How To Use Modes. Part 3

Another one in the series. This one is about Resolutions and Melodic Voicings.

How To Use Modes. Part 3
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Before I begin, let me begin by making an amend. For all of my articles, I kept on referring to using modes as "playing modally". I would like to take the opportunity right now to apologize for my complete inaccuracy of the use of the term. Instead, I should have said "to play interesting phrases". In essence, what I assume most guitarists want to do, for those who are reading these types of articles, are to colour up, or "jazzify" their guitar vocabulary. In essence, using modes is just a way of highlighting a colour of a certain chord. "Playing modally" is when the most part of a composition is modal. The best example I have are most of John Coltrane's repertoire, specifically his compositions after "So What?" as these compositions are modal as they are centered around one tonal chord. Mind you, "centered" is the key word. But more on that later. Now then, as a reboot, do read my previous articles on "How To Use Modes", as I did explain a large portion of how they are constructed and how you can apply them at certain times. The challenge, however, is how to make these modes sound musical. In theory, it is a lot easier than one may originally think. In practice is a completely different story, however, I shall try and guide you through a way that I have managed to find interesting phrasings with different modes.

1. Resolutions

The most important thing when trying to chain modes into a nice phrase, are by the resolutions. If you don't know what a resolution is, it basically means a transition from one chord to another, and whether or not it resolves well (like a ii - V I progression compared to a vii V ii progression). A melody, or even an improvised solo, can also resolve like chords do. This is what most jazz musicians do best, and it is what most fusion/jazz musicians have learned to do either by ear, or by harmony training. To make your solo sound "interesting", the first thing you need to know are your basic chord constructions. If you don't know your basic chord constructions, don't panic. Please just take time to read my articles "How To Play Modes Re-Vamped" and "Beginner Intervals". They are both lengthy reads, but hopefully they shall get you on track. So let's say you have a simple vii ii V I progression in the key of A major. That would be: F#min7 Bmin7 E7 Amaj7 First, know which are the notes that provide consonance with each chord. For example, F#min7 is what it is. Can you guess what are the notes? If you answered F#; A; C#; E; you're on the right path. And what is the chord construction for a Minor7 chord? If you thought 1 b3 5 b7, then you're on the good path. Now take Bmin7. What are the notes? If you said B; D; F#; A;, then you are right again. And again, what is the chord formula for a minor 7 chord? 1b3 5 and b7. Make sure you fully comprehend this before moving on to the next paragraph! So what now? Now it's time to apply your phrasing to use! I'll make this as simple as I can, so basically have a metronome with you, and have a backing track play you a F#min7 chord for two measures, and Bmin7 for one measure in 4/4. Let's take some time to reflect about the chords now (while having that backing track playing along):
F#min7  F# G# A  B C# D   E
         1   2 b3 4 5  b6 b7

Bmin7  B C# D  E F# G# A 
        1  2 b3 4 5  6  b7
Right, these two mode formulae should look familiar. They are an Aeolian mode and Dorian mode respectively. Basically, to resolve nicely to the next chord while making some sweet solo cream, you must begin soloing with the given chord frame you are given. I gave F# Aeolian because it is diatonic, and is easier to play out. Depart from the first, third, fifth or seventh of F#min7, and make sure that when you land on F#min7, you "land" on one of these same notes. You should tell that there is a reasonable consonance when you "land" on the first beat of the measures you play. Now look at Bmin7. You see that the consonant notes of the chord differ from that of F#min7? That means as you approach the third measure, make sure you land on the first, third, fifth or seventh of Bmin7 on the FIRST BEAT OF THE THIRD MEASURE (re-read this last sentence until your understand it). You do this, and I guarantee you will notice something... different about your playing. Why? I have come to notice that a lot of guitar players may know their techniques. They have all these great ideas for improvising, but they always lack in a memorable phrasing. Most people would see a chord progression of vii ii V I and think, "Yeah! I'll just improvise the vii (F#) minor pentatonic scale!". While it may work, it won't have the same resolute feeling to it. However, by breaking down a chord structure, and understanding what notes resolve the strongest will make your solo sound so much better. So take this exercise I gave you: 2 measures of F#min7 and 1 measure of Bmin7, and work on ALWAYS resolving the first beat of every measure to a consonant note of the given chord, which means the first, third, fifth or seventh of all the chords in this progression. That would be:
F#min7  F# G# A  B C# D  E 
         1  2  b3 4 5  b6 b7

Bmin7  B C# D  E F# G# A 
        1  2 b3 4 5  6  b7

E7  E F# G# A B C# D 
     1 2  3  4 5 6  b7

Amaj7  A B C# D E F# G
        1 2 3  4 5 6  7
I added the formulae for E7 and Amaj7 so that when you begin to feel comfortable resolving to the other chords, you can chain these two chords for another 3 measures (2 measures of E7 and 1 measure of Amaj7). Just make sure you play a whole note for every measure you play the chord. If you resolve to the first, third, fifth or seventh note of each respective chord, I guarantee you you will notice something different about your soloing. Don't try any complicated lines, however. Keep it simple, you'll be more impressed by what little you do can be so effective. Now then, this was a basic demonstration. People have a preference to resolve on a tension, like 9ths or 13ths... But these are all personal preferences (I myself always like resolving on the 9th of every chord). I encrouage you that if you feel lost, just scroll back up and check what you have not comprehended.

2. Melodic Voicing

I may have called this incorrectly, but this is what I call "colouring the chord" It's the same principle of resolving, however, instead of playing diatonically within the key, you take the liberty to colour the chord with an outside note. So if take again, the F#min7 in the key of Amajor, F# would be Aeolian. To make it sound a bit more "colourful", I in favour would play F# Dorian which would RESOLVE into Bmin7. All you have to do is take the same concept of the last exercise, and exhort your freedom of playing the MINOR modes of F#min7 (Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian) and trying to resolve them to Bmin7. Now your getting to some pretty strange waters. And for now, that's it. Right now, I want any guitarist that reads this article to focus on Resolutions and their melodic voicing. These are the major two points that will change the way you sound. This is not about how fast you can play, but how well you can make something sound. Hopefully you found this issue useful! Until next time. Author's Note: Just an update, I recently got enrolled into the Berklee College of Music in Boston Massachusetts! I'm really excited to go and study my harmony even further there! And hopefully, what I learn there I can share among you fellows. Happy guitaring guys!

38 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    AEgeorge
    For the sake of argument lets say we are playing in the key of C and we play something that is an arpeggio entirely derived from the G major chord that begins and ends on the note B. Now since it starts and ends on a B does that mean it is in the Locrian mode or would it be in the Mixolydian mode because it is based on the G major chord? Also would it not be true that a whole piece of music can be written to progress harmonically in the Ionian mode, while each of the seven phrases therein could be written in each of the seven modes respectively? For this reason, when we refer to the mode of something musical, do we not also have to declare some sort of context to which we are referring? Would this not still be playing modally? After all at any given time one would be centered around one tonal chord, no? I don't see why having a center that moves would change the fact that you are playing modally provided you are keeping true to that center as it moves through the progression.
    DarthPew
    For your first paragraph, it all depends on the context. Sure you can play a G major arpeggio in the key of C major, but you need to think of the chord you're playing it over. If say, for example, you're playing a B minor b5 arpeggio over a G major chord, technically speaking you're playing Locrian, yes, however, it will have a certain colour to it compared to just playing and starting to play from the tonic of Gmajor. You can try it out. But do not think this is exploring colours outside the key of C major, because it will still sound "plain" and consonant when you're playing B Locrian in a Cmajor key. So for your first question, I advise you try and still think in the key of C (for your example), and think about all the different scales you can fit for G major where the first, third, and fifth note are the same as the G major, triad, however, all the other notes in between are different. Add a #4, or b2, b7, b13... The choice is yours to make. Just try different colours, there are no rules here, you just have to find which modes and tensions are pleasant to your ear! For your second paragraph, I hope I'll be able to answer suffiently well... But what I understand is that you are talking about a compositions that is entirely based on the Ionian mode. While you might think it is easy to think in Ionian, and make it sound "Ionian", I will shift your question to the Dorian mode, with which I will be able to provide a better answer. My favorite example of a modal composition is Miles Davis's famous modal composition "So What?". This entire song is based on the D Dorian and Eb Dorian mode. Harmonically, this song is basically Dmin7 and Emin7, then from Fmin7 to Ebmin7. That's it. Now then, if it's only Dmin7 and Ebmin7, what makes it sound so Dorian? Harmonically, the resolutions are always to the main chord, Dmin7 and Ebmin7. If you listen to the song, the predominant chords are Dmin7 and Ebmin7. So that's the first important thing, harmonic resolution. However, the resolutions are both minor. what makes it different from it sounding like an Aeolian or Phrygian or Locrian composition? The answer again, lies within the harmonic resolution. The chord Emin7, the fifth of this chord is a B, which is the major sixth of Dmin. So this composition sounds "Dorian" because of the harmonic progression. To further emphasize the "Dorian" colour, when improvising, you may continue to improvise D Dorian mode and really emphasize the characteristic pitch, being the B. So to answer a part of this question, you are absolutelly right, when refering to the mode of something musical, you do need to emphasize a context. That is the most important thing here. Don't think otherwise, context is always important. Context is what makes it playing modally, not your melodic choice of phrasings. Melodic voicing simply colours your phrasings. When you choose a certain melodic phrasing. Even for me it is hard to explain, but it will not change the overall "context" of the piece. If you try improvising over "So What?", you will see that improvising over D Dorian will sound "like it should". Nothing seems out of place, however, if you try playing D Aeolian over the Dmin7 chord,the colour of your voicing will sound different, especially if you resolve MELODICALLY with D Aeolian instead of D Dorian. If you move from D Aeolian on the Dmin7 chord, to E Aeolian over Emin7, it will sound different, that I guarantee, but it won't change the overall context. I hope this answers your question to a certain extent... Please tell me if you have any on going doubts, and I promise you I will answer you to the best of my capabilites! I am also learning these things as you are, so thank you for asking these questions! I really learn from you guys too!
    AlanHB
    Mate your progression is in A major, and all the chords are diatonic to A major. You are playing the A major scale. You cannot make the key of A major resolve to B minor 7. It's the key of A major, which resolves to A .... major. A major. A major. A major..... Oh you're not using colour. You're using..... [TO BE CONTINUED!]
    AlanHB
    A major
    DarthPew
    Thank you for the read You'll be happy to know that if you read my other articles, the resolution I'm talking about is not harmonic, but melodic! I may have not explained it that well, but in this progression, the chord progression does resolve to Amaj7. Play the progression out yourself, and I guarantee you that harmonically, the resolution is the V - I. For this article, I was strictly talking about melodic lines, and how one could approach resolving MELODICALLY into the strong notes of the following chord to make interesting voices. I apologize for not making this more clear, but I hope this clarifies things a bit better
    AlanHB
    Mate I can assure you that the only thing you're achieving MELODICALLY is telling us that we should start on the root note of each chord when it's played, which is both boring and limiting. Forget the modes stuff, you're just trying to explain emphasis of chord tones (I think) through a crazy pattern and naming system, without identifying chord tones.
    DarthPew
    Well, I both we can both agree on that 'boring and limiting' is quite a subjective term to use here. And yes, my emphasis for this lesson is to to highlight the chord tones. Why you ask? Because from my experience, I have seen a lot of guitarists who are sometimes satisfied with their improvising with the minor pentatonic scale. Keyword, sometimes. I used to imrpovise like that too. And I had my good solos, but for the most part, it always felt bland and boing, especially when a song has a chord that does not fit diatonically within a key. For the lessons that I give, I admit I am no certified teacher, I'm just a student who is also learning all the kinks and gears of aying music. This method of working worked for me, so I like to share my approach :] I appreciate your read, however, from what you've said, I know you know how to handle your music suffiently well. If so, a constructive criticism comment is better appeciated than a sarcastic comment :]
    AlanHB
    I don't intend to come off as sarcastic, but the only chord tone that you've emphasised in the above article is the root of the chord, but only by virtue of telling us we have to start on that note to play a certain mode over that chord. Hopefully you can see that it's exactly the same as A major, telling me to play the root note of each chord as it comes along. That's why my first post is phrased the way it is. Your approach above does absolutely nothing different than the A major scale, you've just told us to play a certain note at a certain time.
    DarthPew
    Yes, harmonically I did not leave the key of A major. However, it is possible to colour the chords differently with the kind of phrasings you use. Instead of playing a regular V - I melodic phrasing (Mixolydian to Ionian), I wou ld instead ask for you to try Lydian b7 to Lydian, for example. Use any scales/modes you want that will not change to chord tones
    AlanHB
    I think Im hitting a brick wall here. The "melodic phrasing of mixolydian to ionian" over a V - I is A major to A major. Get it? That's what your article is explaining - the A major scale.
    DarthPew
    One last time, I know Mixolydian to Ionian is still in A Major... That is why I recommended TRYING E Lydian b7 to A Lydian on my previous reply to you... Please read carefully... That is why in the "Melodic Voicing" I clearly stated and quote, "So if take again, the F#min7 in the key of Amajor, F# would be Aeolian. To make it sound a bit more "colourful", I in favour would play F# Dorian which would RESOLVE into Bmin7. All you have to do is take the same concept of the last exercise, and exhort your freedom of playing the MINOR modes of F#min7 (Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian) and trying to resolve them to Bmin7. Now your getting to some pretty strange waters." Read carefully please
    AlanHB
    I give up. I'd advise you to listen carefully, learn how to hear resolutions rather than saying if I play on x fret A will resolve to B, and if a play exactly the same notes over a different chord it'll be a completely differemt set of notes and sound like it too. Yes some of your examples use accidentals. But most don't. But hey, let's just throw this article on the pile of crappy mode articles around, existing only to mislead and confuse people with incorrect knowledge. If this has been your aim, congratulations! However if you do not wish to learn why you are wrong, please consider not making any more of these.
    DarthPew
    I dare say don't give up, but none of your replies have actually solved anything anyways. If you do believe I am wrong, I do believe the most adult away to approach criticizing me is by explaining further what I have done wrong. Correcting me, not by just pointing out flaws of an article. I am sharing information I have been learning and even currently trying to muster myself. And not once did I mention usage of frets, and saying that if you play one set of notes here, it will sound differently there. I believe you're your own brick wall. As I've said, you seem to know your theory, and have a good ear, then next time, try and be more calm and educative with your responses that actually help people. All you've said is that I'm wrong, wrong again, and that I am misleading people. Even if I am wrong, which I'm pretty sure I could be, the best criticism you can give is constructive. You've been "slamming" (lol) me since the beginning. Will I stop writing articles because of you? No, I will gladly continue to share the information that I process that has worked for me, and hope that I might help others. I'm surprised a moderator isn't actually taking the time to help other people ameliorate their articles. I know you may not care, but this is disappointing, and totally lacking respect for people who wish to share.
    AlanHB
    (Grumble) I guess moderators should help out. I flicked through your previous articles, it's interesting. The earlier ones are quite good, and this one is just the A major scale. The application of modes that you have employed in this one does not derivate from the A major scale in any shape or form. Steps to fix it: 1. Explain that it really is all the A major scale in the end, as the key is A major, which resolves to A. This has occurred by virtue of the chord progression you have given us, and no matter what you play it will resolve to an A major chord. 2. Tell your audience specifically NOT to use your proposed "mixolydian over the V" or "dorian over the ii" as this will not achieve anything but the A major scale, and you will achieve nothing but the A major scale. 3. Instead tell the audience to use one of the other major or minor modes over the respective chord, for example a phrygian over the ii (minor mode over minor chord), or an ionian over the V (major mode over major chord). This will ensure it is different than the A major scale and will introduce accidentals, or "colour" if you prefer. 4. At this point explain how it is still the A major scale, just with one or two different notes. So for example if you play E ionion over the V in A, you are playing the A major scale with a b5 accidental. That's how it will be heard by the listener too, everything is heard in relationto tonic of the key, not each individual chord. 5. Then call this Chord Scale Theory, one of three acceptable uses of modes.
    DarthPew
    Thank you for your response. You've actually made me realize something just now. I've been thinking too much about improvising in accordance to each chord that is being played, and not really thinking about the entire chord progression, as you mentioned in your fourth point. And in your fifth point you mentioned something about three acceptable uses of modes? What are the other two? And by the way, is there a way to edit these articles? I'd like to be able to further correct this as per your recommendation!
    AEgeorge
    If my chord progression is in the key of lets say C and I play Ionian in the key of G over the V will the G chord begin to function as an I chord. If so this should change the way it resolves back to the C right? Instead of sounding like it moves from V to I it would sound like it moves from I to IV. In essence we would evaded the cadence that we would normally expect. We could return back to the G this time using the Ionian mode in the key C effectively returning the G to function as the V. This time when we move to the C we will find an authentic cadence. Does that make sense? It seems to me that there is a symbiotic relationship between the chord progression and the melody. One effects the other and vice-versa Am I on the right track here?
    AlanHB
    What do G ionian (or G major as it's widely known as) and C major have in common? Every note except one F#. As the key is C major, whatever you play will be heard relative to C major. In this case the notes of the G major scale will be heard as the C major scale with an F#, which will function as a b5 accidental. So to answer your question, no, playing a b5 accidental does not change the resolution of a song. As for "will it sound good", a b5 is an incredibly common accidental and it will sound fine. Another way to phrase your question is "can I play the C blues scale in the key of C major"? Yes you can. You can play anything you want. It just won't change the resolution. Nothing you play will.
    AEgeorge
    I don't know if this will show up properly It looks pretty wonky in the little comment box. I wish there was a way to post real notation or even just an image of it would be nice. |-----|-----| |--5-----5-----5-----5-----|--6--5-- 6--5--6--5--6--5----| |--5--7--5--7--5--7--5--7----|--5---- -5-----5-----5-----| |--5-----5-----5-----5-----|--7-----7- ----7-----7-----| |-----|-----| |-----|-----| -----|- ----|--3----|| --8--6--5--6--8--7--8--7----|--8--7--5--7--8 -----7-----|--3----|| --5-----5-----5-----5-----|--5-----5- ----5-----|--4----|| --5-----5-----5-----5-----|--5-----7-- ---5-----|--5----|| -----|-----|-----|| -----|-----|-----| | The chords in the progression I used were C|F|C|C|G||. Played by themselves that G chord functions as the V in the key of C. The G at the end of the melody sounds tonic because the last two and a half bars are in the key of G. Because it sounds tonic, the G note in the chord underneath it will follow and now function as a whole as the I chord. The progression has nothing in it at the point where I modulated out of C that defines that part as C. In other words the key is harmonically ambiguous enough at that point that I can redefine the tonal center of the progression through the key of the melody by utilizing those chords that are common to the original key and the one I wish to modulate to. That C chord, at the point I modulate, for an instant simultaneously acts as an I and IV chord. Once that instant is gone the key of C is left behind and we enter the realm of G. There are songs written in G and they resolve to G. The same similarities and differences apply. How do you explain that without contradicting your statement above? Is it because they have more F#s? How many does it take before we can call something in the key of G? The fact that randomly throwing a single note or notes that are intrinsic to a certain key into a series of notes belonging to another won't necessarily change the key or mode of that series of notes suggests to me that there is more to changing the key or playing in a mode then the mere presence of these notes. It would seem to me that the presence of those notes is part of it but also, and perhaps more importantly, its how they are working to progress harmonically. By definition, if our key signature has no sharps or flats, those F#s are accidentals but that does not mean they are there by accident. They serve a purpose. The way I used them was quite literally as a means to an end.
    AEgeorge
    Nice and I can't even edit it. Lets try that again. |-----|-----| |5-----5-----5-----5-----|6-5-6-5-6-5 -6-5-| |5--7--5--7--5--7--5--7--|5---5---5---5----| |5-----5 -----5-----5-----|7---7---7---7----| |-----|-----| |-----|-- ---| -----|-----|3----|| 8-6-5-6-8-7-8-7--|8-7-5-7-8--7-|3- ---|| 5---5-----5----5-|5---5---5----|4----|| 5---5 -----5---5-|5---7---5----|5----|| -----|-----|-----|| -----| -----|-----|| I have a new appreciation for people that post tabs on this site! I don't get it it looks fine in the comment box.
    AlanHB
    Mate I have no idea what your tab is trying to prove. The progression is in C major, G is never the I, there is no modulation etc. The tonal center is determined by the harmonic context of the song, not the fiddly stuff you play over it. I don't really understand either why you think the G would be an I at all when your statements above indicate that you're really not sure what makes a key or not. And G major doesn't happen because it has fulfilled its quota of F#s for the day, having earned its rightful place as a key, its about the HARMONIC CONTEXT, not the fiddly stuff you play over it.
    AEgeorge
    AlanHB
    So...I just looked at the tab. Still no idea what youre going on about. Key is C major. Observe the chords, listen for the resolution.
    AEgeorge
    You are half right. Observe the chords. C and F belong to the key of C while C and G belong to the Key of G. I listened to it again and lo and behold it still resolves to G. I listened to it with a C chord at the end and lo and behold it resolves to that too. However it doesn't quite resolve the way you would expect it to if it were the Ionian mode. That fiddly little G note that you prefer to ignore at the end still sounds tonic. It makes the chord sound like its built on the fourth degree of the scale, not the first. Harmonically it becomes C Lydian which can be easily mistaken for C Major. It makes no sense to ignore that fiddly stuff in favor of the obvious chords. By doing that you don't get a complete picture of the harmonic structure. Its the harmonic structure you need to observe. The melody and the chords together complete that structure and form the harmonic context. By looking at only part of that context you are going to make errors in your analysis.
    AlanHB
    So basically you are saying that if you didn't solo at all over this chord progression it would resolve to C, but if you play a G note over the G chord it will resolve to G. I disagree. Even if I wanted to consider the melody of the song as part of the harmony, considering the effects of playing a G note over a G chord, I'd still come up with "zero difference" so you're obviously seeing an alternate reality to the most common chord progression in the world.
    AEgeorge
    Convincing argument but no that is not what I am saying at all. I am saying, basically, that if you play the G major scale over those two chords the G will sound like its built on the 1st degree of the scale while the C will sound like its built on the 4th. Alternatively if we play the C major scale over the same two chords the C will sound like it is built on the 1st degree of the scale while the G is built 5th. Basically the scale is working to establish the positions of the chords. I am saying the melody will also act in the exact same way. Think of it this way if I asked, what position is a C major chord in? You would have no idea until you also know what the scale it is in, is. The melody is a pattern of the notes belonging to that scale. It is through the melody and its relationship to the chord that you assimilate the knowledge of its position. If I play simultaneously a C chord on the piano with my left hand and the G major scale from G to G with my right every-time I hit a note belonging to the chord the sound stabilizes, while destabilizing when playing on notes not belonging to it. It sounds most stable when the note of the scale is the same as the root of the chord which in this case would be on the 4th degree establish by the scale. Now if I play the chord but this time I play the F major scale, I find the same thing happens, except this time its most stable on the 5th because that is where the root of the chord now sits as established by the scale. It doesn't matter what order I play the notes of the scale in, that phenomenon remains. It doesn't mater what chord I play as long as all the notes exist within the scale, the most comfortable place always seems to be at the root. The other notes of the chord are nice too but all roads seem to lead to the root. If I shift the chord within a single scale the position of the root changes. If I shift the scale leaving the chord unchanged the position of the root changes relative to its position within the new scale. That is the way it really looks from this alternate reality. LOL
    AlanHB
    So even though there is only one note difference between C major and G major scales, you have changed the resolution of the song, with just one note. The b5 is the holy grail. They shouldn't even call blues songs a blues in C, because we have discovered that the b5 actually changes the resolution of the song. God only knows what the b7 and b3 accidentals are doing to it. Poor tonal resolution, it's taken quite a beating. Yeah, I still am not on your side. What's your knowledge of accidentals like? Are they allowed in your reality or do they change the tonal resolution? Because if they do change the resolution they aren't accidentals at all, they are diatonic to your new key. Therefore accidentals don't exist. At all. Also that question - "if I asked, what position is a C major chord in?" - I would tell them I can play a C major chord in many places on the fretboard, all of which are valid combinations of the C major triad - C E G.....I wouldn't consider "what scale it's in". Geez I wouldn't even understand the question, because it makes no sense. It's a C major chord - you know - notes? Not position? Yes?
    AEgeorge
    The difference between the G and C major scale is not just one note. Each note in the scale occupies a position in the scale. For instance the first note of the G major scale is G while the 5th note of C major is G. Your logic that a particular scale should be called something else because of a note other then that of its first is flawed since the scales letter part of its name is determined by the first note not any other. I think your definition of accidentals is incorrect. If your not penning your music in such a way that you indicate a key signature as well as those notes that do not fit within that particular key signature, then you are not using accidentals. In other words if while you play a C major scale you squeeze a G# in there, what you here is a G# not an accidental. If you wrote it to paper in standard notation without any sharps or flats in the key signature, the sharped G symbol you saw would be the accidental. Whats the difference? Why shouldn't we think of the G# we hear as an accidental? If you refer back to the link I posted you see that there are some F# in the last half of the phrase. They show up because the key signature has no sharps or flats. If I were to change the key signature to contain an F# we would no longer see them in the phrase. However we would find in the 2 bar and in the first half of the 3rd bar a natural symbol next to the Fs. They become the accidentals. The way it sounds hasn't changed what so ever. Accidentals, by definition, occur relative to a key signature. Diatonic scales have nothing to do with it. Name that key? http://forum.makemusic.com/attach.aspx/1... It looks like a D major scale of some sort. Sounds kind of Arabian. It doesn't exactly fall into the conventions of a diatonic scale and yet provided we stay within the perimeters it defines no accidentals will occur. Can we step outside of those parameters? Of course we can. To address your last paragraph. If we take a look at a scale we find that it is a series of notes. Each note of this series can be numbered to indicate its position or location relative to the other notes belonging to that scale. The 1st note of the G major scale is G while the 5th note of the same scale is D. if we compare that to C major scale we would find that G occupies the 5th position while the D occupies the 2nd. Similarly we can build chords using each of these notes as the root and create a harmonic series. Each chord can be numbered to indicate its position in that series. The chord in the first position of that series belonging to the G major scale would be a G major chord, while the one in the 5th position would be a D major chord. Compared to the harmonic series of the C major scale we would find that G major would occur in the 5th position and the D chord would now be found in the 2nd position but also found to be Minor instead of Major.
    DarthPew
    Hey there AEgeorge! I think you're taking things a bit too far! Over complicating the simpler things. In essence, and in my opinion, the chord progression you wrote was never in C major. In actuality, you have always been in the key of G major. Why? Because at the end of your progression, you made a IV - I cadence; you made a plagal cadence. That makes more sense to me because the only outside chord you have in there is the F major chord, which in essence would be a bVII chord in the key of G major, where the F# would be the vii of G major. In music, if you want to analyse something to show other people, one mustn't try to over complicate an analysis. You COULD say there is a minute modulation, but from the beginning of the progression I heard, it''s G major from the start. But those are just my two cents
    AlanHB
    AEgeorge: There actually is one note difference between the G and C major scales. It's the note you claim changes the tonal resolution of the song - F#. My definition of accidentals is fine. Notes not contained within the key signature, which will be composed of notes diatonic to a major or minor chord. This is very basic music theory that we're dealing with here. The question is whether playing this b5 forces a change to the tonal resolution of the song. You say it does, I say it doesn't.
    DarthPew
    I agree, but we should call the F# a #4, not a b5 Just sayin', since the F is a 4th away from C... But yes, AEgeorge, accidentals are exactly as HB said, they are notes not within the given key signature. Key signature being the key word. I however still would like to think the progression is in Gmajor from the start. The way I've learned how to analyse a chord progression, is to look things holistically, and quite honestly, the since you're resolving a C to a G, it's easier to hear the IV - I cadence. So I'd jsut consider the whole progression in the key of G, with a bVII (the F major) in the mix. Try playing an F7 where you have the Fmaj chord. It should sound more... "Comprehensible" that the key you are in is Gmajor. Adding chords that have notes that are not diatonic to the key doesn't always mean you are modulating.
    AlanHB
    It's a I, IV, V progression guys, it doesn't modulate. This whole thing is pretty ridiculous. C, F, C, G - resolve to G? Hells no. That note would function as a b5 accidental, call it Gb if you need to. It still has zero bearing on the tonal center. If you want to force it to resolve to G, at the very least slam a D7 in there before going G, C, D.
    Fox.rl
    I think this analisys can be seen in many ways: you can see it as Darth said (it always was in G just adding a bVII), it has always been on C adding an accidental #4 as HB said or the progression is modulating to resolve in G as George tried to do. One probably will fit better than the others what the ear hears, like (imo) Darth's analysis. However, modes can help to modulate and change the context. As you can see, C and G (as well as C and F) have almost everything in common except one note. There are other keys like D or Bb where the difference is bigger and so on. If you wish you can change the context thanks to the modes and "jump" to those keys or any other using their chords. Actually, that's exactly what an analysis would say if you apply what HB suggested about using D7 (V/V). Clearly, using the dominant chord will introduce the new context but you can also use any other chord you wish to support the melody plus everyting Darth explained about voicing and (melody) resolutions. For me it's hard to stick with the theory that it is in C suddenly resolves in G. Of course, using the F# will give you that color but it still doesn't mean you changed the key. If you resolve in some chord and it doesnt sounds like you really resolved, you need to change something (the melody or add/modify some chords) in order to satisfy the ear.
    DarthPew
    Wow, that's a mighty complex question! Again, I'll be careful with my answer. Yes, there is a relationship between the harmony and melody. However, it is normally the melody that follows the harmony. Now then, there are no specific rules that state that the melody has to fall within the notes of the chord it's being played over, but it does sound the most consonant. Beware though, the harmony (in my opinion, and I believe most professors and professionals would agree) the harmony will always sound stronger than the melody, no matter what. The melody won't change the sound of the overall key. If you're playing a progression which is all diatonic to Cmaj, the overall sound of the progression will sound like it is in Cmaj. Nothing in what you play melodically will change the fact that in the key of Cmaj, if G is chord V, it will always be chord V, and it will not change the interval. Sure you couldplay G Ionian over it, but would it sound nice? It's all up to your ea. but theoretically, no, changing the melody will never change the sound of the chord progression, and its resolutions. Hope that helps!