So yo, I've started learning a bit of guitar theory, a bit late, since I'm already a decent metal guitarist in technical terms.

Anyway, one of my all-time favorite solos is the beginning intro to
Mercyful Fate - Melissa(youtube link )
*and here is the tab

From what I understand about scales I tried figuring out the solo, and I think the guitar player is playing a D natural minor, and moving to the Harmonic minor, since he changes the 7th from a C to C#. Then he changes it back. Am I right?

Sorry for being a noob
Yes. The solo uses both harmonic and natural minor. This is very common.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.


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Ug. I typed up a long answer, and it got eaten by my browser.

Yes, technically, this is correct. However, in my opinion (and, I suspect, the opinion of most very good musicians) this is a needlessly complicated way to think about things.

Why would you think about changing your entire scale, when all you need to do is change one note? As you point out, the only difference between the two scales is the C-natural vs the C#.

Rather than think about different scales every time something like this happens (raising your 7th a semitone is probably the most common non-diatonic note in minor key songs) most good musicians know their scale degrees. That is to say, you don't think of a scale as a group of interchangeable "safe"notes, but rather as a series of notes which each have their own unique relationship to the key center and chord being played.

So when a musician suddenly needs a C# rather than a C they don't rethink the scale. They know where their 7ths are on the fretboard and intuitively and seamlessly move them up a fret.

This sounds more complicated, and at first it is. You have to actually learn the details of the scale, as a series of sounds. But the amazing thing is that once you internalize it, it's actually much easier and your incorporation of non-diatonic notes becomes completely organic and intuitive.

When I was first making this shift in my thinking, learning the key underlying skills (how to hear each note's relationship to the tonic note), I was shocked when I realized what I was doing. I was incorporating non-diatonic notes into my soloing over the correct chords without even thinking about it! I was'n't really even aware I was doing it until I had been doing it for a while.