# I have a chord progression-- how do i choose what scale to use to make a solo?

hi all

i have a song that uses the chords D, G, A, F#m, Bm, Em... (not in that specific order though, does order of chords used matter in determining key?)

is this key of D Major? someone told me it could also be key of B minor which confuses me. I know Bm is relative of D major key but not sure exactly what that means.

what scale do I choose to make a riff or solo for this song? i don't know where to start in figuring this out. i will be taking theory lessons soon but i must know now because i want to make a cool riff and/or solo for my song. I opened a book of scales today and there were hundreds... hundreds of examples.. crazy scales i've never heard of like hindu scale etc..

thx
Last edited by thefatcat at Dec 31, 2011,
Quote by thefatcat
hi all

is this key of D Major correct? someone told me it could also be key of B minor which confuses me. I know Bm is relative of D major key but not sure exactly what that means.

thx

Because D major and B minor have got the same notes but another intervals and another harmony stuff.
D major : D E Fis G A B Cis tonic: D Dominant: A
B minor : B Cis D E Fis G A tonic: B Dominant: fis
Write down all the notes of the chords you've got and you have got the D major scale or B minor.

Play your progression and find out where it resolves. It may even resolve on E minor
Quote by thefatcat

i have a song that uses the chords D, G, A, F#m, Bm, Em... (not in that specific order though, does order of chords used matter in determining key?)

Basically. You'll need to know what your I, IV, and V chords are.
If you ARE going in that order (D, G, A), then yes, that would be D maj.
(If the order was A, D, Em it would be something else...)

Quote by thefatcat

I know Bm is relative of D major key but not sure exactly what that means.
It's relative because a Bm scale is made from a D major scales -it starts at the sixth note and goes from there.
D major is: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D
B minor is: -----------------------B, C#, D, E, F#, G, A, B---------------

Quote by thefatcat

what scale do I choose to make a riff or solo for this song? i don't know where to start in figuring this out.

The scale you use is the chord you're on at the time.
Use a D scale, then use a G scale, then use an A scale...

or you could just use a D major scale
-notice that all of the chords that you're using (with the exception of the Em) are in the D maj/Bmin scale. When the Em comes around, you'll need to refrain from playing a C# -it's not in the Emin/Gmaj scale.
Mean People Suck.
Last edited by Tele1 Kenobi at Dec 31, 2011,
Yes you are D major(which is the same notes as Bm in another order)

Basic D major shape(just move the notes in other places and it'll be better.)
e-------------------------------------------------------------12-14-15
B----------------------------------------------- 12-14-15
G----------------------------------11-12-14
D-----------------------11-12-14
A------------10-12-14
E 10-12-14

May I suggest a Pentatonics lesson?
Quote by Tele1 Kenobi

The scale you use is the chord you're on at the time.
Use a D scale, then use a G scale, then use an A scale...

or you could just use a D major scale
-notice that all of the chords that you're using (with the exception of the Em) are in the D maj/Bmin scale. When the Em comes around, you'll need to refrain from playing a C# -it's not in the Emin/Gmaj scale.

Why so many scales bud? Are those scale variations... like with extra notes? Or are they all in D anyway... you just wanted to throw in the other letters to make it seem like it was complicated?

Why the exception of Em? It is a ii chord in the key of D. And why not use a C#? It is part of the key he is in, and it's the major 6th to that specific chord.

So basically... in a rundown of what you're suggesting... he should play the scale from a starting point to a specific chord. Hmmm. What about melody? But then again, you did eschew that Em... so I doubt I'll find any answers interesting. Oh well... enjoy
Well, I was inclined to think it's in the key of D major, but then the OP didn't actually specify the chord progression itself, they just gave me what chords are included in the progression. I don't understand why they couldn't have just spelled it out. Giving us the order of chords can certainly avoid unecessary ambiguity.

I had to deduce the key by seeing that the chords are all included in the key of D major. If I would have been given the progression, it would have been a quicker deduction, because it's perfectly possible for me to be given a bunch of chord names that are included in multiple keys, or could imply different keys depending on context (for example, if you just give me the chord names Am and E, without context, I have no way of knowing per se if the Am is actually a minor IV chord in E major, or if it's actually the I chord in A minor and E is the V chord).

Enough of my nitpicking though, and on to my answer:

The simple answer, for a piece that is in D major, is the D major scale. The more nuanced answer is that your question is wrong-headed - a chord progression doesn't tell you what "scale" to use (other than perhaps to indicate to you what the key signature is, which ends up forming a major or minor scale), and you probably shouldn't be thinking in terms of scales so much as chord tones if your concern is with actually following chord changes.

But, to clear up some confusion possibly created by an above poster, following chord tones does *not* mean that each chord has its own associated scale that you switch to as each chord comes up, especially when all of the chords are diatonic and hence part of the same "scale" that is naturally formed by the key signature. In this case, following the changes keeps you with the exact same "scale" throughout the whole thing - D major.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Dec 31, 2011,
Quote by evolucian
I doubt I'll find any answers interesting.

Then this answer doesn't apply to you...

Some of the solos I like best have (pentatonic) scale runs that follow the chord progression -sometimes it's the same scale pattern, just moved to the next chord in the progression, with an abbreviated version on the 5.

But yeah, I agree, sometimes it IS just a different mode of the same scale.

But it's all good, music interpretation is subjective anyway.

edit:
I looked for articles or videos to explain what I was saying:
A) most of what I found was long-winded and boring
B) it's on the internet (questionable veracity anyway)
C) I don't feel like arguing the point

D) music is subjective/don't overthink it.

Happy New Year, y'all!

PEACE/out
Mean People Suck.
thxs i will try tomakesense of it all. i didnt post the actual progression because what i have written is likely going to be an enormous hit single so i have rational - irrational 4am fears of someone ripping it off which i know is absolutely crazy but i tend to follow my gut instinct on these types of things
Quote by thefatcat

does order of chords used matter in determining key?

That's all that matters.
I don't know what music theory is.

Quote by thefatcat
thxs i will try tomakesense of it all. i didnt post the actual progression because what i have written is likely going to be an enormous hit single so i have rational - irrational 4am fears of someone ripping it off which i know is absolutely crazy but i tend to follow my gut instinct on these types of things

Uh, it's just a chord progression. There is more to a song than just the chord progression, so posting just the chords wont do anything. Also, you can't copywrite a chord progression.
^^The above is a Cryptic Metaphor^^

"To know the truth of history is to realize its ultimate myth and its inevitable ambiguity." Everything is made up and the facts don't matter.