A sequence of musical notes in ascending or descending order of pitch.

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26
votes
8answers
3k 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 ...
19
votes
2answers
2k views

Why do notes have multiple names?

I've seen the same note called different names for example the note F# can also be written as Gb. Why is this the case and are there times to use one name over another?
70
votes
7answers
14k 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?
120
votes
10answers
14k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

How to make a song with chords and scales?

I play acoustic guitar and have been learning a bunch of chords and scales. I can play many progressions already, and I am starting to write music. I am wondering how you would bridge chord ...
55
votes
23answers
3k 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 ...
15
votes
7answers
5k views

How to make melodies effectively?

Are there any tricks that help make melodies besides just experimenting until you find something that sounds nice?
25
votes
7answers
3k 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 I'...
35
votes
19answers
33k views

What is the difference between a mode and a scale?

I can't seem to find a straight definition for both.
36
votes
10answers
71k 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?
20
votes
6answers
46k 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?
29
votes
7answers
75k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
352 views

Why are the harmonic and melodic minor scales called what they are?

Does the harmonic minor have something to do with harmony, and does the melodic minor have something to do with melody? I searched this question on Google and nothing came up.
13
votes
2answers
649 views

What is the theory behind scales?

My question is the following: Scales are The backbone of quite everything in western music. Does anybody know if there is some sort of backbone behind scales? A number, something like that? Or do some ...
22
votes
10answers
4k views

When is a piece in A minor versus C major?

When would you say a piece, or a movement in a symphony, is in A minor versus C major? They both use the same notes on the scale... what would indicate that the piece is in A minor? Let's take an ...
17
votes
4answers
30k 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?
7
votes
5answers
410 views

Resources for learning the Blues [closed]

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.
21
votes
7answers
12k 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 ...
19
votes
6answers
4k 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, G♯...
10
votes
4answers
903 views

Exact pitch of blues scale notes

Wikipedia gives multiple candidate definitions for the blues scale. A musician showed me how to play blues e.g. in C by smudging say Eb and E. The actual note lies somewhere between. But where? ...
9
votes
2answers
359 views

Melodic Minor - Uses

The one problem I have with the Melodic Minor is that I just don't know how and where to use it. From my comprehension, it is the Minor scale when descending and when ascending it has a maj6 and maj7. ...
36
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

Guide-lines for creating a simple chord-progression?

I am working on a computer program that generates a simple melody, based on a simple chord progression of four chords taken from the 7 triads of the C Major scale. The program is also supposed to ...
10
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Is it acceptable to move hand position while practicing scales on guitar?

I was reading through the answers posted here, and I liked the idea of playing with the "finger per fret" method, but it's not always applicable. For instance I was practicing the Fmaj scale last ...
5
votes
4answers
8k views

What are the patterns of the minor scales

I understand that there are 3 types of minor scales Melodic Natural Harmonic But I always mix these up, and I don't know the patterns of them. I would like to know The basic pattern Some ...
12
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
29k views

How to know which scale a song uses?

I have a song in my mind, and I want to play it on the guitar. I know how scales are made (full and half steps), and I can recognize whether the next note is higher or lower in a song (not perfectly)...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

Different modes of pentatonic scale

Just as there are seven modes of the diatonic scale, I would expect five modes of the pentatonic scale. Have these been classified? Here they are, in the form of {semitone interval gaps} (Notes for ...
9
votes
1answer
203 views

Scales in modal versus tonal music

When tonal music replaced modal music, why were 6 of the 8 scales (modes) used in modal music abandoned in favor of only two, major and minor? Superficially this would look like a reduction in the ...
5
votes
4answers
242 views

Difference between keys and scales?

I am a Tabla (a North Indian percussion instrument) player and I am trying to learn the western music theory. My study was going well until I stumbled upon keys and scales. Now though I know what ...
6
votes
5answers
4k views

How do you compose using the chromatic scale?

Writting a piece of music using the chromatic scale would be interesting, but I can't think of a way to start it? What kind of structure would a piece have? Is it all subjective and up to the composer ...
2
votes
2answers
496 views

Naming Scale Degrees

As I understand the minor pentatonic degrees are 1 b3 4 5 7b It says b3 & 7b, does it matter which side the b is on and do they both mean flat? Scale degrees are almost always based off the ...
0
votes
1answer
222 views

Difference between Modality, Tonality and Chord-naming conventions in a more practical way?

There is a lot of very valuable information about these terms that I have been reading lately - inline on SE and on other places on the web: What's the difference between "modal music"...
30
votes
12answers
7k views

Why does the scale have seven (or five) notes? Why not six?

I'm a programmer by trade, and I have always felt that music was arbitrarily difficult. Please forgive my inexperience with musical notation. I had a little thought experiment with my wife today, and ...
16
votes
3answers
12k views

Do all chords in a progression usually fit within a scale

I am wondering if when writing a chord progression, all the notes fit within a single scale. If not, what is the logic behind chord progressions?
28
votes
9answers
3k views

Why isn't D the “most central” note?

When laying out the notes in the two-dimensional Wicki-Hayden layout, which is the most symmetrical layout I know of, it is visually clear that D is the "most central" note. Why, then, doesn't D play ...
17
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
9
votes
9answers
2k views

Is it necessary to use only notes and chords that belong in a specific scale?

I used to think it is necessary to at least follow the chords of a scale until I came across the Nirvana song "Lithium" and I realized the notes and chords he used in the song don't fit in any scale! ...
8
votes
5answers
536 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. ...
11
votes
5answers
7k views

What is the best way to learn scales in order to improve improvisation/writing of lead guitar parts?

Where I'm at skill-wise Played guitar on-and-off for about 5 years Up until a year ago had only really learned by playing from tabs Have been undertaking bi-weekly guitar lessons for just over a ...
10
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
261 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

How to Harmonize uncommon scales?

How do you harmonize scales like C C# F F# Bb Whole tone scale : C D E F# Ab Bb ? (The scales above are just examples.) Scales like these do not seem to bias to Major or Minor harmony, ...
20
votes
5answers
6k 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?
13
votes
2answers
3k views

Why do the notes of a blues scale sound good with the I, IV, and V chords?

If you are playing the blues in the key of C, any note in the blues key of C should sound good in the melody with either of the C, F or G (I, IV or V) major chords in the bass. Why is this and how do ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Expand Bass Guitar Playing Beyond Root Notes

I am fairly new to the bass guitar and I'm in a band. So far, I almost always just play the root note of the chord. I sometimes hold it until a new chord and sometimes repeatedly play this same note....
10
votes
3answers
1k views

How would you describe F G A chord progression?

I like the sound of F G A chords progression on a guitar, three major bar chords. Do these chords fit any scale? Am with an added 3 in it? Does it make it a 6-7-1 progression? When I solo over this ...
9
votes
3answers
373 views

Should I learn the notes of all the scales

I'm playing guitar and therefore have learnt all the major,minor and harmonic minor patterns. But while improvising I usually forget the right notes of a scale(the problem comes when switching the ...
5
votes
2answers
5k views

Scales and Ascending/Descending differences

I'm learning some unique guitar scales and I'm confused with certain scales. For example, the Raga Asavari scale plays a list of notes when ascending. However when you descend, you add more notes to ...