My band are writing a song, and there is disagreement over the chord sequence to use.

We have vocal and bass melodies that play with the following notes : E, D, B, A and G.

The chords the guitarist originally had behind this are all major chords : E, G, A and B, in that order.

We know that this sequence of chords is theoretically wrong, however, the guitarist thinks it sounds way better than starting with an E minor (e.g Em, G, A and B) or other suggestions such as playing open strings on the A and B (e.g Em, G, x02200 and x24400).

The bassist thinks the last option sounds best, but the guitarist thinks it sounds 'dead' and wrong, even though he knows its more theoretically correct than the first chord sequence (with all the majors) which sounds really good to him.

Is someone right and someone wrong? Is there an answer?

Note : The following article may or may not be relevant, I'm confused. : http://music.stackexchange.com/questions/8226/can-a-song-in-one-key-contain-major-chords-that-are-not-in-the-key-or-does-that
You are wrong for thinking something is "theoretically more correct" than something else. When it comes to deciding which chords work best for the song, it all comes down to what you prefer sound wise. It seems like you just have different preferences. Whether something is "theoretically correct" shouldn't have any effect on your decision on whether it sounds good or not (but suggesting that something is "theoretically incorrect" just shows that your theoretical understanding is lacking, and this is actually a bigger reason why I think you shouldn't base your decisions around theory). So just listen to the progression. Which way does it sound best?

There isn't even anything strange with that chord progression. We are talking about borrowed chords/modal mixture here. This basically means mixing major and minor. This isn't anything new and you can find it in classical music too (if that works as a justification for it). It is not against any rules, it is actually quite common.

Basically, if we are in the key of E, you can use the chords in the E major scale or the chords in the E minor scale. And you can mix those. It's pretty common, especially in rock music. Just listen to "Hey Joe" that uses C, G, D, A and E major chords (the song is in the key of E).

E-A-B would be a normal I-IV-V in E major. The G major is a borrowed chord from the parallel minor. You would analyze it as I-bIII-IV-V.

BTW, if the guitarist is writing his own part, why don't you let him decide what he wants to play?

Also, here is a compromise solution - use an E7#9 chord (the "Hendrix chord"). It has both the major and the minor third in it, so I think it would be a good compromise.

Just to clarify, there is no rule in music theory that would say that you need to stick with the notes in just one scale and that it would somehow be forbidden to use notes outside of that scale. Actually, music theory has explanations for those out of key notes too. As I said, it's about modal mixture/chord borrowing. That's the theoretical explanation for it. (Not all out of key notes are about modal mixture, though.)
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.


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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jan 6, 2017,