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#1
I love this site - really helpful to my playing and I'm sure many others. I have a very cheeky question:

I have a song that goes:

Em, C, G, D - Verse

Fmaj7, C, G - chorus.

I am confused as to why the Fmaj7 fits because it does not fit the G major scale at all. The G major scale has an F sharp not an F natural. But then it seems to fit my song without clashing, and I am able to use E Aeolian over the verse and G Ionian over the chorus.

Am I missing something theory-wise?

I know this is really cheeky asking you this but I need to know!! I hope you can clear up this theory confusion. I do understand modes pretty well so can't understand why this progression sounds right???

Thanks in advance
#2
It sounds as if the song may change key to C major on the chorus
Member#8 of the John Frusciante and Red Hot Chilli Peppers UG fanclub. PM IpodInaBottle to join
#3
Don't look at scales. Also, you may have modulated in the song or just used non-diatonic chords (in this case I think it's the latter one but I can't tell without hearing the song). A lot of songs use chords that don't fit just one scale. What you have done is nothing wrong. It is not against any rules.

You aren't really able to use the whole G major scale (please use E minor instead of aeolian and G major instead of ionian - I think it's pointless to use mode names when you aren't playing modal music) without clashing. Try playing F# over Fmaj7 chord and it sounds really bad. But yeah, if you just avoid that F# note over the Fmaj7 chord, then it will sound just fine.

About non-diatonic chords - in this song you are using a bVII chord which is one of the most usual (or even the most usual) non-diatonic chord. Other usual non-diatonic chords are bVI, bIII and iv minor chord. I would say those are the most usual and you hear them in many pop/rock songs.

And forget about modes here. You are not playing modal music so think in keys, not modes. Your song (like the clear majority of songs today) are tonal, not modal.

Oh, and as I said, it could also be a modulation to C major. But without hearing the song, I can't tell.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Oct 24, 2013,
#4
Why shouldn't an Fmaj7 work? Because it's not in the G major scale? What page of the almighty rule book of music does it say that that shouldn't work? UGUGEDFERGFEFR

2/10 made me rage
#5
The root movement in the verse moves in fifths. It's a circle progression, in other words it follows the circle of fifths. That's why the harmony sounds stable, even though fmaj7 is not diatonic to the key of Gmaj.

Study jazz harmony and techniques such as back cycling.
Last edited by mdc at Oct 24, 2013,
#6
Possibly this:

Song changes to key of G in the chorus. The end of the verse is D which is the 5th of G so it's leading it in.
#7
Quote by Nitnatsnok
Possibly this:

Song changes to key of G in the chorus. The end of the verse is D which is the 5th of G so it's leading it in.

But F major chord isn't diatonic to G major. So your explanation doesn't really explain anything.

But the thing is, as I said in my previous post, it's not against any rules to use notes outside of the G major scale. You aren't limited to just seven notes. You can use all the 12 notes in your song and still be in the key of G major all the time. Accidentals (notes outside of the scale) are used in so many songs. So what you did was not anything special. You are just using accidentals.
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
Quote by MaggaraMarine
But F major chord isn't diatonic to G major. So your explanation doesn't really explain anything.


It explains why the verse sounds good with the chorus.

The song is in G, the verse ends on the 5th.


Edit: I see what you mean, Im not explaining the F
Last edited by Nitnatsnok at Oct 24, 2013,
#9
Quote by mdc
The root movement in the chorus moves in fifths. It's a circle progression, in other words it follows the circle of fifths. That's why the harmony sounds stable, even though fmaj7 is not diatonic to the key of Gmaj.

Study jazz harmony and techniques such as back cycling.

Fixed. Like, 6 hrs later.
#10
Quote by griffRG7321
Why shouldn't an Fmaj7 work? Because it's not in the G major scale? What page of the almighty rule book of music does it say that that shouldn't work?


Page 57, paragraph three, line two - "And the usage of an Fmaj7 chord in a piece which starts in G major is forever forbidden on penalty of having one's skin peeled off."
.
#11
Quote by Nitnatsnok
It explains why the verse sounds good with the chorus.

The song is in G, the verse ends on the 5th.


Edit: I see what you mean, Im not explaining the F

But that's exactly what TS asked - why does the F major chord work when it doesn't belong to G major or E minor scale? If there hadn't been that F major chord, he wouldn't have asked.
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
#12
Quote by TwitDave1
I love this site - really helpful to my playing and I'm sure many others. I have a very cheeky question:

I have a song that goes:

Em, C, G, D - Verse

Fmaj7, C, G - chorus.

I am confused as to why the Fmaj7 fits because it does not fit the G major scale at all. The G major scale has an F sharp not an F natural.

1) Keys supersede scales, and the key is G major. Note that one is not limited to the notes of the key signature.

2) Study what diatonic and non-diatonic chords are. (This lesson details what a diatonic chord is.) In regards to the chorus, the progression is bVII, IV, I. It is also a circular progression, as mdc said.


But then it seems to fit my song without clashing, and I am able to use E Aeolian over the verse and G Ionian over the chorus.

You could just use G major scale everything, provided you were careful not to clash with chord tones. (So, don't play F# over Fmaj7.) There's really not a ton of reason to switch scales, especially as the E minor scale (not Aeolian, because your song isn't modal) contains the same notes as the G major scale (not Ionian either).
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Oct 24, 2013,
#14
Fmaj7 consists of F, A, C, and E.

Three of those notes are diatonic to G major. Only the F isn't. Notice how this chord is only one note different from the F#m7b5 - which is diatonic to G major.

The b7 note (F, rather than F#, in G major) is a sound that we are all very comfortable with from the blues. This is technically an "outside" note but it's one that we're all very comfortable with. And a lot of this is conditioned: in Beethoven's time maj7 chords were considered dissonant. Now, not so much.

Theory is descriptive, not proscriptive. It's how you talk about what you do, not a set of rules about what you can do.
#15
As said above it's a change of key. With a good melody you can shift between any keys you want without feeling forced.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#16
Quote by mdc
The root movement in the verse moves in . It's a circle progression, in other words it follows the circle of fifths. That's why the harmony sounds stable, even though fmaj7 is not diatonic to the key of Gmaj.
though it is a chain of fourths progression. in G for example C is a fourth. a C-G is a plagal cadence IV - I. But otherwise the reason the F works is exactly what you said there.

Chain of fourths root movement... F - C - G
Si
#17
Quote by cdgraves
Since when can a song use only one scale? That'd be pretty boring.

Since when it is necessary to switch between scales, especially when the E minor and G major scales contain EXACTLY the same notes? If it's a spade, call it a spade.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Oct 25, 2013,
#18
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Since when it is necessary to switch between scales


In cases where there is a key change, secondary relationship, or borrowed chord.

I would definitely change scales if I was to solo over the progression given in the OP.
#19
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Since when it is necessary to switch between scales, especially when the E minor and G major scales contain EXACTLY the same notes? If it's a spade, call it a spade.

When the resolution changes, such as in the TS's song. Em scale and G major scale are completely different scales regardless of the same notes.
#20
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Since when it is necessary to switch between scales, especially when the E minor and G major scales contain EXACTLY the same notes? If it's a spade, call it a spade.

Well this is about key. Scale is simply a consequence of that. The scale changes whether or not you're playing lead lines with them.
#21
Quote by cdgraves
Well this is about key. Scale is simply a consequence of that. The scale changes whether or not you're playing lead lines with them.

Of course. But the key feels like G major to me.
#22
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Of course. But the key feels like G major to me.


The overall key is G, sure, but even if the key is constant the mode is changing by virtue of the F natural in the chorus. Usually such a dramatic shift would indicate a key change, though, and it definitely sounds like one (assuming an even rhythm for all the chords).

I mean, it's not they player who's changing key/scale, it's the music. The player can do whatever, and may or may not sound good, but that doesn't mean the music's key/scale is static.
#23
Quote by TwitDave1
I love this site - really helpful to my playing and I'm sure many others. I have a very cheeky question:

I have a song that goes:

Em, C, G, D - Verse

Fmaj7, C, G - chorus.

I am confused as to why the Fmaj7 fits because it does not fit the G major scale at all. The G major scale has an F sharp not an F natural. But then it seems to fit my song without clashing, and I am able to use E Aeolian over the verse and G Ionian over the chorus.

Well TD, is it really necessary to refer to G major, as "G Ionian"?

The cadence in the verse is E minor, and in the chorus it's C major.

Are you really using "G Ionian" over the chorus, because you really have to want to, consequences be damned, to play an F# over Fmaj7.

And if we ignore the F#, and/or substitute an F natural, well then that's C major. Or should I say, "C Ionian...?

And as for "E aeolian" well that's E minor.

Besides, you could easily sub out Am, for Fmaj7, and come up an A minor cadence in the chorus. And I'd like to point out, i, III, VI, isn't exactly ground breaking.

A couple more points, a b7th (either a whole chord, or the single note), is common in rock. So, F, either major, or major 7th, could just a easily occur in G major or E minor.

With the key assumed to be Em, then F is a b2nd.

In G major, I think that would be the G mixolydian scale, but in E minor, the tonic to b2nd change, is actually a Phrygian motif.

VERY IMPORTANT, I just stuffed that in there since you seem fond of trying to imply an unnecessary modal relationship between the scales you're using, and a couple of very diatonic, and very common chord progressions.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Oct 26, 2013,
#24
Quote by cdgraves
The overall key is G, sure, but even if the key is constant the mode is changing by virtue of the F natural in the chorus. Usually such a dramatic shift would indicate a key change, though, and it definitely sounds like one (assuming an even rhythm for all the chords).

I mean, it's not they player who's changing key/scale, it's the music. The player can do whatever, and may or may not sound good, but that doesn't mean the music's key/scale is static.

But in this case the progression may be bVII-IV-I (used in many AC/DC songs for example - "It's a Long Way to the Top" is the first to come to my mind, but that's The AC/DC Progression) instead of IV-I-V. But it depends on how it's played. It's not uncommon that F-C-G functions as bVII-IV-I instead of IV-I-V. But I can't tell without hearing the song. It could be a key change... And it actually is a key change in either case - it is either a modulation from Em to G or Em to C (because the verse is in Em).

And Captaincranky, I agree. Why use mode names here? That's why modes shouldn't be taught (at least before you understand theory a bit better) - they just confuse people.
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 Oct 26, 2013,
#25
Just because a song isn't fully diatonic, doesn't mean the progression doesn'tn or can't work.

Diatonic harmony is just the beginning, my friend.

When we teach it to our online students, we do it in a certain sequence. Diatonic, establishes the Basics, Cadences establish movement and resolutions. This leads more into tonal harmony concepts, around a tonal center as opposed to a chord (as in strict diatonic harmony)

You get the basics FIRST, but believe me, music doesn't stop there, by any stretch of the imagination. You have substitutions, parallel borrowing/modal interchange, secondary dominants, and any number of other variables that can make a progression work.

Here's my 2 cents as to why this "works"

First of all, an F in the key of G is a bVII; that's not an "odd" interval or uncommon at all in the key of G. It's not diatonic, but it's very common.

Second, the major 7 is just an embellishment on the F chord... nothing more.

The chord before the F is the V of the key. So you have what seems to be a V-I cadence coming up. But it doesn't happen.

The F major 7 signals to me almost immediately, a IV in the key of C. The chord following the F IS the C so that cues me further a Plagal VI-I cadence to C.

The key may be changing at the end, because you then go to the V of C, but as it's a fragment, I don't know. I don't know if I'd argue a Key change, (because I don't know where your idea will end/resolve) as I would that they are simply very closely related keys.

C and G keys are very closely related. So, taking one chords from the other, is not that huge a leap. You're talking about a one note variation, the F#.

Why does Freebird in the key of G not use an F#m7b5? Because there's more to music than simple diatonic harmony.

You show, at best an elementary understanding of music, but we've all been there. Stick around, continue learning and growing and asking questions. Lots of people here can help. We also teach this stuff online. Let me know if we can help!

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Oct 26, 2013,
#27
Quote by Sean0913
The F major 7 signals to me almost immediately, a IV in the key of C. The chord following the F IS the C so that cues me further a Plagal IV-I cadence to C.


Fixed. Great post by the way!
"I agree with Matthew about everything" - Everyone
#28
Quote by MaggaraMarine
But in this case the progression may be bVII-IV-I (used in many AC/DC songs for example - "It's a Long Way to the Top" is the first to come to my mind, but that's The AC/DC Progression) instead of IV-I-V. But it depends on how it's played. It's not uncommon that F-C-G functions as bVII-IV-I instead of IV-I-V. But I can't tell without hearing the song. It could be a key change... And it actually is a key change in either case - it is either a modulation from Em to G or Em to C (because the verse is in Em).

The bold was how I was interpreting it. And I actually was hearing the verse as vi-IV-I-V. Granted, without hearing the song...we're just throwing out guesses here.

And Captaincranky, I agree. Why use mode names here? That's why modes shouldn't be taught (at least before you understand theory a bit better) - they just confuse people.
Mhmmm!
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Oct 26, 2013,
#29
Quote by Sean0913


Second, the major 7 is just an embellishment on the F chord... nothing more.


The F major 7 signals to me almost immediately, a IV in the key of C. The chord following the F IS the C so that cues me further a Plagal IV-I cadence to C.

The C is then a IV to the G creating a second plagal IV-I movement from the C to G. You could coin a phrase and call the Fmaj7 a "secondary subdominant".

It's a cycle progression as mdc pointed out.

A cycle of fifths progression would be II V I
A cycle of fourths progression is bVII IV I
Si
#30
Em, C, G, D - Verse

Fmaj7, C, G - chorus


Verse: vi - IV - I - V in Gmaj

Chorus: IV - I - V in Cmaj

Cmaj and Gmaj are just a sharp away from each other, which is the least unpleasant type of modulation.

You guys are putting way too much though into this.

and to the online teacher (and everyone else): A cadence is at the end of a phrase. We don't have a phrase here, just a simple chord progression. Don't forget to mention that to your students.
#31
I'm inclined to believe it's just a simple key change. Introducing b7 pretty much screams "modulation to IV".
#32
Quote by cdgraves
I'm inclined to believe it's just a simple key change. Introducing b7 pretty much screams "modulation to IV".


A couple of thoughts:

First of all, in this case, I think that's a fine way to think about it. However, it's worth pointing out that in general, in this kind of discussion, it doesn't really matter how you think about it. What matters is if how you think about it helps you intuitively understand what's going on and thus helps guide your playing.

Secondly, I do disagree pretty strongly with your generalization. There are lots of examples of the bVII not being in any way a modulation or a shift to a modal approach. eg, the chorus of "Up on Cripple Creek" or "Hey Hey What Can I Do," both of which use the V and bVII in the same section of the song.

It's worth remembering that the bVII is only one note different from the VIIdim, and that note (the b7 rather than natural 7) is a sound we're very comfortable with because it pops up all the time in blues and rock melodies.
#33
I would like to push this talk further by adding something.

Verse: vi - IV - I - V in Gmaj

Chorus: IV - I - V in Cmaj


I would actually see the verse as

IV - IV - I - V in Gmaj

The Emin chord being a rootless Cmaj7, which matches the rate of change of the Chorus.
#34
Ima be a cunt and call the Fmaj7 modal interchange. Borrowed from parallel Mixolydian scale.
#36
Quote by mdc
Ima be a cunt and call the Fmaj7 modal interchange. Borrowed from parallel Mixolydian scale.
Or maybe, he just doesn't know how to play an Am chord.
#37
Quote by mdc
Ima be a cunt and call the Fmaj7 modal interchange. Borrowed from parallel Mixolydian scale.

...yeah...

Or we could just go ahead and call it bVII in the key of Gmajor. 'Cause, you know, that makes sense.
#38
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
...yeah...

Or we could just go ahead and call it bVII in the key of Gmajor. 'Cause, you know, that makes sense.
No, you're wrong too.... It's because in this context, Fmaj7 is really Amb6.
#39
It depends on your definition of working.

In older classical music, it is common knowledge ( although it's nowhere written ) that anything melodywise is wrong if it's not part of the chord. In rock and roll you can use all notes of a C natural major over a C major chord - in classical music that would be mostly considered wrong.

Don't be limited by knowledge - use it to your advantage.

Music is art, not a science.
#40
Quote by realsmoky
It depends on your definition of working.

In older classical music, it is common knowledge ( although it's nowhere written ) that anything melodywise is wrong if it's not part of the chord. In rock and roll you can use all notes of a C natural major over a C major chord - in classical music that would be mostly considered wrong.

Don't be limited by knowledge - use it to your advantage.

Music is art, not a science.
So what you're really saying here is; before the 1950's, the passing note didn't exist....
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