#1
Hi there

Quick question. What key signature or what scale rather could I play over an A major to an F. It does not seem to be diatonic and I can't figure this out.

Thanks
#2
If it's just A - F repeated over and over and without any more information, I'd say it's possibly in the key of A major.

So base your melody around the A major scale and when the F comes up play F instead of F# and C instead of C#. Emphasise the chord tones and maybe focus on the common A note between them and also the E-F and C#-C movements. These are just tips by the way; it's just what I'd try to do.

Maybe consider the fact that it might also be in D minor or F major, especially if that A - F isn't the whole progression. If there are no notes at all other than the ones in the chords, the melody you play over it might even dictate the key that it's in.
#3
Remember that you can always just play the chord scale. Over A major play A major (or lydian) and over F major play F major. You can ignore the key and just play the chord scale.
#4
Quote by Elintasokas
Remember that you can always just play the chord scale. Over A major play A major (or lydian) and over F major play F major. You can ignore the key and just play the chord scale.

While that's a reasonable approach for complex progressions with all sorts of chord extensions in jazz-influenced music, I don't really think it's the best one to use in a generic case, in a simple progression like this.
#5
Quote by sickman411
While that's a reasonable approach for complex progressions with all sorts of chord extensions in jazz-influenced music, I don't really think it's the best one to use in a generic case, in a simple progression like this.

Why not? When you have a progression that clearly doesn't follow one key, in my opinion this is a good approach.
#6
Quote by Elintasokas
Why not? When you have a progression that clearly doesn't follow one key, in my opinion this is a good approach.

The thing is, this progression probably does clearly follow one key. Just because we can't listen to it and therefore not know for sure, it doesn't mean that if we actually heard the thing we wouldn't feel it point to a clear tonal centre.
#7
Quote by sickman411
The thing is, this progression probably does clearly follow one key. Just because we can't listen to it and therefore not know for sure, it doesn't mean that if we actually heard the thing we wouldn't feel it point to a clear tonal centre.

Yeah, but he only said A - F, so we have to assume there are no other chords in the progression.

"So base your melody around the A major scale and when the F comes up play F instead of F# and C instead of C#. Emphasise the chord tones and maybe focus on the common A note between them and also the E-F and C#-C movements. These are just tips by the way; it's just what I'd try to do."

This is pretty much just another way of saying play A on A and F on F. Also, you forgot changing G# to G. Playing a minor third on top of a major third (of the F) is not a good choice, unless a passing tone. lol
#8
Quote by Elintasokas
Also, you forgot changing G# to G. Playing a minor third on top of a major third (of the F) is not a good choice, unless a passing tone. lol

Yeah, that's a nice choice too, also to "smoothen out" what would be an augmented second between F and G# melody-wise.
#9
A-F (I-bVI) chord progression is very common. I would say it's either in A major using a borrowed chord from the parallel minor or A minor using "picardy third" (major tonic chord instead of minor). But whatever. A minor pentatonic will work well over it (it will sound a bit bluesy), or then play A major (maybe with a flat 7th) over A major and A minor over F. It stays in one key all the time so I wouldn't change my thinking to any other key. A is the tonic all the time.
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#10
It's always key of A, but you need to use multiple scales if you want to play to both chords. What's wrong with switching between A major and A minor as the chord changes?

You could also go for maximum dramatic sound and play A minor the whole time.
#11
Thanks for all the replies.
This helps and confirms what I thought. Easier to isolate the chord tones of the specific chords and try and play off of the similar notes.
#12
Or you could not think in terms of scales, but rather in terms of ideas.

Play that chord progression. What do you want to hear over it?

Scales are useful tools, but nobody wants to hear you play a scale, or play in a scale. They want to hear you play music. So rather than think in terms of note names, scales, or "right answers" try to figure out what you want to hear.

I just started playing a little A-F vamp and messing around with it. I found myself playing licks that played a lot on the C#, E, G, and A notes. More messing around more I sometimes was using a B (lightly) C, and D notes, too.

A B C C# D E F G.

Except for the inclusion of an F rather than an F#, that's your basic mixed major/minor pentatonic. (Of course, the F is a really common addition to the minor pentatonic - see, say, the solo of Stairway to Heaven).

And it's not surprising that this is what I wanted to hear over that progression because a lot of the music I listen to and love plays with that mixed major/minor pentatonic. Those are the sounds I have internalized, so those are the sounds that come out of me. Somebody who listens to a different type of music will naturally want to hear something different there.

But I didn't get there by looking at note names or scales first. I got there by listening, both to the chords and to the sounds in my head. Music FIRST, theory SECOND.
#14
Quote by HotspurJr


Music FIRST, theory SECOND.


I've never understood why people think this is some sort of either/or proposition. It's entirely possible, if you're not lazy, to be aware of what you're doing while you're doing it. Just take practice.