scales


Mglambo
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Mglambo
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04/03/2020 12:06 am

Hello Christopher Schlegel or anyone. Been working on scales and modes....hope this doesn't sound too confusing in my wording:

Was jamming to a backing track. It was D chords and E chords. So I played some lead in A major thinking that was the key. It sounded pretty good. Then I fooled around in D and then in E with varying success. I wrote down all the common notes in these 3 keys and the only notes not in any of the three were A#, C, and F. So if I avoided those 3 notes it sounded decent. Same with key of C...if I avoided C#, D#, and G# it sounded ok. This may be a backwards way of looking at modes? but does this make any sense?


# 1
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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04/03/2020 1:38 pm
Originally Posted by: Mglambo

Hello Christopher Schlegel ...[/quote]

Hey, back at you. :)

Originally Posted by: Mglambo

Was jamming to a backing track. It was D chords and E chords. So I played some lead in A major thinking that was the key.[/quote][p]Good thinking. A major is the only key that has both those major chords. The big clue there would be 2 major chords a whole step apart, that's got to be the IV & V chords from A major.

[quote=Mglambo]It sounded pretty good. Then I fooled around in D and then in E with varying success. I wrote down all the common notes in these 3 keys and the only notes not in any of the three were A#, C, and F.

Close!

Key of A major: a - b - c# - d - e - f# - g#

Key of D major: d - e - f# - g - a - b - c#

Key of E major: e - f# - g# - a - b - c# - d#

So, there are a lot of notes in common: a - b - c# - e - f#. This is the A major pentatonic scale!

But notice that if you play the E major scale while the E major chord is happening it can sound fine, too. Likewise with the D major scale while the D major chord is happening. Which notes sound okay depend on what is happening overall with the music at that time.

The big lesson here is that context is everything.

If you play the notes of the A major scale while another guitarist is hammering away on an A major chord or a bass player is playing an A note in eighth notes, then the combined effect is going to sound like a strong, happy major scale starting on the root.

If you play the notes of the A major scale while another guitarist is hammering away on a D major chord or a bass player is playing a D note in eighth notes, then the combined effect is going to be that peculiar half spacey, half fantasy sound of the Lydian mode of starting on the 4th scale degree.

If you play the notes of the A major scale while another guitarist is hammering away on an E major chord or a bass player is playing an E note in eighth notes, then the combined effect is going to be the bluesy, pop-rock sound of the mixolydian mode starting on the 5th scale degree.

Consider another option!

If you play the notes of the A major scale while another guitarist is hammering away on an F# minor chord or a bass player is playing an F# note in eighth notes, then the combined effect is going to be the sad or serious sound of the minor mode or scale because you are essentially playing A major's relative minor scale.

Context is everything.

[quote=Mglambo]So if I avoided those 3 notes it sounded decent. Same with key of C...if I avoided C#, D#, and G# it sounded ok. This may be a backwards way of looking at modes? but does this make any sense?

Yes, it makes sense! You find a group of notes that sound good. And if it sounds good to you then you use it & look for why. Usually the reason is that the notes you like are part of some key or mode related system.

This leads to another important point about scales & soloing: you don't have to use every note in the scale. You are supposed to use the scale as a palette of options, not a laundry list of ingredients that must be included. Use the scale or modes as a list of possibilities, then target chord tones, then build melodic phrases.

Hope this helps! Please ask more if necessary & have fun experimenting with improv!


Christopher Schlegel
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# 2
Mglambo
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Mglambo
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04/18/2020 4:57 pm

Ok....somewhat related to all this...I was improvising to a backing track song - Morning Dew - in D major. It obviously resolves to the D. When playing the D major scale if I hit the C# note it sounds awful. So I would flatten it to C and it sounded great. Is this perhaps because the song is in D mixolydian mode? Therefore the key of G major? And if so how would one figure that out? Just by ear or trial and error? Thanks in advamce!


# 3
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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04/18/2020 6:18 pm
Originally Posted by: MglamboI was improvising to a backing track song - Morning Dew - in D major. It obviously resolves to the D.[/quote]

I'm not familiar with that song. Can you post a link?

Also, you mention that it resolves to D. How did you determine that?

Originally Posted by: MglamboWhen playing the D major scale if I hit the C# note it sounds awful.[/quote]

That's going to create the sound of a D major7 chord. Also, the C# would be part of an A major chord as the V chord if the song is in the key of D major. Is there an A major chord in the song? If so, have you tried to target the C# when it happens? If not, then maybe you aren't in D major.

[quote=Mglambo]So I would flatten it to C and it sounded great. Is this perhaps because the song is in D mixolydian mode? Therefore the key of G major?

Maybe so! It might be in G, or it might be a modal piece in D mixolydian. It depends on the context of the whole song or chord progression.

[quote=Mglambo]And if so how would one figure that out? Just by ear or trial and error? Thanks in advamce!

You accomplish that by considering all the chords & notes in the song & when they occur. That's how you determine the key signature & which scale or mode to use & how & when to target chord tones.

This is a good place to mention my collection of tutorials on improvisation. You might be familiar with some of these concepts, but it might be a good idea to review & work through all of them.

https://www.guitartricks.com/collection/learning-to-improvise

Hope that helps!


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Mglambo
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Mglambo
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04/18/2020 9:23 pm

Hi Christopher,

I determined that it resolved to D just by ear - playing a D note as it landed on that chord at the end of a verse. The song is by The Grateful Dead. Pretty long jam!

https:www.google.com/search?q=morning+dew+grateful+dead


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Mglambo
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Mglambo
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04/18/2020 9:28 pm

Also...there is no A chord in the song.


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Herman10
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Herman10
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04/19/2020 12:23 am

Almost sounds like an exact copy from "the end" by the Doors. Chords used are Dsus2-C-G and an ocassinal F so I would say since they don't play the 3rd in the D chord it leans to Dm and therefore is D dorian. C major scale sounds great and even with the C# it sounds even more like the Doors song.

My 2 cents

Herman


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Mglambo
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Mglambo
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04/19/2020 2:16 am

Thanks hsn..... I'll mess around with that.


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ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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04/19/2020 5:36 pm
Originally Posted by: MglamboI determined that it resolved to D just by ear - playing a D note as it landed on that chord at the end of a verse.[/quote]

Got it. Good thinking!

[quote=Mglambo]The song is by The Grateful Dead.

Thanks!

That's definitely a modal tune in mostly D mixolydian.

D (I) - C (bVII) - G (IV)

There's a little guitar motif that is played occasionally that outlines:

d-c-d, c-b-c, b-a-d-b-a-d

That's clearly referencing D mixolydian. There are times when other guitars & the bass use D pentatonic minor with the note F. And that's a way to add a sort of a bluesy element.

Also, there is an F major in the "turnaround" or "chorus"

F (bIII) - C (bVII) - Em (ii) - D (I)

The F is a modulation. You'd have to adjust the mixolydian mode to dorian briefly to stay strictly with the chord changes. But 2 things are important to keep in mind here.

1. That F happens very quickly compared to the other chords. And it's a bluesy element you can add at will.

2. This is the Dead & they are a very loose, free-form jam band. Especially in this tune, they weren't as concerned with staying precisely within the key or chords. There are place in which you can hear several instruments colliding with different modes & licks.

Another important point about this kind of playing. It's not as if they are constantly using every note from any given mode. Just a touch of D mixolydian here. A touch of pentatonic major here & minor there.

Have fun with it!


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Mglambo
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Mglambo
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04/22/2020 3:00 pm

Thanks Christopher! I'll fool around with it


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ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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04/22/2020 3:34 pm
Originally Posted by: Mglambo

Thanks Christopher! I'll fool around with it

You're welcome!


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# 11

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