What Scale Is This?

I've written this article to address one of our our most common questions - "what scale is this?".

What Scale Is This?
4
Wassup kids,

I'm Alan, and I'm a moderator of the Musician's Talk forum. You mayn't have been there before, but we talk about one thing, and one thing only, Music Theory.

I've written this article to address one of our our most common questions - what scale is this?. I'm going to show you how a little bit of knowledge has lead you to some ridiculous named scale, but it's really just the major or minor scale.

Let's just start with a C major scale. The notes are C D E F G A B C. You've probably heard that a million times. For the purposes of this article we'll put an initial diagram here.


FretEADGBE
7xxxxx
8xxxx
9xx 
10xxxxxx

Did you know that in a major or minor key you can use any note you want? Well you can. Notes that are played outside the scale are called accidentals. They have little to no bearing on the harmonic context of a song, not so much as a dog barking while you listen to your favourite song.

One of the most common pattern of accidentals used are a b3, b5 and b7, and these are commonly referred to as the Blues Scale. It is used in the vast majority of blues, rock, metal etc.

So lets throw those notes in too. For assistance I have added these accidentals with the o symbol.


FretEADGBE
6oooo
7xxxxox
8xxooxx
9oxx 
10xxxxxx
11oooo

Gee whiz, that's a lot of notes! Guess what, it's every note except two. They are the b2 (C#) and b6 (Bb). You can play these too if you want, I don't really care mate.

But the point is, in a song in the key of C major, if you ask this question:

What scale is this?


E|------------8-6-7-----------------------
B|------------------8-7-------------------
G|----------------------11-10-9-8-7-------
D|----------------------------------8-9-10
A|------6-8-9-----------------------------
E|--7-8-----------------------------------

You can see that it's simply the C major scale with b3, b5 and b7 accidentals.

Alternatively you could say it's a combination of the C major scale and the C blues scale.

However if you feel that you need a special name for it, I've used an anagram generator using the words major and blues to create some names for you to tell your friends.

- Maulers Job Scale - Real Jumbos Scale - Soar Jumble Scale

I hear you screaming but I'm metal and I play minor. Ok, let's do this one again kids. Let's do A minor.


FretEADGBE
4x 
5xxxxxX
6x 
7xxxxX
8xxxX

What are common accidentals in the minor? We have the b5 from the blues scale above, and we also have the major 7th, derived from the harmonic minor. The major 6th is quite common as well, especially in blues. Let's throw them in.


FretEADGBE
4ooxoO
5xxxxxX
6oox 
7xxxxoX
8xxoxX

That's quite a few notes again. Ten. Two aren't used, the b2 and the major 3rd. And you can still play them, once again I don't care. I'm simply illustrating that what you're looking for is most likely what you already know.

The scale above is the minor scale with major 6th, major 7th and b5 accidentals.

Again I can see that you don't feel this is exotic enough so I used a random word generator for this one:

- Cryptobranchidae Scale - Millenarist Scale - Keftab Scale

So there you go, I've just given you some crazy scales with names to go with them. And now you can answer your own question what scale is this?.

As for your forthcoming questions:

Huh, wait, err, what?

Just remember these three points:

1. In a major or minor key, you are always playing some variation of the major or minor scale.

2. If you play notes outside a scale they are called accidentals.

3. 99.9999999% of songs are in major or minor keys.

My favourite band Mr Deathface always play the other notes not in your diagram.

In major and minor keys you can play any note you want. They're called accidentals. They have no bearing on the harmonic context, about as much as a dog barking whilst you play. Mr Deathface probably realised this at some point, and instead of finding some wanky name chose to play whatever notes he felt like.

Alternatively in an interview he referred to it as the Graghie Scale because he thought it sounded cool. Either way he was really just using the minor scale with accidentals.

But my song is modal.

The pure truth is that 99.999999% of songs are not modal. They are in a major or minor keys. A song is either in a mode, or in a key. They can never be in both at the same time. They are two different things.

Scales can be derived from modes, but they cease to function as modes once they are played in a key. Does this statement make you go huh?. That's cool, stick to major and minor scales and keys for now.

And more to the point, if you really had a firm grasp on modes, you'd have a firm grasp on scales, harmonisation, chord construction, keys, accidentals and everything else that goes along with this. You wouldn't be asking "what scale is this?", you'd already know.

My friend told me that that's a multospagian scale.

Yep that's all good dude, tell him the correct name is actually the Millenarist Scale. Either way it doesn't change it being a major or minor scale with accidentals.

Err but what about all the other notes on the fretboard.

The notes repeat through the fretboard. Learn the fretboard.

Why do people use all these names for scales then?

Because it's shorter. And that's about it. A blues scale in a major key could be called the major scale with b3, b5 and b7 accidentals. But it's just easier to say blues scale. A harmonic minor could be called a minor scale with a major 7th accidental, but harmonic minor is shorter.

I found a solo which sortof matches those diagrams but it doesn't play all the notes there.

You don't have to play all the notes. Someone didn't come along and put a gun to your head and say play all the notes or die. Likewise, you don't have to sacrifice your first born kitten if you play them out of order.

How do I know if the song is major or minor? I don't even know what a key is.

Mate, you're going to have to learn. No matter what I tell you, it won't help. It could literally be any scale in the world, because as I've stated many times here, you can use any note you want. Yes I could tell you that B minor is the way to go, and you'd look up a pattern of notes of the B minor scale and you'd follow that for the song, but what happens with the next song? I'm not going to be here with you forever mate.

If this is something you'd really like to learn about, Josh Urban has a great set of articles which will teach you all that stuff, start with part 1.

What scale is this?

You tell me mate. I've shown you some simple diagrams of major and minor scales with accidentals. Do I need to add more? Should I say well Mr Deathface uses the b2 accidental and Mr Ug Ug uses the major 3rd so I'll add them in? The answer is you can use every note you want in a major or minor key.

To find the scale:

1. Identify if song is in a major or minor key. 2. Identify if accidentals are used. 3. If accidentals are present, use random word generator to create the name.

And now you know.

50 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Theophillis
    For this lesson folks, let's try using resources that are not internet based, and are instead peer reviewed and published by reputable companies. Modes DO abide by harmonisation techniques, not rules per se, as rules imply that there are no exceptions. They are a tonality that historically predate keys, and as such, supersede the common (more recent) major or minor tonality that this article assumes as a gross oversimplification. One of the reasons we use key centres and diatonic key signatures is for ease of reading, as a lot of the rest is psychological in reasoning and semantics. So, put Sympathy for the Devil in front of a classically trained musician to sight read, and they will find it easier to read it in E mixolydian than E major, by virtue of the smaller number of accidentals. Therefore an A major key sig makes most sense. I'm sorry, Alan, but to get back to the point I was making (which seems to have been lost in the tide of musical pedanticism), you are incorrect in your generalisation that 99.99999% of songs aren't modal. This is a cultural assumption (which you haven't tackled regarding celtic music. Also, it is a generalisation. Anybody who is a mod should be aware of the dangers of generalisations.
    AlanHB
    Bad Kharmel wrote: NO, just NO, you're a mod ban me if you want, but you are in dire need of a real theory class and are wrong on all accounts, none of this was right... at all ( I don't know where to start the misconceptions are so heavy), it didn't even address your question, the key is usually learned from either the key signature, or the final chord in the song,it's usually the key of the song, seriously, I normally will try fix someones theory, but this is so bad, I don't know where to begin
    Feel free to begin mate. Anytime is good. Perhaps start with an argument, or a point. Something like that.
    Theophillis
    shreddymcshred wrote: Bad Kharmel wrote: NO, just NO, you're a mod ban me if you want, but you are in dire need of a real theory class and are wrong on all accounts, none of this was right... at all ( I don't know where to start the misconceptions are so heavy), it didn't even address your question, the key is usually learned from either the key signature, or the final chord in the song,it's usually the key of the song, seriously, I normally will try fix someones theory, but this is so bad, I don't know where to begin, I really worry for UG if you're moderating musician talk, you need real theory classes (come on using word generators, nearly every combination of a chromatic scale has an official name) I bet you were the smartest undergrad in your theory 1 class
    One of the most well known techniques in legal circles is that if you cannot attack the evidence, you attack the person. It's usually the last resort of a failing defense.
    corza334
    *Reads article* Ah yes.. makes sense *Continues reading argument* *Head explodes*
    JD Close
    So in general, what he's trying to say is that old music school trick. A few quotes Alan lives by: "There is no such thing as a bad note" - Victor Wooten "Honestly, I was just playing any note..." - Toki Wartooth "It's okay Lou, you don't NEED to sing in key. Hell, don't even sing it at all" - Lars Ulrich
    Theophillis
    AlanHB wrote: ^ In keys, you can borrow chords. In this case the D is borrowed from the parallel minor, E minor. In modes you cannot, as it drags it back into a key. If the tonal center was A (which I don't think it is), you'd have exactly the same issue, except even more prominent, as the E (V in A major) is consistently hit, over and over again. Oh...(re-reads)...you think that A major is E mixolydian. Well I don't agree with that either, and as this will obviously affect every argument we direct at each other it's best to just end it here, or you can open a thread in MT discussing it.
    True, in keys you can borrow chords without actually altering the key. The most common borrowed chord is a major for the v chord in a harmonic structure to result in a perfect cadence (through the leading tone resolving a semitone up to the tonic). We do this in minor keys all the time without altering the key, and use the harmonic minor scale to cove this. The point here is that the B is borrowed for this specific common purpose, instead of using the diatonically correct B minor. This doesn't affect the key of E mixolydian. This is harmonisation 101. My use of A major as the example above was meant to imply that the notes of both A major and E mixolydian are common, not that they are the same. They share key signatures, but not harmonic structures. Your argument seems to be that the D chord is borrowed as a flat VII chord to fit the E major structures. While possible, it is incorrect in light of the more common V chord substitution of minor to major, which results in no new chord roots within E mixolydian, and brings in the leading tone for the perfect cadence. So, either a totally new chord that isn't used in E major is used, or one new note is added into E mixolydian. The answer is obvious.
    Theophillis
    Good article. I use these accidental ideas for students who don't want to go deeper into mode territory. The assertion that 99.99999% of songs aren't modal is a slight oversimplification though. There are a lot of modal songs in plain sight, and the classification of them into simply major and minor keys can result in contemporary harmonies being dismissed from serious study, but more importantly, by the classification of contemporary guitarists as somehow 'second class' musicians by classical and/or jazz musicians. As a beginners tool, this is a very useful article.
    Macabre_Turtle
    I lawled, because the things in this article are true. But I don't like implying to beginners that scales are useless. Yes, scales don't technically exist, they are just your choice of key and accidentals, and your accidentals can be thrown in everywhere, but putting some focus into scales when I was learning was what led to me understanding the effects of using these accidentals without it being a complete guess. You tell a beginner to play any note he wants because he obviously doesn't have to stay in a scale, he's just going to give you back a chromatic mess.
    Hydra150
    I liked the article. It contains many truths. I didn't like how you did the scale diagrams, found them hard to read. Also, this bit; "I found a solo which sortof matches those diagrams but it doesnt play all the notes there." Should be bolded, I think. The trouble with looking at it your way, assuming major/minor with accidentals, is that over some chords/progressions playing an accidental will not only sound good, but playing a natural/scale note will sound bad. For example many songs are based on a (non functioning) dominant7 chord (most funk, soul, blues etc), and using the major7 note over that chord will not sound good, so every time you play the 7 it will be a b7, an accidental. At this point is it not easier to think of it in some other way? I was watching a lesson by Joe Pass where he described that he thinks of chords/keys in three types, regardless of extensions and whatnot; major, minor and dominant - and his note choice when improvising is always based on one of the three, he has the freedom to use accidentals as you do but splits it into three categories instead of two. (which would render your discussion with Theophillis irrelevant).
    Theophillis
    AlanHB wrote: Theophillis wrote: AlanHB wrote: Most jazz songs are in major or minor keys too, but they tend to modulate more often, as well as using out-of-key chords. I suspect you're referring to application of CST, rather than songs being traditionally "modal" or "in a mode". Nope, I'm not referring to Chord Scale Theory. I know I've used this example before in previous posts, but Sympathy for the Devil is in E mixolydian (due to the constant use of E major as the harmonic arrival point from both the D chord and the B [functioning as the dominant] The presence of the V-I cadence in that particular song ensures that the pull to the tonal center is such that it could only be in a key. If the song were merely a I7-bVII vamp, there would be an argument for mixo, but it's not. We can continue this discussion in MT if you like
    The labelling of E major for this song is incorrect. The V-I cadence occurs in a temporally shorter part of the song than the E-D-A sequence. The E-D-A sequence implies A major with an E tonal centre, hence E mixolydian, and this occurs for most of the song. It modulates to E major for the refrain only, and as it does so for a short period of time, the key sig for A major applies throughout, the accidental here being the Dsharp note. Therefore, it's E mixolydian with a Dsharp accidental for this part of the song only (to go the accidental route), or this part could be regarded as a modulation to E major, but it IS a modulation to E major, as the song starts and ends in E mixolydian. By labelling songs as purely major or minor, you are also ignoring culturally specific music, such as Celtic music. This oversimplification is hampering. I stress, this is a good article, but the reason I'm not moving to the MT forum is that the flaw needs to be pointed out here, where it occured.
    AlanHB
    TheNameOfNoone wrote: start with part 1. NO SHIT SHERLOCK
    Quite a talent for missing the entire rest of the article there.
    AlanHB
    Theophillis wrote: AlanHB wrote: Most jazz songs are in major or minor keys too, but they tend to modulate more often, as well as using out-of-key chords. I suspect you're referring to application of CST, rather than songs being traditionally "modal" or "in a mode". Nope, I'm not referring to Chord Scale Theory. I know I've used this example before in previous posts, but Sympathy for the Devil is in E mixolydian (due to the constant use of E major as the harmonic arrival point from both the D chord and the B [functioning as the dominant]
    The presence of the V-I cadence in that particular song ensures that the pull to the tonal center is such that it could only be in a key. If the song were merely a I7-bVII vamp, there would be an argument for mixo, but it's not. We can continue this discussion in MT if you like
    Flibo
    This is some good stuff. It's unnecessary to confuse beginners with all those strange scale names such as harmonic minor or phrygian dominant whatever if they have no idea how to utilize them.
    Theophillis
    AlanHB wrote: Most jazz songs are in major or minor keys too, but they tend to modulate more often, as well as using out-of-key chords. I suspect you're referring to application of CST, rather than songs being traditionally "modal" or "in a mode".
    Nope, I'm not referring to Chord Scale Theory. I know I've used this example before in previous posts, but Sympathy for the Devil is in E mixolydian (due to the constant use of E major as the harmonic arrival point from both the D chord and the B [functioning as the dominant]). E minor pentatonic works well, as does E major pentatonic, but to simply label is as E major or minor with accidentals is an oversimpliciation for the musician wanting to progress, or engaging in debate with misguided confidence.
    TMVATDI
    AlanHB wrote: eteam_sammy4him wrote: I think my only issue with this is that in the initial display of the "C Major" scale you start on the M7 (B) rather than the tonic of C. Aside from that, a seemingly well put together article. I will have to sit down tomorrow and work through some of this. It doesn't matter what note you start on dude, C major is C major in the key of C major. The diagrams are merely there for a visual aid.
    I think he meant that its tougher for him visually. Great article btw,that diagram was near impossible to read but you already taught me this stuff a year ago anyway :p
    Theophillis
    AlanHB wrote: Theophillis wrote: I stress, this is a good article, but the reason I'm not moving to the MT forum is that the flaw needs to be pointed out here, where it occured. No worries mate, but you're talking about a song which consists of E, A and B and D. With the tonal center being at E, you have I, IV, V and VII. I don't think you can argue that the VII is a product of mixo harmonic context when you have all the major hallmarks of a progression in E major featuring there. There is even a chord which is derived directly from the E major scale, featuring the major 7th (B) which is not a product of harmonising mixo. So I don't agree. You can opt to play the mixo scale over the D, the b7 will accommodate for the clash.
    As I said before, the main progression is E, D and A. The B only occurs at a certain point in the song, and is not part of the first harmonic structure, the ending harmonic structure, or the main parts of the song. Therefore to use it as the defining point for the key of the song is misguided. The VII (if referring to E major) would be D sharp, not D, making the VII you refer to a flat VII instead, which is outside E major. Again, to paraphrase, most of the song is in A major (E mixolydian), not E major. To imply such is incorrect. This is also given by the main vocal line which follows the E D Csharp notes (A major/E mixolydian). Remember, the guitar isn't the only instrument to imply key and tonal centres. The final point (playing mixo over the D) is reinforced by the vocal line using mixolydian over every verse. It has to be E mixolydian though, as this is the only scale that completely fits this part (which is the most prevelant). To fudge, and use the D as an accidental isn't correct, as the D sharp (from E major) would clash. You can choose to agree or not, but the fact is not agreement. It's what is factually correct.
    Andrew32459
    if this article is serious, the author should go to college to learn some music theory
    Bad Kharmel
    NO, just NO, you're a mod ban me if you want, but you are in dire need of a real theory class and are wrong on all accounts, none of this was right... at all ( I don't know where to start the misconceptions are so heavy), it didn't even address your question, the key is usually learned from either the key signature, or the final chord in the song,it's usually the key of the song, seriously, I normally will try fix someones theory, but this is so bad, I don't know where to begin, I really worry for UG if you're moderating musician talk, you need real theory classes (come on using word generators, nearly every combination of a chromatic scale has an official name)
    Pastafarian96
    I got to this page after viewing the writer's profile, he's a ****ing lawyer and you come out with a personal attack!?
    AlanHB
    ^ In keys, you can borrow chords. In this case the D is borrowed from the parallel minor, E minor. In modes you cannot, as it drags it back into a key. If the tonal center was A (which I don't think it is), you'd have exactly the same issue, except even more prominent, as the E (V in A major) is consistently hit, over and over again. Oh...(re-reads)...you think that A major is E mixolydian. Well I don't agree with that either, and as this will obviously affect every argument we direct at each other it's best to just end it here, or you can open a thread in MT discussing it.
    Theophillis
    Bad Kharmel wrote: NO, just NO, you're a mod ban me if you want, but you are in dire need of a real theory class and are wrong on all accounts, none of this was right... at all ( I don't know where to start the misconceptions are so heavy), it didn't even address your question, the key is usually learned from either the key signature, or the final chord in the song,it's usually the key of the song, seriously, I normally will try fix someones theory, but this is so bad, I don't know where to begin, I really worry for UG if you're moderating musician talk, you need real theory classes (come on using word generators, nearly every combination of a chromatic scale has an official name)
    In Alans defense, this is a beginners article. It's also a tool I use for those who don't want to get bogged down in too much theory. In short, I don't think this is meant to be a REAL theory lesson, but more seen as a shortcut.
    AlanHB
    Theophillis wrote: I stress, this is a good article, but the reason I'm not moving to the MT forum is that the flaw needs to be pointed out here, where it occured.
    No worries mate, but you're talking about a song which consists of E, A and B and D. With the tonal center being at E, you have I, IV, V and VII. I don't think you can argue that the VII is a product of mixo harmonic context when you have all the major hallmarks of a progression in E major featuring there. There is even a chord which is derived directly from the E major scale, featuring the major 7th (B) which is not a product of harmonising mixo. So I don't agree. You can opt to play the mixo scale over the D, the b7 will accommodate for the clash.
    Rensa
    Alan thanks for taking the time to make this, i rated 10. Very well written and explained article. I was one of the people who wanted to know scales in the Music Theory forum part. Thanks dude! I understand now
    alastors_blade
    I like knowing various scale names just to **** with people. "Oh, I'd use the Romanian minor here..."
    AlanHB
    Most jazz songs are in major or minor keys too, but they tend to modulate more often, as well as using out-of-key chords. I suspect you're referring to application of CST, rather than songs being traditionally "modal" or "in a mode".
    AlanHB
    eteam_sammy4him wrote: I think my only issue with this is that in the initial display of the "C Major" scale you start on the M7 (B) rather than the tonic of C. Aside from that, a seemingly well put together article. I will have to sit down tomorrow and work through some of this.
    It doesn't matter what note you start on dude, C major is C major in the key of C major. The diagrams are merely there for a visual aid.
    AlanHB
    ^ I apologise about the formatting. I actually have little to no control over that process. I can assure you it looked great in a word document file, but when submitting it's effectively like a .txt document, so no tables, no bolding or other formatting options. That said I think the .UG wizards did a great job interpreting it. As for note choice, just play whatever you think sounds good. I'm illustrating you don't need random scales to access different notes. Joe Pass is most likely describing CST.
    AlanHB
    Theophillis wrote: So, put Sympathy for the Devil in front of a classically trained musician to sight read, and they will find it easier to read it in E mixolydian than E major, by virtue of the smaller number of accidentals. Therefore an A major key sig makes most sense. Anybody who is a mod should be aware of the dangers of generalisations.
    The issue is that we disagree as to what is in a mode, and what is not. Using your definition, there would be a whole heap of songs which would be classified as modal by virtue of a non-diatonic chord being featured. I disagree with this definition. However, with your definition the statement would be untrue, with mine it would be true. Otherwise you're free to ask the MT forum. We have many formally trained musicians, both with classical and jazz backgrounds that you are free to contact if you wish to know what one would think of the song "Sympathy for the Devil".
    Nomios
    I found this article really useful, thank you And your writing style is pretty good too
    AlanHB
    Theophillis wrote: True, in keys you can borrow chords without actually altering the key. The most common borrowed chord is a major for the v chord in a harmonic structure to result in a perfect cadence (through the leading tone resolving a semitone up to the tonic). We do this in minor keys all the time without altering the key, and use the harmonic minor scale to cove this. The point here is that the B is borrowed for this specific common purpose, instead of using the diatonically correct B minor. This doesn't affect the key of E mixolydian. This is harmonisation 101.
    Modes don't abide by the rules of harmonisation 101. They are a separate form of totality to keys. Borrowing a chord in a mode would most definitely make it within a key, so yes the answer is obvious. It's a bit more than the "let's see which scale has the most common notes". It's more about the pull to the tonal centre and rules of harmoisation. Modes are very hard to keep stable, with most modal compositions comprising of one or two chord vamps.
    shreddymcshred
    Bad Kharmel wrote: NO, just NO, you're a mod ban me if you want, but you are in dire need of a real theory class and are wrong on all accounts, none of this was right... at all ( I don't know where to start the misconceptions are so heavy), it didn't even address your question, the key is usually learned from either the key signature, or the final chord in the song,it's usually the key of the song, seriously, I normally will try fix someones theory, but this is so bad, I don't know where to begin, I really worry for UG if you're moderating musician talk, you need real theory classes (come on using word generators, nearly every combination of a chromatic scale has an official name)
    I bet you were the smartest undergrad in your theory 1 class
    eteam_sammy4him
    I think my only issue with this is that in the initial display of the "C Major" scale you start on the M7 (B) rather than the tonic of C. Aside from that, a seemingly well put together article. I will have to sit down tomorrow and work through some of this.
    steven seagull
    rockingamer2 wrote: I'm loling at the comments that say Alan should totally reset his theory knowledge.
    You just know that they're desperately clinging on to their modes and Spanish Gypsy scales like Gollum with his ring. I don't include the discussion with Theo, that's actually quie interesting - I still totally agree with Alan's side but at least the counter-argument is well-presented. To me that all boils down to how you interpret tonality, and for me and I think Alan too it's as simple as "listen to it". Doesn't matter what chords you throw into a song if they don't change the overall "pull". Yes they might aurally trip the listener up, and intentionally so, but they're not there long enough to establish a new tonality, and I doubt the writer would want that. In jazz arguably that's what it's all about, the parts are indeed greater than the whole, treat each chord as an "island". In most music that's not what we want to hear or play, the big picture is what matters. If the borrowed chords don't "distract" the listener enough from expecting that resolution to the tonic then there ain't no modes, and in most music that's the case.
    Theophillis
    'Listen to it" is absolutely the best advice, tbh. Theory exists to explain how something works, and in music, (as in psychology, which is closely related) the theories we have need to be adjusted for the individual to describe the actualities of perception. As nobody can REALLY share perception, all we can do is empirically make suggestions. To me, Mixolydian chord progressions sound different to the happier Major, just as Dorian progressions sound happier than Aeolian. For me, the simplification to major or minor just doesn't work.
    mfaltitudes
    I didn't understand a single thing that you wrote. But all my favorite guitarists use that kind of language.
    Theophillis
    alastors_blade wrote: I like knowing various scale names just to **** with people. "Oh, I'd use the Romanian minor here..."
    LOL! On the other hand, there actually is a system to scale naming and culturally specific scales.
    Theophillis
    Hydra150 wrote: I liked the article. It contains many truths. I didn't like how you did the scale diagrams, found them hard to read. Also, this bit; "I found a solo which sortof matches those diagrams but it doesnt play all the notes there." Should be bolded, I think. The trouble with looking at it your way, assuming major/minor with accidentals, is that over some chords/progressions playing an accidental will not only sound good, but playing a natural/scale note will sound bad. For example many songs are based on a (non functioning) dominant7 chord (most funk, soul, blues etc), and using the major7 note over that chord will not sound good, so every time you play the 7 it will be a b7, an accidental. At this point is it not easier to think of it in some other way? I was watching a lesson by Joe Pass where he described that he thinks of chords/keys in three types, regardless of extensions and whatnot; major, minor and dominant - and his note choice when improvising is always based on one of the three, he has the freedom to use accidentals as you do but splits it into three categories instead of two. (which would render your discussion with Theophillis irrelevant).
    That's kind of how I think of them too, but with the added complication of diminished and whole tone over certain chord types, just for a bit of flavour.
    AlanHB
    Theophillis wrote: On the other hand, there actually is a system to scale naming and culturally specific scales.
    Yep, it's called the ICSSA (International Culturally Specific Scales Association). For example they traced authentic Byzantine true bloods linage to today, and although guitars did not exist in the Byzantine era, they made the true bloods pick a specific set of notes that would be played, if a guitar player were to play with distortion during their time. Thus, the Byzantine Scale was born.
    Theophillis
    shreddymcshred wrote: Theophillis wrote: shreddymcshred wrote: Bad Kharmel wrote: NO, just NO, you're a mod ban me if you want, but you are in dire need of a real theory class and are wrong on all accounts, none of this was right... at all ( I don't know where to start the misconceptions are so heavy), it didn't even address your question, the key is usually learned from either the key signature, or the final chord in the song,it's usually the key of the song, seriously, I normally will try fix someones theory, but this is so bad, I don't know where to begin, I really worry for UG if you're moderating musician talk, you need real theory classes (come on using word generators, nearly every combination of a chromatic scale has an official name) I bet you were the smartest undergrad in your theory 1 class One of the most well known techniques in legal circles is that if you cannot attack the evidence, you attack the person. It's usually the last resort of a failing defense. As opposed to just saying, "this article is wrong, but i'm not going to tell you why"
    That's true. He didn't exactly make any valid arguments.
    rockingamer2
    I saw the title and though, "Oh god, here we go again..." Then I saw your name and was relieved.
    shreddymcshred
    Theophillis wrote: shreddymcshred wrote: Bad Kharmel wrote: NO, just NO, you're a mod ban me if you want, but you are in dire need of a real theory class and are wrong on all accounts, none of this was right... at all ( I don't know where to start the misconceptions are so heavy), it didn't even address your question, the key is usually learned from either the key signature, or the final chord in the song,it's usually the key of the song, seriously, I normally will try fix someones theory, but this is so bad, I don't know where to begin, I really worry for UG if you're moderating musician talk, you need real theory classes (come on using word generators, nearly every combination of a chromatic scale has an official name) I bet you were the smartest undergrad in your theory 1 class One of the most well known techniques in legal circles is that if you cannot attack the evidence, you attack the person. It's usually the last resort of a failing defense.
    As opposed to just saying, "this article is wrong, but i'm not going to tell you why"
    MaggaraMarine
    This is a great article. I hate it when everybody in the MT forums ask "what scale is this", etc. every day. They should really read this.