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using totally different scales over the same chord confusion

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almann1979
(@almann1979)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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i got very confused by what i am about to post below (i found it just looking for some music theory while my class were doing an exam)
anyway, although i cant say i understand it, I would like to ask if i have grasped something right from it.
As far as i can tell it says that if you find a minor chord in a progression, you can play over it using...

a) the major scale of the note 3 frets higher (okay - i understand that as it is the relative major)
b) the major scale of the root 2 frets below (?? is this something to do with making it sound dorian?)
c) the major scale of the root 4 frets below (no idea)

here is the section of the article

Key Chords
Gmajor: Gmaj7 Amin7 Bmin7 Cmaj7 D7 Emin7 F#min7b5
Fmajor: Fmaj7 Gmin7 Amin7 Bbmaj7 C7 Dmin7 Emin7b5

In the key of Gmajor, Amin7 is the II chord but in the key of Fmajor, it is the III chord. If you looked at the key of Cmajor you will find Amin7 to be the VI chord. So we can say that when you see a minor chord in a progression you can treat it in three ways:

As a II chord in the key a tone below.
As a III chord in the key a maj 3rd below
As a VI chord in the key a 3rd above.
This gives us 3 ways in which we can apply a major scale to a minor chord. If you played a Gmaj scale, a Fmaj scale and a Cmaj scale over a Amin7 chord, you would hear three very distinctive effects. To create an interesting change in a melodic line when you come across a minor chord in a progression, try playing one of the three major scales to change the job of the minor chord (you are in fact, changing keys when you do this). Only do this for as long as the chord lasts in the bar, since the major scale you are now using will probably clash with the parent key of the chord progression.

so, did i understand this correctly?
thanks in advance - Al

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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If you want to use a major scale over a minor chord, you could use the one with the root

- 3 frets higher (playing C major over Am; the Am is the vi chord in C)
- 2 frets lower (playing G major over Am; the Am is the ii chord in G)
- 4 frets lower (playing F major over Am; the Am is the iii chord in F)

So yes, in the context you've taken it from, you're correct.
-

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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almann1979
(@almann1979)
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Topic starter  

thanks noteboat, but what i dont get now is the "math" bit. :D

this says if i am playing in a c major progression, i can play the f major scale over the A minor chord. i really dont get why this can be? is it a modal thing?

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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Kind of. The F scale has Bb instead of B natural; that's the same as the C mixolydian scale. Since Am doesn't have a B, you can use either one without a conflict.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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kingpatzer
(@kingpatzer)
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I'll disagree that it's about modes. Modes are kind of a subset of what you're talking about.

What really matters is the tones within the scales, and how they relate to the harmony.

Some tones in some styles will work great. A b5 in jazz can be just peachy, but in rock it sounds wrong most of the time, for example. There is both a theory component, as Noteboat eluded too, that is, tones don't conflict, and a style component. For that reason there aren't hard and fast rules about what works and what doesn't, though there are some pretty straight forward guidelines.

So when talking about playing major scales over minor chords you get some pretty well established conventions, but they don't work because of rules, they work because the notes combine to form a set of musical elements that we've accepted as being pleasing.

The same ideas apply to altered scales, for example blues scales or bebop scales.

The key ideas is that the tones don't create overly dissonant conflicts with the underlying harmony based on our musical conventions. Randomly adding a b9 to a dominant 7th harmony generally won't work, but tossing in a blues scale works fantastic, the b3 and #4 provide enough dissonance to generate tension and interest, but not enough to sound wrong to our ears. But go back in time and that same combination would have been met by some very odd looks!

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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wkriski
(@wkriski)
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As you can attest, thinking that way is way too confusing for most students.

While some teachers like to teach modes, I think you'd be better off playing in the key while targeting chord tones from the current chord. So in G major just play using the g major scale but understand what notes are in each chord as they go by.

You can start to add other non-chord tones (that would be analyzed by some as modes) but you use the major scale as a framework.

Not everyone will agree with me. But there are many awesome guitarists like Jimmy Bruno and Robert Conti who don't teach modes at all and they do quite well.

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