Not sure whether or not this is something I should be checking other threads for, but if it is, sorry in advance.

Im a pretty huge theory noob, for starters, but the last month or so I've been diving into it and trying to teach myself. I just recently picked up on the construction of scales such as the Major and Minor scales...but now im in a bit of a pickle...

I was listening to this song and playing along to it, when I realized I was playing with a bunch of shapes and patterns that I wasnt very used to or am familiar with, and when I sat down and tryed to work out the steps I seemed to be playing, starting from the first fret of the E (so an F), I came out with this:

H W W W H W W

What the hell am I playing? It doesnt seem to be a major or minor construction unless you start the major on the first half step or the minor on its last half step...basically, im pretty confused. Assistance, ye who are much more educated in this regard then I?
I believe thats the last "half" (part) of the major scale.
Understand nothing, in order to learn everything.

Quote by liampje
I can write a coherent tune ... But 3/4? I play rock, not polka.
aint that the Fphrygian mode?

its the C# major scale starting on the third note if i member correctly
Last edited by supersac at Jun 12, 2011,
Those are the intervals for playing in Phyrgian mode. If "F" is your root note and you are using those intervals, then you would be playing in the key of D flat.
Find the key, find the scale.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
I...suppose it is. I dont have any knowledge regarding modes and what not really so...I suppose so, ha. So its just a major scale that doesnt start on the first whole step...but could it also be a minor scale thats starting on the uh...fifth note?
Quote by Insanity 101
I...suppose it is. I dont have any knowledge regarding modes and what not really so...I suppose so, ha. So its just a major scale that doesnt start on the first whole step...but could it also be a minor scale thats starting on the uh...fifth note?

It's not modal, ignore modes and anybody who says them.

Find the key. What are the chords? Where does it resolve?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
Quote by Insanity 101
I...suppose it is. I dont have any knowledge regarding modes and what not really so...I suppose so, ha. So its just a major scale that doesnt start on the first whole step...but could it also be a minor scale thats starting on the uh...fifth note?

its in the key of C#
the relative minor is A# the fifth from that is F...so yeah
edit i didnt see the video just goimng from the steps you gave dont worry about modes right now
Last edited by supersac at Jun 12, 2011,
Oh.... Yeah.... Modes..... I didn't do those since everyone is all rawr! about them....

Edit: I didn't watch the video either. Also, I was going from the steps you gave... Which would make it from the first half step of the major to the same step an octave up....
Understand nothing, in order to learn everything.

Quote by liampje
I can write a coherent tune ... But 3/4? I play rock, not polka.
Last edited by vampirelazarus at Jun 12, 2011,
Quote by Insanity 101
Also thanks for the help thus far, I suppose I should be looking into modes...

If you're new to theory, then don't worry about modes yet.

I...suppose it is. I dont have any knowledge regarding modes and what not really so...I suppose so, ha. So its just a major scale that doesnt start on the first whole step...but could it also be a minor scale thats starting on the uh...fifth note?

The major scale, as you know, goes W W H W W W H. If you start on the interval I underlined, you'll notice that it matches up with the intervals you mentioned in your first post. If that F is your tonal center, then you would be playing in Phrygian mode. However, if F is not your tonal center, then you're just using a different scale shape.
Not modal!
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
I understand that your saying its not modal but...I dont know how to discern what key its in, like you mentioned prior. So im still a bit stuck if you're telling me its not the Phyrgian mode that was mentioned prior...

...I relatively sure I can figure out the chords being used though, still not sure how that would help me though, unfortunately.
Quote by Insanity 101
I understand that your saying its not modal but...I dont know how to discern what key its in, like you mentioned prior. So im still a bit stuck if you're telling me its not the Phyrgian mode that was mentioned prior...

...I relatively sure I can figure out the chords being used though, still not sure how that would help me though, unfortunately.

The chords directly determine what key the song is in. Figure out the chords, and which one it feels like it ends on.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
Your "tonal center" is the note that your music revolves around. As you play music, you'll notice that you are building and relieving tension as you go. You will usually start on that note or chord and then resolve to it. Get out your guitar and play a simple chord progression. G, C, Em, D, G. As you play that, notice that the sound of the chords builds tension. You start on G, build up, move away, almost like you're going on a journey of music. When you get back to G after going through the other chords, notice how good it sounds? Like you're suddenly at home again, it's a release of tension. The whole chord progression revolves around G, moving away from it and going back to it. Therefor, G is your tonal center.

Most of the time, your tonal center and your key are the same thing. If you are playing in the key of G, then G is probably going to be your tonal center. If you play in C, then your music will probably revolve around C. If you are playing in the key of D minor, then your tonal center will be D.

In order to find which notes are in any given key, take your root note (the tonal center, the name of the key) and apply the major scale to it. The intervals for the major scale are: W W H W W W H. So if you want to play in the key of A major, start at A on your guitar neck and go up those intervals. The notes that you land on are the notes in your key: A B C# D E F# G#.

That's assuming it's a major key, of course. Every major key has a relative minor, which is the minor key that uses the same notes. To find the relative minor, all you do is go three half steps or two scale degrees below the major root. So in this example, A major, just go backward: A>G#>F#, and make that your tonal center. Now you're playing in the key of F# minor. There are slight variations in scales for minor keys, but let's not worry about those at the moment.

Notice the intervals you put up in the first post are what you would get if you played the major scale mentioned above, but started on the third note instead of the first. To answer your original question, "what the hell am I playing?", you are playing in the key of D flat, just using a different scale shape. However, after listening to the song (admitedly only a little bit) it sounds like it's a minor key (notice how somber it is?) which would put you in B flat minor (two degrees, or three half steps, below D flat.) Note that this is assuming that your initial playing was correct and in key, as I haven't actually tried playing along myself.

I hope I'm making sense. It can be kind of complicated to explain all of this in one big lump sum of information. Ultimately, the best way for understanding is to learn theory. If you're interested, try to find a decent book for beginners, or I'm sure there are some lessons here on UG for that kind of thing. I really hope I could help a little.
Last edited by LightningandIce at Jun 13, 2011,