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Chord proggression question

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Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3
Topic starter  

Ok so I get the major scale (i think),
and I get I ii iii IV V VI VII*
But does the same apply when you want to use other scales over the top of the proggression

Say I'm playing a I VI ii V I proggresion that I figured out using the major scale. Could I play a blues scale in the same key over it? Or would I have to figure out the proggression in the blues scale to make it sound right?
also does this apply to all scales?

Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921

It depends on what you're after. Any 'C' root scale can be used over any 'C' based chord progression - but if it's not a C major scale, you'll have one or more notes that don't quite fit. For instance, if you play in C blues, you've got Eb, F#/Gb, and Bb that don't occur in C, so those notes are going to create tension - but that's ok if you resolve it. In C Lydian, you've got F#, in C Mixolydian you've got Bb, so anything other than C major is going to have those odd notes building tension, but they'll be in different places depending on the scale you choose.

Harmonizing scales is done on diatonic scales - those with 7 tones, each having a different letter name. Since the blues scale only has six tones, and it's got two with the same letter name no matter how you spell it, it's not harmonized. To understand why, you can see what chords you'd come up with:


Every third note would give you

C-F-G = Csus4
Eb-Gb-Bb = Ebm
F-G-C = Csus4 (inverted)
Gb-Bb-Eb = Ebm (inverted)
G-C-F = Csus4 (inverted again)
Bb-Eb-Gb = Ebm (inverted again)

So from a six-note scale, you only end up with two chords.

Trying to harmonize in major/minor third invervals won't work out much better... do you go C-Eb-Gb (C diminished) or C-Eb-G (C minor)?

Any diatonic scale, like the harmonic minor or melodic minor, can be harmonized the same way the major scale is, though.

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