#1
For someone who's been playing for as long as I have, I'm really an idiot when it comes to actually understanding anything about music theory.

I understand (or at least I thought I did) that every key has a certain set of chords that harmonize properly within that key (aka if you play these chords, you'll always be in the key). I use these usually as a guide if I attempt to write a song (something usually like this - http://www.guitar-chords.org.uk/chords-key-e.html). So that's E major right

Well then can someone explain to me why this particular song that is in E major has naturals all throughout it and chords that seem to clearly not "fit" in e major such as D maj? Why does it still sound "right" if its going out of key everywhere. I've never been able to wrap my head around this.

song: http://vertostudio.com/pub/no_way_back.pdf
this is a post. there are many like it but this one is mine

=======================

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#2
It's less how you explain it and more that in a key, there is one chord that everything eventually pulls to. So you can actually have chords that are not diatonic in a chord progression, but if it pulls back tp certain chord, then it's in that key. You can also make it so that the chord progression settles on another chord or doesn't settle at all.
#3
(sorry for some reason I couldn't open the pdf)

If the key is E then the keynote is E.

This means the pitches in the song are arranged in such a way as to make E sound like the central tone to which all other pitches relate back to. This is what it means to be in the key of E. It's not about using certain notes but about the relationships formed between the notes that give the sense that there is a pitch at the centre around which all the other notes gravitate or relate to.

Most often the key note will be accompanied by further information that describes whether the overall tonal quality of the piece major or minor.

This extra information tells us that the tonally important notes are those notes of the associated major or minor diatonic scales. However it should not be interpreted as a rule that only those notes should be used. It is simply describing more about the tonal relationships that are created between the pitches specifically it is telling us what the strongest tonal relationships are in the piece of music. By extension (and experience) it tells us how other notes will relate back to the these notes and what effect they might have.

One way to think of it is that the diatonic notes are just the most common notes found in pieces of music that are considered to be in a major (or minor) key, but they are not the only notes you will find.

So long as you don't arrange the notes in a way that gravitate toward a different tonal centre you can use any notes you like and still be in the same key.

There is a terminology distinction to be made though. Sometimes people will say "in key" our "out of key" this is usually referring to diatonic or non diatonic notes respectively. However another way to interpret it is that the notes that someone might describe as "out of key" may actually be pulling us away from the key centre and toward another. This could be a desired effect that someone is describing "These out of key notes make it sound exotic and start to lean towards another key centre before we are pulled back to the E." or it could be describing a mistake that someone is trying to correct "Hey man that note you keep hitting is out of key try going a half step up"

There are a lot of ways to stay in a key while using non diatonic notes. Borrowed chords, chain of fifth/fourth progressions are two very simple ways. At the end of the day though there are no rules so long as it sounds good.

There is also tonicization. This is when we are in a key (say E) and we briefly make a different chord (e.g. A) sound like the tonic or home chord before quickly re-establishing the E as the tonal centre.

And then there is modulation. Some songs modulate often and the song is written as being in the starting key but it actually goes through three different keys in different sections of the song. Sometimes a song will flirt back and forth between a couple of keys and create a sense of tonal ambiguity - most commonly this is done between relative keys (E major and C#minor for example).

Using the diatonic chords is a great starting point. It will give you the meat and potatoes of your tonal material. But sometimes a well placed non diatonic chord will add depth and interest to a piece of music without actually leaving the key.

In the song When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars he is in the key of C.
The verses are pretty straight forward diatonic chords until he introduces a non diatonic chord Bb. It's on the lyric "Too young too dumb to realize...
Have a listen to the verse of this song and how notice the impact this non diatonic chord has. To my ear it adds depth and interest to the verse.

Later in the chorus of the song he uses D7 and an Fminor chord which is also non-diatonic. Regardless the song is still in the key of C because these chords still relate back to the tonal centre of C and are not taking us to a new tonal centre.
Si
#5
That riff can also be thought of as E mixolydian ( 5th mode of key of A) - which has an E maj (5th) chord and D major (4th) chord. Depending on whatever else is going on. For simplicity, because I know my modes very well, I think of riffs in modes - which gives you way more information as to what will work than simply stating the key and then saying this or that chord has accidentals or whatever.

I'd wager that playing the scale of E major over the E chord in that riff will sound off but that playing E mixolydian will sound great.

The first thing I do when figuring out any riff is to figure out if the progression fits diatonically within any obvious key - here you have E major and D major chords, so diatonically - the key of A major works. Now, "A" may not be the tonal center of the riff, but by knowing that you are playing in E mixolydian ( the 5th mode of A) you have a roadmap of which notes will work over the entire progression and you can theoretically ride E mixolydian for the whole riff cycle and pull off a decent solo or leads.

Whether or not my approach is classically theoretically sound is irrelevant - it's more efficient for me and it may work for you.
Last edited by reverb66 at Jan 7, 2016,
#6
^ It's not in mixolydian. It has an IVmaj7#11 chord, and it also uses a V chord. The accidentals are just modal mixture. It basically mixes E major and E minor in some parts (that is really common in rock music).

Accidentals are very common, they usually come from the parallel key (ie, you borrow notes/chords from E minor to E major or vice versa, but it's more common to be in a major key and borrow from minor than vice versa).

The key you are in is all about what note/chord feels like "home" - the tonic. That's your key. It doesn't matter what other notes you use. As I said, accidentals are very common. The tonic is usually the chord that you would end the song with and it would sound complete.

For example try playing E-A-B7. It doesn't feel complete. But play an E major in the end and it should feel complete. E is your key in this case. You could add some accidentals and it wouldn't change the key. For example, let's say our progression was E-G-D-A. It's still in E major because E major feels like home. We are just mixing minor and major - G and D come from the parallel minor. The Foo Fighters song uses G and D chords in it and it's the same explanation - it has to do with mixing major and minor.


The key is what gives all the other notes their function. The note G sounds way different in the key of E than in the key of C or A or F or whatever. In the key of E, G is the minor third. In the key of C, G is the perfect fifth. In the key of A, G is the minor 7th. In the key of F, G is the major 2nd.

On the other hand, the same scale degree always sounds the same, regardless of the key (well, those who have perfect pitch will hear more differences between different keys). What I mean is that for example the perfect fifth scale degree always sounds like the perfect fifth scale degree. B in the key of E sounds the same as G in the key of C or D in the key of G. That's why what key you are in is important - it defines how the different notes will sound like (in context).
Quote by AlanHB
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#7
Borrowing chords from different modes/chords, or using chromatic notes to lead between chords are the most common ways of expanding the chords you're using while still be "in key". For example you could start with C E and G and move up to G# then A and your progression would be C Caugmented A minor

What's in key and out of key is somewhat subjective. If you start in C but eventually start playing D major and B minor chords and the a D7 to a G, you've clearly moved to G and stayed there.

There are other tricks too. For example in gypsy jazz it's common to use a chord's notes, plus every note right below those notes. So to solo over C you would play B C Eb E Gb G.

Here's a good exercise. Look up the scale degrees for every mode. Use paper or a spreadsheet. Label the columns 1 b2 2 b3 etc. Start with Lydian. Lydian goes Maj7 M7 min7 dim Maj7 min7 min7 at 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7

Then below Lydian do the same for Ionian, mixolydian, Dorian, aeolian, phrygian, and locrian. What you're doing is writing out the chords and what degree they start on for every mode of C

Then, beside Lydian, write G. Because C Lydian is the same as G Ionian. Beside Ionian write C. Keep going down writing F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb. So Gb should be beside location.

So now you have a chart of every chord for every mode of the key of C, as we'll as the hypothetical major keys in which the different modes of C can fit. Go ahead and mess around with all these chords. You'll quickly notice there's a bunch of weird stuff you can do. You could play Gmin G#Maj A min A#Maj G7 C if you wanted to.

If a chord is not in any of these modes, you might have changed keys. While C Lydian is the same as G Ionian, there are 6 other modes for G. What is acceptable depends on the genre, but essentially, what I'm saying is that not only could you borrow chords from any of the other modes of C, you could also borrow chords from the modes of G.

As you can probably see by now there's a lot of overlap. C Maj is in three keys/modes. So unless you're playing a lot of extensions it's not always clear what key you're in.

Another thing! There's also the harmonic and melodic minor scale and all the modes. So all in all you've got waaay more chords to use than the three major and minor chords you might think you're limited to
#8
Quote by mlfarrell
For someone who's been playing for as long as I have, I'm really an idiot when it comes to actually understanding anything about music theory.

I understand (or at least I thought I did) that every key has a certain set of chords that harmonize properly within that key (aka if you play these chords, you'll always be in the key). I use these usually as a guide if I attempt to write a song (something usually like this - http://www.guitar-chords.org.uk/chords-key-e.html). So that's E major right

Well then can someone explain to me why this particular song that is in E major has naturals all throughout it and chords that seem to clearly not "fit" in e major such as D maj? Why does it still sound "right" if its going out of key everywhere. I've never been able to wrap my head around this.

song: http://vertostudio.com/pub/no_way_back.pdf
Just to repeat much of the above...

The "Key" is what sounds like the key. If E "sounds like home" (the chord and note you feel the song wants to finish on), then the key is E.

It so happens that the easiest way to get that sound is to use the E major scale (and the chords you get from it). But that's not a "rule" - except in the sense that it's a "common practice". (Theory derives from the most common practices.)
(Think of it like a language, where you can still make yourself understood even if you don't follow "correct" grammar exactly - know what I mean? )

The major key is such a strong and familiar sound that the scale and chords can sometimes be altered - to make it more interesting or dramatic. Different styles of music tend to have different ways of messing (or not) with the major and minor keys. (Like different dialects of the same language.)

In rock and blues in particular it's very common to flatten the 7th degree. In fact you could call it a "rule" (happens more often than not). That's where the D chord comes from that you often find in key of E major.

The concept that might help is "mode mixture":
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borrowed_chord
- you could say it's the main rule followed by rock music. Rock doesn't draw any hard boundaries between a major key and its parallel minor. (Classical music doesn't either, but rock finds it a particularly natural concept.)
#9
Quote by Rhys Lett ESSM
I've started to do some music theory articles based on musicians that are in your situation - being playing for some years but not sure why they play what they are playing. Let e know if these helps:

This is bordering on advertising. Please contain the information you think is relevant to the topic at hand within the post as opposed to using the post as a portal to your website. Thanks
Si
#10
Why did you guys need to bring up modes here? THE THREAD IS ABOUT KEYS NOT MODES YOU FOOLS! (And I'm specifically talking to you, eddie.)

You borrow chords from the parallel minor. That's it. End of story. The Foo Fighters song has nothing to do with modes so don't talk about modes here. It will just confuse TS even more. If TS doesn't even know what keys mean, he will have no idea about modes.

And TS, forget about modes for now.


Now, there are other ways of using non-diatonic chords in music (secondary dominants, tritone substitutions, chromatic alterations), but in that particular song all of the borrowed chords/accidentals are simply mixing major and minor.


Ahh, this is the problem with internet. You get way too complex answers to simple questions.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#11
All these explanations are great. Thanks so much guys! I always can count on sound advice from here.

The part that drove it home the most for me is the "mixing major and minor" being okay in rock. This resonates with me because my main goal for understanding keys of music is learning how to determine what key someone is playing while jamming and being able to solo over it. I guess because most rock is alot of distorted 5th chords & octaves, it probably matters slightly less whather its major or minor? I usually solo minor pentatonic blues when I try to play leads over a song, so being able to free myself from the whole major vs minor concept and focusing strictly on the tonal center should really help me out with this.
this is a post. there are many like it but this one is mine

=======================

Taylor Big Baby
Agile 3100 CSB
Peavey classic 30/112
Okko Dominator, Big muff pi, cs3, dd3, ch1, ts9, ad9, classic wah
#12
Quote by mlfarrell
All these explanations are great. Thanks so much guys! I always can count on sound advice from here.

The part that drove it home the most for me is the "mixing major and minor" being okay in rock. This resonates with me because my main goal for understanding keys of music is learning how to determine what key someone is playing while jamming and being able to solo over it. I guess because most rock is alot of distorted 5th chords & octaves, it probably matters slightly less whather its major or minor? I usually solo minor pentatonic blues when I try to play leads over a song, so being able to free myself from the whole major vs minor concept and focusing strictly on the tonal center should really help me out with this.

Major and minor are not rules in any style. Certain notes are diatonic to the key, others are not. It doesn't make the non-diatonic notes wrong. This is something a lot of people forget. They think using accidentals is against the rules. What would be the point of rules that pretty much everybody breaks? I wouldn't call those "rules" any more. Also, the whole thing with treating theory as rules just makes no sense when you really start thinking about it. Why would something you hear in your head and like the sound of be against some kind of rules? I mean, nobody really cares about the explanations for the sounds when they are listening to music. They only care about whether it sounds good or not. If the rules would forbid sounds you like, it would just be stupid.

I would say the only rule in music is, if it sounds good, it is good.

Remember that theory just describes sounds. We have the "major key sound" and the "minor key sound". This song is mostly in major but mixes some minor to it. Really common in rock (in rock whether something is in major or minor is many times kind of ambiguous - many songs have a major tonic chord but use minor pentatonic for melodies and chords borrowed from the parallel minor all the time), not rare in other styles.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#13
Quote by mlfarrell at #33765563
I guess because most rock is alot of distorted 5th chords & octaves, it probably matters slightly less whather its major or minor? I usually solo minor pentatonic blues when I try to play leads over a song, so being able to free myself from the whole major vs minor concept and focusing strictly on the tonal center should really help me out with this.
It still matters; the entire instrumentation as a whole determines whether a chord is interpreted as major or minor, not just two notes on one guitar.

(Although there's 7#9 chord stuff.)

But really, music theory isn't rules. It's pure systematic description of music. The music comes first.
Glad to cross paths with you on this adventure called life
Quote by Jet Penguin
lots of flirting with the other key without confirming. JUST LIKE THEIR LOVE IN THE MOVIE OH DAMN.
Quote by Hail
you're acting like you have perfect pitch or something
#14
Exactly.

In terms of the music itself, the meaning of the word "rule" is "common practice": things that musicians tend to do "as a rule". Not all the time, just (on average) most of the time. It's a "rule" subject to many variations (other "sub-rules" if you like, depending how common they are).
But it describes - it doesn't prescribe.

A different sense of the word "rule" applies in theory itself. There, there are quite strict rules about how we define and name things, to avoid ambiguity as much as possible, to aid clarity of explanation.
Sometimes we call a note "A#", sometimes "Bb". It sounds the same, but context dictates the right label.
The phrase "major scale" has a specific meaning, describing a specific interval pattern. It's a useful concept to begin from, a pattern we see (hear) quite often in music.
The term is strict, but the activity it refers to is not.

I think of it like a map. Music theory is a map of music. Maps don't show every detail, every building on a street. A map of a city is not a blueprint for building one! Neither is it a set of instructions telling you which way to go. It gives you an outline of the district so you can find your way around more easily. It shows you the main streets everyone uses; it gives you all the names of the places. The fact it might not show some of the alleys doesn't mean those alleys don't exist, or shouldn't exist. A more detailed map (more advanced theory) would show them, but your simple beginner guide map doesn't need to (it would be too confusing to read if it did).
Naturally, you can explore on your own without the map if you want - eventually you'll find your way around well enough. This mysterious place will start to feel like home. The map is just there if you get lost.
Last edited by jongtr at Jan 8, 2016,
#15
Ignoring atonal music (where there is no key centre), then a given section of music typically is built around your choice for the key note (the tonal centre). What I mean by built around is that there is usually a particular choice of pitches found at various distance (semitones from) the key centre ... this choice is your scale type that you're using as your main palette of pitches to use to build chords and melodies ... and if done in a certain way, they all work to make the ear aware of the tonal centre over the duration of that piece of music.

Very often, the scale choice is major, natural minor, harmonic minor, or melodic minor ... and that choice completely determines the "flavour" of what you're listening to. But there are lots of other scale choices too, which appear more in jazz, funk.

Regardless of scale choice, it is extremely common to add in pitches not in that scale, purely because it creates a specific aural effect ... maybe bluesy, maybe jarring, whatever ... all to add interest, or make the listenere wonder what's going on.

So, you have this relationship between the scale notes and the scale root, pinned down at your choice of key ... now, if a singer starts singing the melody flat, say ... it sounds wrong because the relationships have been broken.

But as mentioned above, purely for effect, attention-grabbing, disguise, etc, a soloist may play the same idea in completely the wrong key (or scale type, or both), briefly, before moving back to what everyone else is playing. For example, you want to create a desire for things to change, try playing F major against an E maj triad (or against some chords from E maj) ... if used briefly, it really sets up tension where the ear wants to hear a move back into E major, and quick!

Even more tense ... try G m pentatonic against E maj ... no common pitches. But it can work, if done convincingly.

The piece of music may just be a section (e.g. a chorus), or it may be a whole tune based on the chosen key and chosen scale type.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jan 8, 2016,
#16
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Why did you guys need to bring up modes here? THE THREAD IS ABOUT KEYS NOT MODES YOU FOOLS! (And I'm specifically talking to you, eddie.)

You borrow chords from the parallel minor. That's it. End of story. The Foo Fighters song has nothing to do with modes so don't talk about modes here. It will just confuse TS even more. If TS doesn't even know what keys mean, he will have no idea about modes.

And TS, forget about modes for now.


Now, there are other ways of using non-diatonic chords in music (secondary dominants, tritone substitutions, chromatic alterations), but in that particular song all of the borrowed chords/accidentals are simply mixing major and minor.


Ahh, this is the problem with internet. You get way too complex answers to simple questions.


Why you hatin on modes bro. This is actually about modes. Minor is actually a mode. This is an attempt to further explain the concept of keys.

Modes are crucial to understanding this. If you see a D major in a song in the key of E major, you might think you're in the key of A major. But if E major is your home chord, what that means is you've borrowed a chord.

Now it's already been stated that there are other ways of playing notes other than the seven diatonic notes, but the main one we're talking about is borrowed chords.

Op wants to know where to get the D. Why is the D major? If you play a D like you "should" it's minor so wtf? Well, the explanation is that DM is in A. And A is only one note away from the key of E. In fact, the key of A is the same notes as E mixolydian.

You say you can only borrow chords from the minor mode. Why?

You say if he doesn't understand keys why talk about modes? Because that's how you understand keys.

I think modes are pretty easy to explain honestly. You got 12 notes. A diatonic scale is when you use seven of them. You use a pattern that spaces them as much as possible. Sometimes two notes are together, but never are three notes together.

So you have a pattern of whole steps (2 frets) and half steps (1 fret in between notes. This pattern of intervals between notes is W W H W W W H So E on the E string would be 0-2-4-5-7-9-11-12

However you can start anywhere in the pattern. You can start on the second W and put the first one at the end. So you have W H W W W H.

So you have seven notes, so you have seven different intervals you can start on. But, the first one is the one all the others are compared against. The notes 0-2-4-5-7-9-11-12 are officially and by everyone everywhere called 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1(or 8. You can keep going and call 2 9 etc)

So W W H W W W H is your 1 through 7 and the other notes get flats or sharps. If you start on any other interval, you'll end up with different notes. The trick to understanding this is the circle of fifths.

Say you started on the fifth note of the pattern. So it looks like this W W H W W H W. So the notes are all the same except the seventh which is flat. Instead of fret 11 it's 10 and it's called b7 because 11 is 7 because the names of the intervals all originate from the position of notes in the Ionian mode (W W H W W W H)

The point of it all is to understand the relativity of it. The fifth mode of C (W W H W W H W or 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7) contains all the notes of the key of G. The only difference is C is still your home note)

As much as you could say D major is borrowing from the minor mode (or Dorian or mixolydian actually) you could also say that you were in mixolydian and you're borrowing the B major from the major mode.

Understanding theory is as much about opening your mind as it is learning rules. It's not about putting names to everything just for the sake of it.

In it's most entirely simple explanation, a key is just a sheet music term. You put sharps and flats at the beginning of the staff because you're gonna be playing some sharps and flats. The keys are named after the first/sixth modes (major/minor) of the hypothetical key So it kind of has a self referencing definition. If you write a song in C but it contains all F# and no Fs, you could do that but musicians would hate reading it and think you're dumb.
#17
Modes and keys are not equivalent. Stop.
Glad to cross paths with you on this adventure called life
Quote by Jet Penguin
lots of flirting with the other key without confirming. JUST LIKE THEIR LOVE IN THE MOVIE OH DAMN.
Quote by Hail
you're acting like you have perfect pitch or something
#18
Who said they were?

But, modes, keys, chords, scales, the circle of fifths, the definition of diatonic, all have to do with each other. You can't understand keys if you don't understand the rest. If you choose to pass on learning the basics of modes you might as we'll not bother learning any of it.

Everything relates back to W W H W W W H. Once that pattern is in your head everything starts to make sense. The thing to get about it is simply that if you start on the fifth note, the pattern only changes by one note.

This is what you have to know in order to understand why the keys of C and G are related. You can borrow chords from the key a fifth up or down because they're the closest keys to the key you're in.
#19
Why I say it's borrowed from the parallel minor is because the song also uses a G chord. Also, it's because minor and major are the two keys we have. There's really no point with talking about modes here when we are talking about tonal music (well, sometimes it is, but I don't think it is in this case). It's more simple to explain it as mixture of major and minor than looking at all the modes. Know what notes are in the parallel major and minor scales and you already have the explanation for bIII, bVI, bVII, iv and v chords in a major key. The other out of key chords are not borrowed chords. They are usually secondary dominants or tritone subs or just chromatic alterations. So no need to get more complex than that. We have one key to borrow chords from and it's minor. I think that's pretty simple - way less complex than having to think about all of the different modes.

Rock mixes major and minor all the time. This is an example of that. It's very common in rock. Also, the b7 doesn't need to be "from mixolydian". It's just bluesy. That's where it comes from. Blues mixes major and minor all the time. And rock is heavily influenced by blues.


Why are you saying the D major needs to be from A major? Also, A major is not the same as E mixolydian. They are completely different things. The scales have the same notes but that's where the similarities end. Actually, I think the A major explanation is fine. The bVII in bVII-IV-I could be treated as a sub dominant of the sub dominant IV/IV. The progression is sometimes called a "double plagal cadence".


Also, how can't you understand keys without understanding modes? We have two keys. You don't need modes to understand what minor and major are. You don't borrow chords from G major to C major. You only borrow from parallel keys. Now, it is common to modulate to/tonicize G major in a song in C major. If you see a D major chord in a C major song, it is (most likely) a secondary dominant. It's not a borrowed chord. If you start adding more chords from G major, you have most likely modulated to G major.

You don't need to understand modes to know why C and G are related. You never hear anybody talking about modes when they explain modulation from C to G or the difference between C major and G major. You can see the difference yourself - C major has an F, G major has an F#. That's it. No need to start talking about modes. G major has nothing to do with C lydian. They are completely different things.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jan 9, 2016,
#20
It really seems like you're discouraging any attempt to gain a full and working understanding of the theory. I'm not talking about modes for the sake of talking about modes. Just because you know that G has an F# doesn't mean you know everything about G.

I'm just gonna go out on a limb and say you think theory is too hard to expect people to get. So instead of trying to unveil the patterns you say just do this or that. But that's lame. There are closely related keys and not so closely related keys and it's good to know why. Its good to know that any time you're modulating by a fifth, the 7th becomes flat and turns into a 4. That the 7 before it was flatted was the #4 of the key you're going to.

Idk man maybe I just like patterns lol. It's cool to see how the chords shift in correspondence. It's good to know that if I did change keys for a bar or two, which other chords are in that key, which ones stay the same and which ones change. By writing out every chord for every mode you get inspired to try more unusual progressions. You can see all the pivot chords. All the dominants and subdominants of every close key and how they compare to the tonic all at once.

To limit borrowing to just the minor mode, and to call using chords from Lydian or mixolydian modulation is fine. It just seems stifling and overly complicated. If we're taking about greensleaves for example, should we say it's got some Dorian chords? Or should we say the key modulated to the fourth of the fourth? Why would you? The song is written with the major scale in mind and the Dorian notes are notated with accidentals As needed.

I'm not saying it isn't important to understand chord function. It's obviously very important to know the common progressions and cadences. And also why. V7 is a good cadence because it's got tension, one note stays the same, one leads up chromatically and another leads down. I'm just saying patterns are cool yo. The note C is in six other keys. The pattern from Lydian to location in fifths is M M M m m m dim. This is the vertical pattern and M m m M M m dim is the horizontal pattern. And of course they interlace in a specific way every time. The dim in one key will always be one half step higher than the IVM chord of the previous key. You can play a V7 and follow it with a b7M before returning to the V but this time the V is minor. Play the IV and that's your pivot chord to get you back to the other key.
#21
Major and minor have nothing to do with modes. You are the one who is obfuscating otherwise straightforward information.
Glad to cross paths with you on this adventure called life
Quote by Jet Penguin
lots of flirting with the other key without confirming. JUST LIKE THEIR LOVE IN THE MOVIE OH DAMN.
Quote by Hail
you're acting like you have perfect pitch or something
#22
Quote by eddievanzant
It really seems like you're discouraging any attempt to gain a full and working understanding of the theory. I'm not talking about modes for the sake of talking about modes. Just because you know that G has an F# doesn't mean you know everything about G.

No. But modes have nothing to do with this thread.

I'm just gonna go out on a limb and say you think theory is too hard to expect people to get. So instead of trying to unveil the patterns you say just do this or that. But that's lame. There are closely related keys and not so closely related keys and it's good to know why. Its good to know that any time you're modulating by a fifth, the 7th becomes flat and turns into a 4. That the 7 before it was flatted was the #4 of the key you're going to.

Yes, but that has nothing to do with modes.

Idk man maybe I just like patterns lol. It's cool to see how the chords shift in correspondence. It's good to know that if I did change keys for a bar or two, which other chords are in that key, which ones stay the same and which ones change. By writing out every chord for every mode you get inspired to try more unusual progressions. You can see all the pivot chords. All the dominants and subdominants of every close key and how they compare to the tonic all at once.

Whatever works for you. But your explanation for it may be incorrect. In the end that doesn't matter. You explain stuff to yourself the way you want. But it can be misleading when teaching it to others.

To limit borrowing to just the minor mode, and to call using chords from Lydian or mixolydian modulation is fine. It just seems stifling and overly complicated. If we're taking about greensleaves for example, should we say it's got some Dorian chords? Or should we say the key modulated to the fourth of the fourth? Why would you? The song is written with the major scale in mind and the Dorian notes are notated with accidentals As needed.

I'm not limiting anything. But if you borrow chords, you borrow from minor to major. If you use other non-diatonic chords, they have other explanations. Also, "using chords from mixolydian or lydian" is not necessarily a modulation (and many times it is not). But if you use a major II chord, it many times functions as a secondary dominant. Same with if you use the #4 accidental. It's not "from lydian", it has another explanation (well, actually, not always - sometimes it really is from lydian). And if you use a bVII, it's usually just bluesy - mixing major and minor.

There is a difference between modal and tonal music. Greensleeves is an old folk melody and it is written in the dorian mode. Though I have heard a tonal harmonization of the melody so I always have that in my mind when I hear the song. I can't really hear it as "modal" any more. I hear functional harmony behind it. So to me it's in minor because of the way I hear it. Tonal is stronger than modal.

I'm not saying it isn't important to understand chord function. It's obviously very important to know the common progressions and cadences. And also why. V7 is a good cadence because it's got tension, one note stays the same, one leads up chromatically and another leads down. I'm just saying patterns are cool yo. The note C is in six other keys. The pattern from Lydian to location in fifths is M M M m m m dim. This is the vertical pattern and M m m M M m dim is the horizontal pattern. And of course they interlace in a specific way every time. The dim in one key will always be one half step higher than the IVM chord of the previous key. You can play a V7 and follow it with a b7M before returning to the V but this time the V is minor. Play the IV and that's your pivot chord to get you back to the other key.

And I'm not saying it's wrong to see patterns. But you don't need modes to explain those patterns. Well, maybe you do, but it's certainly not the way what you are talking about is usually explained. Again, use what works for you. But remember that if your way differs from the conventional way, people may get confused. We need to speak the same language and that's what theory is for.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

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#23
Quote by NeoMvsEu
Major and minor have nothing to do with modes. You are the one who is obfuscating otherwise straightforward information.

Major and minor are modes.

They keynote is the pitch that provides the tonal centre of a piece of music.

The mode describes the use of pitch material to achieve a hierarchical relationship of pitches in relation to the keynote providing the piece with a specific tonal character. The mode is more than a scale. It is a collection of pitches and the way those pitches are used to create a specific tonal character.

For hundreds of years we have primarily favoured two modes as the basis of western musical culture. We call those modes major and minor. The reason for this is that throughout the common practice era the perfect cadence was considered the ideal resolution.

The major mode is characterised by the major third and the leading tone.

The minor mode is characterised by the minor third and variable seventh (and sixth) scale degrees that are typically raised to achieve the authentic cadence. (V-i resolution) and lowered elsewhere to maintain the minor quality.

Although modes describe the use of pitch material in a hierarchical relationship with the keynote and thus creating a specific tonal character, ALL notes relate back to the key note even those not diatonic to the mode in question. It's just that those non diatonic notes are decorative as opposed to tonally significant.

Because western music has focused primarily on two modes for hundreds of years and because any note is valid regardless of which of the two modes we use we have come to use the terms "major" and "minor" to simply describe the quality of the third. Thus the "major" mode has come to describe the third and the quality of the tonic chord being major. Similarly, the "minor" mode has come to be commonly understood to describe the third as minor (and the tonic chord as being minor in quality).

Typically when we talk of modes we are talking specifically about the church modes (the modes of the diatonic scale). However these are just a subset of the larger set "modes" which does include "major" and "minor".

Despite my verbose and rambling post, modes are not difficult. However, I recognize that my voice is just one in a large number of voices with different interpretations of what "modes" are and are not. I agree with bits and pieces of what everyone here is saying and usually just ignore it. But major and minor are modes (and I've said this next part before but will say it again) at least according to guys like Leonard Bernstein for one.
Si
#24
^ Yeah, they are modes in the way you describe them. But usually when people refer to "modes", they refer to modal music (the church modes). And when talking about keys, that's pretty much irrelevant.

"Mode" is a term that gets thrown around way too often (at least guitarists do that way too often). And it always causes confusion (and guitarists are the main reason to that). I didn't really know that much about modes before I become an MT regular (and I had taken theory lessons before that for many years). I had heard about them but I thought they were just some random outdated concept. But then all these guitarists start talking about them all the time.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jan 10, 2016,
#25
Major and minor are based on Ionian and Aeolian modes that predated them, but their usage falls under the umbrella of tonality, not modality, and the two frameworks shouldn't be forced into each other for historical and theoretical purposes.

Also, however good Bernstein is at composing does not translate to him giving good information about music.

Lastly, if you want to abbreviate authentic cadences, do not remove their authenticity!
Glad to cross paths with you on this adventure called life
Quote by Jet Penguin
lots of flirting with the other key without confirming. JUST LIKE THEIR LOVE IN THE MOVIE OH DAMN.
Quote by Hail
you're acting like you have perfect pitch or something
#26
Quote by NeoMvsEu
Also, however good Bernstein is at composing does not translate to him giving good information about music.

I wouldn't imply that simply being a good composer translates to giving good information about music. Bernstein's much more than just a good composer.

He majored in music at Harvard university under Walter Piston among others. He used TV as a vehicle for teaching and explaining music to people first with a show called Omnibus that was a great success. He was a well educated, intelligent and articulate person with great passion and an expert knowledge of his subject matter.

It was for these reasons that the NY Philharmonic's Young People's Concerts began to be televised for the first time at the same time Bernstein took over as conductor. Like you they knew that just because you're a good composer, or conductor it doesn't translate to giving good information or being a good teacher. This didn't apply to Bernstein. Even when on sabbatical from the orchestra, and later after he left as musical director of the orchestra, he continued to conduct and host the Young People's Concerts. The show ran 14 years and was syndicated in 40 countries. Typically he focused on a composer or style of music with wonderful analysis but some of the shows titles are "What is Sonata form?" "What is a melody?" "What is a mode?" "Musical atoms: a study of intervals." etc etc.

I'm sure if he didn't know what he was talking about academics would have been all over him...but he did. This was a guy that spent his life learning, writing, composing, conducting, playing, and teaching with the central passion of his life being music. He walked the walk and talked the talk. As a result he was later invited back to Harvard university for a series of guest lectures on music - which he spent two years preparing.

In all honesty, you would be hard pressed to find someone more worthy of listening to in the hopes of getting good information conveyed in an easy to understand engaging manner. (And if you haven't seen any of his Young People's Concerts or Omnibus' do check them out, I wish they had TV like that today)
Si
#27
^ having said that, I still cannot agree with his lecture about music as a language, having studied both.
Glad to cross paths with you on this adventure called life
Quote by Jet Penguin
lots of flirting with the other key without confirming. JUST LIKE THEIR LOVE IN THE MOVIE OH DAMN.
Quote by Hail
you're acting like you have perfect pitch or something
#28
What was the authentic cadence thing? Were you referring to the use of roman numerals? You kind of lost me there...

I wrote a big explanation about the modality vs tonality thing but fell asleep and lost it. That's how exciting it was!!
Si
#29
They're called authentic cadences, and they come in two types - perfect and imperfect.

Meh. Still, modality discussion should be put elsewhere, it's irrelevant to the OP's aims.
Glad to cross paths with you on this adventure called life
Quote by Jet Penguin
lots of flirting with the other key without confirming. JUST LIKE THEIR LOVE IN THE MOVIE OH DAMN.
Quote by Hail
you're acting like you have perfect pitch or something
#30
Ok I think I get what you were talking about now, I didn't include whether the authentic cadence was perfect or imperfect.
Si
#31
I think 20T is using the word "mode" not like it's usually used (to refer to the church modes), but as a part of a key. A key is defined by two things - tonic and mode (which in this case refers to major or minor). In this case the "mode" basically means "scale".

Quote from 20T's post:

The mode is more than a scale. It is a collection of pitches and the way those pitches are used to create a specific tonal character.



But there are so many definitions for the word "mode". It can also mean "modes of a scale" which is a completely different thing. And for some people it means fretboard positions.

I think we should just avoid using the word to avoid confusion, especially in threads that have nothing to do with modes.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#32
Woah, been away from UG for like 4 years and still every question about keys in MT gets turned into a passionate, but mostly irrelevant discussion of modes!

Some things never change, I guess..
You'll Never Walk Alone!
#33
Quote by Muffinz
Woah, been away from UG for like 4 years and still every question about keys in MT gets turned into a passionate, but mostly irrelevant discussion of modes!

Some things never change, I guess..

OP usually gets their question answered by 10 posts in or so. Then it becomes a thread filled with either tangential discussion, alternative ways of explaining the same thing or people including way too many details in their answers. If you don't get in on the ground floor, there's not much to contribute.

But hey, everyone being competent enough to quibble over details is a good problem to have.
^^The above is a Cryptic Metaphor^^


"To know the truth of history is to realize its ultimate myth and its inevitable ambiguity." Everything is made up and the facts don't matter.


MUSIC THEORY LINK
#34
Quote by MaggaraMarine
I think 20T is using the word "mode" not like it's usually used (to refer to the church modes), but as a part of a key. A key is defined by two things - tonic and mode (which in this case refers to major or minor). In this case the "mode" basically means "scale".

Quote from 20T's post:


But there are so many definitions for the word "mode". It can also mean "modes of a scale" which is a completely different thing. And for some people it means fretboard positions.

I think we should just avoid using the word to avoid confusion, especially in threads that have nothing to do with modes.

I agree. In my initial post I deliberately didn't mention it at all.
Si
#35
I appreciate the clarification, but the term is still too loaded.

20T,
Quote by 20Tigers
l throughout the common practice era the perfect cadence was considered the ideal resolution.

Your words.
Glad to cross paths with you on this adventure called life
Quote by Jet Penguin
lots of flirting with the other key without confirming. JUST LIKE THEIR LOVE IN THE MOVIE OH DAMN.
Quote by Hail
you're acting like you have perfect pitch or something
#36
Ahhhh right NOW I get you. I thought it was pretty common to refer to a PAC simply as a perfect cadence. Though, I meant to write authentic cadence and actually thought I had.
Si
#37
Quote by mlfarrell
For someone who's been playing for as long as I have, I'm really an idiot when it comes to actually understanding anything about music theory.

I understand (or at least I thought I did) that every key has a certain set of chords that harmonize properly within that key (aka if you play these chords, you'll always be in the key). I use these usually as a guide if I attempt to write a song (something usually like this - http://www.guitar-chords.org.uk/chords-key-e.html). So that's E major right

Well then can someone explain to me why this particular song that is in E major has naturals all throughout it and chords that seem to clearly not "fit" in e major such as D maj? Why does it still sound "right" if its going out of key everywhere. I've never been able to wrap my head around this.

song: http://vertostudio.com/pub/no_way_back.pdf



Basically you have two things:

1. Diatonic harmony - thats just the beginning. Thats where things fit nicely and are predictable.

2. Then there's what I will call "everything else" which is really hard to understand if you don't have diatonic harmony solid, because the "everything else" draws from diatonic harmony as a reference point.

Whether its modal interchange, Coltrane changes, Tritone substitution...you name it, it first starts at an understanding of the basic Diatonic Harmony.

Then you learn things like cadences, substitution, function, embellishment, alterations, etc.

And the answer to your questions, lies in the "everything else". The "why" does it work, more than likely is one of three reasons - Voice leading, Cadences or Creative Reharmonization.

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Jan 24, 2016,
#38
Quote by eddievanzant
Why you hatin on modes bro. This is actually about modes. Minor is actually a mode. This is an attempt to further explain the concept of keys.

Modes are crucial to understanding this. If you see a D major in a song in the key of E major, you might think you're in the key of A major. But if E major is your home chord, what that means is you've borrowed a chord.

Now it's already been stated that there are other ways of playing notes other than the seven diatonic notes, but the main one we're talking about is borrowed chords.

Op wants to know where to get the D. Why is the D major? If you play a D like you "should" it's minor so wtf? Well, the explanation is that DM is in A. And A is only one note away from the key of E. In fact, the key of A is the same notes as E mixolydian.

You say you can only borrow chords from the minor mode. Why?

You say if he doesn't understand keys why talk about modes? Because that's how you understand keys.

I think modes are pretty easy to explain honestly. You got 12 notes. A diatonic scale is when you use seven of them. You use a pattern that spaces them as much as possible. Sometimes two notes are together, but never are three notes together.

So you have a pattern of whole steps (2 frets) and half steps (1 fret in between notes. This pattern of intervals between notes is W W H W W W H So E on the E string would be 0-2-4-5-7-9-11-12

However you can start anywhere in the pattern. You can start on the second W and put the first one at the end. So you have W H W W W H.

So you have seven notes, so you have seven different intervals you can start on. But, the first one is the one all the others are compared against. The notes 0-2-4-5-7-9-11-12 are officially and by everyone everywhere called 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1(or 8. You can keep going and call 2 9 etc)

So W W H W W W H is your 1 through 7 and the other notes get flats or sharps. If you start on any other interval, you'll end up with different notes. The trick to understanding this is the circle of fifths.

Say you started on the fifth note of the pattern. So it looks like this W W H W W H W. So the notes are all the same except the seventh which is flat. Instead of fret 11 it's 10 and it's called b7 because 11 is 7 because the names of the intervals all originate from the position of notes in the Ionian mode (W W H W W W H)

The point of it all is to understand the relativity of it. The fifth mode of C (W W H W W H W or 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7) contains all the notes of the key of G. The only difference is C is still your home note)

As much as you could say D major is borrowing from the minor mode (or Dorian or mixolydian actually) you could also say that you were in mixolydian and you're borrowing the B major from the major mode.

Understanding theory is as much about opening your mind as it is learning rules. It's not about putting names to everything just for the sake of it.

In it's most entirely simple explanation, a key is just a sheet music term. You put sharps and flats at the beginning of the staff because you're gonna be playing some sharps and flats. The keys are named after the first/sixth modes (major/minor) of the hypothetical key So it kind of has a self referencing definition. If you write a song in C but it contains all F# and no Fs, you could do that but musicians would hate reading it and think you're dumb.



That's not modal though.

You might say that a D in an E major key is modal, but it's not; it's borrowed from the Parallel Minor scale. It's a bVII. You might argue then it's Mixolydian, but that depends on where it resolves, and the other chords used. If the Bass never shifted from an E, I'd give you that.

Now play an A - how are you going to keep that "Mixolydian" from changing to a simple IV V in A, and A "hijacking the tonality"? And that's why your explanation is all over the place, and obfuscates the truth, because while what you are "correct" about factually, you're not when it comes to applying it.

Now if you play D E/D and A/D, and make D the only thing that sounds like it could resolve on (and I use the term loosely..literally many modal progressions can seemingly go on forever without sounding fully resolved) I'll buy that. But it's not as simple as you've called it.

You have a very beginner level of understanding of the concept of modes, but a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, if you don't know what you don't know.

Best,

Sean