Alright guys, so I'm working on learning some theory so I can stop playing tabs and make my own stuff.

I began reading through the "Ultimate Guide To Guitar" on the UG site that a friend showed me. From what I understand songs are typically written in a certain key. Both the chord progression and the scale that is used to create the melody over the chord progression are both based in a certain key.

If I wanted to write a song in the key of D minor then I would find all the notes that are in the key of D minor. These notes make up all of the notes in the scale.

Minor scales are constructed of these notes:

# A root note 0 D
# A natural 2nd 2 E
# A minor 3rd 3 F
# A perfect 4th 5 G
# A perfect 5th 7 A
# A minor 6th 8 A# (or Bb )
# A minor 7th 10 C

So the above notes are all of the notes all over the fretboard that you can use to make a nice sounding melody or a sick solo. For, the background rhythm guitar we need some chords to make a chord progression for the lead guitar to play over. So from what I understand we start with the root note, then skip the next note and take the third note in the scale, then skip the fourth note and take the fifth note in the scale. Once we have these notes those are the notes the chords are created out of.

So for instance our first chord would be made out of the notes D, F, and A.
1st = D, F, A D minor chord
2nd = E, G, A# E minor chord
3rd = F, A, C F major chord
4th = G, A#, D G minor chord
5th = A, C, E A minor chord
6th = A#, D, F A# major chord
7th = C, E, G C major chord

Now, whenever I try to make a song like this on the piano (which I don't ever play) it seems very easy. Simply, use one hand to play the chords and another hand to make up a melody using the notes in the scale.

But, whenever I try to do this on the guitar it gets very very difficult. If we take the chord of E minor for the guitar which looks like this;

E----0----
A----2----
D----2----
G----0----
B----0----
e----0----

Then the notes that are used to make the chord of E minor look to me like E, B, E, G, B, and e. This is where I get lost at in my super basic song writing. Why is it that this chord, the F, chord and a lot of the open chords use so many notes to form them when from what I've learned you only use three?

Also, does it matter which scale I use over my chord progressions? For instance, if I use the chords in the key of D minor to make a chord progressions can I use the D minor pentatonic scale, D minor diatonic, melodic, etc etc? Or would I have to change up the chord progression?

Thanks so much guys figuring this out will really get me motivated to dig deeper into theory!
i think that when you say a song is in a minor key it is because you use chords (ornotes) from a minor scale. the minor scale that you are using is not a scale but rather a mode.

the proper scales would be the minor harmonic and melodic scales (which im sure are on youtube)

when a song is in a minor key it means that it borrows chords from the minor scales

chord progression- Am, C, G, E

going in accordance to the C major scale the E is meant to be an Eminor. in the A minor harmonic scale (A is the minor equivalent of C) though the E has a G# (even though the progression uses G natural) which means the Em becomes a major

as to your question the Em chords still only uses 3 notes- E, G and B- they simple use them multiple times to give them a fuller sound

to make a melody you can use the scale of the key or simple the arpeggio of the chords
It seems like you're moving in the right direction to better understanding music dude! Too many people try to start with concepts WAY above their heads, so kudos to you, it seems like you're moving in a good direction. The only thing I'd suggest to you, is that you looked into harmonising the major scale before digging into the minor keys. Once you've got the major scale all figured out, harmonising a minor key is just a matter of swapping around.

A few really pedantic things to say first, in a natural minor scale, you'd be better referring to the second degree as a major 2nd, since saying a natural 2nd could denote that the note is a natural note, when it could well be a flat note. Just something to remember!

Now on to your question, the chord you showed is in fact an E minor chord, with the notes E, G and B. The first, minor third, and perfect fifth off of the note E. In the key of D minor however, the second chord is actually an E diminished chord, with the notes E (Unison), G(Minor third), and Bb(diminished fifth).
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Last edited by Gelato at Aug 20, 2010,
Quote by campbmic

Then the notes that are used to make the chord of E minor look to me like E, B, E, G, B, and e. This is where I get lost at in my super basic song writing. Why is it that this chord, the F, chord and a lot of the open chords use so many notes to form them when from what I've learned you only use three?

You're probably going to slap yourself when I say this. The reason that there's more than three notes is because...there isn't. The notes are repeated in higher octaves. Things can change when you encounter different sorts of chords, but for now, with the common major and minor chords, it's three notes, repeated in different octaves.

Quote by campbmic

Also, does it matter which scale I use over my chord progressions? For instance, if I use the chords in the key of D minor to make a chord progressions can I use the D minor pentatonic scale, D minor diatonic, melodic, etc etc? Or would I have to change up the chord progression?

Good question too. Now we consider that a progression is made of chords, which are created in turn by notes of the parent scale. This means that if you play this scale over the chords created by it, it should sound good.

And it does, thankfully. If a song is in the key of x major or y minor, you will always use the x major or y minor scales over the chord progression. Sometimes you will have to accommodate for accidentals if a chord is out of key, but only over that chord. The majority of the time you will keep to just one scale over all the chords, and that's the scale related to the parent key of the song, the same one that all the chords are derived from.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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Quote by AlanHB
You're probably going to slap yourself when I say this. The reason that there's more than three notes is because...there isn't. The notes are repeated in higher octaves. Things can change when you encounter different sorts of chords, but for now, with the common major and minor chords, it's three notes, repeated in different octaves.

Good question too. Now we consider that a progression is made of chords, which are created in turn by notes of the parent scale. This means that if you play this scale over the chords created by it, it should sound good.

And it does, thankfully. If a song is in the key of x major or y minor, you will always use the x major or y minor scales over the chord progression. Sometimes you will have to accommodate for accidentals if a chord is out of key, but only over that chord. The majority of the time you will keep to just one scale over all the chords, and that's the scale related to the parent key of the song, the same one that all the chords are derived from.

HAHA that is awesome about the chord question. I didn't even notice that as I was writing the notes out! thanks everyone for the help so far I look forward to more great advice!
Quote by campbmic
Alright guys, so I'm working on learning some theory so I can stop playing tabs and make my own stuff.

I began reading through the "Ultimate Guide To Guitar" on the UG site that a friend showed me. From what I understand songs are typically written in a certain key. Both the chord progression and the scale that is used to create the melody over the chord progression are both based in a certain key.

If I wanted to write a song in the key of D minor then I would find all the notes that are in the key of D minor. These notes make up all of the notes in the scale.

Minor scales are constructed of these notes:

# A root note 0 D
# A natural 2nd 2 E
# A minor 3rd 3 F
# A perfect 4th 5 G
# A perfect 5th 7 A
# A minor 6th 8 A# (or Bb )
# A minor 7th 10 C

So the above notes are all of the notes all over the fretboard that you can use to make a nice sounding melody or a sick solo. For, the background rhythm guitar we need some chords to make a chord progression for the lead guitar to play over. So from what I understand we start with the root note, then skip the next note and take the third note in the scale, then skip the fourth note and take the fifth note in the scale. Once we have these notes those are the notes the chords are created out of.

So for instance our first chord would be made out of the notes D, F, and A.
1st = D, F, A D minor chord
2nd = E, G, A# E minor chord
3rd = F, A, C F major chord
4th = G, A#, D G minor chord
5th = A, C, E A minor chord
6th = A#, D, F A# major chord
7th = C, E, G C major chord

Now, whenever I try to make a song like this on the piano (which I don't ever play) it seems very easy. Simply, use one hand to play the chords and another hand to make up a melody using the notes in the scale.

But, whenever I try to do this on the guitar it gets very very difficult. If we take the chord of E minor for the guitar which looks like this;

E----0----
A----2----
D----2----
G----0----
B----0----
e----0----

Then the notes that are used to make the chord of E minor look to me like E, B, E, G, B, and e. This is where I get lost at in my super basic song writing. Why is it that this chord, the F, chord and a lot of the open chords use so many notes to form them when from what I've learned you only use three?

Also, does it matter which scale I use over my chord progressions? For instance, if I use the chords in the key of D minor to make a chord progressions can I use the D minor pentatonic scale, D minor diatonic, melodic, etc etc? Or would I have to change up the chord progression?

Thanks so much guys figuring this out will really get me motivated to dig deeper into theory!

I applaud you for trying to work this out, but I think you need to back way up and learn the basics a bit more. Your examples were wrong in many respects. If those start out wrong, then each additional step also becomes wrong in a compounded way.

The first thing I would suggest is learning your terms, and the correct letters when it comes to enharmonic notation. Notes that you are citing are simply wrong, but I get where you're coming from. I'm surprised no one caught it. Let's see if we can straighten it out for you a bit.

Let's take D Minor D E F G A Bb C D - In your example, you used an A#, this throws off everything even though they are the same pitch, thats where the similarities end.

Now, with the proper notation we build the following triads:

Dm Edim F Gm Am Bb and C

As to why there are only three notes in the chords, its because the same notes are repeated on guitar, but if you break a G down, you'll find there are only three notes G B and D for example.

Triads are a Root 3rd and 5th. In your examples of triads using the A# instead of Bb you were using a Root 3rd and 4th. Each letter used only once.

Over this progression or one made from this you could Improvise all day long in D minor, D Pent minor, and that's about it. To Use D Harmonic Minor you'd want to change the v to a V or V7 in your progression and it would fit better.

Keep up the good work, but make sure you have the basics correct, or the rest of it can get way out of whack. If you have any questions or need a mentor, see the links below.

Best,

Sean

Major notes consist of
-A root note
-Major third
-Perfect fifth

Minor notes consist of
-A root note
-Minor third
-Perfect fifth

this is correct right? Could anyone give me some info on when diminished chords or "7" chords are created?
you meant chords, not notes, right?

A note is neither major or minor on its own, those qualities only ever exist when you start putting notes together.

With chord construction, it pretty much does what it says on the tin...so if you want to create a 7th chord you add the 7th note of the scale in.
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Quote by campbmic

Major chord consist of
-A root note
-Major third
-Perfect fifth

Minor chord consist of
-A root note
-Minor third
-Perfect fifth

this is correct right? Could anyone give me some info on when diminished chords or "7" chords are created?

In a major scale, the diatonic triad built on the seventh degree is diminished.

What Seagull said above me. If you want to form a type of 7th chord without thinking of a scale or key, these are the formulas for how they are constructed.

Major 7th:
1 3 5 7
Root, major third, perfect fifth, major seventh.

Minor 7th:
1 b3 5 b7
Root, minor third, perfect fifth, minor seventh

7 (usually encountered on the dominant (5th scale degree) since that's where it naturally occurs using the diatonic notes):
1 3 5 b7
Root, major third, perfect fifth, minor seventh

Half Diminished 7th (this one is diatonic):
1 b3 b5 b7
Root, minor third, diminished fifth, minor seventh

Diminished 7th:
1 b3 b5 bb7
Root, minor third, diminished fifth, diminished seventh.
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Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Aug 20, 2010,
Thanks guys, and yes I did mean chords up there haha.

I guess Im on my way, I still have a lot to learn so if you guys have any suggestions for resources please let me know!