#1
This may be a stupid question, however, lately i have been second guessing/over thinking this. I noticed that some musicians will use the minor pentatonic over a major chord progression? How is this right? I mean, if i played 12 bar blues in the key of A using major chords, could I use A minor pentatonic for improv?
Free Mumia
#2
not a stupid question at all.

Every major key has something called a "relative minor" key. This is a minor key that uses the same notes as its relative major scale. For example, a C major scale and an A minor scale (natural minor at least) use the same notes, they just begin ON a different note. Therefore you can play over a C major progression using what is essentially an A minor scale.

A major key's relative minor is always a minor 3rd below the major key. So to answer your specific question, you could play over an A major progression using an F# minor scale, even though you're technically still playing in A major
Last edited by boxcarguy07 at Jul 6, 2011,
#3
Quote by boxcarguy07
not a stupid question at all.

Every major key has something called a "relative minor" key. This is a minor key that uses the same notes as its relative major scale. For example, a C major scale and an A minor scale (natural minor at least) use the same notes, they just begin ON a different note. Therefore you can play over a C major progression using what is essentially an A minor scale.

A major key's relative minor is always a minor 3rd below the major key. So to answer your specific question, you could play over an A major progression using an F# minor scale, even though you're technically still playing in A major


Thanks for your reply, however i'm still wondering if it is sensible to use A minor over an A major chord, etc. ?
Free Mumia
#4
Quote by guerilla radio
This may be a stupid question, however, lately i have been second guessing/over thinking this. I noticed that some musicians will use the minor pentatonic over a major chord progression? How is this right? I mean, if i played 12 bar blues in the key of A using major chords, could I use A minor pentatonic for improv?

Yeah, you can use A minor pent over A major. But you would like the addition of the major 3rd in there aswell...

Over the Dmajor, that scale would have these relationships:

A  -  C  -  D  -  E  -  G
5th  b7    R     9th  11th


Over the E major it would have these relationships or qualities:

A  -  C  -    D  -  E  -  G
11   b6/#5    b7th  R     b3/#9


All three chords have a root resolution within this scale along with several tension notes on the V chord that really suit the Dominant extensions (where I've added C as the #5 and G as the #9. To be technically correct, you would change the note name to the appropriate name to use the extension). And over all three chords, the b7 is present...

Over the D and E chords, you can also add in a G#... this would bring an extension in for the IV chord as a #11... and over the V chord it will bring in its major 3rd.

However, without adding in extra notes, the short answer is... yes. You can use the A minor pentatonic over an A major blues progression for improv. If you add in the extra two notes over said chords, it would make it pretty cool and coherent.

I hope this helps you.
Last edited by evolucian at Jul 6, 2011,
#5
Quote by boxcarguy07
not a stupid question at all.

Every major key has something called a "relative minor" key. This is a minor key that uses the same notes as its relative major scale. For example, a C major scale and an A minor scale (natural minor at least) use the same notes, they just begin ON a different note. Therefore you can play over a C major progression using what is essentially an A minor scale.

A major key's relative minor is always a minor 3rd below the major key. So to answer your specific question, you could play over an A major progression using an F# minor scale, even though you're technically still playing in A major

Sadly this is the wrong answer.

There's no such thing as "playing the relative minor", if the progression's in a major key then you're using the major scale, end of. The TS is refering to using the parallel minor eg E minor over an E major progression, and the short answer is yes you can do it and it happens all the time in blues and rock music.
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#6
Yes to seagull. Not sure where the "playing the relative minor" thing came from, it sounds EXACTLY the same as playing the major (because that's what it is).

Playing a minor pentatonic scale (or blues scale) over a major chord progression is the essence of the blues "sound". How does it work? The b3 and b7 work as accidentals, and that's about it. You're actually playing the major scale with a b3 and b7 (and b5 if you're playing the "blues" scale), and a lot of people tend to omit the major 3rd and 7th when improvising over a blues progression.
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#7
I've been hearing the "play the relative minor" bollocks since I started playing so it's certainly nothing new
Actually called Mark!

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#8
Quote by steven seagull
I've been hearing the "play the relative minor" bollocks since I started playing so it's certainly nothing new


Well it's time to put it to rest! #modpact
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#9
The guy wasn't far wrong with using the F# as the "Relative minor". Even though the TS asked for parallel minor. So give him a break. And its not quite the same as A major... it starts on F#, therefore adding a major 6th quality to the sound. Really quite different from Aminor pent.

And it is a relative minor. Books will have to be rewritten if you pass that law that it doesn't exist.

Edit: Nice thing about using the F# blues scale is it adds that minor to major third to the A chord. However it starts sounding bland when put up against the I's parallel minor. Unless you want that major happiness it provides then you can slink between the two. Anyway...
Last edited by evolucian at Jul 6, 2011,
#10
Quote by evolucian
The guy wasn't far wrong with using the F# as the "Relative minor". Even though the TS asked for parallel minor. So give him a break. And its not quite the same as A major... it starts on F#, therefore adding a major 6th quality to the sound. Really quite different from Aminor pent.

And it is a relative minor. Books will have to be rewritten if you pass that law that it doesn't exist.

Edit: Nice thing about using the F# blues scale is it adds that minor to major third to the A chord. However it starts sounding bland when put up against the I's parallel minor. Unless you want that major happiness it provides then you can slink between the two. Anyway...


Riddle me this:

What is the resulting scale when the notes of the F# minor scale resolve to A?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#11
The song is in major, yes... but the scale he is using, is minor... and seeing as it starts on the F#, it is not an A. It is an F#. 6 letters away. To the right.... unless you are chinese.

So the scale is minor, relative to the I. It won't mean he is playing minor harmony or melody to the major harmony happening... but it is still the minor scale he is using. And its an F#m pentatonic. If he only chooses to use the A, C# and E from that scale... then its a different story. However, with an F# there, it changes things.

Let's say for instance a guy chooses the A melodic minor to solo over the Amajor chord... are you going to say its an A major with one accidental?

Regardless of what a person uses, the resolve will still be to A... its where the 12 bar is headed. But its still an F#m pentatonic being used. THAT is what your riddle is.
Last edited by evolucian at Jul 6, 2011,
#12
Quote by evolucian
The song is in major, yes... but the scale he is using, is minor... and seeing as it starts on the F#, it is not an A. It is an F#. 6 letters away. To the right.... unless you are chinese.


Doesn't matter what note you begin with or what note you perceive as the beginning, it resolves to A, so it is an A major.

Quote by evolucian

Let's say for instance a guy chooses the A melodic minor to solo over the Amajor chord... are you going to say its an A major with one accidental?


Yes, if he is indeed playing over an A major. The C would be a blue note, perhaps even written as a B#. If the A harmony is ambiguous (a power chord or a single A note, for example) then he would be playing an A minor using the melodic minor scale.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
Last edited by soviet_ska at Jul 6, 2011,
#13
I took that out, lol... but thanks for keeping it

But no, it would still be an A melodic minor scale being used.

The song also resolves to A... I never disputed that. But the scale is not A. It is F#m being used. Even if he uses an Fmajor scale the song will still resolve to A... but its not the scale being used. Any clicks yet?
Last edited by evolucian at Jul 6, 2011,
#14
Quote by evolucian
I took that out, lol... but thanks for keeping it


I took it out, too. No need for that stuff to stick around.

Quote by evolucian
The song also resolves to A... I never disputed that. But the scale is not A. It is F#m being used.


Since the notes are exactly the same, it's going to be labled as A major every time. The composer may have arrived at those notes by saying "I'm going to use F#m," but it doesn't matter why you write something, it's how it sounds.

Now, even if you pound the crap out of that F# note and try to get the scale to resolve there, I'd say you'd just be impling an A6 at best (assuming we're still working over that A chord.) For the scale to be perceived as an F#m, you would have to change your tonal center.

Quote by evolucian
Even if he uses an Fmajor scale the song will still resolve to A... but its not the scale being used. Any clicks yet?


This is a better example, but I strongly caution you that using the notes from the F major scale over an A progression could greatly jeopardize your A major tonality. The natural G in this scale could cause the A to act like an A7 (which would resolve somewhere other than your tonic!)
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#15
Yeah, but thats kinda the point... even in a I-IV-V... in blues the chords are treated as V's... And since V's are the main chord's in which extensions outside the scale occur... this would be acceptable. But this example The F would mainly be for the I and even the V could use it. However, the movement of the progression does denote a typical I-IV-V so it is tricky... agreed. And such things are usually reserved for the actual V. I don't feel it will detract from the tonality, just a whole bunch of Robben Ford'esque lines can be formed. Flow would be important, hence the tonality won't be lost, imo.
*********
Now here's the tricky part... the scale will be perceived as major... but its still minor. Thats what I was saying. But its starting point will still be F#... and using the pentatonic, we wont say its the A major pentatonic, cos we'll know its the minor being used, with the added b5. And even if its the complete minor scale, simply starting on that note (or within a "position"), transcribers for mags and books will still give that info of using the minor scale. That is what it's all about.
#16
I forgot the original example that started this thing was blues, where the b7 isn't really functional, but more for color.

Quote by evolucian
Now here's the tricky part... the scale will be perceived as major... but its still minor. Thats what I was saying. But its starting point will still be F#... and using the pentatonic, we wont say its the A major pentatonic, cos we'll know its the minor being used, with the added b5. And even if its the complete minor scale, simply starting on that note (or within a "position"), transcribers for mags and books will still give that info of using the minor scale. That is what it's all about.


As I stated above, it's not important what note you start on, it's where the scale itself resolves. An F# played over an A chord will not feel resolved, it will want to move downward to the E. You can try all you want to resolve that scale to the F#, but in this harmonic context, it's not going to work.

And as for magazine transcribers: these are the same people who would say if you're playing a box shape on the second position of the Major scale, you're using the Dorian mode.

It seems we're at an impasse. I won't fight and scream to try to convince you, since at this point we're just reiterating our original sentiments. We'll see if anyone else contributes.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#17
TS,

Take the I IV V and make them dominant seventh chords (adding the b7). Now take all of the roots and sevenths of those three chords and put them together. Viola, the minor pentatonic scale.
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#18
Quote by rockingamer2

Take the I IV V and make them dominant seventh chords (adding the b7). Now take all of the roots and sevenths of those three chords and put them together. Viola, the minor pentatonic scale.


Cool, Ive never visualised it that way before.

The dude that was suggesting that he use the parallel minor scale doesnt know the difference between a scale and a fingering/shape for a scale. Scales are notes, not simply somewhere to put yer fingers.

But yeah, using the minor third over a dominant chord just sounds good for blues/rock playing. Try using the minor third as a grace note before playing the major third in an upbeat blues song, that has a nice effect.
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#19
To the OP, what you are calling a "major chord" or "major chord progression" should be more specifically termed a 7th chord (or a dom7 if you will). So what are noticing is the Min Pent works over a 7th chord, and not JUST a major chord. If a chord can be extended out to a maj7 then you wouldn't be using a Min Pent scale. But if the chord can be extended to a 7th chord then you can use the Min Pent scale...

or can you, or do you...really.

Many times the greats aren't really using a Minor Pentatonic scale over the Major chords.

As guitarists we see a pattern and give it a name, with disregard to what's going on musically a lot of times it seems.

Over a straight I-IV-V many times we give the b3 of the Min Pent a little bend. Even though we don't bend it to a full M3 it still implies the M3...of in the of using it over a major chord, it implies resolution.

This bend is a "blues note" (yes, the b3 over the dom7 chord, or the blues, is considered a blues notes). And, you'll find that there are a few steps between the b3 and M3 that you can bend to to get a different vibe. Try it, bend it a bit and see how nice it sounds. Now bend it a little more and hear how nice and different it sounds, then bend it a bit more. There is usually two the three sweet spots in between a b3 and a M3 interval when playing the blues.

Many guitarist first start with nothing but a Min Pent scale (slightly bending the b3 without really realizing why), then they learn the Maj Pent scale. Then they realize you can use the relative Minor/Major idea to play two "Min Pent scale" (based on pattern form only) three frets away from each other.

Even sometimes that is not enough for them to see the big picture...

the pro's are playing both a Major Pentatonic AND a Minor Pentatonic from the SAME ROOT/TONIC.

IOW...

Let's say you are playing A7 as either a vamp or a in a I-IV-V progression, you would play A Maj Pent and A Min Pent/Blues.

By default this opens up a TON of sounds to you. Here's the notes of the scale...

A B C C# D D#/Eb E F# G

By stringing them out this way you end up with just about ever common, and some not so common, scales you can play over a 7th chord...

A Min Pent
A Major Pent
A Blues
A Mixolydian
A Lydian Dominant

And there are even large fragments of the:

A Diminished scale
A Whole tone scale

So while so many people learn these two little scales, not everyone knows how to use them together to create that killer sound all the killer guitarists have.

The A Min Pent/Blues gives you a nice rub...or tension...against the major/dom7 chord. And the Maj Pent gives you a sound that fits...or resolves to...the major/dom7 chord.

I have a 50+ tutorial on this very subject with examples of how its used in blues, rock, country, jazz, fusion, etc, etc... You can check them out here:

http://lessons.mikedodge.com/lessons/AdvPent/AvdPentTOC.htm

READ the Introduction!!!! Then move onto over 50 examples that include audio, tab, diagrams, detail explanations, etc...

Enjoy!!!! It ALL free too, not even any ads
#20
Ace Frehley has built his entire career around playing the parallel minor over the "major" key.
#21
Quote by soviet_ska
It seems we're at an impasse. I won't fight and scream to try to convince you, since at this point we're just reiterating our original sentiments. We'll see if anyone else contributes.


If the key is A major, you'll always be playing the A major scale. Any note used outside the scale is an accidental.

And the answer to my riddle "the notes of F# minor resolving to A" is the A major scale.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#22
Quote by guerilla radio
This may be a stupid question, however, lately i have been second guessing/over thinking this. I noticed that some musicians will use the minor pentatonic over a major chord progression? How is this right? I mean, if i played 12 bar blues in the key of A using major chords, could I use A minor pentatonic for improv?


Yes, and I recommend you to do so. If you play blues in A, please use A minor pentatonic. This way you will have cool blues solo.

You can also play what boxcarguy07 told you. This way your solo will be cleaner and not so bluesy.
#23
Quote by guerilla radio
This may be a stupid question, however, lately i have been second guessing/over thinking this. I noticed that some musicians will use the minor pentatonic over a major chord progression? How is this right? I mean, if i played 12 bar blues in the key of A using major chords, could I use A minor pentatonic for improv?


1. Your chord progression is in A major.
2. Let's write out the notes in that key.

A B C# D E F# G#

Remember that the relative minor starts on the sixth note of the major scale.
The relative minor of A major is F# minor.

3. Use the F#m pentatonic.

Of course, you could improvise in any scale you like over that A progression. This would be called super-imposing [e.g. Using Cm over a piece in A major]
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#24
There is something you guys have overlooked in my posts... and many others, but we'll stick to these for now.

In reference to the C (<----typo... meant to be A)melodic minor scale question:
Quote by soviet_ska
Yes, if he is indeed playing over an A major. The C would be a blue note, perhaps even written as a B#. If the A harmony is ambiguous (a power chord or a single A note, for example) then he would be playing an A minor using the melodic minor scale.
Quote by AlanHB
If the key is A major, you'll always be playing the A major scale. Any note used outside the scale is an accidental.And the answer to my riddle "the notes of F# minor resolving to A" is the A major scale.
I'll reiterate my earlier no.... No. It will still be the melodic minor scale being used. In no way will it change to being a major scale and should not be looked upon as one either. If I play every other note but C, you would view it as a major scale. And to see the C, when it is used, as the blue note... fair enough. But with the absence of a C#, it still is and will always be a C melodic minor scale. If you write the C as a B#, then you have altered the note function and can call it whatever you wish... but with that C there, it is and will always be a C melodic minor.

Along with that, I'll call into question the view of the parallel minor being used. Would you see it as the major scale, again, with accidentals? No... you would see it as the parallel minor... AND as an Am pentatonic (in this instance).

The relative minor does exist. And it is used as a point of reference if not changing key. Being used to tell someone to use the F# minor pentatonic or minor scale. It doesn't matter what the resolve will be, as I've stated before. Because the thing you are not looking at is that it is being used as a point of reference. Therefore boxcarguy was not wrong... and thankfully the modsquad stopped picking on his post. Although Alan pounced on the backing up of it.

So Alan, if you are not prepared to look at it as a point of reference... then that will be to your detriment. Your life won't abruptly end or anything and the sun will still rise for you the next day... but your elitist view will still be seen as elitist. This also goes to soviet:
Quote by soviet_ska
And as for magazine transcribers: these are the same people who would say if you're playing a box shape on the second position of the Major scale, you're using the Dorian mode.
Magazine transcribers and editors have tough jobs. In your example, they never said it was a modal composition. They used it as a point of reference. And they do still continue to use it... as a point of reference. Not once have I actually seen them write that "This song by Green Day/3 Doors Down/ Slayer/ "Rock Band X" is a Modal composition"... Showing the scale and titling it as Dorian is a means of reference... as well as a starting point and possible finishing point within that box/shape. It helps beginners and intermediates out in every possible way. Fight it if you wish... but it still is a very valid teaching system. Your protests have not shut down publications... and never will. Try view their ramblings as points of reference. Tony MacAlpine transcribed his solo's in a few of his columns and gave modal references to them aswell. Once again, not saying they were modal comps... but valid points of reference within the scale.

Quote by Hydra150
The dude that was suggesting that he use the parallel minor scale doesnt know the difference between a scale and a fingering/shape for a scale. Scales are notes, not simply somewhere to put yer fingers.
I'd love to know who you were referring to... as I don't think anyone here in this thread has that problem. But please feel free to share

/rant
Last edited by evolucian at Jul 9, 2011,
#25
Quote by evolucian
There is something you guys have overlooked in my posts... and many others, but we'll stick to these for now.

In reference to the C melodic minor scale question:
I'll reiterate my earlier no.... No. It will still be the melodic minor scale being used. In no way will it change to being a major scale and should not be looked upon as one either. If I play every other note but C, you would view it as a major scale. And to see the C, when it is used, as the blue note... fair enough. But with the absence of a C#, it still is and will always be a C melodic minor scale. If you write the C as a B#, then you have altered the note function and can call it whatever you wish... but with that C there, it is and will always be a C melodic minor.


So basically what you're saying is that the key is irrelevant when determining note and scale functions, it's just about the notes used.
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#26
The key is not irrelevant... never in any of my posts did I say it was irrelevant. Rather to view what is being used... nothing will change that key... no scale will severely alter that key in any way. It will always be in A major.

The scale being used should be seen as "the scale being used"... not what it equates to or lands up sounding like. Hence the F#m should be viewed as that... being a reference point to start from. Same with the C melodic minor... it is and will always be a C melodic minor... regardless of the outcome. It is used as blah blah blah... reckon I've said it enough times... if I am still not understood, then there is nothing more I can say to reiterate the points I've made.
#27
I think we understand the point you're making, it's basically that A minor is the same as C major is the same as E phrygian etc. By ignoring where the scale resolves to you're getting multiple options with the same notes.
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#28
...
Rather to view what is being used... nothing will change that key... no scale will severely alter that key in any way. It will always be in A major.


"It" being the key
#29
Quote by evolucian
...

"It" being the key


I think we've both had enough of this. You think that any scale can be played over any key, and it will retain its functions as if it were played in it's parent key. I think that a key affects the resolution of a scale to the extent it can only be one scale (with accidentals in some circumstances), which is the parent key.

We disagree, and that's about it.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#30
Yeah, we disagree...

I think that a key affects the resolution of a scale to the extent it can only be one scale (with accidentals in some circumstances), which is the parent key.
And yes, we would disagree on this too... Cos how can an Am pentatonic now be viewed as an A major scale with accidentals? It has to be viewed as an Am pentatonic and how its notes function against the chords in the key... it is a completely different scale.

The F#m pent is a scale as well... and used as a reference point to start in... I never said it causes the song to resolve to F# (and nor did boxcarguy), in any post. If the Am pentatonic can retain its name, then so can the F# minor pentatonic.

To use an Fmajor scale in this instance will not make it an A major scale... it will still be an F major scale and it will add extensions to the three chords being used... it is merely a tool. Not a way of life... but it still carries its name.

So thats about it... we disagree
Last edited by evolucian at Jul 9, 2011,
#31
Quote by evolucian
So thats about it... we disagree


Yup.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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