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Circle Of 5ths Question and Small Rant


(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5492
Topic starter  

<begin rant>
I know one of the answers is "do what sounds right", and that's fair enough and is quite correct. Spew it out if you feel the need. I get really bad tone and pitch burnout and get to the point where I can't tell up from down. A discussion about this hurts no-one and I get really tired of someone just piping in with this obvious observation as if to say "shut up" and quite posting threads. How about this We'll automatically assume I prefaced it with "on top of what sounds right, what are the basic ......". Sound good? (no pun intended)
<end rant>

OK, question time.

I was playing along with a backing track just now for a little while. It's one I got from one of those backing track sites, named "Jam Track - Blues In D". Sounds quite suspiciously like the backing to Statesboro Blues. I wish I could find one that suspiciously sounds like "Dreams I'll Never See" by ABB, but I digress.

I played some lead against the track in a D-minor pentatonic scale starting on the 10th. It's the first pattern position most refer to when talking about minor pent scales. I then thought of the circle of 5ths. If the song is in D, I should be able to do a Bm pent scale according to my handy little chart. I did so and it eather didn't sound that bad or I was getting tone burnout. Probably the latter of the two.

My questions are:

#1: Can I play either with similar success rates?
#2: Can I go back and forth?
#3: If I can't play Dm pent over a song in D, is it then a D-maj pent or a D maj scale?

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@steve-0)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1165
 

Yup, it works. Bm pentatonic contains the same notes as the D major pentatonic scale. The song is in a D blues key and a big part of blues music is combining major and minor tonalities, the great blues players typically use the minor pentatonic scale along with major pentatonic notes. You can go back and forth but it's alot trickier to do so (compared to improvising using just the minor pentatonic), but again this is what the great blues players do and they do it well. I think it really comes down to developing your ear and understanding what notes to play and when (of course, I haven't come close to mastering this).

A D minor pentatonic scale over a song in D is what gives it a blues feel, if you strickly use a major pentatonic scale or a major scale then it's going to sound more like country or pop music. That's not to say you can't mix and match scales, but again, it comes down to listening and knowing what to play.

Steve-0


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(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5492
Topic starter  

Thanks Stevo. Once in a while I can go from one scale to another. I try to do that when things are not just sounding right. It's pretty rare.

OK, so key of D means that I can play a D Maj Pent, D Maj, D min, D min pent, B min and B min pent scales? I'm wondering if I'm getting way ahead of myself and making sure particular chord progressions (modes?) will render one or more of these options faulty?

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@steve-0)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1165
 

OK, so key of D means that I can play a D Maj Pent, D Maj, D min, D min pent, B min and B min pent scales?

Not exactly. It's really the chords that are important. If you see a chord progression like this:

G major - A major - D major

Then the D major or D major pentatonic scale would probably sound best. The reason is that all the notes you are playing in that scale are found in the chords. If the progression looks like this:

G minor - A minor - D minor

D minor or D minor pentatonic scale would probably sound best because you're playing in D minor and again, all the notes from those scales are also found in the chords. If the progression looks like this:

G7 - A7 - D7

That's a blues progression and can use either the D minor pentatonic or the D major pentatonic.

B minor and B minor pentatonic are called the relative minor of D major and D major pentatonic. All that means is that B minor and B minor pentatonic contain the same notes as D major and D major pentatonic.

So trying to keep things simple:

1) When playing in a major key - Play a major or major pentatonic scale
2) When playing in a minor key - Play a minor or minor pentatonic scale
3) When playing over a blues progression - You can use either a minor pentatonic or major pentatonic scale
4) B minor and D major contain the same notes, when you play over a D major progression it's D major, when you play over a B minor progression it's B minor

Steve-0


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 Bish
(@bish)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3765
 

Sheesh, reading all this re-affirms why I'm still drumming.

Bish

"I play live as playing dead is harder than it sounds!"


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 Ande
(@ande)
Honorable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 659
 

Sheesh, reading all this re-affirms why I'm still drumming.
Don't sweat it Bish, just play what sounds right.

Sorry RParker. In seriousness, though- sometimes I can't TELL what sounds right. THat's what some of this theory stuff is for...

Best,
Ande


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(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5492
Topic starter  

OK, Steve-O. It took me a few tries, but I think I digested it. Most of it. I have to go re-read a section about the circle of fifths in a book. I think I might have been guilty about making it do too much. That's my current thought path anyhow.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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