#1
Something about this composition sounds weird as hell, but I can't figure out why:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePqO02a14mo

I tried tabbing it into scale form and ended up with a minor scale with an extra note before the tonic, so E-F#-G-A-B-C-D-D#. Is that what's called a "passing tone"? I don't think there's any scale which sounds like that... More like an impromptu octatonic scale, right?
#2
I hear an A# in a phrase right at the start of the piece (It starts - E, F#, G, B, A#, G, F#...).

The D# is a leading tone, that alteration is entirely conventional.

I don't think understanding the note selection in this piece in terms of a scale is going to help you very much, you need to think about melodic tendencies.
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#3
So it's just an alteration thrown in and nothing more? At first I thought D#-E-F#-G sounded like something from harmonic minor, but if scales should not be thought of in this case then I'm stumped on how to understand it from the composer's perspective.

Or, are we sometimes not meant to understand why a collection of notes is arranged in a certain way? This one just sounds 'off' to me because I would never think to throw in a note like that myself when I'm noodling around in a very vanilla-type of way.
Last edited by DaFjory at Dec 23, 2013,
#4
Quote by DaFjory
So it's just an alteration thrown in and nothing more? At first I thought D#-E-F#-G sounded like something from harmonic minor, but if scales should not be thought of in this case then I'm stumped on how to understand it from the composer's perspective.


You could see it as harmonic minor but the label wouldn't make much different to your understanding.

It's a question of melodic tendency, the leading tone or raised seventh has a very strong tendency to resolve upwards to the tonic. This was felt as far back as the renaissance, so that before the advent of the system of major and minor keys, the seventh would often be raised at cadence points. It's tension and resolution in one of it's simplest forms.

Exercise: Play a C major chord, or a simple cadence that establishes C major as a home key, then play the note B, and try to feel how strongly the note is pulled upwards towards C.

If you want more examples, basically every minor key piece written between the late 17th and 19th centuries has a raised seventh somewhere.
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Last edited by Nietsche at Dec 23, 2013,
#5
Many times you just can't build a scale from the notes a piece uses. Because accidentals are used a lot. Major 7th (the leading tone) is really common in minor key pieces.

You can hear chords behind the melody, even though there's just single notes in the beginning. The melody forms those chords.
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
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Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#6
It's in E minor: E F# G A B C D but it also alludes to harmonic minor and the 'blues' scale. Harmonic minor is where the leading note D# comes from and the blues scale, E G A Bb B D, includes a diminished 5th, Bb. In pop music from metal to whatever, songs in a minor key will use the natural minor scale for melody and harmony most of the time, but will also use the raised 7th of the harmonic minor scale and it's harmony where the dominant (5th) chord becomes major, most often at the end of a phrase where the most tension is sought before resolving to the Key chord/note.

The flat 5th is a cool sound used in melodies in a minor key. Good luck!!
Last edited by P_Trik at Dec 23, 2013,
#7
^ It really doesn't use the blues scale. The raised fourth is a chord tone of the secondary dominant. The first chords in that song are i-V/V-V - Em-F#-B. The thing is, you shouldn't just look at which scales the song uses. That doesn't usually tell anything about the music - where it's going and what's happening in it.
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 P_Trik
It's in E minor: E F# G A B C D but it also alludes to harmonic minor and the 'blues' scale.

I don'y think the intention of the piece was to make the listener think of harmonic minor or the blues scale. I think the composer, like many composers in this vein, is using accidentals and a leading tone to build and release tension. Imho, it works very well at doing that.

This is one of those pieces where figuring out the "scales used" would be utterly worthless.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Dec 23, 2013,
#9
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
This is one of those pieces where figuring out the "scales used" would be utterly worthless.


So it's more like that oft-used adage of "play what sounds right"?

In context (couldn't find it on YouTube), the song was used for a dream sequence in which a character joyfully sees an old friend whom he misses dearly, but upon getting close to him he suddenly falls to his death and the dream ends. To me, the way some of those notes are sequenced evokes a sorrow-joy-sorrow kinda thing.

What kills me is that I'd never be able to come up with such a cool melody myself. This is exactly the kind of music I'd like to create some day, but I just don't 'think' that way whenever the guitar is in my hands - my own improv'd notes never seem to want to arrange themselves like that. It's all 'vanilla' and boring.
Last edited by DaFjory at Dec 23, 2013,
#10
^ The way something sounds like has a lot to do with what chords you are playing it over. Maybe figure out the chords.

When you compose or improvise, try to come up with sounds in your head, don't just noodle around with your fingers. A scale isn't going to give a certain sound, unless the notes in the scale are used in a certain way. Try to think in sound, not scales or fingerings. Maybe don't have a guitar in your hands when you compose.
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
#11
Quote by MaggaraMarine
^ It really doesn't use the blues scale. The raised fourth is a chord tone of the secondary dominant. The first chords in that song are i-V/V-V - Em-F#-B. The thing is, you shouldn't just look at which scales the song uses. That doesn't usually tell anything about the music - where it's going and what's happening in it.


I stand corrected as to the flat 5th actually being a raised 4th. The Key; tonal center and tonality, and Progression dictate what's going on.
#12
Quote by DaFjory
So it's more like that oft-used adage of "play what sounds right"?

Well, yeah. I mean, it probably was more conceived of in a "I want it to evoke these emotions" or something, but you're on the right track.

In context (couldn't find it on YouTube), the song was used for a dream sequence in which a character joyfully sees an old friend whom he misses dearly, but upon getting close to him he suddenly falls to his death and the dream ends. To me, the way some of those notes are sequenced evokes a sorrow-joy-sorrow kinda thing.

What kills me is that I'd never be able to come up with such a cool melody myself. This is exactly the kind of music I'd like to create some day, but I just don't 'think' that way whenever the guitar is in my hands - my own improv'd notes never seem to want to arrange themselves like that. It's all 'vanilla' and boring.

You could always work on your compositional skills. I probably wouldn't improv something like this either. But I'm getting fairly good at writing things that evoke certain emotions. It's all about letting your musical ear hear what it needs to hear, in order to serve the song/piece.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Dec 23, 2013,
#13
This is a traditional classical harmonic pattern expressed without chords: I V V/V bII V

Chord vs melodic tone
I - E F# G
V - B
V/V - A#
bII - G
V - F#

After the modulation the melody comes back with a lower voice accompanying, which makes those roots more clear. Here, the bII is effectively an extension of the V/V - they both resolve to V.

It's pretty common in classical music to prolong the dominant in some way. There are some little Bach pieces that spend half of their measures on V.

If you're talking traditional harmony, dominants are really where all the interesting stuff happens. You use them to move from one harmonic place to another.
Last edited by cdgraves at Dec 23, 2013,
#14
Quote by DaFjory
What kills me is that I'd never be able to come up with such a cool melody myself. This is exactly the kind of music I'd like to create some day, but I just don't 'think' that way whenever the guitar is in my hands - my own improv'd notes never seem to want to arrange themselves like that. It's all 'vanilla' and boring.

Listen to a lot of these types of songs and figure out what is going on in them. You'll be able to make music like it eventually.
#15
Really appreciate all the insight from everyone. I at least learnt a new term in "leading tone", so I'll try and build on that.
#16
Yes, "leading tone" is an important concept. It's a tone that resolves upward by half step. The melody here features two leading tones: D#, which is THE leading tone for the key of Em, and A#, which is the leading tone relative to the dominant.

It's also useful harmonically because you can build a really tense chord a half step below the note/chord you want to get to. Typically a diminished or half diminished chord.