How do we find what keys will go with the key of A for example?? can we use its relative minor- F key? and its major minor/ parralel scale -C key?? If you use these doesnt it matter what key you use first? Do you go to F from the A key then continue to solo in the C key or would you have to go back to the A key before going to C or any other keys? Does this even work? and how do you find what other keys you can solo with the key of A?? and can you mix minor and major scales together in solos?? Im stuck on all this theory stuff and I just want a very clear understanding, does anyone know of some really good books to study theory? Also I was wondering if the circle of fifths could be used to find keys that fit for solo improvising?? if so how?
I also wondered how Scales like F major/minor scales (for example) could be played? since its a F scale, doesn't that mean it will always have to be played in the key of F and it would have to stay in that one spot on the neck or could it work and just go to any other F note on the neck and continue the rest of the same scale shape from that F note (Lets say you go to the F note on the 8th fret on the A string and then wouldn't that be in the key on C?) (F scale in the key of C) or would this mean the scale would change completely since its a different spot you play in? could you play the D scale with a F scale since its its relative minor? how would that work? Could you use relative minor with minor scales (E.G- F minor then go to D minor?) or would you have to go up 3 steps instead and use the relative major since its already a minor scale? Im really confused and all this stuff and I REALLY want to know it clearly and 100%!! Thanks
I third this post, is there a description of the basic way these things(circle of fifths, playing correct chords/notes in correct key and switching). I can go and learn about the circle of fifths(cant say I've studied it hard, watched a couple of videos, read a bit) but how does it fit in to the greater scheme of things. Then I moved to learning the G scale and couldn't apply it for a while and still each piece is separate. This does that for now, this does that, and that and this dont mix!!! It is frustrating, without trying to post what the others have well described with specific detail. It doesn't piece together easily, there seems to be only an advanced understanding... but everything has its basics. I'm just trying to learn the basics but can't find a teacher
Hi guys, maybe one of the first things to be clear on is the difference between changing key and borrowing a chord.

If a chord progression in C major except for say a Bb chord that pops up somewhere in there once or twice in the progression, then that is a borrowed chord.

Borrowed chords can be literally any chord that is not from the current key. This includes from the parallel major/minor, relative minor (harmonic say) or indeed any other key.

As far as soloing over this goes, you may need to change the scale or arpeggios you use over this borrowed chord or you may not. It really depends what you were using to start with, what the borrowed chord actually is and also how long this borrowed chord is played for.

A key change is more permanent that this. If you have a chord progression in C major but which then clearly switches to using chords in say A major and stays there for a significant period of time then this is a key change and you will almost certainly have to change the scale that you play over the top of it.

I hope this helps, though it's really just a brief description of these two things. There really is no substitute for having a person work through all this with you - with lots of practical examples (a common omission by many teachers!) throughout.

All best,
Wait, what??

You're going about this wrong. None of this makes sense.

What I think you are asking, is what chords can be used in the key of A, and how can you tell.

The first is diatonic harmony. Learn to correctly spell all of your Major keys, then learn the formula for major/minor chords in any Major key in alphabetical order.

Then learn about motion with chords and function and resolution/tendencies, etc. Cadences. Harmonic analysis comes in handy afterwards.

Then expand that idea past the confines of Diatonic harmony and start to explore tonal harmony, modal interchange, secondary dominants and the like.

That will give you a good foundation on answering your question.

Finally, make the melody, that you use congruent with your chords, no matter what chords you decide to use.

For example, I might do C Am F Fm. I follow that (chord tones) in my solo or melody.

Analyze melody and chords, together in songs. What notes were being played on the chord changes? That will give you some great insight. Anyone can do that, but if you have an immediate harmonic knowledge, say of triads, it makes the process of recognition that much more immediate.


Last edited by Sean0913 at Apr 24, 2013,

I've just read through the first three posts here, and it looks like a whole big web of confusion.

I think the mistake being made here is rushing. It seems like the OP is trying to do everything at once. If I were to try and answer the question, which seems to be 'explain everything to me all at once', that's just going to lead to more confusion.

My advice would be find a method and take it slowly. Make sure you understand each part before moving to the next, and wait for things to slot together. Sometimes you have to learn things without knowing why before you get to understand how they slot in to a bigger picture.

For example the circle of fifths - it is useful in music, but you are better off just learning it first, on faith, then later when you learn about cadences you'll understand why it's a useful sequence to know. Someone could explain to you why it's useful, but it would be using terms that are outside your current understanding, so it wouldn't be any clearer. It's useful for a lot of things, when you experience it, you'll understand, but you have to learn it first, then apply it.

Any decent method will lay things out stepwise. The trouble with the internet is that you can zip from pillar to post getting all the information at once. Take any well thought out method and work through it stepwise. You'll get 'ah' moments when you get to the point where everything slots together. Leading up to that point, you just learn things for the sake of it. Otherwise learning what, how and why all at the same time is too much.

In the first post, you're mixing up all sorts of advanced ideas with the most basic ones. Find a method, do the examples and work through it. An example would be here http://www.essentialguitar.com/ But there could be others, just pick one and stick with it. Any decent writer will have the information there, you just need to follow their method, and don't expect everything to happen at once.

Until you understand that stuff, which is the basics, there is no point concerning yourself with stuff like using scales outside the key - parallel scales etc. Basically, you're trying to run before you can walk.
Luke Mosse Guitar Teacher in Bristol, UK
Last edited by afromoose at Apr 24, 2013,