#1
Hi!
I have 2 simple questions:

What is the difference between root and key in a song?

let's make an example:

the key of a song is C and the root is Dm. If I would play a solo over that song, which scale should I use?

D minor pentatonic?C major pentatonic? (the pentatonic of the key / root???)
C major scale?D minor scale? (the scale of key / root???)
#3
If the key is C major, it means the song resolves to C major.

The "root" is a term applied to the note that each chord is built off. So if a song is in C major and you play a D minor, the root of D minor is D. However the key is still C, and that's where the song still resolves to. Therefore you still play C major scale over the entire song.
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#4
key of the song means that the structure of the song is made in (your case) C major scale so it has the following note: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C (octave)...
the root note is the first note that the song/solo is starting so it's D note (root notes don't have sufixes such as minor, aug or dim cause these are used in scales, root is just the note) and the rest is pure logic...
and for the solo, I'd use anything that stays within C major or D minor, you can even combine majors with pentatonics and even chromatics, it's up to you as far as you stay within the key...
hope this help, cheers...
#5
Quote by Spine V.
key of the song means that the structure of the song is made in (your case) C major scale so it has the following note: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C (octave)...
the root note is the first note that the song/solo is starting so it's D note (root notes don't have sufixes such as minor, aug or dim cause these are used in scales, root is just the note) and the rest is pure logic...
and for the solo, I'd use anything that stays within C major or D minor, you can even combine majors with pentatonics and even chromatics, it's up to you as far as you stay within the key...
hope this help, cheers...


Thanks! Now Its' all clear
#6
Quote by sgabbo
Thanks! Now Its' all clear


Seriously, the other guys are completely wrong.

Read my answer.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#8
I have to agree with Alan in this case as well.

When people say things like "the root note is the first note that the song/solo is starting", this is just confusing and flat out wrong in many cases when taken literally.

Here's a simple melodic line in A minor:

---8-4-7-5-
-5-----------
--------------
--------------
--------------
--------------

The first note is E, but the key is not E.

As for music in the key of C major, and seeing a D minor chord, this simply is the II chord in C major. The note "D" is the root note of the chord, but this does not mean that when you are playing something that fits over it you have suddenly "shifted to D dorian". You're still in C major.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Aug 17, 2011,
#9
So if I have a chord progression like this:

Dm C F G

it is in key of C right??

which scale should I use for a solo?? d min pent?? c maj pent??
#10
Chord progressions like the one given are a bit ambiguous because of the fact that you don't start or end on a C chord. But if your intent is to be in the key of C, and you want to solo over a chord progression built off of that key, C major is consistently what you are really playing, even if you are starting on different notes and playing chord tones. I understand why people are tempted to think of themselves as playing a different scale or mode over each chord, but if it's tonal music you're really outlining different areas of the key.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Aug 17, 2011,
#11
ok..
C# , B , D#m, F#

this is in key of F#.

Which scales should I use???
#12
Quote by sgabbo
So if I have a chord progression like this:

Dm C F G

it is in key of C right??

which scale should I use for a solo?? d min pent?? c maj pent??


If it's in the key of C, you'd use the C major scale.

However looking at it I'd assume that it was in the key of D minor, and you would use the D minor scale over it.

Only YOU can tell us where it resolves to without a recording.

Quote by sgabbo
ok..
C# , B , D#m, F#

this is in key of F#.

Which scales should I use???


That's definitely in F# major. So you use the F# major scale over it.

It's really quite simple. Find the key, find the scale.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#13
Quote by AlanHB



That's definitely in F# major. So you use the F# major scale over it.

It's really quite simple. Find the key, find the scale.


This progression belongs to the following song (i'm not 100% sure if the progression is correct):

American Hi-Fi - Tiny Spark
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmC-0ZJwj68

but the solo guitar (for example at 0:25 min ) is based on the Bb minor pentatonic (also in this case i'm not 100% sure).

So i think the scale in this case is based not on F# major but on C# major.

What do you think???
Last edited by sgabbo at Aug 17, 2011,
#14
Quote by sgabbo
This progression belongs to the following song (i'm not 100% sure if the progression is correct):

American Hi-Fi - Tiny Spark
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmC-0ZJwj68

but the solo guitar (for example at 0:25 min ) is based on the Bb minor pentatonic (also in this case i'm not 100% sure).

So i think the scale in this case is based not on F# major but on C# major.

What do you think???


Can you explain why you think that?
#15
Quote by Myshadow46_2
Can you explain why you think that?


The progression is correct (??).

The solo is based on the following pattern (from minor pentatonic) with the root at 6th fred (Bb note):



this is the beginning of the part 0:25

e|--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B|------6-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
G|------8^10------8^10^8--6-----6h8-------8^10^8--6-----6h8----------------------------
D|----------------------------------8---------8------------------8-------------8----8---6-----------
A|-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------8---6------
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------9---

I don't have a guitar now so maybe i'm wrong....
#16
If the progression is correct and id definitely in F#, then you cannot play Bb minor over it.

F# major
F# G# A# b C# D# E#

Bb minor
Bb C Db Eb F Gb Ab

If you look at the notes enharmonic equivalents you'll notice some similarities:
A# C C# D# F F# G#

I don't know the song and I'm not going to check it and work it out, but that shape may look like Bb minor pentatonic to you, but the notes used are probably just from the key of F# and a couple of accidentals are used (C and F).

EDIT: as Soviet_Ska points out, F is enharmonic to E# so F is not an accidental.
Last edited by Myshadow46_2 at Aug 17, 2011,
#17
How did this thread not end succinctly after Alan's post?

Quote by Brainpolice2
Chord progressions like the one given are a bit ambiguous because of the fact that you don't start or end on a C chord.


No, no, no! How many times must it be said that the position of a chord in a phrase has no bearing on its function? The answer lies more in cadences, but the truth of the matter is that you need to hear the chord progression. The Dm - C - F - G could honestly have any of those chords as the tonic even though the chords are diatonic to C.

Quote by Myshadow46_2

[...]but the notes used are probably just from the key of F# and a couple of accidentals are used (C and F).


Right, but remember that F is enharmonically equivalent to E#, making it not an accidental in this case.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#18
Quote by soviet_ska
How did this thread not end succinctly after Alan's post?



Because I don't understand why the solo is based on the Bb minor pentatonic but the key is in F#
#19
No, no, no! How many times must it be said that the position of a chord in a phrase has no bearing on its function? The answer lies more in cadences, but the truth of the matter is that you need to hear the chord progression. The Dm - C - F - G could honestly have any of those chords as the tonic even though the chords are diatonic to C.


The fact of the matter is that those four chords in that order, repeated, doesn't work very well if one is thinking in C major. I just played the chords on my acoustic and it sounds like it wants to be in C major (and the G wants to go to C, but it's as if it loops back to starting on the II chord).

If you want to think of the Dm as homebase, then given the rest of the notes we're talking D dorian, but then "chord progressions" don't apply anymore if it's modal and the series of chords presented here don't make much sense. And you couldn't argue that it's in D minor because there is no G major chord in D minor.

I here's my modification (with additions in between) of those chords to attempt to make it more naturally work as a progression in C major (and working with the fact that if one wants to loop it, it has to lead back to the II):

Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 Cmaj7
Fmaj7 D7 G7 A7

II - V - I
IV - V/V - V - V/II

If I were to write a B section I'd hang on the G to transition to a C maj chord and go from there.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Aug 17, 2011,
#20
Quote by Brainpolice2
What you just said doesn't necessarily contradict what I meant. The fact of the matter is that those four chords in that order, repeated, doesn't work very well if one is thinking in C major. I just played the chords on my acoustic and it sounds like it wants to be in C major (and the G wants to go to C, but it's as if it loops back to starting on the II chord).


In this specific instance, it's ambiguous, but not due to the fact that the C chord isn't first or last in the order. Would the progression be less ambiguous is it went...

C - F - G - Dm?

Here's my chord progression (not just for you, but for everyone here: )

F#7 - B - C#m - A#*/C#

What chord is most likely the tonic? If your first instinct is F#7 or A#*/C#, I suggest that you look a little harder.

Quote by Brainpolice2
If you want to think of the Dm as homebase, then we're talking D dorian, but then "chord progressions" don't apply anymore if it's modal.


Noooooooooooooooooooo! How about i - bVII - bIII - IV in D minor?

If in fact Dm is the tonic, then it's a just a minor progression with the IV - i cadence derived from the melodic minor scale.

EDIT: Saw your edit; good additions. I like secondary-dominant embellishment.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
Last edited by soviet_ska at Aug 17, 2011,
#21
In this specific instance, it's ambiguous, but not due to the fact that the C chord isn't first or last in the order.


If you think I'm saying that a chord progression in C major always has to start and end on a C chord, then you've misunderstood me. I would say though that establishing the tonic strongly first, in common practise, avoids ambiguity. This is common in classical music.

Would the progression be less ambiguous is it went...

C - F - G - Dm?


This is a fair point, but I'd just say that that progression is retarded because of the V II I movement.

F#7 - B - C#m - A#*/C#

What chord is most likely the tonic? If your first instinct is F#7 or A#*/C#, I suggest that you look a little harder.


I'd say the B is most likely the tonic, but it's not a very good chord progression.

Noooooooooooooooooooo! How about i - bVII - bIII - IV in D minor?

If in fact Dm is the tonic, then it's a just a minor progression with the IV - i cadence derived from the melodic minor scale.


I suppose that could be argued, but we're inventing chord progressions here that don't have much logic to them and that don't sound very pleasing to the ear - even to the ear of people who are used to things like borrowing from the parallel minor or major.

I'm far from a traditionalist, but there's a reason why there are standard harmonic movements (especially in 4th/5th cycles). They work well.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Aug 17, 2011,
#22
Quote by Brainpolice2
If you think I'm saying that a chord progression in C major always has to start and end on a C chord, then you've misunderstood me. I would say though that establishing the tonic strongly first, in common practise, makes things easy on the ear.


Then we don't have to carry on like this. Realistically, the first or last chord of a phrase is the tonic, but that has no bearing on function. There's a lot of that misunderstanding going around here, so understand that I'm trying to nip it in the bud.

Quote by Brainpolice2

This is a fair point, but I'd just say that that progression is retarded because of the V II I movement.


I'd like to make a case for F major. While we've discussed hearing it as the ultimate conclusion, it goes vi - V - I - IV, which includes the V - I cadence in the middle. The II might be included just to make the G - Dm not sound too strongly as a cadence by eliminating the half-step motion that would occur had Gm - Dm been used.

Quote by Brainpolice2

I'd say the B is most likely the tonic, but it's not a very good chord progression.


I think you are suffering from first-last-tonicitis after all. How is V7 - I - ii - vii*6 not a strong chord progression? It contains V7 - I, a strong cadence, which is set up by vii*6 - V7, in which the only note that changes in the transition is the bass note which drops by a fifth. It's a textbook major progression.

Quote by Brainpolice2

I suppose that could be argued, but we're inventing chord progressions here that don't sound very pleasing to the ear - even to the ear of people who are used to things like borrowing from the parallel minor or major.


I honestly just think that Dm is the least likely candidate for the tonic, making its explanation a stretch. Just know that this is in no way modal.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#24
Quote by sgabbo
Sorry but can someone told me which point is not correct?

American Hi-Fi - Tiny Spark
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmC-0ZJwj68

1) the chord progression is C# , B , D#m, F#

2) the key is F#

3) Find the key, find the scale

4) the guitar solo is based on Bb minor pentatonic


4). If the key is F#, you're using the F# major scale in some way. Analyze his playing by notes, not by patterns.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#25
I think you are suffering from first-last-tonicitis after all. How is V7 - I - ii - vii*6 not a strong chord progression? It contains V7 - I, a strong cadence, which is set up by vii*6 - V7, in which the only note that changes in the transition is the bass note which drops by a fifth. It's a textbook major progression.


It's the fact that it starts on the V (particularly the V on the first measure or beat) that makes it weird to my ears. I also don't like the sound of I going straight to II (I inherently would want to do something like put a V of II in between). But at this stage we're mostly talking preference.

I write and play plenty of chordal movements that don't start on the I. Nonetheless, I think it's important to at least clearly resolve on the I at some point before going through a long series of chords that doesn't include the I - or getting adventurous and modulating all over the place.

I honestly just think that Dm is the least likely candidate for the tonic, making its explanation a stretch. Just know that this is in no way modal.


I know that it's not modal, and I was actually argueing against considering Dm the tonic. As I've said in a few recent threads, I don't really think there is such thing as a "chord progression" in modal music.

Cheers
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Aug 17, 2011,
#27
I read this book few days ago:
Fretboard theory By Desi Serna.

At "Chapter 7 Roots, Keys, and Applying Scales" He Sad:

......... For example, “What I Like About You” by The Romantics consists of the chords E, A and D and E functions as the root.
If you play these three chords on the fretboard as common barre chords it shouldn’t take you long to see that they all fit together into the A major scale chord pattern, in which case they are V, I and IV. The correct major scale to play over “What I Like About You” is the A major scale. The root chord in this example isn’t I it’s V.
You can play both the A major scale and E major pentatonic scale over “What I Like About You”. A major scale because that’s the key, and E major pentatonic scale because that’s the root. Both scales can be combined and mixed.

This example is similar to the previous... so it is correct to play a solo in Bb minor pentatonic (because C# is the root chord) although the key is F#.
#28
You aren't combining scales though. The notes of E major pentatonic are in the key of A major. If the key is A major, your using A major. If it's E major, you're using E major. You're thinking about shapes and not notes.
Last edited by griffRG7321 at Aug 17, 2011,
#29
Quote by sgabbo
I read this book few days ago:
Fretboard theory By Desi Serna.

At "Chapter 7 Roots, Keys, and Applying Scales" He Sad:

......... For example, “What I Like About You” by The Romantics consists of the chords E, A and D and E functions as the root.
If you play these three chords on the fretboard as common barre chords it shouldn’t take you long to see that they all fit together into the A major scale chord pattern, in which case they are V, I and IV. The correct major scale to play over “What I Like About You” is the A major scale. The root chord in this example isn’t I it’s V.
You can play both the A major scale and E major pentatonic scale over “What I Like About You”. A major scale because that’s the key, and E major pentatonic scale because that’s the root. Both scales can be combined and mixed.


While it is true that you can play both over the progression effectively, the logic seems to be muddled. If E major is the tonic of the progression, then the song's key is E major. Since the song's key is E major, you play the E major scale (or it's pentatonic, which is the same thing minus two notes.) The A major scale may be used, but since you have E as a tonal center, you'd just be using an E major scale featuring a flattened 7th degree (D instead of D#)

While the D chord is not diatonic to the key of E major, it does not make the key A major, unless the progression truly resolves to A major, which would make A major the key to begin with. "Root of a progression" is a useless term. Chords have roots, not progressions. Progressions have tonic chords, which is where the progression ultimately resolves. The chord that the song resolves to is the tonic chord, which makes it the key of the song.

So: 1) Figure out where the song resolves to. This is the key.
2) Use the appropriate scale for that key, making adjustments when an out-of-key chord comes up.
3) Stop saying "root of a progression."
4) ???
5) Do not profit. ...unless you become a big rockstar.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#30
Quote by Myshadow46_2
If the progression is correct and id definitely in F#, then you cannot play Bb minor over it.

F# major
F# G# A# b C# D# E#

Bb minor
Bb C Db Eb F Gb Ab

If you look at the notes enharmonic equivalents you'll notice some similarities:
A# C C# D# F F# G#

I don't know the song and I'm not going to check it and work it out, but that shape may look like Bb minor pentatonic to you, but the notes used are probably just from the key of F# and a couple of accidentals are used (C and F).


You are right, you cannot play Bb minor but you can play Bb minor pentatonic:

A# C# D# F G#
#31
I guess this is what happens when music theory is taught by guitar players who don't know what they're talking about and are thinking first and foremost in terms of fret shapes. That quote is just confusing.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Aug 17, 2011,
#32
Quote by sgabbo
You are right, you cannot play Bb minor but you can play Bb minor pentatonic:

A# C# D# F G#


You can use the notes of the Bb minor pentatonic, but that doesn't mean you're using that scale. I also wouldn't recommend using these notes exclusively as they don't feature the tonal center, F#.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#33
Quote by soviet_ska

Right, but remember that F is enharmonically equivalent to E#, making it not an accidental in this case.


Oh yeah...crap...

Quote by sgabbo
You are right, you cannot play Bb minor but you can play Bb minor pentatonic:

A# C# D# F G#


Do you understand what a pentatonic scale is?

Also, I thought it had been established that that shape is called the Bb minor pentatonic (1st postion, as there are 5) but you are not playing in Bb in any form. Remember that the chord progression, and where it resolves, determines the key.
Last edited by Myshadow46_2 at Aug 17, 2011,
#34
Quote by sgabbo
Sorry but can someone told me which point is not correct?

American Hi-Fi - Tiny Spark
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmC-0ZJwj68

1) the chord progression is C# , B , D#m, F#

2) the key is F#

3) Find the key, find the scale

4) the guitar solo is based on Bb minor pentatonic


Oh it's an actual song, I'm adjusting my earlier answer after listening to it with a guitar.

1) Chord progression is correct.

2) The key is C# major

3) Find the key, find the scale (correct, I did say it after all)

4) The key is C# major, the scale is C# major, the guitar solo is based on C# major (or C# major pentatonic if you wish)
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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