#1
When im trying to figure out which notes or which chords are in a key, should you memorise the circle of fifths, and then basically work out which key or chord you want at the time by the key signature, then then the whole MmmMMmd thing? I find this pretty taxing on my brain

Also, if you are trying to work out Amflat13 or something on the fly, do you just think of what the 13 is, then whether its natural or not then try to apply it? Obviously this is easier on a keyboard since you are always adding a finger, but in the example of a7 open position on guitar, you are taking a finger away, i find this a bit confusing.
Last edited by Sir-Shredalot at Mar 3, 2013,
#2
every note and chord will work in a key. if you want to know your scales as a basic guideline/notational purposes, certainly memorize the circle of fifths, but i wouldn't think about the "right" notes as much as conventions and the tonic->subdominant->dominant relationship

this comes with just studying chord relationships and a lot of patience. there's only so much the circle of fifths will do - just start figuring out the basic progressions of songs and make a mental note every time you do based on whatever might be going on harmonically to keep things fresh

adhering to formulas will typically make your progression very "vanilla" and while there's always room for improvement, everybody is a little sick of I-IV-V-I and ii-V-I, so figure out how other people keep it from sounding like everything else. just like a lick library or whatever guitarists call it these days, these'll build up until you've got a firm grasp on modulation, cadence, and form in real context rather than just charts you saw in a theory book

as for chords, just learn all the notes on the fretboard. visually it's always going to be something you're just gonna have to know and experiment with before you run into a strange chord or you're asking for disaster (though in general, anything you sightread shouldn't be the first time you're seeing something, so be prepared ahead of time!)
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#3
Quote by Sir-Shredalot
When im trying to figure out which notes or which chords are in a key, should you memorise the circle of fifths, and then basically work out which key or chord you want at the time by the key signature, then then the whole MmmMMmd thing? I find this pretty taxing on my brain


As far as the notes thing, I would say, learn the circle of fifths, but you don't need to put a huge amount of emphasis into memorizing it right away. Instead, you'll learn it through practice a few keys at a time. eg, you'll learn the keys of G and F pretty quickly (one sharp, one flat). Then probably the keys of D and Bb (two) etc.

The other thing is to learn how the circle of fifths works, rather than memorize it. When you're going in the sharp direction, your new key is the fifth of the old key, and the seventh of the new key gets a sharp.

eg, if I'm in C, my fifth is (C, D, E, F ...) G. So my next key is G. The seventh is the note right before G, which is F - so that gets a sharp.

Going in the flat direction, you move up a 4th, so from C it's (C, D, E .. ) F. And the 7th of the OLD key gets flattened ... so now my Bs become flat.

From that, you can figure out the entire circle of fifths pretty quickly, but the trick is that you really don't have to. Somebody can tell you a key and you can figure out where you are as you go, and before you know it the common keys will become automatic, and the difficult keys will become only one or two accidentals away from the keys that are now "automatic" and thus easy to find.

As for which chords, honestly, it's one of those things where I never set out to memorize it but I guess at this point I either know it or know how to figure it out really quickly. One hybrid method that can work is to use your fretboard - eg, if I'm in E since I know where all my chords are relative to E, if I'm stuck, I can play (say) the iii, glance down and notice that my hand is on G#m and I'm all set. (In this case I know that one from use, but you get the idea, right?)

Writing this response one thing I'm realizing is that it's hard for me to come up with challenging examples because in the process of learning and using this stuff I've either simply learned it all or come up with "obvious" shortcuts that work for me. (eg, Db is theoretically a challenging key, but D is an easy key, so just flat every note in D one semitone).

I guess my point is that I'm in favor of studying this, but don't belabor it - instead, USE IT, and you'll internalize it over time.

Also, if you are trying to work out Amflat13 or something on the fly, do you just think of what the 13 is, then whether its natural or not then try to apply it? Obviously this is easier on a keyboard since you are always adding a finger, but in the example of a7 open position on guitar, you are taking a finger away, i find this a bit confusing.


I don't think I've ever been asked to play and Amflat13. But the short version is for complicated chords if you know all your compound intervals it's pretty easy to see what note needs to be added, even if you don't know it's name.

I couldn't without thinking, tell you what note the flat 13 of A is. But again I'd actually probably use the hybrid method I described above. Since i know how to find any compound interval on the fretboard (compound interval = interval above an octave) I'd find the note that way, then since I know the fretboard I could tell you what note I was playing.

The other way to do it would be to realize that a 13th is a sixth an octave up. The sixth of A is F#. So a flat 13th is going to be an F.

But remember that just as they say that the proof of the putting is in the eating, the proof of the chord construction is in the playing. You will never, in a practical context, be asked to name the flat 13 of A in a context where you couldn't stop to think about it for a second. You may be asked to play the chord, however. (Although probably not that one.)