say that its not in the key - if it would suit you better to see that approach as "not diatonic" that's cool too, but I usually never expect to have to make that distinction. If this is a fine point of your definition of "key" as in the chord that it wants to resolve to, then I get it, but I don't ascribe to it in my personal application of "key", I see diatonic as "key". And I don't see any major issue with it, it's doesn't prevent me from using chords outside the key and finding musical expression.

Its impossible to play B minor pentatonic over that progression? Wow, I see that the Ionian mode is D major, Relative minor to D major is B minor, and every note that is found in B Pent Minor is in A Mixo. Not to mention the next modal connection scale wise in the series is Aeolian...B Aeolian. Unless you want to argue that its not a minor sound over that - I agree, but I didn't say it was or would have a B minor sound, I named the scale shape and location, I'm not going to split hairs as to the function, but the scale that everyone knows as B Pent minor would work over that progression.

B D F# G A You have an A to resolve to, you also have a G to resolve to over Em or G You could imply an add 2 chord with a B over the A, I'm finding all sorts of ways to play within this series of notes. Hell, 3 of the notes are a G triad. I see your point that we are missing a C# or E in A so there's only one representative degree, although you could the B as an add2, but the point is it could be interesting and if you use your ears as you go, it's one option to experiment with, along with A Mixo.

If any of what I wrote is wrong, and not correct, then feel free to correct me.
#11
Quote by Sean0913
I said it isn't the key of A Major, in the sense that Im speaking from a strictly diatonic sense. The Key of a Major has an E major (or a E7) diatonic as well as the G#m7b5. So where did I mis-state things?


The triad based on some type of G in A major is a G♯°. There's nothing wrong with excluding the seventh.

Quote by Sean0913
Lets just put it out there: "is it a fact that a Key of music has nothing to do with diatonic harmonization, and that you can play anything you like and be in Key as long as the tonal center is obvious?"


You wouldn't be in key. This song is not in A major. It's in A mixolydian (I'll assume this. I don't have a guitar handy, and thus can't check). All the chords listed are diatonic to A mixolydian, and are thus in key (or in mode), and if it is indeed in A mixolydian, the tonal center is obvious.

Quote by Sean0913
You can use anything you want, but when I approach the analysis of something I take it from inside then outside. I see Diatonic, and then alterations and deviations. If it's altered, then I say that its not in the key - if it would suit you better to see that approach as "not diatonic" that's cool too, but I usually never expect to have to make that distinction. If this is a fine point of your definition of "key" as in the chord that it wants to resolve to, then I get it, but I don't ascribe to it in my personal application of "key", I see diatonic as "key". And I don't see any major issue with it, it's doesn't prevent me from using chords outside the key and finding musical expression.


The chord it resolves to is the key. And diatonic refers to things that are in key. Your definition doesn't make distinctions between relative keys. You need to know the tonal center.

Quote by Sean0913
Its impossible to play B minor pentatonic over that progression? Wow, I see that the Ionian mode is D major, Relative minor to D major is B minor, and every note that is found in B Pent Minor is in A Mixo. Not to mention the next modal connection scale wise in the series is Aeolian...B Aeolian. Unless you want to argue that its not a minor sound over that - I agree, but I didn't say it was or would have a B minor sound, I named the scale shape and location, I'm not going to split hairs as to the function, but the scale that everyone knows as B Pent minor would work over that progression.


We don't care about relatives. You can't play two relative modes simultaneously. Scales are not based on shapes or positions. They are based on notes. You have to use some sort of A scale over this progression (unless there isn't an A in the scale, which would be very difficult to make anything good sounding with). Didn't you even say yourself in other threads, that you teach people scales and triads based on your own method, that doesn't require any memorization of shapes or boxes? This seems like quite a counter-intuitive way of saying things in that context.

Quote by Sean0913
B D F# G A You have an A to resolve to, you also have a G to resolve to over Em or G You could imply an add 2 chord with a B over the A, I'm finding all sorts of ways to play within this series of notes. Hell, 3 of the notes are a G triad. I see your point that we are missing a C# or E in A so there's only one representative degree, although you could the B as an add2, but the point is it could be interesting and if you use your ears as you go, it's one option to experiment with, along with A Mixo.


Well obviously you know a different B minor pentatonic than we do (Although you wouldn't use either over a progression in A mixolydian. I've always known B minor pentatonic as: B D E F♯ A.
#12
Quote by Sean0913
Its impossible to play B minor pentatonic over that progression? Wow, I see that the Ionian mode is D major, Relative minor to D major is B minor, and every note that is found in B Pent Minor is in A Mixo. Not to mention the next modal connection scale wise in the series is Aeolian...B Aeolian. Unless you want to argue that its not a minor sound over that - I agree, but I didn't say it was or would have a B minor sound, I named the scale shape and location, I'm not going to split hairs as to the function, but the scale that everyone knows as B Pent minor would work over that progression.

But that's a massive oversight and one of the things at the root of some of the most common misunderstandings about the guitar. Just because scales share the same notes or same patterns doesn't mean that their names are interchangeable, it may seem a small point to you but getting your head round that is fundamental to understanding anything about basic theory. Patterns alone do not a scale make as I'm sure you know, the notes, intervals and often the underlying harmony are what dictate matters...the pattern is incidental.

If you want to say "To make it easier to navigate you can use the shape/notes of B minor pentatonic because it's relative to A mixolydian" then fair enough, but the moment anyone simply suggests using a scale with a root that doesn't match the tonic they're giving duff information. You may well view that as splitting hairs but nothing could be further from the truth - it's a crucial distinction to make.

The words "hose" and "shoe" contain the same letters, but that doesn't make them interchangeable -
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Last edited by steven seagull at Dec 25, 2009,
#13
Quote by tenfold
A wouldn't then be the tonal center, E would. A would be the key though.

In A mixolydian the tonal centre is A, not E.

Quote by Sean0913
Its impossible to play B minor pentatonic over that progression? Wow, I see that the Ionian mode is D major, Relative minor to D major is B minor, and every note that is found in B Pent Minor is in A Mixo. Not to mention the next modal connection scale wise in the series is Aeolian...B Aeolian. Unless you want to argue that its not a minor sound over that - I agree, but I didn't say it was or would have a B minor sound, I named the scale shape and location, I'm not going to split hairs as to the function, but the scale that everyone knows as B Pent minor would work over that progression.

It's possible to play the notes from the Bm pentatonic but you wouldn't call it the Bm pentatonic, you'd just call the A mixolydian scale.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not really convinced that A is the tonal centre. And if it does resolve to A then the resolution is pretty weak. When I played it, it seemed to be calling out for a D after the final A .
#14
That's the problem with these kind of threads - people just post some chords and ask "how does this work/not work" without first thinking about how they sound or how they would actually being used.

Arguably the most sensible thing to do with the chords in question, rather than trying to crowbar an explanation into what's currently an ambiguous situation, is to simply replace the A major chords with A minor to nail down the key. After all, that's what you'd do if you were writing a song and you'd ended up with those chords...you'd listen and think "Hmmm, resolution's a bit weak there, I could do with reinforcing it a bit - now how can I go about that?"
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Last edited by steven seagull at Dec 25, 2009,
#15
Quote by sTarbuck
Okay, so I've seen many times here that the major scale is the main port of call for improvising over chord progressions.

However, if the chord progression is something like:

A - Em - G - A

Or something along those lines, clearly using A Major as a tonic, how do you approach the G natural in there?
Theorywise (and I know my modes), I know it's A Mixolydian, but I want to use major scales more.
Would you approach it via modulation, or play D Major, combination?

Just curious

I would approach the G natural in context to where its going , i.e a G# would work fine leading back to the A .
Getting in key/mode is a great 1st point of call when improvising , but really pretty soon afterwards you want to think more in the terms of "phrasing" .

A good place to start is to pick a target note :

for me im going to Use C# ( as its the major 3rd of A )
ok so if I use just the notes C# D and B i can make a simple phrase ,
that harmonises well , if the phrase is one bar i might be looking to target the
A in bar 1 and then the G in bar 3

so my phrase would simply be C#,B,C#.

in bar 3 C#,B, C#,D
you can play with the rhythm to fit the style of the piece ,
by using the phrasing ,
you might find B# ,C#,B,C# works in the 1st bar .
you can get away with wild note choices if your phrasing is tight .and concise .
Its a good idea to develop your phrase , embellish it , but pay homage to it through you improvising .
so to conclude , picking the right key , scales/modulations is a wise starting point but , let it always support your phrasing .