#1
OK, so I have decided it's time, after 3 years to learn a bit of theory. I understand pretty much all I've read so far, but in practice it's been somewhat of a slippery slope. As far as determining keys and such, I understand how that's done. What I want to know is how you're supposed to get each key's feel when writing your own music.

For instance, earlier today I recorded a simple Dm progression and started playing over it. I tried some stuff in Dm, and it's pentatonic as well. My question is, how do you make it sound like D minor and not F major or a relative mode? Is there a certain set of notes within the scale that make it distinguishable? I mean the progression resolved to D minor and everything sounded nice and neat, but it made me wonder why I can't call it by something else? Could I have used say G Dorian instead, and if so, how would that have sounded much different?

Maybe I just need to play around with it more to hear the subtle nuances that each scale has to offer, as I haven't really practiced scales before now. My practices have always been just playing songs I know and learning new ones. I've decided I want to learn as much as I can about it to get better though and figured theory and ear training (also working on this) would be a good start. I'm sorry if this has been posted, and I checked the FAQ but it didn't really give me the answers I was looking for.
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ESP LTD KH-202
Peavey Triple XXX
#2
Well, if it's in D minor and resolves well to D minor, it will sound perfectly fine; you wouldn't be able to use a specific mode unless the tonality suggests it, since the scale you use is determined by the tonal center. So most accurate would be to call it a D natural minor progression and lead, unless there's some type of motion outside the key that could be described in another way.
#3
Oh yeah, also I saw in the FAQ about specific intervals having names, like the supertonic and whatnot. Is that of any relevance or is it just a name?
My Gear:
ESP LTD KH-202
Peavey Triple XXX
#4
Quote by hokiecmo
Oh yeah, also I saw in the FAQ about specific intervals having names, like the supertonic and whatnot. Is that of any relevance or is it just a name?

It's just a name and you don't have to necessarily learn the specific terms (leading tone, subdominant, etc.) but it's important that you have a solid understanding of intervallic relationships. Though I'd recommend it as it can facilitate easier communication with other musicians.
#5
Modal music and key-based music aren't the same. Modal music is not common and you will generally write key-based music, so don't think about modes yet.

I have a song in the key of Dm. The verse riff is D5 and C5 with some riffing on top. Most of the song uses the D natural minor scale through the use of D5, F5, C5, and Bb5, centering around the D5 chord. However, in one of the interludes, I play D5 Eb5 D5 F5 D5 Eb5 F5 C5. This indicates the D Phrygian scale and I am using the "Phrygian tone," Eb, as a coloration, a way to spice up the normality of natural minor; However, I am not playing modally. For the solo, I use a progression containing, Dm, Gm, F, Bb, and A7. The first 4 chords are standard D natural minor. The A7 comes from the D HARMONIC minor scale.

This song is a good example of how the various parallel scales (D Nat Minor, D Harmonic Minor, D Phrygian) can be combined into an interesting song.


Just to clarify, a modal piece will follow a strict format that doesn't deviate from the mode, save a few grace notes. A modal progression would be very simple, 1 or 2 chord vamps. A great example of a modal progression is Dm7 G7, using the D Dorian mode.

I'm sure you have questions, so ask away. I think it's best not to BS you and just tell you what's going on and then let you figure out what you don't get.


Edit: A word on nomenclature (a college word meaning "terminology"):

You need to know basic terms to be able to communicate with other musicians. You could know a ton of theory, but only know it in Portugese. You would not be able to speak to me about music since I don't speak portugese and would not know the terminology in that language.

A more real example: In "Friends," Phoebe knows how to play the baisc chords. She knows them by names such as "Old Lady." In her head, these terms make sense and she can put them together, but imagine her saying to another guitarist, "you start the song by playing an 'old lady' chord."
Last edited by bangoodcharlote at May 11, 2008,
#6
Quote by bangoodcharlote
I have a song in the key of Dm. The verse riff is D5 and C5 with some riffing on top. Most of the song uses the D natural minor scale through the use of D5, F5, C5, and Bb5, centering around the D5 chord. However, in one of the interludes, I play D5 Eb5 D5 F5 D5 Eb5 F5 C5. This indicates the D Phrygian scale and I am using the "Phrygian tone," Eb, as a coloration, a way to spice up the normality of natural minor; However, I am not playing modally. For the solo, I use a progression containing, Dm, Gm, F, Bb, and A7. The first 4 chords are standard D natural minor. The A7 comes from the D HARMONIC minor scale.

This is something that's very important for you to understand, TS: even if you're playing tones from a modal scale, you're not playing in a specific mode unless determined by the harmony around you. I wouldn't worry about modes if you're fairly new to theory, but this is a general concept that you should understand, as it confuses many people who are just getting into modal theory.
#7
I've just seen a lot about modes so I assumed it was a logical place to go. I know chord composition, major/minor scales, which chords fit into which keys, and a couple more small things from the past week or so. What's a good place to go next if not modes?
My Gear:
ESP LTD KH-202
Peavey Triple XXX
#8
Quote by hokiecmo
I've just seen a lot about modes so I assumed it was a logical place to go. I know chord composition, major/minor scales, which chords fit into which keys, and a couple more small things from the past week or so. What's a good place to go next if not modes?

Have you worked with chord progressions as well as the Roman numerals in relation to the key? That's a good place to go if you haven't explored; also look into slightly different scales such as melodic minor, harmonic minor and diminished scales.
#9
Thanks for the help guys =) I appreciate it.

I'll look into those. I've seen the roman numerals and from just seeing what others have posted it looks like it's something like this.


C major     D minor     E minor     F major     G major     A minor     B diminished
I               ii              iii              IV               V             VI              vii



Not sure about it but I'll learn in a bit lol
My Gear:
ESP LTD KH-202
Peavey Triple XXX
#10
Only thing there is that you need some kind of indication that the seventh chord is diminished; the way you have it written ("vii") makes it appear as simply a minor chord. Most common is the degree sign, but saying "viidim" is acceptable when you don't want to have to copy/paste from Word.

Your "VI" should also be "vi" because it's minor, didn't pick that up before, sorry.