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Scales and Keys Question

Music Theory
btimm  
19 Aug 2010 08:48 | Quote
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Using C as an example, would the A minor scale be in the key of A minor or C, since it is relative to C?
case211  
19 Aug 2010 10:15 | Quote
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I don't know exactly what you are asking, but it is most common to refer to the key of a song by the Major scale root note. I do sometimes use the relative minor to refer to a song. So really it's either,and it's more up to you, but I think that using the Major scale root note to refer to the key of the song is more proper.
gx1327  
19 Aug 2010 10:43 | Quote
Joined: 20 Sep 2009
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right, i think that the scale is in the key of the song. for instance, the C major scale has many relative scales. A Aeolian for instance, as well as G Myxolodian, and several others (G Myx being the only one i can think of off the top of my head).

all these scalse contain the same notes. what makes them "in a key" depends on what they are played over.
btimm  
19 Aug 2010 11:21 | Quote
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Okay, I think I get it. So if I played an Am scale over a C chord, I would not in fact be playing Am, but would be playing C and the key would be C? But if I played that very same scale over an Am chord, then the key would be Am and I would be playing the Aeolian mode? And if I played that same scale again over a FM chord, then I would be in the key of F, but playing Mixolydian? So does the chord then drive the key, but the scale dictate the mode? Would it be best described as the key giving the song a given feel, but the mode adding more context to that feel?

This is pretty confusing to me. I guess this is the issue with attempting to learn something yourself - there is just so much information, it is difficult to find a good starting point for learning all of this information and how to go about learning and practicing and understanding it all.
Admiral  
19 Aug 2010 12:22 | Quote
Joined: 10 May 2009
Germany
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Yes, you are right btimm, when you play the Aminor scale over an Aminor chord you are playing Aminor. If you play the Aminor scale over an Cmajor chord you still play the Aminor scale maybe, but your brain will let you hear the Cmajor scale. Thats also the key to the modes, you cant hear a mode if you dont have the right chord or underneath your melody. If you play the Aminor scale over a Cmajor - C Ionian - over D minor its D Dorian - over E minor its E Phrygian and so on. Thats the modes as simple as they are.
case211  
19 Aug 2010 15:10 | Quote
Joined: 26 Feb 2009
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Here's an exercise to play with:

Get your hands on a recording software/loop pedal and record a short loop of you playing a C chord, D Minor chord, E Minor chord, etc.

Basically just make a single chord loop(for now) and practice playing the modes over them, play through them like you were soloing and you really get a feel for the different ways that the modes can affect a chord progression.
Don't just play the scale matched with it's root note chord either; play with playing the different modes over a single chord.
btimm  
19 Aug 2010 15:14 | Quote
Joined: 14 Dec 2009
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I will need to look into getting a loop pedal, that sounds like a pretty fun idea!
Admiral  
20 Aug 2010 06:15 | Quote
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Loop pedals are pretty expensive, I think just recording yourself play it or use the jam section on the side (with a picking pattern probably so that it sounds nicer) will be good enough to start off!
BodomBeachTerror  
20 Aug 2010 14:19 | Quote
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yeah good loop pedals are pretty expensive. check out Boss RC-20 or a Digitech Jamman. but I think they are definately worth it, especially if you have no band to jam with
EMB5490  
20 Aug 2010 14:58 | Quote
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loop pedals are the best piece of gear you will ever buy. get it, you wont regret it.

sometimes i can jam for like 30-45 on the same track just repeating. it really helps my playing
btimm  
20 Aug 2010 16:40 | Quote
Joined: 14 Dec 2009
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Yeah, this is something I will definitely by purchasing in the future. Not something I can afford just yet though, I have some other priorities like getting my second child set up with a room. :o) I looked on craigslist and eBay and they seem to hold their value very well too, so that's not an option either sadly.
RA  
22 Aug 2010 11:59 | Quote
Joined: 24 Sep 2008
United States
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well it all depends on how everything is voiced. Scales and Chords are pretty much the same thing with one KEY difference chords are all at once and melody well you get it. So with chords we get more information for our brains to process thus establishing a Key quicker.

But the problem with A minor over C major is what are you playing(or really what our are brains in interpenetrating). Is it a "C Major scale" play over a "C Major Chord", just instead of starting on C(the tonic) your staring on the 6th (A), or are you really playing a "A minor scale" over a Rootless "A Minor 7th chord". or are you playing something completely different. So this is about voicing and context and establishing a key.

As you kind of hinted at this is really hard to explain or to teach yourself from reading. if i was there your get it in a heart beat just by listen (at lest the idea of it).

Maybe another example is a Minor 7th chord (1,b3,5,b7) or should i say a Major 6 chord. A minor 7(A,C,E,G) C major 6(C,E,G,A). They have the same notes. Now the easiest way to establish the Key is to keep the Chord in Descending order, but that would miss the point. mixed up the chord play them in mixed up closed voiceings(that will get hard on the Guitar) drop 2s and 3s. See which sound more a C major chord and more a A minor chord. Then play them in progression, what is by itself may sound like a C major but in the right progression is really a A minor chord. experiment.

Also get your modes and try to establish a Key with them. Don't change chords just play in one scale and only one scale. To help you hear it, it may be best to record a Drone of the Tonic. I'd start with C Ionian, and stay there for a good while, as it is the easiest is establish a Key in, due to the leading tone,(the #4 messes with Lydian), and stay away from minors(at lest at first) in the "Diatonic Major scale" set there a bit ambiguous(besides Phryian, but that would work against you, at lest in western music(b2 is consider a dissonance)), and Harmonic minor is also a very easy scale to do it in as well but your more then likely to subconsciously, start playing(voicing) it in a more Spanish/eastern way as to popular common music trends.

what also you could due is to play the chord changes without the chords. I'd do it in a simple 12 bar blues(no funny stuff just a V as the 12th bar back to I Turn around), as everyone(at lest subconsciously) gets it, and it has a very strong pull to the key center(being that the chords are all dominant). Hell after the first chord and you get the rhythm going, every already knows the key and it hasn't even been established due to it being so common in American music, but what your going to do is just get real use to the progression in your head and keep it there. Then with out playing them play over the chords. If you have trouble it may help to play the chords and sing a improvised melody over the chords at first then try to play to play that melody without the chords. If done right someone else should hear the chord changes(wont know what they are unless they are musical) without the chords.

But i think the real problem, and this is a problem at large with guitar players is you need to know what your playing what note your on, but MOST IMPORTANT, as letter names are really only for better commutation between players, WHAT INTERVAL YOUR ON(the "key" to understating all of music's Chords and Scales). This blanket scale, pattern crap is just wrong it is not enough to know where the notes lay in some box and play them randomly until something happens, but to know what Note each of them are and how they function with in the scale. and while your playing to know that note your on were you going and where you have been.
btimm  
24 Aug 2010 11:43 | Quote
Joined: 14 Dec 2009
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Thanks for all the replies, it's been very helpful!


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