#1
If a song is in c minor, what does it mean? Will the whole song use only notes from the c minor scale? Will it be based on it?I'm confused
#2
It will most likely use notes from the c minor pentatonic scale, for example since i've been lovin you by led zep is in the key of c minor.
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#3
Minor harmony is complex. I suggest you read the theory sticky and the Crusades articles.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#4
You will only use notes from the C minor scale, or a version of it such as the Pentatonic or the Harmonic. All the chords used will be made from the notes of C minor, eg C Eb G is a C minor chord using the 1st, 3rd and 5th from the C natural minor scale.

You aren't, however, limited to only using notes from C minor. You might use accidentals, which are notes from outside of the scale. If you use the blues scale, you are in C minor, but you use a Gb as well as an A and a G natural. This is from outside the scale, so is an accidental.

Sorry if this explanation is too much for you.
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#5
As it's been said, minor keys are a hassle because there are three minor scales (natural, melodic and harmonic). If you're writing a song in Cm, and are new to theory, I'd think of it as the key of Eb major which is Cm's parallel key. Then you'd only use notes from the Eb major scale (which are the same notes found in C natural minor but without the hassles of the other scales). That's a better starting point. Also, to really see these connections between chords and scales, play them on piano.
#6
Thanks for your help, I think I understand most of it now, I'll take a look in the theory thread aswell.
What about the chords songs where they play E, G then C or something. Are they even in a key?
Last edited by omgah1one at Oct 26, 2008,
#7
Quote by Aziraphale
As it's been said, minor keys are a hassle because there are three minor scales (natural, melodic and harmonic).
Generally alot of composers will use a combination of all three and call it "the minor scale."

All the chords used will be made from the notes of C minor, eg C Eb G is a C minor chord using the 1st, 3rd and 5th from the C natural minor scale.
Not really. You're more likely to see a Gmajor or G7 instead of a Gminor when C minor is being used.

To T/S
It means the chord progression will resolve on C minor and the melody will resolve on C. It takes some skill (some, not much) to do this successfully, as most melodies/chord progressions would want to resolve on the relative major instead.
Last edited by demonofthenight at Oct 26, 2008,
#8
A common way to make a song sound minor (and therefore be in the relative minor key of the major) is to sharpen the 7th (and sometimes the 6th). For example in a song in A minor there are usually some G#s.

This is because the notes of the natural minor scale are the same as the ones in it's relative major so if you only use the notes in the natural minor scale you will usually end up with something is the relative major key. However, in minor keys there are often sharp 7ths, natural 7ths, sharp 6ths and natural 6ths so they don't always have to be sharp or natural.

If you are trying to work out the key of a song then if you find out the major scale it fits into, then you can listen and if it sounds minor it will be in the relative minor.

If you are trying to start to write in minor keys then i suggest that you just sharpen all the sevenths of the minor key you are using.

If you didn't understand this post then you are in need of the crusades and the theory sticky.
#10
Quote by 12345abcd3
A common way to make a song sound minor (and therefore be in the relative minor key of the major) is to sharpen the 7th (and sometimes the 6th). For example in a song in A minor there are usually some G#s.

This is because the notes of the natural minor scale are the same as the ones in it's relative major so if you only use the notes in the natural minor scale you will usually end up with something is the relative major key. However, in minor keys there are often sharp 7ths, natural 7ths, sharp 6ths and natural 6ths so they don't always have to be sharp or natural.

If you are trying to work out the key of a song then if you find out the major scale it fits into, then you can listen and if it sounds minor it will be in the relative minor.

If you are trying to start to write in minor keys then i suggest that you just sharpen all the sevenths of the minor key you are using.

If you didn't understand this post then you are in need of the crusades and the theory sticky.


I don't doubt that you know what you're talking about, but that post is indeed very confusing and unnecessarily complicated... the sharp 7th you're talking about is found in the harmonic and melodic minor scales, and in the key of Am it would be used if you were to play E instead of Em. But that is pretty advanced, and definately not a good starting point if you're a beginner songwriter, and it's not really a "common way to make a song sound minor" at all since the sharp 7th is found in the major scale. It's the 3d that changes the tonality from major to minor, so if you'd play the sharp 7th over an A5 chord, you'd get the impression of a maj7 chord, not a minor one. Excessive use of the harmonic scale as a "box" rather than one of many scales to draw from, will probably only make you sound like an Yngwie-wannabe.
#11
Quote by omgah1one
If a song is in c minor, what does it mean? Will the whole song use only notes from the c minor scale? Will it be based on it?I'm confused


Well, if a song is in the key of C minor, the harmonic materials will be drawn from that key, and the tonal center will be C.

if you really want to understand what it means to be in a particular key, you need to study theory, starting with the very basics.

you will need to understand:

- intervals
- scale construction
- key signatures
- how to harmonize the major and minor scales

* you will need to be familiar with common chord progressions in major and minor keys.


you're better off taking a theory class or getting a decent theory book to truly understand all that is necessary. you should also consider getting your reading chops together.
you'll get some answers here, but chances are that through all of the arguments and one upmanship, you're likely to be more confused than anything, as you sort through all of the information trying to figure out what is relevant and what isn't.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at Oct 26, 2008,
#12
Quote by Aziraphale
I don't doubt that you know what you're talking about, but that post is indeed very confusing and unnecessarily complicated... the sharp 7th you're talking about is found in the harmonic and melodic minor scales, and in the key of Am it would be used if you were to play E instead of Em. But that is pretty advanced, and definately not a good starting point if you're a beginner songwriter, and it's not really a "common way to make a song sound minor" at all since the sharp 7th is found in the major scale. It's the 3d that changes the tonality from major to minor, so if you'd play the sharp 7th over an A5 chord, you'd get the impression of a maj7 chord, not a minor one. Excessive use of the harmonic scale as a "box" rather than one of many scales to draw from, will probably only make you sound like an Yngwie-wannabe.

A minor key would have a flat 3rd but to do so you have to first establish your tonal center as the tonic of the relative minor, not the relative major. To do this is the melody, without any contex, you will almost certainly need to use the sharp 7th.

If you just choose some notes from the natural minor scale and play them you will usually, unless you have been very clever with your phrasing, end up in the key of the relative major because there has been nothing to define it as minor. You may have used b3 in relation to the tonic of the minor key, but in reality this will just be the tonic of the major key.

The easiest way to define the key as being minor is to use a sharp 7th. Now you have made the tonic of the minor key the tonal centre, the flat 3rd will start acting as a flat 3rd not as the tonic.

In terms of writing this out in a formula this may be considered a natural 7th against the natural minor scale's flat 7th but in practise you are sharpening the 7th note which is why it is called this.

Also, in my post i said that you could use sharp 6ths and 7ths or natural 6ths or 7ths so i don't see why you think i am telling people to only use the harmonic minor as a box.

And execesive use of the harmonic minor scale (not box) will not make you sound like Yngwie if you use it well, unless your telling me that countless classical composers all sound like Yngwie-wannabes.
#13
@12345abcd3: In the key of Am, are you talking about Am's sharp 7th (G#) or C's sharp 7th (B)? I was under the impression that you were comparing A to Am, which I think is what TS is doing. If you strike an Am chord and start your melody on G# you immediately give it a harmonic minor quality, not just a minor tonality. When you talk about an Am scale having a C tonality unless you have really clever phrasing, do you mean unaccompanied? I don't see that, even if you're writing acapella music, ending lines on A would be enough to give it a minor tonality if you're using the A natural minor scale.

In short, knowing tons of scales is all well and good but TS is clearly a beginner and this is irrelevant to him at this point. That's my grudge with bringing up harmonic and melodic minors here, which I assume you mean with sharp 7ths.
#14
Quote by 12345abcd3
To do this [in] the melody, without any contex, you will almost certainly need to use the sharp 7th.
I've written hundreds of minor-key riffs; 80% of them do not use the nat7.

Actually, you're right, as #7=8=1, and I'd say that having the root note in the melody would be fairly important for establishing the tonal center without any backing.
#15
Quote by Aziraphale
@12345abcd3: In the key of Am, are you talking about Am's sharp 7th (G#) or C's sharp 7th (B)? I was under the impression that you were comparing A to Am, which I think is what TS is doing. If you strike an Am chord and start your melody on G# you immediately give it a harmonic minor quality, not just a minor tonality. When you talk about an Am scale having a C tonality unless you have really clever phrasing, do you mean unaccompanied? I don't see that, even if you're writing acapella music, ending lines on A would be enough to give it a minor tonality if you're using the A natural minor scale.

Well, ending lines on A wouldn't give as strong minor tonality as using a G#

Quote by bangoodcharlote
I've written hundreds of minor-key riffs; 80% of them do not use the nat7.

Actually, you're right, as #7=8=1, and I'd say that having the root note in the melody would be fairly important for establishing the tonal center without any backing.

Ok, i should have said sharpened 7th.

Also, do these riffs have any context? Maybe you could tab one of them here to show me what you mean.

It is possible to give a minor tonality without it, but for a begginer using the natural minor will often give the same result as them using the relative major but if you just sharpen the 7th then you would get a minor tonality straight away.

How would you advise someone to get a minor tonality?
#16
I don't doubt that you know what you're talking about, but that post is indeed very confusing and unnecessarily complicated... the sharp 7th you're talking about is found in the harmonic and melodic minor scales, and in the key of Am it would be used if you were to play E instead of Em. But that is pretty advanced, and definately not a good starting point if you're a beginner songwriter, and it's not really a "common way to make a song sound minor" at all since the sharp 7th is found in the major scale. It's the 3d that changes the tonality from major to minor, so if you'd play the sharp 7th over an A5 chord, you'd get the impression of a maj7 chord, not a minor one. Excessive use of the harmonic scale as a "box" rather than one of many scales to draw from, will probably only make you sound like an Yngwie-wannabe.


Harmonic and melodic minor describe conventions when writing in minor keys. They are rarely used as scales in their own right. "Minor" implies the use of a V chord because, in Western tonal harmony, dominant chords are major. This has nothing to do with using the "harmonic scale" as a box, and indeed it is called "harmonic minor" because it forms the basis of minor harmony.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#17
Quote by 12345abcd3
Ok, i should have said sharpened 7th.
You did.

Quote by 12345abcd3
Also, do these riffs have any context? Maybe you could tab one of them here to show me what you mean.



e------------------------------------------------------------------------
B------------------------------------------------------------------------
G---------5--------------2-------------------------------------------------
D-7-5-7----7-5-----------2--------------------------------------------------------
A-----------------5-3----0---------------------------------------------------
E----------------------3--------------------------------------------------


Quote by 12345abcd3
How would you advise someone to get a minor tonality?
Play minor chords and the minor third in your melody.
#18
Since when can 7ths be sharp? I understand they can be raised, but I think if you say sharp youll get funny looks.

On topic.

To answer ts simply,

Yes.

No.

The notes in the scale are the most stable. But you have 12 notes. Theres no reason to only use 7 of them.
#19
^Raised and sharped is the same thing in this case, it's just a type of shorthand notation for scale formulas.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 = The Major scale. All intervals are Major and Perfect.
If we "sharpen" or "raise" the seventh degree, we're pretty much raising it by a semitone, and making it an octave.

However, I rarely see sharp'd sevenths. I don't think I've ever actually seen one, there's no point, imo.
#20
Quote by one vision
^Raised and sharped is the same thing in this case, it's just a type of shorthand notation for scale formulas.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 = The Major scale. All intervals are Major and Perfect.
If we "sharpen" or "raise" the seventh degree, we're pretty much raising it by a semitone, and making it an octave.

However, I rarely see sharp'd sevenths. I don't think I've ever actually seen one, there's no point, imo
.


Exactly, thats what I was saying
#21
Well in a natural minor scale, the 7 is flat, and to get a maj7 you sharpen/raise it, making a sharp 7th. And TS was talking about minor scales after all, although TS' question doesn't seem to be the main priority here...
#22
^You don't sharpen it, you just leave it a "7". If you put #7, it implies that a Major 7th interval is sharpenned. Unless you are talking about the actual note, which may end up being a sharp by coincidence. ie E Minor scale -> D#.
#23
Quote by Aziraphale
Well in a natural minor scale, the 7 is flat, and to get a maj7 you sharpen/raise it, making a sharp 7th. And TS was talking about minor scales after all, although TS' question doesn't seem to be the main priority here...
You ALWAYS write scale degrees with respect to the major scale: No exceptions. One would never write Dorian as 1 2 3 4 5 #6 7; that would be ridiculous.
#26
Quote by bangoodcharlote
You did.

Then why did you say it was the same as an octave? A sharpened 7th in a minor key would make it a natural 7th.

Also, to everyone who said it, i should have said sharpened 7th, not sharp 7th.
Sharp 7th implies #7 which is the same as an octave.
Sharpened 7th means the 7th of the scale has been sharpened, so the b7 has been sharpened to make it a natural 7th.

Quote by bangoodcharlote


e--------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------
G---------5---------------2-----------
D-7-5-7----7-5-----------2-------------
A-----------------5-3----0---------------
E----------------------3-------------------


I'm not sure how you're phrasing this (don't worry, I won't ask for a recording or anything ), but to me it sounds much more bluesy than it does minor. In fact, if you replace the A5 with just the note C then it does resolve quite well. Like this:

e-----------------------------------
B-----------------------------------
G---------5------------------------
D-7-5-7----7-5--------------------
A-----------------5-3----3-----------
E----------------------3--------------

Quote by bangoodcharlote

Play minor chords and the minor third in your melody.


But major keys have minor chords and minor keys have major ones.
Last edited by 12345abcd3 at Oct 28, 2008,
#27
Quote by bangoodcharlote
You ALWAYS write scale degrees with respect to the major scale: No exceptions. One would never write Dorian as 1 2 3 4 5 #6 7; that would be ridiculous.


You're right, I was having a late night...
#28
Quote by 12345abcd3
Then why did you say it was the same as an octave? A sharpened 7th in a minor key would make it a natural 7th.
You call it a natural seventh, just as you call Dorian a minor scale with a natural sixth, not a sharp or sharpened sixth.


Quote by 12345abcd3
I'm not sure how you're phrasing this (don't worry, I won't ask for a recording or anything ), but to me it sounds much more bluesy than it does minor. In fact, if you replace the A5 with just the note C then it does resolve quite well.
Then don't resolve to C if you want a minor key!

Of course it sounds bluesy; it comes from the A freaking Minor Pentatonic scale.

Quote by 12345abcd3
But major keys have minor chords and minor keys have major ones.
Yeah...and? If you play Am G Am G over and over, it will not sound resolved on the G chord; only when you play Am or C does it sound resolved, which brings me to an important point: You can dictate if the riff will be major or in its relative minor by a few simple manipulations such as what you did.
#29
Quote by bangoodcharlote
You call it a natural seventh, just as you call Dorian a minor scale with a natural sixth, not a sharp or sharpened sixth.

You can quite rightly say that you should use a sharpened 7th, because that means that you have sharpened the 7th giving you, in this case, a natural 7th.

The difference between my example and yours is that the natural 7th is accidental to the key, so you have to change the note with respect to the key. You could equally call a natural third in a minor key a sharpened third.

Quote by bangoodcharlote
Of course it sounds bluesy; it comes from the A freaking Minor Pentatonic scale.

But to me blues does not equal minor tonality. You are playing in a minor key but it just doesn't have that minor feel to it. And you said minor riffs, not blues riffs.

Quote by bangoodcharlote
Yeah...and? If you play Am G Am G over and over, it will not sound resolved on the G chord; only when you play Am or C does it sound resolved, which brings me to an important point: You can dictate if the riff will be major or in its relative minor by a few simple manipulations such as what you did.

But if you use a sharpened (yes, i said it) 7th then it would resolve much more strongly to the minor tonic giving it a much stronger minor tonality and because it has a much stronger tonality it sounds a lot more minor.

I know that technically your riff would be in a minor key but it just doesn't really sound very minor, which is more the point of writing in minor keys.