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Quick Clarification - Minor Scale over Major Prog.

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Scalli
(@scalli)
New Member
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

Hi All,

I was wondering if it's acceptable to use a minor scale over a major chord progression of the same key.

To clarify, I'm aware that I can use a relative minor over a major progression because they contain the same notes:
C Major: C D E F G A B C
A Minor: A B C D E F G A

But I am not sure if I can use a C Minor scale over a C Major progression because technically I would be using notes not in the key of C Major:
C Minor: C D Eb F G Ab Bb C

Is it the case that this is technically incorrect and therefore has no place in modern music? Or is it technical incorrect but still acceptable in genres such as blues because the conflicting notes are how blues music gets it's bluesy tones? Or is it technically correct to use C Minor notes over a C Major progression? or somesuch?

- Scalli


   
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David Hodge
(@davidhodge)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 4472
 

Hi Scalli

And a belated welcome to Guitar Noise.

Musicians use scales from different keys quite frequently when soloing and there are many reasons to do so. Using the minor scale (or minor pentatonic) over a major chord progression is one of the most-used soloing techniques, especially when it comes to playing blues or blues-style music. We've an article about it here at Guitar Noise that might be helpful:

https://www.guitarnoise.com/lessons/turning-scales-into-solos-part-3/

Looking forward to seeing you around on the Forums.

Peace


   
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Scalli
(@scalli)
New Member
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

Thanks Dhodge, that article has cleared up a lot for me.

I was playing around last night with using A minor vs C minor over a C Major (I IV V) blues progression. They both sound like they fit but I was wondering one thing.. I can only apply the minor pentatonic blues scale in C minor right? If I try to use the A minor pentatonic blues scale I will adding flats from the A Major scale which is completely irrelevant to what I'm doing? Is that correct? Or have I jumbled it all up in my head?


   
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David Hodge
(@davidhodge)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 4472
 

Hi again

You certainly can use the A blues scale to solo over C major if you'd like. The notes in the A blues scale are A, C, D, Eb, E, and G. The E will make the solo sound major while the Eb will give you a more blues-y feel. Plus, a lot of people like flipping from Eb to E - you'll hear it done in lots of solos.

When soloing over a minor progression the important thing is to understand the whole chord progression and how it relates to your tonal center. Songs in minor keys often involve shifts between the three different minor scales (natural, harmonic, and melodic) and simply being in the minor pentatonic or blues scale can rob you of a lot of tonal possibilities when playing.

Hope this helps.

Peace


   
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lachlanh
(@lachlanh)
Active Member
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 13
 

Hi Scalli

Actually if you use the A minor Pentatonic or A blues scale over a C major progression you will effectively be playing the C major Pentatonic scale - albeit with a blue note. If you start your solo with a C major Pentatonic scale you will get a 'nicer' sound but you can lift the dynamic of the solo by switching to the C minor pentatonic scale / blues scale half way though. The minor Pentatonic scale sounds more 'rock' so its a great way of adding some contrast to your solo. Does that make sense?

Lachlan Horne. Guitar tutor for 40 AMAZING THINGS YOU CAN DO WITHT THE MINOR PENTATONIC SCALE web tutorial - Free lesson at guitarscalesthatrock.net/gf.html


   
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donfully
(@donfully)
Eminent Member
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 11
 

Some great explainations here. I just want to add - Music theory is to explain why things work musically. So there's nothing such as technically incorrect but sounds right. If it sounds right, there's a reason why, and understanding why is part of music theory.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6A-nt5c_gbs&nohtml5=False


   
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kimrim
(@kimrim)
Active Member
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 5
 

Some great explainations here. I just want to add - Music theory is to explain why things work musically. So there's nothing such as technically incorrect but sounds right. If it sounds right, there's a reason why, and understanding why is part of music theory.

Totally true. We did a segment on understanding what music theory is at University, exploring different cultures past and present and how they use different scales to what the Western ear is use to. In some kinds of music, notes of a particular scale are not the only ones that are allowed. Notes from outside of the scale, known as accidentals, are also allowed. There's also modes and ragas which are kind of a different take on scales. It really does get quite interesting the more you delve into it. But yeah, if it sounds good then why not, push the boundaries and experiment. Sometimes the less understanding of theory means that you can be more creative without worrying about whether it should work or not.

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Alan Green
(@alangreen)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5342
 

There's also modes and ragas which are kind of a different take on scales. It really does get quite interesting the more you delve into it.

Modes are getting a bit boring, but there's scope for more round here on Ragas - I studied them a bit in my final year at Uni and there's space round here for a lesson or two from someone who knows what they're on about.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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