Page 1 of 3
#1
I'm trying to write a sad balad-like song, and I'm curious if anyone can give me some tips as to what scale/mode to work with?
#5
There is no such thing. The scale you use is next to irrelevant to the mood of the music.
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.
#6
Quote by one vision
Depends on what kind of sadness..

I always categorize sadness in 3 stages:

1. Just sad
2. Depressing
3. Chaotic
I'd answer with:

1. Major scale or minor scales.
2. Maybe something modally aeolian?
3. Minor scales.

Alot of guys think that minor scales automatically mean a sad song. Not necessarily true, major scales are just as capable of slow, sorrowfull songs as minor scales. Normally it's the way a song is phrased and the rhthym that has more of an effect on the emotion, rather than the scale.

That being said, it's alot harder to write a chaotic sounding song in major than it is in minor, and its harder to sound sad when your progression only uses major chords. Not impossible, not even that hard, but harder.

I'm sure someones going to ask me what the difference between modally aeolian and a "minor scale" is. Well an aeolian progression generally wont use any non-diatonic chords (whereas a minor scale can use a V, vii0, ii and III, all of which are non-diatonic). Another featurs is that aeolian harmonies will try to focus on outlining the mode by using the m6'th and M2nd in the progression (in A aeolian, these notes are F and B respectively). The way most composers resolve these progressions is also different, whilst aeolian normally resolves from v to i or bVII to i (both of these are considered weak), minor scales will usually use a perfect cadence and resolve V - i or vii0 - i.
Wow, got a bit carried away.
#7
Aeloian For verse and dorian for A melancholic bridge or chorus. Unless u want a happy chorus u could use a major/lydian sound which will make it more pop. Maybe even mixolydian but I think this is too "happy"

The "Re-incarnation of Plato" Award 2009
(most intelligent)
The "Good Samaritan" Award 2009 (most helpful)

[font="Palatino Linotype
Who's Andy Timmons??
#8
"Well an aeolian progression generally wont use any non-diatonic chords (whereas a minor scale can use a V, vii0, ii and III, all of which are non-diatonic)"

V, vii0, ii are all non-diatonic to a Aeolian. How is III, unless you mean III (as a Dom7)

Also, Im assuming vii - i (in a Minor key) is considered weak, because its a Deceptive (cadance) resolution? Right? A V chord resolving anywhere else than down a fifth.

v - i is also considered weak, because there is no longer the tri-tone i interval (tension) resolving to a i/I (resolution)

Also, as you have already told me the leading tone being in a chord, makes the chord want to resolve. The leading tone of the scale is the third of the V chord, the third is almost never omitted (except in a sus chord) so it generally resolves up a half-step to the tonic.

Is this why the v - i is considered weak? I guess also because they are both minor 7 chords, so there is no resolution.
Last edited by Galvanise69 at Nov 10, 2008,
#9
Quote by Galvanise69
"Well an aeolian progression generally wont use any non-diatonic chords (whereas a minor scale can use a V, vii0, ii and III, all of which are non-diatonic)"

V, vii0, ii are all non-diatonic to a Aeolian. How is III, unless you mean III (as a Dom7)
The diatonic chords in aeolian are i ii0 bIII iv v bVI bVII. I didnt think I made myself very clear.

Quote by Galvanise69
Also, Im assuming vii - i (in a Minor key) is considered weak, because its a Deceptive (cadance) resolution? Right? A V chord resolving anywhere else than down a fifth.
A bVII - i is generally considered weak because it doesnt contain the leading tone. This is why we raise the seventh in minor scales when we want to resolve or move to the root.
It is also weak because that chord actually contains the leading tone of the relative major, making it (as you said) resolve on the wrong chord.

v - i is also considered weak, because there is no longer the tri-tone i interval (tension) resolving to a i/I (resolution)

Quote by Galvanise69
Also, as you have already told me the leading tone being in a chord, makes the chord want to resolve. The leading tone of the scale is the third of the V chord, the third is almost never omitted (except in a sus chord) so it generally resolves up a half-step to the tonic.
Well I don't believe sus chords are as prevalent as most people make them out to be. I treat most sus chords as wrongly named chords. If a chord can be a triad (preferably a major triad), you should name it as a triad. Thats just personal preference though.
And yeah. Leading tones like to move to the root of scales.

Quote by Galvanise69
Is this why the v - i is considered weak? I guess also because they are both minor 7 chords, so there is no resolution.
Yep. No leading tones. The subtonic (m7) still has some resolution, but no where near as much as a leading tone (M7). Another note that has nice resolution is a supertonic (second degree of a scale, M2).
Last edited by demonofthenight at Nov 10, 2008,
#10
Well, for sad, use straight up minor or Aeolian, either of them work, really. Although sometimes I find that playing Aeolian is more melancholy than just regular minor.

For "Depressing", I'd say use the same, but with extended chords, such as Add9's, they sound pretty sad when used with a good voicing. Try to have the added 9 at the top, works for me.

For chaotic, study Bach or some of Chopin's stuff. Look up Passacaglia in C minor (Bach).

Also, D minor.
#11
Sorry about that Demon, where I said vii, III. I wasnt mentioning the aeolian alterations. I figured cause we were takling Minor/Aeolian, that we already were taking into account the bVII, the bIII, and bVI. Sorry, Ill make that clear next time.

"A bVII - i is generally considered weak because it doesnt contain the leading tone."

I missed that bit, thanks.


"Another note that has nice resolution is a supertonic (second degree of a scale, M2)."

A nice resulution to what? Im assuming where talking about the super-tonic in a minor scale? Or doesnt it make a difference as to wheather its Major or Minor?


^ Minadd9's sound really nice to my ears. Because you have the dissonance of the b3rd and 2nd. Voiced like so, I think they sound pretty nice


-7-
-5-
-5-
--
-0-
--
#12
Quote by Galvanise69
"Another note that has nice resolution is a supertonic (second degree of a scale, M2)."

A nice resulution to what? Im assuming where talking about the super-tonic in a minor scale? Or doesnt it make a difference as to wheather its Major or Minor?
A nice resolution to the root. As in most classical schools teach that the two best ways to resolve a melody are either leading tone to tonic (B to C in C major or minor) or supertonic to tonic (D to C in C major or minor). These are the best ways to resolve regardless of the tonality of your peice (major or minor, doesn't matter).

Why do my posts make me sound like a crackhead?
#13
Quote by Archeo Avis
There is no such thing. The scale you use is next to irrelevant to the mood of the music.
+1 I do believe each scale has it's own flavour or colour but just like yellow can be happy, mellow, sickly, or scared when used in different contexts the same is true of scales.

Tempo, phrasing, not choice, and orchestration are your friends.
Si
#14
Quote by 20Tigers
+1 I do believe each scale has it's own flavour or colour but just like yellow can be happy, mellow, sickly, or scared when used in different contexts the same is true of scales.

Tempo, phrasing, not choice, and orchestration are your friends.
This, exept I don't know what not choice is. What am I not choosing? I'd actually add NOTE choice to that list though.

Anyway, picking the right mode is about 30% of what note choice entails. After that you got to pick the right notes in that mode (40%), the right chord tones (10%) and the right accidentals (20%).
#15
Quote by demonofthenight
This, exept I don't know what not choice is. What am I not choosing? I'd actually add NOTE choice to that list though.

Anyway, picking the right mode is about 30% of what note choice entails. After that you got to pick the right notes in that mode (40%), the right chord tones (10%) and the right accidentals (20%).

Haha yeah note choice.

I'd go the other way. Write the melody or harmonic progression selecting the right tempo, and phrasing and using the right notes to create the sound that your looking for then figure out what mode that is and finish your song around that.

Picking the right mode is a byproduct of right note choice. You might find the notes you select don't fit in any mode or scale that you are even familiar with but they sound right for what you want to express in your music.
Si
#16
D minor is the saddest of all keys, I find. People weep instantly when they hear it, and I don't know why.
#17
Quote by BrockTandem
D minor is the saddest of all keys, I find. People weep instantly when they hear it, and I don't know why.


Shut up that's old and not helpful.

For sake of simplicity, I'm going to agree with 20Tigers. Find a simple structure, then work with it and let it fall into whatever mode or key it does. The point is to make it sound how you want it to. All the extra theory is just to help make it quicker to get there.
#18
Quote by 20Tigers
Haha yeah note choice.

I'd go the other way. Write the melody or harmonic progression selecting the right tempo, and phrasing and using the right notes to create the sound that your looking for then figure out what mode that is and finish your song around that.

Picking the right mode is a byproduct of right note choice. You might find the notes you select don't fit in any mode or scale that you are even familiar with but they sound right for what you want to express in your music.


Definitely this when writing set melodies. The best melodies I've found I write don't originally follow a scale, I just find a scale/mode later when I'm applying sense to my ideas.

When improvising over a set progression though, its sort of hard not to do it my way.
#19
"A nice resolution to the root. As in most classical schools teach that the two best ways to resolve a melody are either leading tone to tonic (B to C in C major or minor) or supertonic to tonic (D to C in C major or minor). These are the best ways to resolve regardless of the tonality of your peice (major or minor, doesn't matter)."

Thanks for that, didnt know that. With the leading note resolution, obviously in C Major its B - C, but in the Minor, does it have to be a true Leading Tone, or can it be the b7th - the root. (sub-tonic). Obviously the Super-Tonic in either Major or Minor is still a natural 2nd so there's no issues there.
#20
some of symmetric scales have 'sad' sound to them. For example Auxiliary Diminished, check out my site in sig, select any scale you want, hit play and you'll get the idea how each scale sounds
#21
Quote by Archeo Avis
There is no such thing. The scale you use is next to irrelevant to the mood of the music.

True to an extent, but pointing him to the minor scale though could possibly help him in writing a song with a sad vibe, where as your post will not help him at all
#22
Quote by Frozzenn
I'm trying to write a sad balad-like song, and I'm curious if anyone can give me some tips as to what scale/mode to work with?

The list of scales or modes is just too many.

Think about the tempo at which you're playing the song, the chord changes.

Use your ear and hear a melody in your head, then get that melody down on the guitar straight away. The scales will sort themselves out to fit your melody.
Last edited by mdc at Nov 12, 2008,
#23
The sad scale:




----R---X---X--
--X---X---X---X
--X-----------X
--X---X-R-X---X
--X--X-----X--X
----R---X---X----




Anyways, generally you could use minor keys or modes, but in the end it all depends on the phrasing and how you set up the piece, slow tempo works too...

You can have sadness sound in major keys, and sometimes a somehow happy sound in minor keys, so it all depends...
#24
Quote by gonzaw
The sad scale:




----R---X---X--
--X---X---X---X
--X-----------X
--X---X-R-X---X
--X--X-----X--X
----R---X---X----




Anyways, generally you could use minor keys or modes, but in the end it all depends on the phrasing and how you set up the piece, slow tempo works too...

You can have sadness sound in major keys, and sometimes a somehow happy sound in minor keys, so it all depends...


What the hell at the layout of the scale?
Example in tablature please?
#26
Quote by Peaceful Rocker
True to an extent, but pointing him to the minor scale though could possibly help him in writing a song with a sad vibe, where as your post will not help him at all


There is plenty of minor based music that is not sad at all, and there is plenty of sad music in the major scale. My answer wasn't helpful because his question is inherently flawed.
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.
#27
Ballad is a loose term. It can be minor, major, etc.

You should make a list of the ballads you like and that inspire you, so we can help analyze those songs and explain to you how they work in a musical context.

The "Re-incarnation of Plato" Award 2009
(most intelligent)
The "Good Samaritan" Award 2009 (most helpful)

[font="Palatino Linotype
Who's Andy Timmons??
Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Nov 12, 2008,
#28
Quote by xxdarrenxx
Yes Archeo. You described the problem, but did not explain it to him. But 20tigers, this has nothing to do with TS problem either, you could have pmed this to archeo. I can understand TS is more confused now.

Ironically I am doing the exact same thing now, so on topic:
Fair point - post removed and PMd. Would you care to edit your post so as to remove the quote of the post I deleted please.

Cheers.
Si
#29
Quote by 20Tigers
Fair point - post removed and PMd. Would you care to edit your post so as to remove the quote of the post I deleted please.

Cheers.


Done

The "Re-incarnation of Plato" Award 2009
(most intelligent)
The "Good Samaritan" Award 2009 (most helpful)

[font="Palatino Linotype
Who's Andy Timmons??
#30
Quote by Archeo Avis
There is plenty of minor based music that is not sad at all, and there is plenty of sad music in the major scale. My answer wasn't helpful because his question is inherently flawed.



I can think of "Let it Be" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" as songs that use the major scale and sound sorrowful.

I can think of "Pirates of the Caribbean" as a minor based song that sounds happy and not sad.


EDIT:Also, I think Tarrega's "Malagueña" is also minor based and sounds happy.
Well, both "Malagueña" and "Pirates of the caribbean" are in D minor I think and sound as happy as Happy Birthday (well, maybe not that much)

I can't think of more examples
Last edited by gonzaw at Nov 12, 2008,
#31
I can't think of more examples


Satriani's Ten Words and Rubina. Both major, and both incredibly sad.
Vai's Whispering a Prayer.
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.
#35
Quote by one vision
I think the diminished scale is a bit too extreme for a ballad.


Now you've done it. I have to write a diminished ballad now.
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.
#36
Quote by Archeo Avis
Now you've done it. I have to write a diminished ballad now.
Do you mean HW or WH diminished, or Locrian-type diminished (to all of you, actually)?
#37
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Do you mean HW or WH diminished, or Locrian-type diminished (to all of you, actually)?



All of them...at once.
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.
#38
If the ballad is about the death of Satan or eating goat legs, the diminished chords could work. I can hear it now-
C min7 b5
Satan is my friend
G min7 b5
If he was a goat I would eat his legs

etc etc

ballad is a broad term
#40
Lol A diminished ballad. I have too give that 1 a thought too. I do have a progression lying around which sounds ballad and has a C#m7b5 in it.

Chords are this: Eminor/Dadd11/C#m7b5/CM7/Bsus4

Progression is here:
http://www.box.net/shared/326jnednji

The "Re-incarnation of Plato" Award 2009
(most intelligent)
The "Good Samaritan" Award 2009 (most helpful)

[font="Palatino Linotype
Who's Andy Timmons??
Page 1 of 3