#1
Hi, first of all I'm new here so please tell me if I did or post anything wrong

So I'm teaching myself guitar and I've been playing for 2 and a half years. I recently concentrated on music theory study but I need help in terms of applying scales over chord progressions. So basically the scales involved are:

1. Major Scale
2. Major Pentatonic
3. Minor Scale
4. Minor Pentatonic
5. Blues Scale

My questions are:

1. How come when people improvise, their "default" scale to use is MOSTLY the minor pentatonic?

2. I know the blues scale and minor pentatonic are derived from the minor scale, and so is the major pentatonic derived from the major scale. So why do people choose pentatonics and blues scales over the original "COMPLETE" scale? Isn't it better if you have a scale that covers everything? I don't see people soloing in major scale...mostly minor or major pent.

3. Lets say I have a major chord progression as rhythm and I wanna solo over. Can I only use the major scale/pentatonic? And if I have a minor progression, can I only use the blues or minor scale/pentatonic? How do I know which applies to which? From what I've seen from all over the internet, it seems like the minor pentatonic is the universal or default scale, all you have to do is to make sure you're in the right key.

4. According from what I've learned on the internet. If I have a major progression of A, D, E. I should get the root, third, and fifth of each of those notes in the A major scale to solo over. But then when some people improvise, let's say in A, they don't mind what are the chords involved, and they basically solo using scales in A.


I'm really confused in terms of applying basic scales over different major/minor/blues progressions and how to improvise. Please try to make your answers simple but not too short. I easily get confused if it's too complicated ) Thanks!
#2
If a song is in a major key you play a major scale over it.

If a song is in a minor key you play a minor scale over it.

If you play notes not in these scales they are called "accidentals".

The minor pentatonic over a major key is a use of accidentals common to blues and rock sounds. Over a minor key its just the minor scale, no accidentals involved.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#3
Minor pentatonic has less notes than the major scale so your less likely to play notes that clash with the chord progression your in. When improvising, I usually start around the fifth fret on a note that sounds right, then play the minor pentatonic scale, then add notes from the other scales to spice it up if they work, but the minor pent is always a safe bet to fall back on
#4
Um is playing "accidentals" AKA playing minor pent over major chords a "YES" or a "NO"? Or is that what gives the rock / blues tone? And is blues scale a minor scale?

If I have chord progression made from the major scale but I use minor pentatonic over it, or if I turn those chords to minor pent. riffs, is it wrong?
#5
If I want to play minor pentatonics over a certain minor chord progression, how do I build on then? Do I just write down the notes of a certain minor key then get the usual I IV V?
#6
There's no right or wrong dude, I was like you, always asking questions about scales, but the more you know and learn the more you know that there are no real rules to follow, the scales to me help you get started and understand the sounds, and exercise your technique, but in the end play what sounds good to you and be creative,
Scales are always good to fall back on
#7
You need to listen to the chords you are playing over. Basically do what AlanHB said.

And you can do whatever sounds good to you. You can even do things that don't sound good but I don't know why you would like to do that.

The main thing in improvising is to listen to the chords and react to them. Listen to the melodies in your head and try to play them. You need ear training but your ear gets better and better all the time if you just try. When you are good enough, you don't need to think in scales any more. Learning the intervals and how they sound like is important.

Try to think in music! It doesn't matter what scales you play, just play music, not the scales. You can play music by playing the scales but if you just pointlessly play them up and down and hope for the best result, you aren't thinking in music. You are just thinking in boxes on fretboard. I'm not saying that scales are bad, they are an easy way to find the notes you are looking for. But when you think too "visually", you don't think about what sound you want to hear.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#8
Ok thank for all the answers and I'll try not to be too "technical". BUT I'm still curious to find out the answers to my previous posts ) Can anyone help me?
#9
Quote by leejohnphilip
Ok thank for all the answers and I'll try not to be too "technical". BUT I'm still curious to find out the answers to my previous posts ) Can anyone help me?

I think I kind of answered the questions. But OK.
Quote by leejohnphilip
Um is playing "accidentals" AKA playing minor pent over major chords a "YES" or a "NO"? Or is that what gives the rock / blues tone? And is blues scale a minor scale?

If I have chord progression made from the major scale but I use minor pentatonic over it, or if I turn those chords to minor pent. riffs, is it wrong?

You can play whatever you want. So it's a "yes" if you want to achieve that sound but if you don't, why would you play it? Nothing in music is wrong.
Quote by leejohnphilip
If I want to play minor pentatonics over a certain minor chord progression, how do I build on then? Do I just write down the notes of a certain minor key then get the usual I IV V?

I don't understand what you are asking here. But if you want to know what scale you "should" use, find out the key. Look at the chords. If it's a minor key use minor scale or pentatonic scale, whatever. So if the key is A minor, use A minor scale. So simple. But remember to listen to the chords. Some notes don't sound that great over certain chords. Learn about consonance and dissonance.

Or are you talking about your first post?

OK...

1. Minor pentatonic just sounds good. I don't know why. It's rock n roll.

2. It's all about the sound you want to achieve. Why choose to use the minor scale when you could use all the 12 notes?

3. You can use whatever you want. You know what to use by listening to the sounds you want to achieve. Improvising is about playing what you hear in your head.

4. Listen to the chords you are playing over. Learn about consonance and dissonance. Playing the chord tones sounds consonant. And if you don't play the chord tones, you get more tension. But you need to know how to release the tension.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Mar 23, 2013,
#10
Oh ok thanks, I guess theory is just a guide but music is never correct nor wrong. What I meant by the I IV V thing is that in major scale, the common blues rock progression is by taking the I IV V note of the scale. I was asking if it applies to the same thing to minor scale, because I have no idea on how to write a minor chord progression. Do you mind giving me tips on song writing in major and minor? And also on how to make solos or riff for those songs.
#11
Quote by leejohnphilip
Oh ok thanks, I guess theory is just a guide but music is never correct nor wrong. What I meant by the I IV V thing is that in major scale, the common blues rock progression is by taking the I IV V note of the scale. I was asking if it applies to the same thing to minor scale, because I have no idea on how to write a minor chord progression. Do you mind giving me tips on song writing in major and minor? And also on how to make solos or riff for those songs.

OK. To write a minor chord progression the chord you want to resolve to is a minor chord. So yeah, you can do a I-IV-V in minor too but the tonal center (ie the I chord) is different. So if we are in A minor, the "I" chord is Am (and when we are in minor it's better to call it an "i" chord - it's easier to understand if major chords are capital letters and minor chords are lowercase). If you want to write a diatonic I-IV-V progression in minor, look at the minor scale A B C D E F G. Now you just build triads starting from the scale degrees I (A), IV (D) and V (E). What we get is A minor (A C E), D minor (D F A) and E minor (E G B). But most of the time in minor songs the V chord is a major chord because it gives the progression much more tension. If you just play the diatonic i-iv-v progression in minor, it kind of sounds chill, maybe a bit lame if you compare it to the major V chord. But replace the v (minor) chord with a V (major) chord and it sounds much more dramatic.

This is the most basic minor chord progression but you'll be in minor as long as the resolution is a minor chord. And you'll find out the resolution by listening. It's the chord that feels like home. You would end the song with that chord and it would sound complete. You can for example try it by playing I-IV-V progression and trying to end it with other chords than the I. You'll notice that it kind of leaves it open, it doesn't sound complete until you play the I chord.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Mar 23, 2013,
#12
Play arpeggios and passing tones, not scales.

You can come up with a nearly mathematical correlation between chords and scales, but that really obscures the important relationships between key, harmony, and voice leading.

Thinking in terms of chord and non-chord tones allows you to play the exact same notes, even in the same order, but helps you to see the how those tones want to resolve naturally to the next chord change.
#13
Quote by MaggaraMarine
OK. To write a minor chord progression the chord you want to resolve to is a minor chord. So yeah, you can do a I-IV-V in minor too but the tonal center (ie the I chord) is different. So if we are in A minor, the "I" chord is Am (and when we are in minor it's better to call it an "i" chord - it's easier to understand if major chords are capital letters and minor chords are lowercase). If you want to write a diatonic I-IV-V progression in minor, look at the minor scale A B C D E F G. Now you just build triads starting from the scale degrees I (A), IV (D) and V (E). What we get is A minor (A C E), D minor (D F A) and E minor (E G B). But most of the time in minor songs the V chord is a major chord because it gives the progression much more tension. If you just play the diatonic i-iv-v progression in minor, it kind of sounds chill, maybe a bit lame if you compare it to the major V chord. But replace the v (minor) chord with a V (major) chord and it sounds much more dramatic.

This is the most basic minor chord progression but you'll be in minor as long as the resolution is a minor chord. And you'll find out the resolution by listening. It's the chord that feels like home. You would end the song with that chord and it would sound complete. You can for example try it by playing I-IV-V progression and trying to end it with other chords than the I. You'll notice that it kind of leaves it open, it doesn't sound complete until you play the I chord.

OK so basically to sum up, you can basically get any chord from the minor scale and use them as long as you end in the resolution/root chord? And from what I've learned you can freely improvise over either major or minor progressions using major pent for a sweeter/happier sound, and minor pent for a more bluesy/sad sound? Basically it's about what's pleasing to the ear right? Thanks so much for your help!
#14
Quote by leejohnphilip
Hi, first of all I'm new here so please tell me if I did or post anything wrong

So I'm teaching myself guitar and I've been playing for 2 and a half years. I recently concentrated on music theory study but I need help in terms of applying scales over chord progressions. So basically the scales involved are:

1. Major Scale
2. Major Pentatonic
3. Minor Scale
4. Minor Pentatonic
5. Blues Scale

My questions are:

1. How come when people improvise, their "default" scale to use is MOSTLY the minor pentatonic?

Depends on your style. Probably yes if you're a blues player, probably not if you're Steve Vai. Mess around with different "in key" scales and see which you enjoy the most.

2. I know the blues scale and minor pentatonic are derived from the minor scale, and so is the major pentatonic derived from the major scale. So why do people choose pentatonics and blues scales over the original "COMPLETE" scale? Isn't it better if you have a scale that covers everything? I don't see people soloing in major scale...mostly minor or major pent.

The blues scale was actually not derived from the minor scale. It was derived from an influence of western harmony on african slaves. Anyway, with respect to soloists you mentioned, they chose the scale because it sounds best to them. Music isn't a sport or science; there is no "better" scale. Of course the penatatonics are subsets of they diatonics, but in the end they sound different. Would you criticize an artist for not using every color in their painting?

3. Lets say I have a major chord progression as rhythm and I wanna solo over. Can I only use the major scale/pentatonic? And if I have a minor progression, can I only use the blues or minor scale/pentatonic? How do I know which applies to which? From what I've seen from all over the internet, it seems like the minor pentatonic is the universal or default scale, all you have to do is to make sure you're in the right key.

Naw nig you follow da chords.

4. According from what I've learned on the internet. If I have a major progression of A, D, E. I should get the root, third, and fifth of each of those notes in the A major scale to solo over. But then when some people improvise, let's say in A, they don't mind what are the chords involved, and they basically solo using scales in A.

Don't restrict yourself to an A major triad.. Follow the chords but "use" whatever scale you wish to. Try soloing over that progression with A pentatonic, vs A major. You can do more complicated things, but for now I'd work on soloing just with those scales. You can do an A blues if you want as well. As long as those chords don't have M7ths in them.

I'm really confused in terms of applying basic scales over different major/minor/blues progressions and how to improvise. Please try to make your answers simple but not too short. I easily get confused if it's too complicated ) Thanks!



Need text 2 post
Last edited by ouchies at Mar 23, 2013,
#15
Quote by leejohnphilip

1. How come when people improvise, their "default" scale to use is MOSTLY the minor pentatonic?


They don't. They use both the major and minor pentatonics. The main reason is that the pentatonics are easier. The half steps in the diatonic scales are harder to use - they're more likely to clash if used carelessly. Also, pentatonic music tends to be intuitive and easier to "think in" - a lot of songs we all know (christmas carols, lullabyes) are pentatonic.

It's just easier to solo in a pentatonic, particularly if you're not using your brain and ears to solo. If you're just sort of moving your fingers around in a box shape, everything will sound find in the pentatonic. Hence the term "pentatonic wanking."

I don't see people soloing in major scale...mostly minor or major pent.


Depends on what genre you're listening to, but there's a lot of major-scale soloing out there. I'd argue more than there is minor, unless you listen to metal.

3. Lets say I have a major chord progression as rhythm and I wanna solo over. Can I only use the major scale/pentatonic? And if I have a minor progression, can I only use the blues or minor scale/pentatonic? How do I know which applies to which?


You can use any note at any time. What you want to do is get the sound of each given scale in your head, so that you are making a conscious choice about what sound you want. Ultimately, the thing to remember is that your goal is not to think of scales as a collection of interchangeable safe notes. Rather, it's to think of them as a collection of individual notes that each have their own unique relationship to the tonic note.

This requires ear training.

4. According from what I've learned on the internet. If I have a major progression of A, D, E. I should get the root, third, and fifth of each of those notes in the A major scale to solo over. But then when some people improvise, let's say in A, they don't mind what are the chords involved, and they basically solo using scales in A.


Okay, look: notes of A major scale: A B C# D E F# G#
Notes of A major chord: A C# E. Notes of D major chord: D F# A. Notes of E major chord: E G# B.

Put those all together and you get A B C# D E F# G#. The whole scale.

Beyond that, the better a musician you come, the more aware of your chord tones you will be. And it's not that you'll ONLY play your chord tones. Rather, your chord tones will become "points of emphasis." This isn't something you really need to worry about just yet though.
#16
Quote by leejohnphilip
OK so basically to sum up, you can basically get any chord from the minor scale and use them as long as you end in the resolution/root chord? And from what I've learned you can freely improvise over either major or minor progressions using major pent for a sweeter/happier sound, and minor pent for a more bluesy/sad sound? Basically it's about what's pleasing to the ear right? Thanks so much for your help!

The resolution isn't necessarily the first or last chord. But in most cases it sounds most complete if you end the progression with the resolution. For example some chord progressions end with the V chord. It kind of gives you that kind of feeling that the song will continue.

And yes, you can play whatever scale over whatever progression but major scale over a minor progression won't sound good. It will sound pretty dissonant. But minor scale fits better over major progression because it sounds bluesy.

But yeah, it's about pleasing your ears.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Mar 23, 2013,
#17
Scalewise playing is a good starting point because it'll keep you in the right key, but once you can do that you need to look beyond playing to the key signature and think about how you can get your note choice to move in concert with the harmony.

Try playing a C major scale over a G7 chord. It sounds like ass. Then play a Bdim7 arpeggio over it. Sounds smooth and jazzy. Why? Because the notes in the scale have no tendency to resolve, but the arpeggio, which contains notes from the G7 chord, wants to resolve very badly back to that C, just as the chord does.
#18
Quote by cdgraves
Try playing a C major scale over a G7 chord. It sounds like ass. Then play a Bdim7 arpeggio over it. Sounds smooth and jazzy. Why? Because the notes in the scale have no tendency to resolve, but the arpeggio, which contains notes from the G7 chord, wants to resolve very badly back to that C, just as the chord does.
This is a pretty poor example, considering all of the chord tones in G7 are contained in the scale. Those notes actually DO have a tendency to resolve. Sure, you don't want to play the scale from C to C, but you shouldn't just avoid the scale, because the scale has all of the notes you need.

Comparing a scale to an arpeggio is pointless anyway. They are entirely different theoretical concepts. I mean, of course a Bdim7 arpeggio is going to sound different than a scale played straight through, because it's a smaller, more specific set of intervals, not to mention it uses that Ab accidental.

It's actually just a G7b9 arpeggio anyway, or at least an upper partial of it.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#19
Um sorry but I didn't understand all those arpeggios thing...I just started to focus on music theory :p Should I actually be worrying about that? Or can you guys give me some theories that I'm supposed to know for someone who's been playing for around 2 and 1/2 years?
#21
Quote by food1010
This is a pretty poor example, considering all of the chord tones in G7 are contained in the scale. Those notes actually DO have a tendency to resolve. Sure, you don't want to play the scale from C to C, but you shouldn't just avoid the scale, because the scale has all of the notes you need.


yes that's the point - the fact that your chords and scales "line up" doesn't mean something sounds good in any way.

There is a difference between playing scales and playing scalewise. You can play scalewise and still hit your chord tones on beat. If you're just playing the scale, you're not paying attention to the more important things like leading tones.


Comparing a scale to an arpeggio is pointless anyway. They are entirely different theoretical concepts. I mean, of course a Bdim7 arpeggio is going to sound different than a scale played straight through, because it's a smaller, more specific set of intervals, not to mention it uses that Ab accidental.

It's actually just a G7b9 arpeggio anyway, or at least an upper partial of it.


They are hardly "Theoretical concepts". They're musical rudiments. There aren't steadfast rules that govern the use of one over another, but understanding harmonic relationships will guide you in deciding which musical tools to use and when.

You are correct that Bdim7 is a short way of spelling a G7b9 with no root, which was the idea. It's an extremely common sound in jazz and the jazzier side of popular music. Not a sound to overlook.
#22
Quote by cdgraves
yes that's the point - the fact that your chords and scales "line up" doesn't mean something sounds good in any way.

There is a difference between playing scales and playing scalewise. You can play scalewise and still hit your chord tones on beat. If you're just playing the scale, you're not paying attention to the more important things like leading tones.


They are hardly "Theoretical concepts". They're musical rudiments. There aren't steadfast rules that govern the use of one over another, but understanding harmonic relationships will guide you in deciding which musical tools to use and when.

You are correct that Bdim7 is a short way of spelling a G7b9 with no root, which was the idea. It's an extremely common sound in jazz and the jazzier side of popular music. Not a sound to overlook.

I don't think people usually play random scale notes and hope for the best result. Nobody just plays scales up and down (other than the regular bedroom guitar heroes). Of course you need to listen to the chords you are playing over and some notes fit some chords better. But usually when I play over a major song, the melodies I play usually stay inside the major scale. If I happen to hit a wrong note, I just bend it or slide it to the note I wanted to play. I'm pretty sure nobody just blindly plays notes and doesn't even listen to the result (again other than the bedroom shredders). It's pretty easy to hear if the note you play doesn't fit the chord.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#23
We aren't exactly speaking to each other when giving advice here; the people asking these questions are well on their way to either solid performance chops or bedroom shredder chops.

I'm sure you are well versed in the limitations of strict chord/scale playing, but someone who is just discovering those musical relationships is best advised not to get hung up on them.
#24
Quote by cdgraves
yes that's the point - the fact that your chords and scales "line up" doesn't mean something sounds good in any way.

There is a difference between playing scales and playing scalewise. You can play scalewise and still hit your chord tones on beat. If you're just playing the scale, you're not paying attention to the more important things like leading tones.

They are hardly "Theoretical concepts". They're musical rudiments. There aren't steadfast rules that govern the use of one over another, but understanding harmonic relationships will guide you in deciding which musical tools to use and when.

You are correct that Bdim7 is a short way of spelling a G7b9 with no root, which was the idea. It's an extremely common sound in jazz and the jazzier side of popular music. Not a sound to overlook.
Cool, thanks for the clarification.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#25
Quote by HotspurJr

Okay, look: notes of A major scale: A B C# D E F# G#

Notes of A major chord: A C# E. Notes of D major chord: D F# A. Notes of E major chord: E G# B.

Put those all together and you get A B C# D E F# G#. The whole scale.



So when playing a I IV V -- A Major, D Major, and E Major -- those notes of the A Major Scale comprise the notes of the these three chords.

YET ... I always hear and read, that despite that fact that the notes of the I, IV and V chords ALL make up the scale of the key of the I chord -- in this case A -- most people will leave out the 4th note and the 7th note -- in this case the D and the G# -- because they somehow clash with the chords. (In other words, they play the major pentatonic.)

My question, when playing the I, IV, V, what are the 4th and 7th degrees clashing with????

In this case, when playing a chord progression with A Major, D Major, and E Major, what are the D note and G# note clashing with? What's the problem?

Last edited by rutle_me_this at Mar 24, 2013,
#26
Quote by rutle_me_this
So when playing a I IV V -- A Major, D Major, and E Major -- those notes of the A Major Scale comprise the notes of the these three chords.

YET ... I always hear and read, that despite that fact that the notes of the I, IV and V chords ALL make up the scale of the key of the I chord -- in this case A -- most people will leave out the 4th note and the 7th note -- in this case the D and the G# -- because they somehow clash with the chords. (In other words, they play the major pentatonic.)

My question, when playing the I, IV, V, what are the 4th and 7th degrees clashing with????

In this case, when playing a chord progression with A Major, D Major, and E Major, what are the D note and G# note clashing with? What's the problem?


If you play D note over A major chord, it's half step away from the third of the chord (C#). That's why it sounds dissonant. But this doesn't mean you shouldn't play it. Over A chord first play D and after that play C#. It's pretty commonly used and doesn't sound bad. But if you just stayed on the D note all the time, it would sound bad.

Same with G# over A major. It's half steps away from the root of that chord (A) so it sounds dissonant. Again, this doesn't mean you shouldn't play it. You make your playing sound more interesting by adding some tension, but remember to release the tension for example by playing A note after the G#. Land on the chord tones.

If you only play consonant tones (ie chord tones only) in your solo, it might not sound that interesting. So don't avoid dissonant notes, it adds more tension to your solo and might make it sound more interesting if you can use it right.

Also, playing A major pentatonic over A-D-E progression works well over A chord but over D chord not that well because there's a C# that sounds dissonant over D chord. Same with E chord, there's an A that sounds dissonant over E chord. So not all the notes in major pentatonic are "safe" over all chords. It's just better to learn how it sounds like and not think about "safe" notes. All notes are safe if you can use them right.

The thing is, there's no scale that had notes all of which would sound consonant over all chords. You need to learn about how different notes sound.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Mar 25, 2013,
#27
The thing I would suggest you get away from, TS, is thinking in terms of scales. Think in terms of intervals instead. For instance, learn how far away the 7th note in a melody is from the root note. (Root note does NOT always imply the bass note; rather the root note is the tonic, or the note that defines the key.) Scales are a useful tool in the beginning, but you need to start thinking, imho, in terms of compositional terms such as intervals. If you think more in terms of keys and intervals, then you open up a lot more possibilities.


  • Think of songs in terms of keys.
  • A key is established by the tonic. A key is also major or minor, depending mostly upon whether your third interval is major or minor. (Though your sixth and seventh intervals also help with defining whether a key is major or minor.)
    An interval is defined by how far a note is from the tonic. So, if your tonic is E, then F# is your major second interval and G is your minor third interval. A is your major fourth. B is your major fifth. C is your minor sixth. D is your minor seventh. (These intervals help define the key of Eminor.) However, you are by no means limited to just these 7 notes in the key of Eminor.

    Learn what chords fit what key. A major key generally goes Major chord (referred to as I, because it's the first chord and is major), minor (referred to as ii, because it's the second and is minor), minor (iii), major (IV), major (V), minor (vi), diminished (vii°. A minor key goes minor (i), diminished (ii°, major (III), minor (iv), minor (v), major (VI), major (VII). (You can, of course, add accidentals to chords to "color" them, which is why blues musicians often play 7th chords.) Note that commonly chords used are I, IV, & V for major keys and i, iv, & v for minor keys.

  • Once the tonic is established, you can do whatever you want. I would advise that you have a specific purpose for any note, however. (See next point.)
  • Use accidentals, but learn to use them tastefully. Do NOT just use accidentals for the sake of using them. They must have a purpose for being there (such as making the melody interesting or "sad" or adding color to a chord, etc.).
  • Learn to use chord progressions to achieve the sounds you desire (aka "to achieve your compositional goals").


Now, don't just dive into the things to consider list I threw up there; you'll be confused. But start at the top and understand each concept in turn. That will begin to open up your musical options, imho.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Mar 25, 2013,
#28
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
The thing I would suggest you get away from, TS, is thinking in terms of scales. Think in terms of intervals instead. For instance, learn how far away the 7th note in a melody is from the root note. (Root note does NOT always imply the bass note; rather the root note is the tonic, or the note that defines the key.) Scales are a useful tool in the beginning, but you need to start thinking, imho, in terms of compositional terms such as intervals. If you think more in terms of keys and intervals, then you open up a lot more possibilities.


  • Think of songs in terms of keys.
  • A key is established by the tonic. A key is also major or minor, depending mostly upon whether your third interval is major or minor. (Though your sixth and seventh intervals also help with defining whether a key is major or minor.)
    An interval is defined by how far a note is from the tonic. So, if your tonic is E, then F# is your major second interval and G is your minor third interval. A is your major fourth. B is your major fifth. C is your minor sixth. D is your minor seventh. (These intervals help define the key of Eminor.) However, you are by no means limited to just these 7 notes in the key of Eminor.

    Learn what chords fit what key. A major key generally goes Major chord (referred to as I, because it's the first chord and is major), minor (referred to as ii, because it's the second and is minor), minor (iii), major (IV), major (V), minor (vi), diminished (vii°. A minor key goes minor (i), diminished (ii°, major (III), minor (iv), minor (v), major (VI), major (VII). (You can, of course, add accidentals to chords to "color" them, which is why blues musicians often play 7th chords.) Note that commonly chords used are I, IV, & V for major keys and i, iv, & v for minor keys.

  • Once the tonic is established, you can do whatever you want. I would advise that you have a specific purpose for any note, however. (See next point.)
  • Use accidentals, but learn to use them tastefully. Do NOT just use accidentals for the sake of using them. They must have a purpose for being there (such as making the melody interesting or "sad" or adding color to a chord, etc.).
  • Learn to use chord progressions to achieve the sounds you desire (aka "to achieve your compositional goals").


Now, don't just dive into the things to consider list I threw up there; you'll be confused. But start at the top and understand each concept in turn. That will begin to open up your musical options, imho.

Still IMO scales are a good way to visualize the fretboard. And if you know how every note in a scale sounds like, I see nothing wrong with thinking about the scale you play. And of course you can use scale and accidentals. Sometimes it's easier to think about the interval between the note you are playing and the tonic (ie thinking in scale degrees). Actually sometimes this makes more sense because different notes have different function in different keys (though thinking in scale degrees is pretty much the same as thinking in intervals). I know that thinking in scales usually turns the autopilot mode on and you stop thinking in sound. But you can play a scale and think in sound. It's also good to have the scale in your fingers so that if you want to play fast licks, you can play them without needing to think each interval separately. You just know that you play the scale down in some kind of sequence.

But thinking in music is very important when you play.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#29
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Still IMO scales are a good way to visualize the fretboard. And if you know how every note in a scale sounds like, I see nothing wrong with thinking about the scale you play. And of course you can use scale and accidentals. Sometimes it's easier to think about the interval between the note you are playing and the tonic (ie thinking in scale degrees). Actually sometimes this makes more sense because different notes have different function in different keys (though thinking in scale degrees is pretty much the same as thinking in intervals). I know that thinking in scales usually turns the autopilot mode on and you stop thinking in sound. But you can play a scale and think in sound. It's also good to have the scale in your fingers so that if you want to play fast licks, you can play them without needing to think each interval separately. You just know that you play the scale down in some kind of sequence.

But thinking in music is very important when you play.

Well, no, there's nothing wrong with visualizing the fretboard as scales, provided that you don't fall into box shapes exclusively. My whole thing is, understanding the rules so that you can avoid limiting yourself. "You have to know the rules to know how to break them" kind of thing.

I don't have a good ear, so I have trouble thinking in sound. But I've a good enough ear that I can tell when a note is wrong, for instance, in a tab versus the note in the actual song.

I personally avoid playing box shapes. I learned to think of the fretboard in a vertical form. So, my fast licks tend to be less licks in a position and more licks that move diagonally.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Mar 25, 2013,
#30
Scales and such are the musical equivalent of the alphabet and basic words. They are essential as basic building blocks, but you need to use them as part of a larger, meaningful idea, not just play them as they are. Playing scales up and down without regard to harmony is like trying to write a literary work by picking a few words and randomly rearranging the letters for pages on end; no meaning, direction, or intention.