#1
I have recently started learning different scales and chords and the basics of music theory. However, im finding it difficult figuring out how to apply it all.

Specfically, how would one write a chord progression? Pick a scale, pick a key, and then what?

Also, if i found a set of chords that sound good together, how do i figure out which scales to use to solo over them?

How would i make chords sound less bland and more interesting, like other than just major and minor chords. i would use the scale to add intervals?

I appreciate anyone who takes the time to answer, in know these are very "big" questions so to speak.
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#2
Transcribe songs you like and see what they are doing. See how you can use that or add to it and stuff.
#3
^ this is the right approach but I think that noobs just can't be arsed to do the whole transcribing thing. So I don't bother telling them to transcribe anymore.

There is a app in my sig to help noobs if they're willing to put the work in.

Another approach is to take a very systematic approach to self teaching through books. Search for a thread in this forum entitled Recommended Reading.

Or seek a very good teacher.
#4
How to write a chord progression?

- Listen to the sound and play the chords that sound good together. Once your ear improves, it'll become easier to recognize chord progressions used in a song.

How to make the progression interesting?

- Remember that chord progression on its own is not a song. Even the most simple progressions can sound good if you can use them right. It's about how you play the chords and what rhythms and what instruments you use. You can just strum them but that way it will sound simple. There are so many different ways to play the same progression. And you don't need to use extended chords to make it sound interesting - that may only make it sound more jazzy. Once you get better ear, you'll recognize that lots of songs use the same chord progressions but still sound pretty different. Music isn't all about chords.

How to find the scale to play over a progression?

- Figure out the key by listening to the progression. You can feel a pull towards some chord - that's your key center. But sometimes there are also non-diatonic chords and one scale doesn't fit all chords. You need to look at the chord tones - some of the notes may not belong to the key signature. But most important thing is to use your ears, not just let your fingers play scales up and down. You can use all 12 notes over anything if you are good and know what you are doing.
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 Dec 11, 2013,
#5
good info from MaggaraMarine. I'd like to add some things
learn why certain chords fit with certain keys and how to build them using the major scale. I won’t go into detail as you can find that out on web.
If you learn this you can throw together some chords that sound good and work out what key it is in and then work out what scales you can use with the progression.
#6
I guess realistically im looking for a recommended place to start. Excuse my nooby-ness but lets say for example i really like the harmonic minor scale and i want to write a progression/song using this scale that doesnt sound like "cowboy chord" strummy-ness. How would i begin to pick out the key that i like, let alone know what chords to use for harmonic minor.

Say i like B. i would find all the notes in the B harmonic minor scale using the intervals of harmonic minor. and how would i make those into chords? Learn the common progressions and apply them to this scale?

also:

Quote by mattjamesrenn
learn why certain chords fit with certain keys and how to build them using the major scale.


Can someone give me an example of what this means? So should i be learning individual chords first instead of scales? Then find a few chords that seem to fit together, then figure out what key that is, and then find out what scales will fit over those chords based on the notes in the chords? Seems extremely convoluted to me haha.

TL;DR: What should i learn first, and wheres a good place to learn it lol.

i know a couple simple chords and scales, but no idea what they mean or how to use them.
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#7
^ If you want to know which chords fit which scale, harmonize the scale - start the scale with the root note, third and fifth. For example to know which chords you can get from C major scale, start the scale with C, E and G. This is what you get (and it applies to all major scales - and minor scales too - you just start it with the vi chord and you get the chords in the relative minor):

     R 3 5
I    C E G - C major
ii   D F A - D minor
iii  E G B - E minor
IV   F A C - F major
V    G B D - G major
vi   A C E - A minor
vii* B D F - B diminished


These are the diatonic chords. But you aren't limited to just them. You can use whatever chords you want. But maybe first start with them.

You can harmonize any scale the same way and get the chords that work with the scale.
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
Since a couple of the folks here have answered your question in a fair amount of detail, I'll go ahead and just add some quick practical advice.

What really helped me put it all together was when I started playing along with songs and MP3s. Now I'm pretty comfortable playing by ear, so that was a bit easier for me than the theory side of things, but I think it can definitely help give you set some foundations and at least figure out where to start.

Hope that helps.
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#9
It's also worth mentioning that this "transcribing" does not have to involve writing ANYTHING down. You can just figure out the notes and play them with your instrument and then if possible, also analyze the stuff in terms of music theory and see how the melody moves in relation to the chords, etc.

In my opinion it's pretty dumb to even use the word transcribe. It implies that you should write it all down.
#10
Playing more probably will help. Im sure theres people who just write from their head, but I find when im playing i enjoy certain changes, or certain voicings, or just certain melodies on certain strings.

Lots of people have different styles, and its not just scales and music theory that makes it happen. Some people just have a preference for melodic stuff that has lots of bass run and chord changes, maybe a pretty vocal melody. Other groups just riff out power chords quickly and add lots of crazy solo's with lots of drums, with some good choruses. You get groups that rely mostly on vocal melodies, and the instruments are all just sort of background, no real lead guitar or any kind of melody on top of what the vocalists is doing.

It all depends on what you want, but at the end of the day the only way to know what will sound good to you is to play them on your guitar.

If i were to write something, I would completely ignore music theory outside of maybe the first 2 or 3 chords, or maybe like a planned key change to the minor or something interesting for the bridge. I wouldnt let theory limit my playing anyway but, its tough to do 10 things at once, especially if theory isnt one of your strong points in the first place.

You might check the web for some videos on songwriting. People can just noodle out stuff in a few minutes, and maybe it would help to watch someone else do it first - see their process and whatnot.
#11
Quote by blunderwonder
Playing more probably will help. Im sure theres people who just write from their head, but I find when im playing i enjoy certain changes, or certain voicings, or just certain melodies on certain strings.

Lots of people have different styles, and its not just scales and music theory that makes it happen. Some people just have a preference for melodic stuff that has lots of bass run and chord changes, maybe a pretty vocal melody. Other groups just riff out power chords quickly and add lots of crazy solo's with lots of drums, with some good choruses. You get groups that rely mostly on vocal melodies, and the instruments are all just sort of background, no real lead guitar or any kind of melody on top of what the vocalists is doing.

It all depends on what you want, but at the end of the day the only way to know what will sound good to you is to play them on your guitar.

If i were to write something, I would completely ignore music theory outside of maybe the first 2 or 3 chords, or maybe like a planned key change to the minor or something interesting for the bridge. I wouldnt let theory limit my playing anyway but, its tough to do 10 things at once, especially if theory isnt one of your strong points in the first place.

You might check the web for some videos on songwriting. People can just noodle out stuff in a few minutes, and maybe it would help to watch someone else do it first - see their process and whatnot.

Just saying that music theory should not limit you. The purpose of theory is to explain music. There is nothing that is against theory in music. But many people learn it the wrong way and it may feel limiting if you learn it the wrong way. Theory doesn't write songs either - you need to write them. Theory only explains music.
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