#1
When playing in a certain key, do all the notes in a chord need to be part of the scale being used? I mean, if I'm playing C Minor, would I always play F Major chord and not minor because the major third - A is part of the scale and the minor third isn't?
#2
The minor third from C is Eb, and A isn't in the C minor scale. Now to answer your question. Realistically, you can do whatever you want so long as it sounds good. If you want to stay in key, though, your chords need to be in the scale. I don't know if all of the notes of that chord are going to be in the key your playing in (probably not), but the chord roots - that is, the starting note of the chord - should be. I hope that helps.
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#3
Quote by SexyBeast810
The minor third from C is Eb, and A isn't in the C minor scale. Now to answer your question. Realistically, you can do whatever you want so long as it sounds good. If you want to stay in key, though, your chords need to be in the scale. I don't know if all of the notes of that chord are going to be in the key your playing in (probably not), but the chord roots - that is, the starting note of the chord - should be. I hope that helps.

Yea I mixed A and C minor.
That means that it doesn't matter whether I play F major, minor, 7, sus, etc, as long as the root note is F it's still in key?
Thanks for your help
#4
No. The key is a diatonic pattern. Most of the notes from chords will come from those. Sometimes all, and those are said to be diatonic progressions. But not all progressions must be diatonic.

The pattern is the framework. The key is kind of more about function. About where the music wants to resolve to, and what sort of character every degree has. But you can use other notes in your chords. Some people think of those as borrowed chords. Sometimes it might be a domV instead of a v in minor key. Sometimes it might be considered a secondary dominant, or sometimes just an added extension of a note that's not in the key.

I find it is maybe better to think of it at first as though progressions must be diatonic, and sort of ignore it when you learn songs which are not, until you get a bit better grasp on it sonically, and role wise with I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-viio sort of thing, and then look at how people describe the exceptions theoretically speaking.

If you want to learn jazz, you might want a different approach.

The wording "F#major is in the key of C" means to me, that one is saying it is diatonic to the key. But the fact that it is not, does not mean it cannot be used in a progression which is in the key of C.

Just because F is in C that doesn't mean any chord rooted on F is in the key of C. You could very well play Fminor and it will sound alright, maybe, if you designed it that way, but it is not "in the key of C" not diatonic to the key. Fmajor is. You can still play it though, but it's not as user friendly or fool proof as Fmajor. It's not one of those strong chords of the key.

It's never what you can or can't do. It's things classified in relation to how they sound. Diatonic, has a character, and every degree it's own character within that. You need to learn that, and know it by sound, not just on paper. That's why it is a bit ambiguous, but once you hear it, and learn the roles notes and chords tend to play, it makes more sense.

That's why to me, it is easier to pretend at first, that everything must be diatonic. Not necessarily for songwriting, or playing, but for learning theory. Like, don't wonder about the theory behind non diatonic chords just yet. Focus on knowing and recognizing the diatonic ones first. Although writing strictly diatonic pieces will help you out with that also.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Oct 13, 2014,
#5
Quote by SexyBeast810
The minor third from C is Eb, and A isn't in the C minor scale. Now to answer your question. Realistically, you can do whatever you want so long as it sounds good. If you want to stay in key, though, your chords need to be in the scale. I don't know if all of the notes of that chord are going to be in the key your playing in (probably not), but the chord roots - that is, the starting note of the chord - should be. I hope that helps.

That's not really true. You can play whatever chords in whatever key. But if you start playing chords too away from the key scale (for example in this case C minor), it easily starts to lose the C minor feeling. Playing F major in C minor isn't really that rare. Major 6th is one of the most common accidentals. You are in C minor as long as C minor stays your tonic. You'll hear which chord is your tonic by listening. Tonic is your "home chord".

The root of the chord doesn't belong to the key scale either. For example bII chord (the "Neapolitan" chord) is pretty common in a minor key. Also, bVII, bVI and bIII chords are pretty common in major keys.

So key is only really determined by the tonic. If your song resolves to C and has a minor tonic chord, you are in C minor. Key determines the functions of all notes, ie how all the different notes sound like. For example F in the key of C sounds like the perfect fourth but in the key of A it sounds like the minor sixth.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Oct 13, 2014,
#6
Quote by Lord hazel
When playing in a certain key, do all the notes in a chord need to be part of the scale being used? I mean, if I'm playing C Minor, would I always play F Major chord and not minor because the major third - A is part of the scale and the minor third isn't?


All the notes in the chords do NOT need to be in the key. Not even close.

The most common non-diatonic chords you'll see in major keys are the II, bIII, iv, bVI, and bVIII. Three of those chords are borrowed from the parallel minor - that's a really common technique. (In your case, you're doing the opposite of that: borrowing from the parallel major. F major isn't in C minor but it is in C major.)

The II is what's called a "secondary dominant" and is also pretty common.

Other chords show up, too, but those ones happen the most.

You see this all the time in popular music. It's really quite common.
#7
Quote by Lord hazel
When playing in a certain key, do all the notes in a chord need to be part of the scale being used? I mean, if I'm playing C Minor, would I always play F Major chord and not minor because the major third - A is part of the scale and the minor third isn't?



No they do not NEED to. Diatonic Harmony and Cadence is your first port of call, so to speak. Its a good idea to have a grasp on that before you know how to go about the outside chords. Fm can be played in the Key of C but it's not *Diatonic" You could go C Dm G Am F Fm and resolve upon C very easily. The Fm is not diatonic to C. But, my suggestion would be make sure you have diatonic down cold, and then add to that knowledge with modal interchanges, secondary dominants and such.

That was a great question, and I am sure that more people other than yourself have struggled with it.

From a chord and guitar solo approach, you'd find that your normal scales work fine, even with most of the Fm, and the off notes would sound like color. If you wanted to match to that chord when playing over it, you could add an Ab to your scale over the Fm, but again, using your ear and appreciating the little tension that you have in the scale, is not a bad thing either.

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Oct 13, 2014,
#8
The key is really just the name of the tonic triad to which the music resolves. Despite each key signature outlining a particular diatonic scale, the tonic triad is the crux of the matter, not so much the scale.