Okay so lately I've made a bit of progress on my theory side, so I gave myself a little exercise. I took a song with tabs and decided I'd try figuring out the scales, key etc. The song I picked is Needled 24/7 from Children of Bodom.

So, I managed to find out that the main melodic riff that's played through almost the whole song, is in the scale of Em. Well actually I thought it was C major at first, but then I remembered about relatives, and I come to the conclusion that it is most likely in Em.

Now that I've figured this, I've been trying to figure out the key of the song. I'd take a guess and say Em, but I'd like to "research" a bit more before. But the main problem right now is knowing what scale is in what key, which is basicly the purpose of this thread.

I've been wondering for a while now. How do you know what scale is in what key? My first guess would be that if are let's say in C major(simplicity), you could play any scales included in the key. For example we are in C, you could play the C, D, E, F, G, A, B major scales. Is this actually right? If not, how do you know what scales can be played over what keys?

As en example, please fill me up on the possible scales over the Em key. This way I can hopefully understand the "logic" behind the choice of scales. Thanks
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Last edited by Spike6sic6 at Sep 26, 2008,
"For example we are in C, you could play the C, D, E, F, G, A, B major scales."

No, you cannot do that. C major has C D E F G A B, then D has D E F# etc. already you've hit a note that is not in the C major scale. This will happen for ALL of the scales you mentioned.

As for your original question, start playing the song, and then just stop and end it on a Em or G major, and see which one has more of a sense of resolve. What feels like it complete it. That will help you find the tonal center, a.k.a. the key.
Quote by NemX162
"For example we are in C, you could play the C, D, E, F, G, A, B major scales."

No, you cannot do that. C major has C D E F G A B, then D has D E F# etc. already you've hit a note that is not in the C major scale. This will happen for ALL of the scales you mentioned.

As for your original question, start playing the song, and then just stop and end it on a Em or G major, and see which one has more of a sense of resolve. What feels like it complete it. That will help you find the tonal center, a.k.a. the key.

What I'm wondering isn't how to figure out a key with a scale. What I'm trying to understand is how do you figure out what scales can be played over what key?
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Quote by Spike6sic6
What I'm wondering isn't how to figure out a key with a scale. What I'm trying to understand is how do you figure out what scales can be played over what key?

You can play any scale over any set of changes,,, some just sound better than others.
If you're in a jazz context, the basic scales used over a major key are major, lydian, and mixolydian. Over minor, you can use natural minor, melodic minor, dorian, and phrygian all while staying decently within the key.
Quote by rokket2005
You can play any scale over any set of changes,,, some just sound better than others.
If you're in a jazz context, the basic scales used over a major key are major, lydian, and mixolydian. Over minor, you can use natural minor, melodic minor, dorian, and phrygian all while staying decently within the key.

So if I understand, with my example in C major. You could play the C major scale or any of it's major modes? And if it's Em, that you could play the Em scale with it's minor modes?

So basicly, if a song is in Em, and that it stays in Em the whole time, all the notes played will be part of the Em scale, right?

And yes I know, you can play what you want, as long as it sounds good, but I'm trying to learn the "rules" so, don't consider them in my examples.
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Last edited by Spike6sic6 at Sep 26, 2008,
Quote by one vision
Technically that's right, but harmony suggests modality.
If C lydian over a tonal C progression, it probably wont sound all that good. Try it.

I don't know much about modes yet but wouldn't you rather play F lydian, since it shares the same notes as C? In other words, is F lydian in the key of C?

Looking at C lydian, it has a F#, which isn't in C major, so would it be right saying C lydian isn't in the key of C?
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