#1
Got a couple of questions for ya,

-Arpeggeating and Chord Progressions
I know a few progressions, but when I just strum them they sometimes sound rather boring. I also rarely hear just straight strumming when listening to songs.
When I listen to the Beatles I rarely ever hear them strumming, I just hear single notes being picked out. Are they "arpeggiating" the chord progressions? Are they just
playing notes within a chord then changing the chord? Is that a common practice?

-Altering Chords in a Key
Is it theoretically safe to alter chords in a key? Say the progression is A maj to D maj to E maj, would it be safe to play A maj to D7 to E7b5 and mess around with
the chords like that? As long as the tonic of the chord is the same it's alright? When is substituting chords "ok" or is it done like this often?

-Soloing
Scales are used over chord progressions, whilst arpeggios can be used over chords that don't necessarily fit into the key, or you can switch arpeggio shapes everytime
the chord is changed and solo that way, is that correct?

-Changing Keys

How is changing keys in a song really done? Are there theoretical rules to it?

-Using Non-Diatonic Chords in a Key

I read in a theory book that songwriters will use chords that aren't diatonic on purpose. Is there really theory behind this?

-How do other scales relate to the Major Scale

How does the Minor pentatonic relate to the major scale? If chords are built off the major scale, can chords be built off say, the minor pentatonic scale?

-Minor Scale

How do you build diatonic chords off a minor chord? I know in the major scale you use I ii iii IV V vi vii, but how does this work in the minor scale?
For example, if your tonic was Em, what chords would be in the key of Em?
Also : Are all scales built off the major and minor scales? Or is everything built off the major scale? I'm just struggling to see how all the scales and keys relate.

-Riffs

What usually comes first, the riff or the key of the song? The rhythm or the riff?
#2
I don't have time to answer all of this (That's a LOT of questions), but with the minor and major scales: Every major scale has a relative minor. The relative minor scale starts on the vi of every major scale, and the minor pentatonic is derived from said minor scale. I suppose that's how you could derive some relation between the minor pentatonic and major scale, but you don't catch people playing a minor pentatonic over a major scale too much.

And you can definitely arpeggiate/solo over chords using those same chord tones, but I think you'll find that you won't always get the most interesting solos that way. Solos get really interesting when you branch out and play non-chord tones.

With changing keys, a lot of people use the Dominant (5th) to make key changes. If you go to the dominant, and then use the dominant as a new root for another key, you'll get a little more relation between the key changes than, say, if you just jump to a random key.

I'm still learning all of this stuff, so some of the things I'm telling you may not be specific enough, but I'm sure someone else will correct/add to what I've said.

Hope this helps!

EDIT: Also, I'd say that the riff should come first in a song. Play what sounds good - don't just go "I'm going to write a song in this specific key!" because you'll be ignoring some of the utility of the guitar (e.g. the usefulness of open strings). By limiting yourself to a certain set of notes, I think you'll be limiting your creative potential.

Double edit: Unless, of course, you're arranging for something specific, like a orchestra or instruments that are pitched to something other than C. Then keys get more important. But guitars have the ability to play in any key without any real difficulty, which I must say sometimes feels like cheating a little, but it's ultimately too much fun for me to care.
Don your antithesis spectacle, your backwards monocle, and traipse forward to victory.
Last edited by ProjectileQuiet at Sep 9, 2010,
#3
Quote by pevsfreedom
Got a couple of questions for ya,

-Arpeggeating and Chord Progressions
I know a few progressions, but when I just strum them they sometimes sound rather boring. I also rarely hear just straight strumming when listening to songs.
When I listen to the Beatles I rarely ever hear them strumming, I just hear single notes being picked out. Are they "arpeggiating" the chord progressions? Are they just
playing notes within a chord then changing the chord? Is that a common practice?


Yes they are 'picking through the chord' so to speak. It's common in ballads and folk music, take Dust in the Wind for instance. It's kind of like 'piano on guitar' in a way. There are certain/common arpeggiated patterns like Travis-picking you might want to look up.


-Altering Chords in a Key
Is it theoretically safe to alter chords in a key? Say the progression is A maj to D maj to E maj, would it be safe to play A maj to D7 to E7b5 and mess around with
the chords like that? As long as the tonic of the chord is the same it's alright? When is substituting chords "ok" or is it done like this often?


If you play a chord in a Key and add other notes the chord, notes that are from the Key or scale directly, it's called 'extending' the chord. But, the notes in the scale are not the only notes you can use to extend a chord, so you could extend it with what are called 'accidentals' which are notes used in Key that are not directly found in the Key, r are found outside of the scale.

So what's the difference between accidentals and altered???

The term 'altered' specifically means to raise or lower the 5 or the 9 of a chord...the chord being the V7 chord. IOW, 'Altered chords" are mainly dom7 chords, or just 7th chords if you're not familiar with the 'dom' prefix. The only dom7 chord in a Key is the V7 chord. So, 'in Key' the only chord that actually gets termed 'altered' is the V7 chord. You may have seen the suffix "7alt" before. That means it's the dom7 with either the 5th or 9th raised or lowered a half step.



-Soloing
Scales are used over chord progressions, whilst arpeggios can be used over chords that don't necessarily fit into the key, or you can switch arpeggio shapes everytime
the chord is changed and solo that way, is that correct?


You can use any batch of harmony found in the chord, it's extension, it's Key, it scale, or it's alteration. These notes come from scales...maybe not one scale in particular (because even music might stay in Key but doesn't always stay in scale) but what you choose is based on the sound of it.



-Changing Keys

How is changing keys in a song really done? Are there theoretical rules to it?


The most common way to change Keys is to play the V7 of the new Key just before moving to the new Key, or it's I chord. The V-I cadence is the strongest cadence and playing the V before the I will make it sound like the I is where it needs to go.



-Using Non-Diatonic Chords in a Key

I read in a theory book that songwriters will use chords that aren't diatonic on purpose. Is there really theory behind this?


It's called 'borrowed chords", "neighbor chords", or even "modal chords". The most common stem from taking a Tonic of a Key and using the chords from both the Major Key and Minor Key for the same Tonic. This is way a lot of rock songs in A Major have a G and C chord in them. When trying to figure out how the chords are working in a song, say in A Major, write out the chord found in the Keys of A Major and A Minor and chances are you'll find all your chords in that big list.



-How do other scales relate to the Major Scale

How does the Minor pentatonic relate to the major scale? If chords are built off the major scale, can chords be built off say, the minor pentatonic scale?


In every Major scale there are three Minor Pentatonic scales, one starting from the 2nd, one from the 3rd, and one from the 6th. It's also useful to build chords directly in the Natural Minor scale. And actually, there is a Natural Minor scale built from the 6th note of the Major scale. This is called Relative Minor, and Relative Major too is you can see that there is a Major scale built from the min3 of the Natural Minor scale.



-Minor Scale

How do you build diatonic chords off a minor chord? I know in the major scale you use I ii iii IV V vi vii, but how does this work in the minor scale?
For example, if your tonic was Em, what chords would be in the key of Em?
Also : Are all scales built off the major and minor scales? Or is everything built off the major scale? I'm just struggling to see how all the scales and keys relate.


Just list out your Major scale and the Minor scale and chords will start on the 6th chord/note. Again, the term Relative Minor is worth looking into at wikipedia or something.



-Riffs

What usually comes first, the riff or the key of the song? The rhythm or the riff?


Most of the time they kind of all come together at the same time, then you refine them based on what you have.
#4
Ok I'm going to attempt to answer a few of your questions but I've only been in theory classes for a year.

- Your arpeggio question
An arpeggio involves playing the notes of a chord one by one as opposed to being strummed. So given your Beatles example yes that would be arpeggiating the chord. And yeah it happens all the time, so you could call it common practice.

-Soloing
If it fits in the key signature, you can play it. but if you're going for arpeggios than try related chords. build chords off of the fifth of the chord underneath it or play the same chord at a different octave.

-Modulating keys (this should also help explain scale relation)
Take the key signature of whatever key you're in for example F major (one flat, Bb) you can go to the relative minor (3 half steps down) D minor, or you can add a flat (Eb) which would make it Bb major or Bb's relative minor, G minor. Or you can take a flat away from the original key which in the case of F major would be no flats making it key of C or A minor. As far as getting the music to go to those keys, you can just go for it and start writing in that key. You can do a common chord transition. For example, if you wanna go from Fmaj to Bb, go to the dominant (V) chord in the Bb scale which is F. When you change keys use the scale that goes with that key. Look up the circle of fifths.

-Minor Scale
Progressions for the natural minor scale go i iio, III, iv, v, VII
The natural minor scale formula: whole step, half step, w, w, h, w, w

-Riffs
You can choose a key and write a riff in that key or you can just play something you think sounds good and try to determine the key after.

I think that's right. hope it helps.
#5
MikeDodge. Dom7 can function as IV in a melodic minor key area. With its relative mode: Lydian b7. So to the one question on minor keys...yes. You can take melodic/harmonic minor, and create chords out of them. I'm not going to write it all out. It's a good exercise to do this yourself.
#6
Quote by Ibanezbelyeu
MikeDodge. Dom7 can function as IV in a melodic minor key area. With its relative mode: Lydian b7. So to the one question on minor keys...yes. You can take melodic/harmonic minor, and create chords out of them. I'm not going to write it all out. It's a good exercise to do this yourself.



Yes, you are correct. I was referencing the straight Diatonic scales, Major and Natural Minor scales.

The V7 is also present from the "Minor Key" and not "Minor scale" point of view too. So a V7 can be used on the Minor Key (the Minor Key is comprised of the Natural, Harmonic, and Melodic Minor scales). Both the Harm Min and Mel Min both have V7's instead of a Vm. The Mel Min also contains a IV7.
#7
Changing keys. Here's an example of how to pivot between two keys

Lets start with the key of C. Here are the diatonic chords belonging:

I ii iii IV V vi vii`
Cma7 | Dmi7 | Emi7 | Fma7 | G7 | Ami7 | Bmi7b5

Now we have to find a chord quality that occurs more than once...
Ah I see there are 3 mi7 chords here at ii iii and vi.
And 2 ma7 chords at I and IV.

For this example I'm going to choose to pivot on a mi7 chord
1st step: Create a progression that ends on a mi7
e.g. ii V vi
Dmi7 | G7 | Ami7

2nd step: Create another progression from a different key that starts on the same mi7
e.g. ii V I
Ami7 | D7 | Gma7 (This is the key of F )

Now join these two progressions with the pivot chord Ami7 and you get:

ii V vi
Dmi7 | G7 | Ami7
| Ami7 | D7 | Gma7
ii V I

And congrats you just pivoted from the key of C to the key of F. Pretty cool hey
#8
There are a couple more really cool ways to modulate between keys but they're pretty advanced...

and as far as altering chords in keys...there are certain ways you can (borrowing from the major/minor.) So in the key of C major, the IV chord is major. However, if you want, you can borrow the iv chord (minor) from C minor. This switches it from F A C to F Ab C. I really really like borrowing the minor iv. You can't do this willy nilly though...there are rules. How to think about this (example in key of C


vii B D F diminished
iv   A C E minor
V(7) G B D major/dominant
IV   F A C major
iii  E G B minor
ii   D F A minor
I    C E G major!

vii Bb D  F  major
VI  Ab C  Eb major
V   G  B  D  major (V is almost always major/dominant...don't worry about the minor.)
iv  F  Ab C  minor
III Eb G  Bb major (or throw in a G# for the augmented)
ii  D  F  Ab diminished
i   C  Eb G  minor


That's a lot but it should give a good rule on how to borrow chords. Notice the root sometimes changes...keep that in mind.
Quote by corduroyEW
Cheap amps are "that bad". They suck up your tone like cocaine at Kate Moss' party.


I am Michael!
Last edited by tubab0y at Sep 10, 2010,
#10
I'm aware of this.
Quote by corduroyEW
Cheap amps are "that bad". They suck up your tone like cocaine at Kate Moss' party.


I am Michael!
#11
Quote by tubab0y
There are a couple more really cool ways to modulate between keys but they're pretty advanced...

and as far as altering chords in keys...there are certain ways you can (borrowing from the major/minor.) So in the key of C major, the IV chord is major. However, if you want, you can borrow the iv chord (minor) from C minor. This switches it from F A C to F Ab C. I really really like borrowing the minor iv. You can't do this willy nilly though...there are rules. How to think about this (example in key of C


vii B D F diminished
iv A C E minor
V(7) G B D major/dominant
IV F A C major
iii E G B minor
ii D F A minor
I C E G major!

vii Bb D F minor
VI Ab C Eb major
V G B D major (V is almost always major/dominant...don't worry about the minor.)
iv F Ab C minor
III Eb G Bb major (or throw in a G# for the augmented)
ii D F Ab diminished
i C Eb G minor


That's a lot but it should give a good rule on how to borrow chords. Notice the root sometimes changes...keep that in mind.


Bb D F is a major chord.
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#12
Err good call, typo right there.
Quote by corduroyEW
Cheap amps are "that bad". They suck up your tone like cocaine at Kate Moss' party.


I am Michael!
#13
Quote by Ibanezbelyeu

Ami7 | D7 | Gma7 (This is the key of F )

And congrats you just pivoted from the key of C to the key of F. Pretty cool hey



You mean you went from the Key of C to the Key of G, correct? Just want to clarify for the OP.
#14
Here are my $0.02 on your first category of questions.

Strumming is just as common as arpeggiating. It all depends on the style of music and the band. With the Beatles for example, there are many examples of both strumming and arpeggiating occurring at the same time. Especially in their early music, George would play an accenting melody and John would strum the rhythm. Even later on, however, this style of theirs was prevalent. If you listen to Abbey Road, listen to the Mean Mr. Mustard-Polythene Pam-She Came in Through the Bathroom Window sequence.

Mean Mr. Mustard is all strumming, emphasizing the 2 and 4 beats.
Polythene Pam is mostly strumming with George making little weird guitar noises till the solo.
. . . Bathroom Window is John strumming the rhythm with George arpeggiating the chords of the progression.

And this is something that can be seen throughout the entirety of their musical career.
It is just as important to learn how to combine strumming with arpeggiating as it is to master either of the techniques individually. One of the most important lessons in terms of rhythm guitar is learning when to apply each style or technique according to the needs of the groove.

Hope this helps.
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