A sequence of musical notes in ascending or descending order of pitch belonging to a single key within the compass of one octave.

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76
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9answers
6k views

Why do minor keys sound “sad”?

Oftentimes major keys are called "happy" and minor keys are "sad". Why is this? Is it universal across cultures that use these scales? Do similar connotations exist in other scale systems? (If this ...
45
votes
17answers
1k views

Ways to get out of a scalar rut?

I'm a well versed and experienced guitarist. I have a decent sense for rhythm and melody, but I have a VERY hard time with soloing. I know you've heard it all before.. I'm one of those guys that got ...
45
votes
6answers
4k views

Why are there twelve notes in an octave?

I know that one scale consists of 12 half-tones. But my question is still: Why? Why not 13 or 11?
28
votes
9answers
3k views

Key signature for writing in modes other than major and minor

I have trouble deciding what accidentals to put in the key signature for pieces in dorian, phrygian, lydian or mixolydian modes. There seem to be tradeoffs associated with each choice. For example, ...
23
votes
8answers
2k views

Is it possible to write a song without a key?

"This song is in F Major", "That song is in A Minor", "This song is in D Minor, but modulates to F Major in the middle", etc. Can we say "This song has no key"? Are there songs that have/follow no ...
23
votes
3answers
1k views

What's so special about minor and major scales?

background: I'm an amateur and self-learner pianist. What I know, I know from books or google, so I'll start with summarising what I already know - please don't hesitate to correct me if I have ...
21
votes
8answers
3k views

Why are the white and black keys on the piano placed the way they are?

I am pretty convinced it is not just for historical reasons. I have found a mathematically-sound explanation of the twelve-tone musical scale, thanks to this question. Does anyone know a similar, ...
20
votes
7answers
17k views

What does it mean to write a song in a certain key?

I have been searching for a while to try to correctly understand this. What exactly does it mean if for example a song is written in C Major? Does it mean the song's notes cannot contain any sharps ...
20
votes
9answers
23k views

Why learn scales? What are they for?

I tried Googling but it seems there is no answer for this one. So the internet assumes everyone knows what scales are for? Why should I learn them? Are they important to be a good guitarist?
18
votes
6answers
907 views

The major scale - why and how?

background: I am an amateur guitarist. I was trained in Indian classical music as a kid. Most of what I know in music theory is from books or Google. So please feel free to correct me or tell me if ...
16
votes
5answers
394 views

What are modes and how are they useful?

I'm a self-taught guitarist with zero to little experience in music theory. After marrying a violinist I found that there's a lot to music theory that I know tribally but don't understand the ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Algorithms for music composition

I'm a beginner in music but I also like to fool around with simple computer programs . So I found a little python library to generate MIDI files . So what I do now is that I have a few rhythm ...
16
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5answers
4k views

What is the importance of practicing scales on piano, and the proper fingering of them?

First of all I want to point out that I practice scales a lot and even enjoy it. I just don't know why they are so important, as this site says for example: "Proper fingering of the scales on the ...
16
votes
7answers
607 views

Where should I go to learn about non-Western scales (particularly Turkish & Greek)

Apart from Turkey and Greece, I mean. I'm looking for fairly abstract musicological and comparative descriptions, not "how to play"-style information. Particularly interested in departures from the ...
16
votes
3answers
902 views

What are the greek modes, and how do they differ from modern modes?

This Question might be TwoFold, based on an uncertainty I have I understand the construction of traditional Ionian-Locrian modes, and I have read that various notes in the modes have traditionally ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

What scale is this?

This is a very minor question, but I'm trying to learn a piece (a Bach Concerto in D minor) that has the following sequence of notes played in order: A B C# D E F G A My piano teacher said it was a ...
15
votes
1answer
299 views

Is this piece of renaissance music really in the locrian mode?

A fifteenth-century dance manual contains this piece of music: which appears to be (uncharacteristically) in the locrian mode. Is it really, or am I mis-reading? Does anybody know of other music ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

Differences between the concept of Scales , Raagas, and Thaaths?

Western music has Scales (major, minor, etc.) while Eastern Music primarily has a large number of Raagas derived from some basic Taaths. Both these groups represent sets of notes on which actual song ...
14
votes
5answers
22k views

What is the first scale one should learn on guitar

The title really sums it all up but I'll try expand it slightly. Lets say I'm learning guitar and would like to improve my guitar work. Which of the scales should I learn first and why?
13
votes
10answers
6k views

What is the difference between a mode and a scale?

I can't seem to find a straight definition for both.
12
votes
7answers
4k views

Why does the Dorian mode on C have two flats?

I'm studying scale modes and I just found on Wikipedia that the Dorian mode on C has two flats... Why is this? Because the Dorian mode is just the major scale (Ionian) starting from the second ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

What are the characteristic scales, keys, intervals, progressions, etc. of pirate / sailing / nautical music?

Title pretty much says it. I am barely an armchair composer, but I would like to try my hand at some game music that requires some nautical theming. It seems to me that penny whistles and a celtic ...
12
votes
4answers
617 views

Why is the aeolian mode the minor scale?

I've studied music theory for many years now, and one thing has always confused me about the naming methodology for the minor scale. A major scale is based off the Ionian mode and consist of only ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

With sheet music, how do you determine whether the song is in the major key or the minor key?

For example, if the key signature on the left doesn't have any sharps or flats then it could theoretically be in either the C Major scale or the A Minor scale. How do you determine which one?
11
votes
3answers
550 views

B flat minor - the key of death…seriously?

My music teacher always rambles on about b flat minor, endlessly repeating how it is the key of death and is therefore used in movies for death scenes. Alright, I understand that it is minor, no ...
11
votes
7answers
610 views

How to figure out what key a piece is in?

I am trying to write a guitar accompaniment to the piece "Fair and Tender Ladies". But I have no clue what I need to do to figure out what key that piece is in. Also, the instrument playing the ...
11
votes
3answers
207 views

What is this scale? [Root , +1 , +3 , +1 , +2 , +1 , +3 , +1 (Root again)]

Intervals (relative to previous note): Root , +1 , +3 , +1 , +2 , +1 , +3 , +1 (Root again) Example: A, Bb, C#, D, E, F, G# This scale is used often in Turkish Music. But I don't know if it has a ...
11
votes
4answers
644 views

What is an atonal mode?

I got an album by Ornette Coleman and Pat Methany, "X", and on the linear notes it talks about atonal experiments within the song structures. Are there scales and chord progressions that go along with ...
10
votes
5answers
8k views

What scales are suitable for funk? Is there a funk scale?

I hope this question isn't too "noob"-ish for you guys (but hey I've gotta start somewhere). What scales are suitable for funk? Is there a funk scale, akin to the blues scale? I'm pretty sure the ...
10
votes
4answers
7k views

The differences between natural, harmonic and melodic minors

I'm studying scales and came across the natural, harmonic, and melodic minors. I understand the patterns for each scale but what other important differences exist between the three?
10
votes
4answers
386 views

How to know if it's a mode or scale?

How do I differentiate between modes? Suppose a person is playing "D Dorian". How do I know that it's "D Dorian" and not "C Major/Ionian" or "E Phrygian" and so on, and in fact "A natural minor" ...
10
votes
6answers
3k views

Why is a C7 chord named a dominant seventh chord?

I understand that a C7 chord contains a flattened 7th note in the C major scale, but what specifically makes this a dominant 7th chord? To me there is nothing 'dominant' about taking a note out of ...
10
votes
3answers
680 views

Is it possible to differentiate Major scale and Minor scale by ear?

A beginner's questions - regarding the Major and Minor scales. Consider Cmajor and Cminor for example. What's the significance of Major and Minor scales, when both sounds almost same? Is it possible ...
10
votes
4answers
502 views

How to make melodies effectively?

Are there any tricks that help make melodies besides just experimenting until you find something that sounds nice?
9
votes
4answers
2k views

Melody Improvisation over Chords

My question deals with what scale to play over a given chord progression. For example, consider a progression containing I,II,IV,V in C. I.e., the rhythm guitar is playing C, Dmin, F, and G... My ...
9
votes
2answers
664 views

Scale modification in sus2 and sus4 chords

I've recently been looking at what makes chords what, and hence my first target for this was looking at major, minor, sus2, and sus4 chords. I know major chords are made up of the first, the third, ...
9
votes
2answers
641 views

Can I play `A scale` song on a `C scale` harmonica?

Here is how to play a C scale on a harmonica. But I found a song which is in the A scale. So, is this possible: to play the A scale song on the same harmonica? If so, What would the table look like? ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

Logical way to learn movable scales on guitar?

After learning the CAGED 'open string' scales, what scales to do next? In what order or what way? When I learn a new scale, it seems to have the effect of displacing my ability to play other scales ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

What is the proper way to play A-Flat scales on piano?

Consider four cases: A-flat major A-flat (natural) minor A-flat melodic minor A-flat harmonic minor I start them with the third finger on the A-flat key (both hands), but I have no idea how a ...
8
votes
2answers
167 views

What do scale fingerings have to do with musicianship in the context of college auditions?

First off I am not a conventional musician. I have taken classical lessons in trumpet and some in piano, but have taught myself almost everything I know about music. I have a vast understanding of ...
8
votes
5answers
810 views

Guitar scales further up the fret board.

I'm hoping someone can help me, i've been playing guitar for a while and mostly kept myself confined to chords/rythm, but now I want to explore some lead styles to add to my skills. So I began with ...
8
votes
2answers
186 views

Was the pitch A given that letter because the minor key was originally the “basic” mode?

It's something that's puzzled me; The key that has no sharps and no flats, in essence the "basic" key, is C Major. Well, fine, but why C? Why not label that key and note A, if it's the foundation of ...
7
votes
6answers
484 views

What type of exercises should a guitar beginner do?

I'm learning classical guitar theory from internet, i get free random courses video on the net. I've tried to play some tabs that i found them on youtube, most tabs I've seen are very hard to play.. ...
7
votes
4answers
540 views

Singing notes while playing scales

I've heard, that singing or humming notes while playing scales or arpeggios is good for you. Is that so? In what way? If I am not a singer, why should I be singing the notes?
7
votes
4answers
750 views

Is G sharp major a real key?

I'm mostly self-taught, so I don't know much in the way of theory beyond the basics. I have heard of G sharp Major a few times. I believe a scale in the key goes as such: G♯, A♯, B♯, C♯, D♯, E♯, Fx, ...
7
votes
5answers
233 views

Resources for learning the Blues

Can anyone recommend any good resources (books or online) for learning the Blues on the guitar? Scales and theory is what I am looking for.
7
votes
2answers
962 views

What can I do about my problems with piano scales which manifest in just one direction?

I've been practicing scales for some time now, and I found them mostly easy and fun to play. The problems begin when I have to play them faster, but oddly enough my problem manifests only when playing ...
7
votes
4answers
213 views

Note naming convention while creating scales

I am having some trouble with naming notes in a major scale. The major scale formula is 0 , 1, 1 , 1/2 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 1/2 If I use this formula to calculate notes in G# major scale, I get the notes ...
7
votes
5answers
405 views

Comfortable notes in a key

I've been playing guitar for some time, and often when i do improvisation exercises, I hit notes which sound too tense to finish a run/lick/riff on. Kind of like having a sentence which no full stop. ...
7
votes
5answers
4k views

What is a good guitar solo to learn in the minor scale?

I am starting to play and improvise in the minor scale, and I would like to learn some guitar solos that are good examples of this scale so that I see how other people use it. What are some famous ...