So I've been teaching myself theory (difficult but extremely rewarding once everything starts to make sense) and I want to double-check something with you all. One of my best exercises has been to think of a lick in my head which I like, figure out how to play it, write it down, and figure out the scale/chords associated with it. I just want to make sure I got this one right...

So here's the tab:
/ = slide up, \ = slide down, ~ = vibrato, h = hammer, p = pull, b = bend

e|---------------------------------------------8h10p8----------------------------------

b|--------8/~9-8h9p8-9/10-9/10-9-----------------10-8b------------9b---------

g|7-10-----------------------------------10---------------------10-7-10--------------

d|--------------------------------------------------------------------------------10/12-

a|-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

e|-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It has a real bluesy, almost aharmonic character but I think it sounds pretty good when its done right. Anyways, I figure I use the Bb as part of a chromatic run so that needs to be disregarded when determining the scale. That leaves us with 5 of 7 scale degrees (C, D, F, G, A). Because the song starts with a D, I used that as a jumping off point. It looks like it's in Dm, so I filled in thew other two notes with E and A#. Using that, I constructed a scale which I THINK is C Mixolydian based off an F Major root... but I'm not confident enough with my knowledge or methods to call that right without confirmation. Can anyone give me a hand?

And, hell, long as I have a thread -- is this actually a good way to learn theory? Any suggestions?
Last edited by pbskl at Jul 2, 2010,
It sounds like D minor to me. It resolves to D when I play it and in which case the A# would be a Bb which fits the key signature.

As for C Mixolydian based off of F, I'm not exactly sure what you mean. The notes of C Mixolydian but resolving to F would be an F major scale which has one flat as the key signature (Bb) and shares a key signature with D minor, the relative minor of F major.

I often do the same thing to practice theory, analyze things and learn and I think it works pretty well. Keeps you sharp and can introduce new theory concepts and understanding.
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Who's going to stop you? The music police?
Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Jul 2, 2010,
Quote by FacetOfChaos
It sounds like D minor to me. It resolves to D when I play it and in which case the A# would be a Bb which fits the key signature.

As for C Mixolydian based off of F, I'm not exactly sure what you mean. The notes of C Mixolydian but resolving to F would be an F major scale which has one flat as the key signature (Bb) and shares a key signature with D minor, the relative minor of F major.

I often do the same thing to practice theory, analyze things and learn and I think it works pretty well. Keeps you sharp and can introduce new theory concepts and understanding.
Oops, yeah, I realize now that doesn't make any sense. I just meant that I think it's in C Mixolydian mode which technically means I'm using the notes of F Maj to play with C as a root... right? But if FM and Dm use the "same" notes then... aggh, my head hurts. HOWEVER, I just realized I may have made a fundamental mistake with my logic. I determined mixolydian because the SHAPE of the scale I constructed using those notes at that fret resembled D Mixolydian for the G Major scale. Is that incorrect to assume? Maybe I'm just thinking about it too much haha.
Last edited by pbskl at Jul 2, 2010,
Quote by pbskl
Oops, yeah, I realize now that doesn't make any sense. I just meant that I think it's in C Mixolydian mode which technically means I'm using the notes of F Maj to play with C as a root... right?

This is correct.

But if FM and Dm use the "same" notes then... aggh, my head hurts.

HOWEVER, I just realized I may have made a fundamental mistake with my logic. I determined mixolydian because the SHAPE of the scale I constructed using those notes at that fret resembled D Mixolydian for the G Major scale. Is that incorrect to assume? Maybe I'm just thinking about it too much haha.

This is incorrect to assume. Just because the shape is the same does not mean that it is that shape. Since you're in D Minor, you could start at the fifth degree (A) and play the scale up from there. You're still in D, and now you're playing a different shape of it, but you're still in D.

Just to clarify: Don't look at shapes for answers; look at notes. Shapes are a way of memorizing the fretboard.
Quote by DiminishedFifth
This is correct.

This is incorrect to assume. Just because the shape is the same does not mean that it is that shape. Since you're in D Minor, you could start at the fifth degree (A) and play the scale up from there. You're still in D, and now you're playing a different shape of it, but you're still in D.

Just to clarify: Don't look at shapes for answers; look at notes. Shapes are a way of memorizing the fretboard.

Awesome, thank you, that was very helpful. And yeah, I realized I just ended my train of thought midway through, but my head actually did hurt and I didn't think I could finish my train of thought without knowing the shapes thing so (I'm gonna do that trail-off thing again)... Haha. SO I guess to complete it: Other than semantics, does it matter if I label it as C Mixolydian or just a straight Dm? And if the answer is no, and it is just a straight Dm specifically, what mode?
Quote by pbskl
Awesome, thank you, that was very helpful. And yeah, I realized I just ended my train of thought midway through, but my head actually did hurt and I didn't think I could finish my train of thought without knowing the shapes thing so (I'm gonna do that trail-off thing again)... Haha. SO I guess to complete it: Other than semantics, does it matter if I label it as C Mixolydian or just a straight Dm? And if the answer is no, and it is just a straight Dm specifically, what mode?

It DOES matter what you name it. You have to remember, they may share the same notes... but that's it. D Minor, C Mixo... they're two COMPLETELY different scales and types of music (one's tonal, while the other is modal).

You need to be focusing on the former. All of the Majors, and the Minors. You don't seem to quite understand them completely yet, but once you do is when it would be best to move onto modes.
Quote by DiminishedFifth
It DOES matter what you name it. You have to remember, they may share the same notes... but that's it. D Minor, C Mixo... they're two COMPLETELY different scales and types of music (one's tonal, while the other is modal).

You need to be focusing on the former. All of the Majors, and the Minors. You don't seem to quite understand them completely yet, but once you do is when it would be best to move onto modes.
Seems like Diminished's got this question covered
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea