#1
This might be a long post, sorry, but I really want to make sure I'm understanding this part of theory.

K so let's say I have a progression in the key of C (for simplicity), that is Aminor, G7, Cmajor, and I want to make melodies or solos over it. I chose that progression because it was simple and it had the dominant V to I movement, please don't criticise the progression its not meant to be good, its just for the example.

I know that obviously I could play in the key of C (Ionian if you're a modal thinker), throughout the progression. I'm trying to see if I'm properly understanding the technique of treating each chord like an island.

So for Aminor, I could play the Aminor pentatonic or A blues scale, and then to get more outside or modal sounding, I could add notes that belong to the A aeolian scale (the obvious choice which is natural to Cmajor), A dorian (more outside-ish, adding an F#), or A phrygian (adding A#), depending on what sounds I wanted (for example, if I desired the half-step interval from the root to the 2nd degree, I would use Phrygian).

Then for G7, I could play Gmajor pentatonic, then my only choice of a mode would be mixolydian because the F chord-tone isn't in the other modes, and to play mixolydian, I would just play the key of C.

Oh, and I also know that some notes bring out a mode's "flavor" like for example the roots and major or minor 3rds are usually some of the characteristic notes, and Lydian's raised 4th degree, etc.

And then for the Cmajor chord, I could play the Cmajor pentatonic scale, then I could choose between adding notes from Ionian (again, obvious, natural choice), Lydian (with an outside-sounding F#), and Mixolydian (which would include the outside-sounding A# note).

And in situations with diminished chords, I would use the half-whole or whole-half scale over that chord, and over an augmented chord, I'd use the whole-tone scale.

And then if there was a suspended chord it just depends on the situation. Like if I used Asus2 instead of Aminor in the previous progression, I could do everything I already said except use the A Phrygian mode because the B in Asus2 isn't in A Phrygian.

I can't figure this all out while improvising so I would just use the C major scale, or mess around with chord-tones and intervals, but I'd like to know if all this is correct for stuff I write ahead of time.

This is all how my progressive rock guitar book seems to teach it, I'm just not sure if I'm understanding it correctly. So if I'm just completely wrong and this doesn't make any sense, can somebody let me know? And if there's just a few details wrong, could you quote those and explain so I don't get confused? Thanks, anybody who read all this is awesome, please help me out!
#2
I read all this: I'm awesome!:P but can't help you, I'm still new in music theory:s
gd luck bro
#3
Quote by TMVATDI
So for Aminor, I could play the Aminor pentatonic or A blues scale, and then to get more outside or modal sounding, I could add notes that belong to the A aeolian scale (the obvious choice which is natural to Cmajor)

I'm still working in this too so I can't really say anything about the rest of it, but the adding notes from A aeolian would just be adding them from C major and most likely won't capture that Aeolian sound. I might be wrong here but that's my take on it currently.

Edit: You know what, why not go try it right now? Put your progression into GP or something and try all this over it and see what works and what doesn't. Then figure out why not.
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Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Aug 21, 2010,
#5
Quote by griffRG7321
You're over thinking it, just play C over the whole progression.


Precisely. Why does it need to be all modes and using scales in A and G over a progression in the key of C? Just forget about all that. This whole "thinking of chords as islands" is unnecessary in perfectly diatonic music like this. If you start getting into heavily altered chords that don't seem to fit at all into the scale you're in, and don't make any harmonic sense, then you can start thinking of chords as "islands". Am7, G7 and Cmaj7 are all chords that are constructed from the C major scale. All of the notes are natural and the tonic is firmly established as C (because G7 pulls towards it). Playing "A minor" over that Am7 chord serves only to complicate everything. In the context of C, A minor is simply C major. If you're just playing over a progression that has diatonic chords and possibly a few minor alteration then it's not worth it to think like this.
#6
I get that i can jut use C the whole time but here's the problem: its boring and adding notes out-of-key is much more interesting. this has worked for me so far, i've used this method for a lot of songs, i'm just not sure if its theoretically correct...
#7
Quote by TMVATDI
I get that i can jut use C the whole time but here's the problem: its boring and adding notes out-of-key is much more interesting. this has worked for me so far, i've used this method for a lot of songs, i'm just not sure if its theoretically correct...
Well you certainly can use notes that are out of key, but they're derived from C major, not A minor or G mixolydian or any other modes.
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#8
Quote by TMVATDI
i'm just not sure if its theoretically correct...

It's the 21st century ... nothing is theoretically correct. There's composers that make music played by rubber ducks. If that counts as music, your method is perfectly fine.
#9
Its all C major

Nothing more,

In terms of a solo, use chord tones and tension and release etc. for the most effect

you cant use that many "out of key" notes because it will sound like ass, it all depends on the harmony backing the lead

if you had 7ths, 9ths or 13ths as the chords then you would get more option to use notes that would sound better on the chord
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#10
You're right, all the theory is correct and logical, but the only way to truly apply this is to try and come up with a chord progression that requires that you change the notes of the scale of which you are soloing in.
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#11
over the 7th chord you can also play a blues scale, minor pentatonic, blues scale a 6th up or whole tone/diminished scale. over the Amin7 i think dorian would sound a bit more in then aeolian, due to the b6 being a half step away from a chord tone, but i prefer playing aeolian over min7 chords because im ****ing sick of the dorian sound, it makes me think of jamey aebersold (though his book how to play jazz and improvise is great if your beginning with this sort of thing). You can also use Lydian Dominant over the G7 chord, or Lydian over the CMaj chord. You can also use the appropriate bebop scales for any of these chords (for dorian, its just a dorian mode with a natural third as a passing tone, for major it is a major scale with a b6 as a passing tone and for mixolydian its a mixolydian scale with a natural seventh as a passing tone, the dominant is the most used bebop scale).

Well you certainly can use notes that are out of key, but they're derived from C major, not A minor or G mixolydian or any other modes.

as far as the functional harmony goes your absolutely right, but this is a way of thinking about improvising over chords. it may not ACTUALLY be G mixolydian but g mixolydian is much easier to say then 'use the notes in C Major but resolve them to the notes of a G7 chord'. see shorters Juju or swallow's falling grace for reference. you could analyze them using functional harmony, or you could think of them as a succession of chords which dictate particular pitch collections that have already been named. one of these approaches will take less time and get you playing much quicker (to head off the defense of making the complicated simple with regards to using this approach on easy diatonic progressions---you practice something new beginning with something easy. you may not need to use appropriate hannon fingerings on piano to play mary has a little lamb, but when it comes time to learn rach's prelude in C# minor you'll sure be happy you learned proper fingerings way beforehand).

if you had 7ths, 9ths or 13ths as the chords then you would get more option to use notes that would sound better on the chord

i feel like that would box (well, the natural tensions) you in much more as a player, as any altered tensions would clash. competent accompanists often add in tensions anyway (though not to an annoying degree), even if the chord written is only a triad or 7th chord.
Last edited by tehREALcaptain at Aug 21, 2010,
#14
Quote by tehREALcaptain
as far as the functional harmony goes your absolutely right, but this is a way of thinking about improvising over chords. it may not ACTUALLY be G mixolydian but g mixolydian is much easier to say then 'use the notes in C Major but resolve them to the notes of a G7 chord'.
That shouldn't be any easier, plus it'll confuse you when you start to think about melodic function. The fact is, G does NOT function as the tonal center. If you treat it as a root, then you're only confusing yourself more. Now, if you have no intention to understand melodic function and all you wish to know is which notes are "good" to use, then G mixolydian should be fine. But if you wish to take it further, then that won't suffice. When it comes to chord tones, you should know those, but that should have nothing to do with the mode that it's tonicized in.
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#15
i love to overthink things, im a logical thinker, its the way my mind works. and my brother was visiting and explained his soloing methods to me, i get it all now. just when something has a #11 use lydian, dominant7 use mixolydian, etc. and that works whether or not the chords are diatonic, so when there are non-diatonic chords, outside sounds just come naturally. and then he sometimes moves a lick up or down 1 fret and brings it back, which i already learned but he gave me better examples. and chromatic passages and tritones/blues notes and whatnot. i just dont like adding notes out-of-key without an explanation of why it works, thats why i overthink things and ask these questions
#16
sounds like you've got the theory behind playing lead down, for the most part.

at this point, I think you need to make it a point to practice improvising a lot. write a chord progression and jam over it until you've mastered playing the changes, then write a new one. also, bear in mind what degrees your particular progression is using rather than the actual tones. i think that will help you shift into the "feel" for said progression whenever it comes up. i think it's much more helpful to think in terms of degrees rather than specific tones when it comes to this sort of thing.

edit: one important thing before i go.. keep the theoretical thoughts in the back of your mind when you're soloing. you should be concentrating on what you're trying to say more than anything else. dynamics, articulation techniques (i.e. bending, legato, harmonics), and rhythmic phrasing will add a lot more to your soloing than being able to change scales on every chord change, although i'm sure some will argue this.
Last edited by STONESHAKER at Aug 29, 2010,
#17
Quote by TMVATDI
i love to overthink things, im a logical thinker, its the way my mind works. and my brother was visiting and explained his soloing methods to me


That's great, but one of the basic concepts of logic is "the simplest answer is usually the correct one".

Now really consider which notes you are playing in this progression. Over the C major chord, you're playing C major. Now over the A minor, you decide to use A aeolian. A aeolian shares the same notes as the C major scale. Because the key hasn't changed (it's still in C major), the notes of the C major scale over a song in C major will sound like the C major scale, because that's what it is.

Now consider playing the G mixy over a G7. G mixy shares the same notes as the C major scale. When you use the notes of the C major over a song which is in C major, it will sound like the C major scale, because that's what it is.

Now an interesting comment is playing A dorian over the A minor chord. So basically you're employing an extra Db into the mix. This can work depending on how you use it. But know that it's just an accidental employed with the C major scale, as described for the reasons above.

That's great your brother gave you some pointers, but didn't you question at one point why it all sounds the same?
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#18
Quote by AlanHB
That's great, but one of the basic concepts of logic is "the simplest answer is usually the correct one".

Now really consider which notes you are playing in this progression. Over the C major chord, you're playing C major. Now over the A minor, you decide to use A aeolian. A aeolian shares the same notes as the C major scale. Because the key hasn't changed (it's still in C major), the notes of the C major scale over a song in C major will sound like the C major scale, because that's what it is.

Now consider playing the G mixy over a G7. G mixy shares the same notes as the C major scale. When you use the notes of the C major over a song which is in C major, it will sound like the C major scale, because that's what it is.

Now an interesting comment is playing A dorian over the A minor chord. So basically you're employing an extra Db into the mix. This can work depending on how you use it. But know that it's just an accidental employed with the C major scale, as described for the reasons above.

That's great your brother gave you some pointers, but didn't you question at one point why it all sounds the same?

i think that question was some1 else's, u might be talking abt that guy who asked why several modes share the same notes? yeah i always thought of that as common sense.

complicated answers are my favorite, im just weird like that i guess, instead of the easy way, i like making things work that people using the easy way don't think of.

i guess what i wasn't thinking of (well, in that 1st post, in retrospect, i think i saw a lot of mistakes, but here's the big one) was that the whole purpose of this way of thinking must be for non-diatonic chords. like if there's a progression in the key of A# and the first chord is Cmajadd#11, even though C should be minor, I could then use Lydian over it, instead of Dorian, and then switch the scale/mode to whatever the next chord called for. I was just confused because the books I use to learn theory from and the sources I've used to learn modes didn't really explain clearly how to use them, I think I get it all now.
Last edited by TMVATDI at Aug 29, 2010,
#19
Quote by TMVATDI
i think that question was some1 else's, u might be talking abt that guy who asked why several modes share the same notes? yeah i always thought of that as common sense.


No, it's the answer to your question, using the chords you stated and why all you're using is the C major scale.

Quote by TMVATDI
I think I get it all now.


I don't think so.

Follow this logic. If a song is in the key of "X major" or "Y minor" you will always be using the "X major" or "Y minor" scale over it. If you deviate from the scale notes, they are the same scale with accidentals.
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#20
+1

If the song's in a key then you're using the scale that fits the key, you don't really get a choice in the matter. Generally speaking songs are written in a fairly straightforward manner so the listener doesn't get overly confused or distracted. That means recognisable chord progressions and coherent melodies that reinforce the overall tonality of the piece and move smoothly between chord changes.

If you want to flex your musical muscles and treat each chord as a separate harmonic entity you can do that, but in that case you have to pretty much disregard the key, look at each chord in isolation and choose a scale that complements the intervals of each chord.

So for I IV V progression in C major (C F G) you'd use the C major scale when considering the piece as a whole.

If you want to treat each chord seperately you'd use C major, F major and G major over each chord respectively.

You wouldn't, and indeed can't, "use" C major, F Lydian and G Mixolydian because that's just playing C major all the way through. The individual chord changes in most compositions don't last long enough to estalbish a different tonal centre, and you're certainly not going to get any closer to changing it by using notes that actually reinforce that major tonality!
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#21
The above two posts are correct, but I feel they are neglecting some information; target notes.

Playing without a thought as to what the tones in each chord you're playing over would make your solo sound random. I use my ear to help hit target tones more than anything else, but keeping those target notes for the progression in the back of my head helps me find them when I want to play the changes. I think about it like this.

C major - F major - G dom 7th

Since this is a diatonic progression, I would play in C major/A minor. Over the C chord, I'd try to emphasize the 1, 3, or 5 (C, E, G) of C major, and I think about this in terms of the scale fingerings and what degree each note in that fingering is rather than thinking about what tone each note in the fingering is.

For the F, we'd build in thirds again to get 4, 6, and 1 (F, A, and C) since it is a diatonic progression. That means over this chord, I'd emphasize those notes.

For the G dominant 7th, we'd build in thirds again to get 5, 7, 2, and 4 (G, B, D, and F) since it is a diatonic progression. That means over this chord, I'd emphasize those notes.

Once you've mastered playing over a 1-4-5 progression in the key of C major, you've mastered playing over a 1-4-5 progression in any key, which is why I suggested you think about the scale fingerings in terms of degrees rather than tones.

Of course, once you've memorized the degrees of each scale form as well as the modes of C major, it's pretty easy to put 2 and 2 together and learn all the natural tones of the fretboard using the scale fingerings of C major.
#22
Quote by AlanHB
No, it's the answer to your question, using the chords you stated and why all you're using is the C major scale.


I don't think so.

Follow this logic. If a song is in the key of "X major" or "Y minor" you will always be using the "X major" or "Y minor" scale over it. If you deviate from the scale notes, they are the same scale with accidentals.

oh i didnt mean to ask why its all in Cmajor, my original question was just whether or not what i was doing works theoretically, and there were options i was trying to use not in Cmajor, like Clydian and Adorian, but now I understand why those dont work, I really dont need further explanation on that.

and i got it, thats not logic i never thought about or didnt understand, its just logic i never liked for being too simple. that was like the very first thing i learned when i started writing melodies, play notes that are in the key, then i just wanted to see if the way i was doing it in my first post was also correct. i really do understand it all now, i've just been confused about horizontal/vertical thinking and other things, now i understand it all.

@stoneshaker, thats something i actually didnt think abt, thanks
Last edited by TMVATDI at Aug 29, 2010,