#1
Hi,
Here's the tab for the song https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/k/kings_of_leon/happy_alone_tab.htm

So the 1st guitarist plays a D chord and G chord while the 2nd guitarist plays a melody using the D major scale so it's in D major.
But for the chorus the 1st guitarist still plays the D and G chord, but the lead guitarist plays a lick using the notes C,B,A,G where does the note C come from?
And for the solo the lead guitarists is using the D minor pentatonic but the rhythm guitarist is playing a D major how does that work?
Thanks!
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Last edited by Guitar137335 at Mar 3, 2016,
#2
Hi dude - good questions. Assuming what you've said above is correct:

- You can use any chord you want in a key. C major in the key of D major is a bVII, borrowed from the parallel minor (D minor).

- Likewise, in a key you can play any note you want. Playing a D minor pentatonic over a D major key is extremely common, and the heart of the "blues sound".
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#3
I listened to the song. The C in the other guitar changes the D major chord to D7 (and one could argue that it functions as a secondary dominant for the G). Sounds like basic rock'n'roll "trick". I mean, you must have heard the basic rock'n'roll bassline that goes like (if we play it over D major) D F# A B C B A F#. And we are talking about basically the same thing here - the guitar line is pretty similar to that cliche rock'n'roll bassline. In basic rock'n'roll all major chords are dominant 7th chords. That's just how it goes.

The song does have this kind of rock'n'roll feel to it. Actually, using C# over it would sound a bit weird. Also, using minor pentatonic over major key is really common in rock music. You could say that's just part of the "language" of rock'n'roll. Staying diatonic to the key all the time actually sounds a bit wrong in this kind of music.


And for the solo the lead guitarists is using the D minor pentatonic but the rhythm guitarist is playing a D major how does that work?

Well, it just does. That's "bluesy". It has become a "common practice" in rock music. It's part of the sound of classic rock.

Why does anything work? It just does. We don't really have explanations for why something works. Actually, whether something "works" is something you decide. The question is, "does it work"? You are the one that decides that. Theory just describes what's happening in music. And you accurately described it - it was minor pentatonic over major key. That's what's happening. Why did they decide to use minor pentatonic over major key? Maybe they liked the sound, maybe they were after classic rock'n'roll feel in the song and that's a common thing to do in that kind of music. As I said, it's part of the "language" of rock. That's just playing "stylistically correct". I don't even think they thought that much about it - they just played what felt right for the music. If you like it, use it in your own music.

The best thing to do for deciding what works and what doesn't is using your ears. Your ears know how different styles sound like. I mean, you can hear whether something sounds like rock'n'roll or classical music or funk or whatever. And you can hear if something fits that style or not because you know the styles by ear (if you have listened to those styles). As I said, minor pentatonic over major key is a common practice in this kind of music. I'm sure they knew the sound they were after and just played without thinking whether they were playing accidentals or not.
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
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Yamaha FG720S-12
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Mar 3, 2016,
#4
Quote by Guitar137335
Hi,
Here's the tab for the song https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/k/kings_of_leon/happy_alone_tab.htm

So the 1st guitarist plays a D chord and G chord while the 2nd guitarist plays a melody using the D major scale so it's in D major.
But for the chorus the 1st guitarist still plays the D and G chord, but the lead guitarist plays a lick using the notes C,B,A,G where does the note C come from?
And for the solo the lead guitarists is using the D minor pentatonic but the rhythm guitarist is playing a D major how does that work?
Thanks!
Nothing to add to the answers above!
Except - as I hope you'll see - you're asking the wrong question.

1. You've clearly studied a bit of theory, and know what a major scale is.
2. Now you're thinking it ought to apply to a piece of music you've found. False logic!

It's a little like hearing someone say "ain't", and asking "how does that make sense? Shouldn't they be saying 'is not'"?
IOW, "should" doesn't come into it - unless maybe the context is an English grammar exam. And even then, colloquialism may be permitted. Certainly "ain't" is a well recognised and popular contraction of "is not" (or "am not" or "are not").
If were learning English as a foreign language, you would expect to be taught "is not" first - and then you might well be surprised to hear people say"ain't" instead.

Likewise, popular music is a kind of vernacular, colloquial language, full of slang, in comparison to the classical music practices from which "music theory" is drawn.
Slang, street language, is not nonsensical. It has its own rules, its own grammar, otherwise no one could understand it.

The point is, when you hear that song, I'm guessing that C note in the chorus doesn't sound "wrong". Right? It sounds good. That's why they play it - because it obviously "works"; they don't care "why" or "how".
They do it because they've heard it being done before, in songs they like. They like the sound, so they copy it. It's part of the language they want to speak. That's how rock musicians learn their craft, by copying other rock songs (not by reading theory books!).

The theorist doesn't say it's "wrong". The theorist recognizes it as a "common practice", and thinks up a name for it, based (ideally) on existing terms and practices. Hence theory concepts known as "mode mixture" or "borrowing from the parallel minor". (IOW, this is not a new practice at all; it's a few centuries old, if not more.)
Those terms don't "explain" anything (not why it sounds good anyway), they just (hopefully) help to see the practice as part of a bigger picture. At least, the theory helps us talk (and write) about it. As if we know what it all means....
Last edited by jongtr at Mar 3, 2016,
#5
^ Good points. Remember that music came first, theory second. First people come up with new sounds, then theory explains it. Music existed way way before music theory existed. Only in some cases it happens the other way around - for example if we are talking about serialism or strict counterpoint. Or tuning systems. But the way it usually goes, people come up with cool sounds, they become commonly used and after that the theorist come up with an explanation for it. It's not like the rock musicians were thinking "how do we break all these rules". They just started playing what they thought sounded good.

Music theory is not set in stone. Music theory is not rules. It just describes music. And the conventional theory people (first) learn about is usually what applies best to 17th-19th century music (the so called "common practice period"). Not saying it doesn't apply to modern pop/rock, but some of the concepts you learn have little application in modern pop. Like avoiding parallel fifths - rock music is full of parallel fifths (guitarists are playing them all the time when they use power chords). Rock music is not strict counterpoint style, so applying counterpoint rules to (all of) it obviously makes no sense. Well, you could of course create something new by combining rock and strict counterpoint, but you can't expect all rock music to follow those "rules".

Great video on the subject:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49alQj7c5ps
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
#6
Notes that lie outside the key signature are used for interest and contrast. Using the minor-over-major contrast is basically the rock/blues sound. Listen to the classic rock station and you'll hear minor pentatonic used extensively in major keys.
#8
^
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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