#1
Hello, sorry if this has already been covered or if it is in the wrong section, i only signed up today and im not sure what im doing yet

I have been playing for two years (so not long really). I am fluent with the pentatonic and minor scales, I improvise with them and i can see how licks are built from these scales.

what i dont get is why do some chord progressions allow use of the minor or pentatonic scale (e.g. smooth by santana), but others only allow use of the pentatonic scale??


i dont have a tutor to ask these things to as having a baby in the house limits my free time (and money ), so any help would be greatly appreciated. thanks.
#2
well, I can't think of an instance when a chord that sounds good with Am pantatonic doesn't sound good with A Natural Minor.

Some notes in the Minor scale just naturally sound iffy over a certain chord, (eg C over Bdim).
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#3
Nothing is going to limit you to the pentatonic scale. However, depending on the scale from which the progression is derived, A natural minor may not work. For instance, Am Bb C uses the A PHRYGIAN scale, A Bb C D E F G, not minor natural minor, A B C D E F G. However, the A minor pentatonic, A C D E G, is contained in the A Phrygian scale, so it will work.
#4
The above sounds like a lesson in modes. Dave Weiner, the guitarist of the Steve Vai band does a great weekly segment on YouTube. Just this week he started to explain modes, how to use them, and how they are constructed. Have a look...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQpOfW6TEBI

Hope this helps

Chris
#5
brilliant. thanks very much -ill check that video lesson out.

Am i right in thinking then, in complete laymans terms, that if there are sharpes or flats the natural minor scale is not the best choice??
#6
Yes that's correct in terms of Am

Since you mentioned Santana I'll give an example from oye como va..
It is in Am (A Dorian Specifically), and you'll notice there is an F# in both the harmony & melody. So natural minor isn't what you want here, you want to use A Dorian since it has the notes A B C D E F# G cool?
#7
that helps a lot thanks - however, i now have another qustion. i thought all the modes contained the same notes - just wth different starting positions - so how come A dorian has an F# when Am has no flats or sharpes? or is A dorian not derived from Am?
#8
A Dorian comes from G major - G A B C D E F#

Another way to look at it is Natural Minor with a raised 6th i.e.

A Aeolian 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 A B C D E F G
A Dorian 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 A B C D E F# G
#9
i get it!! i think. thanks stashjam. So d dorian is not from the d scale, just from whatever scale where the second note is a d?? (the C scale?).

i always thought D dorian would start with a E as that is the second note in D. That has cleared up a misconception for me - thanks. (p.s am i right??)
#10
Yes , just keep in mind that there are two ways of looking at.

Relative & Parallel

Relative - C major D Dorian, etc. Meaning they contain the same notes

Parallel - A Dorian is an A natural minor scale with a raised 6th.

Understanding both viewpoints gives a full understanding, and the Paralell viewpoint is helpful as it makes you aware of the distinctive interval that gives each mode it's characteristic sound. I don't want to go over your head with any more details at this point so let me know if this makes sense to you so far
#11
great. i get the relative dorian, im not sure about the parallel thing though. and how do i know which type of dorian peole are referring to??
p.s thanks for the help
#12
by Relative & Parallel I'm talking about the way you think about/look at the scale

So C major's relative Modes are....
C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian, B Locrian

All of these modes contain all the same natural notes (no sharps/flats)

Now onto Parallel.

C Ionian - C major scale
D Dorian - D Natural minor with a raised 6th
E Phrygian - E Natural minor with a b2
F Lydian - F major with a raised 4th
G Mixolydian- G Major with a b7
A Aeloan - A Natural Minor
B Locrian - B Natural Minor with a b2 & b5

So whichever way you look at them it's the same notes, but the parallel thought process helps you to focus on the distinctive interval(s).

Like the Oye Como Va example in A Dorian - A B C D E F# G
Understanding the Relative concept lets you know G Major is the 'parent' scale
The Parallel concept tells you A Dorian is a Natural minor scale with a raised 6th

So really it's just two viewpoints that both give you the notes A B C D E F# G, and understanding both is important for a thorough understanding of these concepts
#13
Stash Jam's stuff looks good at a glance, but you have to keep the following in mind when you use modes: A Dorian and G Ionian are absolutely not the same. They have the same notes, yes, but A Dorian is a flavor of the A minor scale that contains a major sixth. You would use A Dorian over stuff in A Minor, not stuff in G Ionian.

That leads to this: Modes and scales in general are not box positions. A Dorian can be played anywhere on the neck, not just around the fifth fret. Just because you play something around fret 3 or 15 doesn't mean that it is necessarily G Ionian.

Many people get confused about these concepts when they learn modes, so I just wanted to clarify.
#14
cheers guys - and thanks for taking the time to help.

So, the different modes, all contain the same notes as each other, but you cannot play them outside a specific area of the neck otherwise you are not keeping in the same mode and therefore loose the flavour of that mode??


In addition, each mode of one scale is also a variation of that notes major or minor scale??

Am i getting there??


But essentially, when choosing what mode to improvise with over a chord sequence is just personal choice because all modes contain the same notes and so all fit over the same progression?

Apologies for asking such numb nut questions, i'm sure this is beginners stuff to you but im only just delving past pentatonic in my theory.
#15
Almann, you seem to be confused. I typed up something more detailed, but my computer freaked out and wouldn't post it. Anyway, please read the post above your and see if you can correct the errors that are in your post. If you still don't get it, I'll retype that long post.
#16
im sorry. i am confused. i checked out some articles on modes on this site but i dont really have the theory knowledge to understand them. i dont get how you can stay within the same mode but play it all over the neck if all modes are made of the same notes.

when i have been improvising with the major scale in the past have i been switching modes then because i use the whole neck??

p.s you have been a big help so far, so please dont feel as if you have to spend loads of your time writing a long post again, that wouldnt be fair on you. i will get there in the end!

The frustrating thing is i feel over the couple of years i have played i have become quite competant at playing other peoples things, i practice every day and before the baby came i played for nearly two hours a day - but i have no knowledge to help me do anything creative that doesnt depend on the pentatonic scale, i should have looked into this months ago. do i really need a musical background to understand this ??
#17
Quote by Almann1979
im sorry. i am confused. i checked out some articles on modes on this site but i dont really have the theory knowledge to understand them. i dont get how you can stay within the same mode but play it all over the neck if all modes are made of the same notes.

when i have been improvising with the major scale in the past have i been switching modes then because i use the whole neck??


The harmony/chords are the defining factor as to what scale you are playing. I'll give a pentatonic example since that is something you are familiar with.

Take a look at this basic pentatonic melody;


e--------------------5--8-
b-------------5--8--------
g------5--7---------------
d---7-----------------------
a----------------------------
e-------------------------


Now you might instantly think of this as an Am pentatonic scale, but it could also be a C major pentatonic scale.
If you played that melody over the chords Am- G - F you are playing Am pentatonic.
If you played it over C - F - G you are playing C major pentatonic

C & Am pentatonic share the same notes, and what differentiates them is the Harmony/Chords.

Try soloing over the two progressions shown above using the basic melody tabbed above. You should be able to hear the difference in sound that the harmony provides even though you're playing the same melody

There's more to be explained but see if this makes sense to you so far
#18
That makes sense.
upto now i either use major or minor pentatonic, and the example above is a good one, i use Am pentatonic where a C major is needed.
I always thought i could just use the relative minor as a direct substitute (and in the above instance i would start from the first Am pent box around 5th fret for a C Major)- but this discussion has really made me realise i am very wrong as they are not exactly the same thing (which i thought they were).
in fact i never bothered to learn the major scale shae because i thought if i learned the minor shape i could transfer it to its relative major and play major scales that way - was that very incorrect thinking??

i do need a definition check though - what do you mean by "harmony"
Last edited by Almann1979 at Feb 29, 2008,
#19
Quote by Almann1979
That makes sense.
upto now i either use major or minor pentatonic, and the example above is a good one, i use Am pentatonic where a C major is needed.
I always thought i could just use the relative minor as a direct substitute (and in the above instance i would start from the first Am pent box around 5th fret for a C Major)- but this discussion has really made me realise i am very wrong as they are not exactly the same thing (which i thought they were).
in fact i never bothered to learn the major scale shae because i thought if i learned the minor shape i could transfer it to its relative major and play major scales that way - was that very incorrect thinking??

i do need a definition check though - what do you mean by "harmony"


Harmony just refers to the Chords/Chord progressions

Your way of thinking does get you a right scale choice, but what you're actually playing it over determines what its called. So look at playing over a C - F - G chord progression using the Am pent box at the fifth fret. Realize the Am pent box at the fifth fret is also the C major pent box at the fifth fret (its all about the context) - they are the same notes but since we are using a C major progression it is appropriate to say we are using the C major pent scale.

So really it's just a proper naming convention but learning what to call it involves understanding the harmony which is a good thing.
#20
so if the c major scle is played starting at 5th fret - what mode is that? or can it be all of them?
#21
Depending on the context, it could be any of the 7 modes. However, if you start your pattern on A and there is no context, you're just practicing alone, I would call it A Aeolian. However, if you start playing something from that pattern over a C F C G progression, it would be C Ionian.