#1
Maybe I am thinking too much about it, but I am having a hard time wrapping my head around something and I have been for more than 20 years. Maybe someone can help me...

I know scales, chords, and modes. More or less. Is it really as simple as, hmm, say I have a chord progression Am, Dm, Em and the lick I will play will consist of the notes of those chords, more or less? Can you bounce back and forth between modes and still be in key? I get that "staying in key" seems to be a relative thing. There are no firm rules about it, just do not go too far off the path. Is that correct? A progression can contain 7 chords and all kinds of chords in the same key?

The reason I ask is that a long time ago, I was playing some things that sounded right for me, but my guitar buddies said no because I was out of key. I have been stymied since.
Am I at least on the right track? Am I just thinking about it too much?
#2
As long as it sounds right to you. You can play out of key.
It's your music...play it, write it as you wish.
Theory helps you keep track or translate it onto paper but it should never dictate what
you play.

The circle of 5th is design to help you travel from tone center to tone centner.
The music system hasnt always been this way. 12 notes were inserted into chromatic
scale so the circle of 5th will be complete. Pure tone was forefited.
Classical musician back when started mixing folk music, Thats one of the reason
we accept the diatonic system as we do today.

There's also 12 spectrum of lights as our eyes can detact.
Music system was written around secrade geometery.

There's the circle of 5th, Cycle of 4th and also The Circle of 3rd.
The circle of thirds are relationships of the minor interval or arpeggios.
Thats why...what you're playing sounds good.....

It's more about tone center. It's the samething as playing extended chords.
The chords will sound different..so why would it matter if it's out of key or not?

Tell your buddy to look up axis ptich system or at the very least look up the blues
scale. There's different blues scale with options notes..
Any 12 notes from the chormatic scale would work.
Especially on an electric guitar. We're bending and sliding notes...for crying out loud.
Tell him to listen "walk this way, black dog, hair of the dog, yyz or any rock or blues.

If you look at YYZ...he's playing B7 and C7.lol
It sounds good to me....
Plus the main riff has a couple of blues option note it ,too.
Then he simply raised the entire riff a minor 3rd interval in pitch.

Ask him ...where should you play the harmonic minor scale.haha

Yes, all minor chords has a flat 7...as the dominate chord will also have a -7.
All the minor modes will have Root, -3 ,5 and -7 in them.
If you play veriations of the rest of the notes it gets more define.
It's kind of like seeing verious shades of RED. Paint your music as you see fit.
So when you extend a chord..it's like you're playing various shades of that chord.

Anyways...I started playing 12 bars using 7 chords on all the chords.
I simply played corrisponding pentatonic scale over them. it sounded good.
I never got lost. ( I was bascailly playing in a different key over each chord.)

Alot of times , if i just do power chords. The 3rd is ommited or suspends.
mmmm... I go back and forth between major and minor scale over that chord.lol
Last edited by smc818 at Feb 15, 2014,
#3
Ok, so if you're playing E minor, A minir AND D minor then you're traveling out of the key somewhere.

G major and its modes
G Ionian (major)
A Dorian (minor)
B Phrygian (minor)
C Lydian (major)
D Mixolydian (major, dominant 7 chord is accepted here)
E Aeolian (minor)
F# Locrian (diminished-avoid this chord!)
That being said, I don't think D minor fits in that progression.

The mode just means that the overtone is, persay, C, and thei melody being played over it is in G. That would be the Lydian mode. If you play through that scale starting on an F#, that would be the Locrian mode.

A 7 chord can be played over anything. All that means is that you take the 7th note of whatever mode/scale you are in and play that too.

Ex: Am7 is these notes, A,C,E And the seventh would be G
Last edited by hairmetalguy at Feb 15, 2014,
#4
I think you're thinking too much about it. If it sounds right, then don't worry about it. But that's not really an answer to your question.

In your example, you could just be playing the notes from an Am scale (or C major scale) and tend to be "in key" and sound pretty safe. If you only played the three notes of each chord when the chord came around, it would sound pretty restricted. If you're playing the Am and playing a lot of F notes for example (the augmented 5th), it might sound like it's clashing. So just picking any note from the Am scale at any time can make it sound perhaps too chaotic, so you'd want something in between - I think at that point it's picking the notes that just sound right. When you hit ones that sound like they clash, play them less.

If you want to go beyond that, you can pull in all the notes in a chromatic way. But I like to think in terms of modes like this: Let's say the Dm is coming up. Dm is a chord in the key of C, so you can frame your notes from the key of C. Or Dm is a chord in the key of F major, so you can pick your notes like that. Lastly, Dm is a chord in the key of Bb, so you can frame you Dm solo notes thinking that way. They're all a different feel (and you can also translate this back to intervals, etc etc). Then you can add passing notes, and now you're back to just picking from all the notes any that sound good. When the chords come by quickly, I tend to just focus on what sounds right. Experiment and keep what works.

If it sounds right, that's the main thing. I don't know if your friend is complaining because he thinks you're violating music theory, or if he just thinks it sounds like you're playing in the wrong key. I've played with people before that end up in the wrong position and struggle to get notes that sound right (maybe they missed a key change or something). If someone is playing for any time in just the plain wrong key, friends may point it out to you just to say "man, you sound way off". Just tell him you're playing jazz (just kidding!!).
#5
Quote by jimbo1970
Maybe I am thinking too much about it, but I am having a hard time wrapping my head around something and I have been for more than 20 years. Maybe someone can help me...

I know scales, chords, and modes. More or less. Is it really as simple as, hmm, say I have a chord progression Am, Dm, Em and the lick I will play will consist of the notes of those chords, more or less? Can you bounce back and forth between modes and still be in key? I get that "staying in key" seems to be a relative thing. There are no firm rules about it, just do not go too far off the path. Is that correct? A progression can contain 7 chords and all kinds of chords in the same key?

The reason I ask is that a long time ago, I was playing some things that sounded right for me, but my guitar buddies said no because I was out of key. I have been stymied since.
Am I at least on the right track? Am I just thinking about it too much?


I think your first problem is, that you think that you know modes. I think you know scales that you have seen identified with modal names, and have no idea how to connect them and use them as "modes". So the first item of business I'd suggest, is banish any thoughts that you "know modes". Chances are almost perfect that you don't, and that's okay. You know a scale, that more times than not is simply major or minor, thus, once you see that is the case (and I'd put real life money that I'm right on this, as I teach this stuff for a living) then you realize that you ARE overthinking it. Modes can literraly be eliminated as the basis for this discussion.

Am Dm Em is a simple i iv v minor blues type thing, especially with all of these turned into min7's.

The whole thing can be played with an Am scale, no modes needed, nothing really exotic. Every chord is diatonic to A natural minor.

I think being out of key may be more likely when you do not know what is going on, how to move chords to resolve, and understand that there are ways that chords can move which either lead you to the tonal center, or away from it, functionally.

I'd have to have heard the instance here you were told "out of key" to be sure of the case with you.

Best,

Sean
#6
Quote by hairmetalguy
Ok, so if you're playing E minor, A minir AND D minor then you're traveling out of the key somewhere.
.......
That being said, I don't think D minor fits in that progression


If you can't recognise that the progression is in A minor, then you'll have to relearn your keys before wandering off into modal land.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#7
Thank you for all your replies. You are all right. I think I will take a step back and re-evaluate what I think I know, then piece it all back together from that point. Again, I thank everyone for their insight.
#8
I think Em, Dm and Am are all in the key of Am. Or Cmaj for that matter. No problem there.

If you are only soloing with notes within those three chords, your solo is also going to stay in key without a doubt.

Now, the question about mixing modes may shed light on what those other people were complaining about. If you have this chord progression playing, and let's call it the key of Am, and you keep emphasizing the Am chord as you play, like making it the first and/or last note of most measures/phrases, then you are staying in the pocket of the A natural minor key.

However, what if, after doing this for a few measures, you suddenly start soloing using those same collection of notes, but in a different order so you keep starting and ending on D? The chords have not changed, but now that solo may sound like D dorian mode.

Now, what if after a couple measures of that, you do another solo where you keep starting and ending on E? Now you have jumped modes again.

I think there is a time and place in music to switch modes, just like you can switch key and it will sound good. AT TIMES. But you cannot switch modes willy-nilly any more than you can switch keys. If you are giving a verse a dorian-mode feel, you really need to stick to dorian mode in your choice of what notes to emphasize (by making them the first, last, or otherwise feel like the "home" note which could also be done just by playing that note more times than any of the others...I don't want to suggest an absolute limit on what method you can use to make a certain note feel like home, though there are some pretty traditional/standard ways to do that, again playing it first and/or last in your measure/bar/phrase).

Anyway, your question about moving around modes suggests you may be going all over the map, in terms of modes you are using as you solo over a progression, and the people you are playing with hear that this keeps changing the feel of the song, breaking the feel of the song that is being developed, and so they say you are going out of "key" when that is not quite right. But on the other hand, some may argue a certain mode is a form of key, and breaking mode is fundamentally the same as breaking key, and I won't really put up much of an argument, I think it's semantics.

As another person said, though, if YOU think what you are playing sounds good, that is the ultimate test, and maybe you have different tastes than your friends, maybe your playing is more avant garde, and you may find an audience for it. So, ultimately, don't change because you realize you are changing modes too much, IF you like the way it's sounding. But I'm guessing if you listen objectively, you may start to hear the problem your friends are talking about, and you may want to change your playing to correct it.

You may want to read some lessons on UG on how to solo / lead, they have some good advice on staying in the pocket, keeping things simple, developing a theme, taking one phrase and exploring it, repeating it, doing slight variations of it, extending it, and then coming back to it again, so you are not just randomly playing the notes that happen to be in the "key" or getting to crazy with lots of variations that do not create a comprehensive theme. And you can hear this being used in great solos, anything from Stairway to Heaven to Santana's solos to SRV.

Ken
Bernie Sanders for President!
#9
Quote by jimbo1970
Thank you for all your replies. You are all right. I think I will take a step back and re-evaluate what I think I know, then piece it all back together from that point. Again, I thank everyone for their insight.



There's more to it than all that. Come back, friend.

My point isn't to send you into an existential votex questioning what you know. My point is, that if we remove the premise that you know and understand modes, we have a clean slate, and it's easier to help you.

Best,

Sean
#10
Quote by krm27
However, what if, after doing this for a few measures, you suddenly start soloing using those same collection of notes, but in a different order so you keep starting and ending on D? The chords have not changed, but now that solo may sound like D dorian mode.

Now, what if after a couple measures of that, you do another solo where you keep starting and ending on E? Now you have jumped modes again.

I think there is a time and place in music to switch modes, just like you can switch key and it will sound good. AT TIMES. But you cannot switch modes willy-nilly any more than you can switch keys....(and so on)


You are discussing a non issue - the pros and cons of using the notes of the A minor scale in the key of A minor. It's fine, no matter what note you start on.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#11
I couldn't be bothered to see if anyone's given my answer,
but basically your in the the key of A Minor which is the same as Cmajor,
(as you most likely already know) and so thoeretically all of the modes
of C major will work with carefull consideration.
all other notes (the #'s and b's) on the fret board
can first be used for things such as passing notes, deliberate accidentals etc...
but if you ask one of the local guru's here
someone might forward you a link from past posts on
tritone substitution and altereds to really get some dirt
on outside notes and related changes...

Sorry but for one, i'm too new to these forums
so I don't really know where to find things,
and two, i'm sure someone else with a greater knowledge
would be able to better assist you there...

Hope it helps!