hi ,
i'm really confused guys ,
i've learned the fifth forms of any pentatonic scales ,
i learned how to read keys signatures and stuffs like that
i was really happy to begin to understand how to solo ,

now im totally stuck ,

so i have these simple question ,
and forgive my week english ,
please answer with simple thoughts so i can get it , ill be very thankful to all of you

1/ in the major scale of c theres is CDEFGABC

in the c major pentatonic scale theres CDEGA

but , if a guy is playing c normally , then he adds b ,
the thing is that there isnt a b in the c pentatonic scale ,
so anyone of you guys can give me any idea ? or should i just return to the major scale and play a normal b ? ( in the first position ? )

2/ ive read that determining a key is usually by its first chord ,

well , sometimes the first cord is c , then there is an F(sharp) !

well , i dont have any problem when i read tabs , cause i can read the key signature ,

but if a friend is playing random cords next to me , how can i know with key should i play?

3/ when to play a minor or a major pentatonic ?

thank you guys for listening to me
CDEFGA * c major pentatonic scale ( sorry )
As a basic rule; if the key is C Major you can play any note that's in the C Major scale. Some notes sound better than others depending what chord they're played over.

Pentatonic shapes only use 5 notes of the Major or Minor scale of the same key. Check out the scales on this site to see where the extra notes, such a B in C Major scale, fit in relative terms to the Pentatonic scale shapes: http://www.fretjam.com/major-scale-positions.html

Lastly, if your friend is truly playing random chords then knowing the key will be difficult. Try looking up common chord progressions like I IV V in all keys. In C Major it'll be C F G. Knowing those is a good starting point.
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Quote by sayed.alghilan
(1) ive read that determining a key is usually by its first chord, well, sometimes the first cord is c, then there is an F(sharp)!

(2) well, i dont have any problem when i read tabs, cause i can read the key signature

(3) but if a friend is playing random cords next to me, how can i know with key should i play?

(1) No. Chord progressions don't always start on the root chord of the scale. Finding a key can be done by one of two ways:

The first is examining the chord progression(s) and seeing what key all those chords fit into. For instance, if your progression was F C G Am, all those chords fit into the key of C major. The problem with this is that artists may add accidentals (notes that aren't naturally in a basic major/minor scale) and the chords may reflect those accidentals. So the progression might look like F C G Dmaj. D major is not naturally in a C major key.

Which brings me to the second way: Using your ear. When artists add accidentals, you need to use your ear to find the tonic that best fits the song. It might not always fit (especially in the case of complex jazz) but using your ear is much more reliable when your ear has developed enough to work the chords into a best fit scale. However, if no accidentals are used, a single scale will fit naturally. Most songs do have a naturally fitting scale, you just have to re-work some of the notes sometimes to fit the chords. A practical way of finding a key with your ear is this: Hit a random note. If it sounds somewhat right, learn where that note is in the scale and then drop to the tonic. If the note sounds wrong, slide a fret up or down, and find where that new now is relative to the tonic. If your music is extremely atonal, doing this is pointless.

(2) Tabs hardly ever have key signatures written in. You might have extra text that the writer put in, but I wouldn't always trust those keys. Tabs show nothing but the fret position, rhythm, and string to play. Musical notation usually shows a key signature, but again with complex pieces that key signature when applied to scale can be flexible.

(3) If what he is playing is truly random, there is no tonal order and playing along with him in a key is pretty much impossible. You might be able to pick out the root note of the chord and play a scale from there, but you won't ever have a definite key. You could assign a key applied to scale pattern, but it would be so atonal and flexible that there is really no point.
Last edited by Will Lane at Dec 1, 2014,
In the key of C major you can use the C major scale or the C major pentatonic scale. The only difference between those scales is that C major pentatonic doesn't have F and B in it. C major pentatonic is a bit "safer" than C major scale because F and B are notes that don't work that well over all chords, especially the tonic chord. Landing on F or B over a C major chord won't sound that great. But they are good passing notes.

Also, most usual accidentals in the key of C major are F# and Bb. So by playing C major pentatonic you don't need to worry about those accidentals. (For example if there is a D major chord or a Bb major chord, you could still use the same notes.)

I doubt somebody's playing completely random chords (and I don't think that's even what you meant by saying random - I think you meant that they just start playing something and you would want to play something over it). If you have a good ear, you can figure out the chords by ear. So ear training is pretty important. And even if you can't figure out the individual chords, you could try hearing what key the chords are in. Which of them feels like the "home chord"? Try to find the tonic and then you know what scale to use. You can do it by trying different notes.

As Victor Wooten said, you are always only a half step away from the "right" note. What that means is there are 12 notes. 7 of them belong to the key scale, 5 of them don't. Even if you hit one of those five notes, you can always slide it up or down and there's one of the 7 notes that belongs to the key scale. Just use your ear to hear if it sounds good or bad. If it sounds really dissonant, just slide up or down one fret to the "right" note.

When to play minor or major pentatonic? Well, it is really up to you. But it's basically minor pentatonic over a minor key and major pentatonic over a major key. (For example if the song is in E minor, you want to play E minor pentatonic and if it's in A major, you want to play A major pentatonic.) Sometimes it sounds good, especially in bluesy songs, to play minor pentatonic over a major key. For example if the song is in the key of A major, you would play A minor pentatonic over it. Or mix A minor and major pentatonic. But if the song is in a minor key, you don't (most of the time) want to play major pentatonic over it.

@Will Lane: F C G D is not in C major. At least I don't hear it being in C major. I hear D being the tonic (bIII-bVII-IV-I). I would call that a "cycle of fourths progression". It's pretty similar to the chord progression in "Hey Joe", it just lacks one chord.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Dec 2, 2014,
thank you guys , i learned a lot ,

but im stil wondering ,

A) if my friend is playing C , then G then F , ill play A c major key right ?
thats simple ,
but if he played three chords , the first cords has an F sharp note , and the second has a normal f note , then the third chord has a sharp f note ,

what should i play , a G MAJOR key ?

well in the G major key , yes we do have an F sharp ( key signature ) , but my friend played An f normal note in the secord chord ?

im sorry guys , im just stuck , im in love with guitar ,

and i dont wanna to learn all the formes and play like robot , i want to understand the pricipale ,

what should i do ?
I don't know enough theory to go through this in as much depth as Will Lane or MaggaraMarine. I'll just say a good starting point is to try and only use the notes in a specific chord over that specific chord. e.g. Play C E G over C Major, F C A over F Major and G B D over G Major. That's your safest bet that the note will sound 'correct'. So forget about the scale shapes and learn where those notes are on the guitar neck. That way you don't need to keep learning scale shapes and 'play like a robot'. You'll come across 'shapes' organically due to the location of the notes. That's not to say other notes can't be played over those chords. But I think that's the best way for you to get past the stated issue:

"if he played three chords , the first cords has an F sharp note , and the second has a normal f note , then the third chord has a sharp f note ,

what should i play?"

Play the chord notes. You can then experiment from there with other notes.

I hope that helps and that someone with a better knowledge of theory can help you further.
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Quote by sayed.alghilan

but if he played three chords , the first cords has an F sharp note , and the second has a normal f note , then the third chord has a sharp f note ,
what should i do ?

What exactly are the three chords your friend played?

Often, if a (section of a )song is in C major say, then chords from other than C major can be used occasionally (for a short time) to add some more interest. For example, it's common to include Eb maj or Ab maj. These have been borrowed from C minor.

E.g. simple rock progression (mostly) in C major

C / / F | G / / Eb | repeat

(As they are only heard for a short time, you can mostly pretend they are not there ... play out of C maj / C maj pent as usual. This may give clashing sounds, but they are soon gone. Or you could briefly play from C m pentatonic over the Eb, or C minor blues (both have Eb, the b3 of C, in them)

cheers, Jerry
wow thank you guys , i finally understanded it ,

thats what MaggaraMarine meant when he said : accidentals in the key of C major

cool , and i dont have any idea x) about I VIV IVV stuf
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Quote by sayed.alghilan
wow thank you guys , i finally understanded it ,

thats what MaggaraMarine meant when he said : accidentals in the key of C major

cool , and i dont have any idea x) about I VIV IVV stuf

The Roman numerals aren't that hard. Why we use them is because they work in any key. If you play a C major chord, it will sound different in G major than in F major. It has a different function in those keys. Roman numerals tell about the chord function. That's why we use them.

The Roman numerals come from scale degrees. I chord is built on the first scale degree, ii chord is built on the second scale degree, iii chord is built on the third scale degree, etc. Capitals are major chords, lowercase are minor chords.

I-IV-V-I progression in C major is C-F-G-C. In A major it is A-D-E-A. The chords are different but if you listen to it, both of the progressions should sound the same. That's because the note relationships stay the same. And this is why we use the Roman numerals.
Quote by AlanHB
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