I was trying to find the scale for this tab:

The main chords are Fm A#m D# C.

I tried with F Harmonic Minor, but it lacks the D#. Not only that, but I have the feeling that this is something that happens a lot in this kind of Spanish rumba songs.

Any idea?

  • Ask yourself this: what is the key signature of F minor? The take another look at the D# and all the other things in that tab spelled with sharps. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 14:10
  • Two basic premises wrong here. 1 - wrong spelling of chords (probably by a guitarist). 2 - notes for a song must belong to the scale from its key. There are loads of questions here using those same inaccurate premises, so why aren't they labelled as dupes?
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 16:53
  • Thanks for the answers. Forgive my lack of accuracy since I am still a self-learner beginner. Yes, I am a guitarist and I wasn't aware of the strict spelling of the chords. I am now reading this another question about it. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 18:34

3 Answers 3


Start by spelling those chords as:
Fm, B♭m, E♭, C

Now look at all the note from these chords:
F, A♭, C; B♭, D♭, F; E♭, G, B♭; C, E, G

In order, these are the set:
F, G, A♭, B♭, C, D♭, E♭, E♮, F

This is just the notes of the F natural minor scale (or F harmonic minor scale), but with both E♭ and E♮.

Music in a minor key will often takes notes from the natural, harmonic, and melodic minor scales.
It is important to understand the difference between a key and a scale—see some of the answers in the post: Difference between keys and scales?

With F as the tonic, in roman numerals theses chords are:
i, iv, VI, V
which is nothing remarkable.

  • 1
    Even the tonic can be altered. Play a C alt chord for the dominant. C, Db, Eb, Fb, Gb, Ab, Bb. There is not even an F natural in that set, and an F natural note sounds bad and wrong over that chord. Yet at the same time the harmonic center note is F natural, even during the chord when the harmonic center itself sounds like a wrong note. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 15:23
  • Thanks for your answer @elements-in-space . It really helps to understand a bit more the situation. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 18:18

The transcription you linked to is by an inexperienced musician who can 'count frets' but understands little theory. A♯m and D♯ make more sense as B♭m and E♭.

Do the chords all then fit one scale? Maybe. I'm not even going to try. Many (but by no means all) single chords can be considered to have an associated scale. But there's no musical rule or requirement that a whole piece, or even one section of it, should share the same scale.

(Who IS telling beginner guitarists that this is so? They really should be told to stop!)


Yet another question with "I don't understand minor key harmony", "I assume that songs are in a scale", "I haven't heard about chromatic alterations", and "I don't know the difference between scale and key". There must be hundreds of instances of these on this site, but it's never a duplicate. You could get thousands of rep just by repeatedly debunking these myths, basically answering the same question over and over again, day after day, year after year.

Chords for rumba don't fit in any scale

  • Chords do not have to fit any scale, and very often they don't. Songs are not "in a scale". Song writers and musicians can utilize scales for reasoning and coming up with notes. Scales are a helper tool, like you can use rulers, templates or grid paper as helpers for drawing pictures.
  • The home chord is probably Fm. It's in F minor. The song's "key" is F minor. This does not mean that all notes are in any one scale. "It is in the key of F minor" means that the F minor chord represents a center of harmony, a home chord.
  • The chords are misspelled for F minor. They should be: Fm Bbm Eb C
  • During the C chord, the E note is most probably considered to be natural by most musicians. (Although you CAN play an E flat over the C major chord and it will probably sound just fine)
  • During the Eb chord, E is most probably considered to be flat by most musicians.
  • During the other chords, E can be natural or flat, whatever you like or whatever suits the melody.
  • 3
    (I understand the frustration, but keep in mind that each new asker is unaware of the previous ones or of their mistake (or else they wouldn't ask).) Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 14:13
  • @AndyBonner The design of this site is supposed to somehow prevent this from happening. Each question is supposed to have one answer and new posters are supposed to find that. If the automatic search when typing a question doesn't provide the answer to the prospective posters, and if search engines such as Google do not provide the answer either, then as the last resort, other site users are supposed to point to the existing answer. None of this seems to be happening, so apparently, the current StackExchange design does not work for music, at least not for the common scale/key/chord question. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 15:13
  • 1
    Well, hehe, I think anyone at any of the StackExchanges will confirm that the rate of newcomers who search before posting is quite low. The other problem we run up against, when many questions share the same fundamental misunderstanding even though they ask different variations, is that people aren't aware of their own misunderstandings. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 15:33
  • Thanks for your answers. I did search before posting, but I couldn't find anything interesting regarding rumba and I felt that there was any correlation between those two things. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 18:26
  • ...so this one also has the benefit of being a kind of XY problem, something else that floods all stacks. The asker thought the question was specific to Rumba, when it's really about minor harmony in general.
    – Theodore
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 19:01

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