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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

92
votes
10answers
7k 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 ...
54
votes
6answers
5k 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?
48
votes
17answers
2k 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 ...
30
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, ...
29
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
28
votes
11answers
5k 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, ...
25
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 ...
24
votes
16answers
9k views

What is the difference between a mode and a scale?

I can't seem to find a straight definition for both.
24
votes
6answers
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 ...
22
votes
7answers
25k 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 ...
21
votes
9answers
32k 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
1k 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 ...
19
votes
5answers
536 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
988 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 ...
18
votes
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 ...
18
votes
1answer
403 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 ...
17
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
17
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 ...
17
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

What scale is this? ( A B C# D E F G A)

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 ...
16
votes
4answers
3k views

If Für Elise is in Am why there is a D# in it?

Für Elise intro starts with E D♯ E D♯, Wikipedia says the key is Am. What scale does it fit? Is it like a blues scale where D♯ is a flat 5? Why D♯ is used in the sheet music? Is it easier to read ...
16
votes
7answers
667 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
1k 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
5answers
27k 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?
15
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
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
2answers
820 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, ...
14
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?
13
votes
4answers
765 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
243 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
11answers
3k views

Math PI represented musically

I'm creating a program to output the values of pi as sound. I've seen a few videos and some other representations, and want to try to make my own for fun, except i'm unsure how to proceed. There are ...
11
votes
6answers
10k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
9k 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?
11
votes
7answers
683 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
4answers
491 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" ...
11
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
923 views

How to make melodies effectively?

Are there any tricks that help make melodies besides just experimenting until you find something that sounds nice?
11
votes
3answers
822 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
560 views

How to interpret a switch from Em (Aeolian) to Bm?

I'm self taught, so I know just a few things on scales and modes, some probably wrong. So the other day I was composing a new song. I believe it starts in E minor, as I was playing over the Chords Em ...
11
votes
3answers
850 views

Pentatonic scale with a sharpened 2nd note, any name?

I was messing with the A minor pentatonic scale and discovered that if I sharpen the 2nd note of the scale, it sounds very interesting to my ears, even more than the original scale. Does this already ...
10
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 ...
10
votes
9answers
513 views

guitar scales: where to start

I am learning guitar for a month. I like to learn and practice scales a lot (as I hear they are the building blocks of lead guitar and I want to play lead eventually), but there being a million videos ...
10
votes
4answers
8k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
662 views

Is there a minimum of notes and chords i need to determine the key of a song?

Just by curiosity. What is the minimum of notes and chords i need to determine the key of a song?
10
votes
4answers
745 views

Why does this key change work?

In the song 'Respect' by Aretha Franklin which is a fairly simple progression in Bb major the saxophone solo part of the song seems to make a key change to the key of Em. I don't understand why this ...
10
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
197 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

What use is knowing how many sharps or flats a key signature has?

Books and articles I've read on learning key signatures seem to focus on mnemonics that tell you how many sharps or flats the key has, but I don't understand how knowing B Major has 5 sharps helps you ...
9
votes
4answers
978 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, ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

How to make songs with chords that don't belong in a scale?

I've always wondered how come there can be a chord progression with some chord that doesn't belong in the particular scale... Moreover, how can it be possible that this progression is in any key at ...