Okay, I'm kinda new to theory.. I know basics so I understand intervals and such.
Anyways, can you guys explain how one plays a Maj and Min scales? what really make's it different?

Now, I understand a Major scale consists of Tonic, 2, 3, P4, P5, 6 and a 7 which would make them major intervals. (Hopefully, I'm saying that right, or you understand what I'm getting at)
On the other hand Minor consists of Tonic, 2 b3, P4, P5, b6 and b7.
Now, other than that I don't really understand, what makes a musical piece major or minor? Use mostly minor/major for what ever you're going for? Use the Root Chord of the key more than any chord? Can anyone explain?

Also, when naming scale degrees(Again, hopefully I'm using the correct term here.) would you write P4 or P5 for Perfect 4th and 5th or would you only write 4 and 5?
When naming scale degrees, you wouldn't note "perfect" intervals, you only note down the alterations. For example, a major scale would just look like I-II-III-IV-V-VI-VII. A minor scale will always have a flat 3rd degree, and depending on the type, also b6 and/or b7, so when writing down, for example, a natural minor, it'll look like I-II-bIII-IV-V-bVI-bVII.

What makes a piece major or minor, is the overall tonality and the "root chord" of the piece. Say, if you pick A major as your key, the melodies and chord progressions within that piece will generally be composed of the notes found in the A major scale; and it will have the characteristic "major"sound.

Are you familiar with the "scale tone chord" principle? That would be something else to look at. Hope that helped.

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Last edited by Emenius Sleepus at Jan 22, 2012,
They're not "perfect keys", they're perfect intervals.
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typo, my bad. rofl that's what I get for posting advice after two hours of sleep. thanks for pointing that out.

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Quote by Emenius Sleepus
When naming scale degrees, you wouldn't note "perfect" intervals, you only note down the alterations. For example, a major scale would just look like I-II-III-IV-V-VI-VII. A minor scale will always have a flat 3rd degree, and depending on the type, also b6 and/or b7, so when writing down, for example, a natural minor, it'll look like I-II-bIII-IV-V-bVI-bVII.

What makes a piece major or minor, is the overall tonality and the "root chord" of the piece. Say, if you pick A major as your key, the melodies and chord progressions within that piece will generally be composed of the notes found in the A major scale; and it will have the characteristic "major"sound.

Are you familiar with the "scale tone chord" principle? That would be something else to look at. Hope that helped.

But how would you be able to tell it's Amaj and not F#m, is it just have more of a happy feel as in choose Major over Minors? And lets say I wanted to play in F#m, how do the flat intervals come into play? Would I focus on those alot?

And I'll search it up and give it a read, sorry if what I'm asking is explained in what I'm going to look up.

EDIT: I can't seem to find anything about the "scale tone chord" thing. Do you mean like deriving chords from the notes in a scale? Or like how the I IV V chords are major and the II III and VI chords are minor in a major scale type thing?
Last edited by srvfan2022 at Jan 22, 2012,
You'll know by playing, writing and hearing lots of chord progressions.

Most people (even non-musicians), have a very distinct feel of 'home' in a certain progression. If you were to play a progression like A - F#m - D - E and back to A, that last chord will feel like 'home', and that's why you would describe the piece to be in A ( I - vi - IV - V - I ), even using the sixth degree (F#m).

What you need to remember, is that theory is and will always be 20/20 hindsight. People didn't write up rules and then starting making music around those rules; People were making music long before other people were trying to find out how to name and/or document certain tonal qualities. I guarantee you've heard most tonal variations at some point - The theory behind them is only complicated because there turned out to be a LOT of possibilities.
What I'm trying to say is, you should approach music from a 'how does this feel'-standpoint, so in effect, 'Does this feel happy or sad' is a very good (if basic) method of figuring out the tonic.(Note that I'm not saying theory isn't important, because it can be a very useful tool in becoming a better musician; And it's interesting to boot)

Quote by Emenius Sleepus
[...] so when writing down, for example, a natural minor, it'll look like I-II-bIII-IV-V-bVI-bVII.

I don't quite agree with this, using 'bIII'-type notation would, to me, always indicate the use of modal borrowing; IE, using the third degree of a A minor (Cmaj) while playing in A major (trying to type this as comprehensible as possible for the TS).
I've been taught to write a natural minor the same as I would write a major; The tonic will mandate how I read the chart. What you wrote right there would indicate (again, to me) using a flat third degree (in this case double-flat 'cause were doing minor).

I am not disagreeing for the heck of it, I'm just curious as to why you would notate a minor scale in degrees like that.

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Last edited by Y00p at Jan 23, 2012,
Quote by Y00p
I don't quite agree with this, using 'bIII'-type notation would, to me, always indicate the use of modal borrowing; IE, using the third degree of a A minor (Cmaj) while playing in A major (trying to type this as comprehensible as possible for the TS).
I've been taught to write a natural minor the same as I would write a major; The tonic will mandate how I read the chart. What you wrote right there would indicate (again, to me) using a flat third degree (in this case double-flat 'cause were doing minor).

I am not disagreeing for the heck of it, I'm just curious as to why you would notate a minor scale in degrees like that.

I've seen conflicting information. Namely Classical theory books vs Jazz theory books.

I believe that neither is wrong, but I can see how it can cause confusion, especially when communicating either verbally in a band situation, or across a board like this.

After some consideration I've reverted back to just the plain roman numerals, without the flat symbols for these sort of things.
Which exactly underlines my point; There are too many people trying to explain the same damn thing in too many different ways.

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heh to me it was just an easier way of understanding it when I was learning, seems a bit more straightforward, and like mdc noted - it was coming more from the jazz angle than classical notation.

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