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Let's say it's a song in the key of Am, and i want to play a short guitar solo over a bar of G chord. Can i play an F# note in that passage. Would it sound harsh or sound ok? (because the F sharp is in the G major scale, but isn't in the Am scale- the root scale of the song)

4 Answers 4

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It depends entirely on the voicing, and what effect you want. For example back in the 16th century, there are plenty of examples of two "soloists," one playing F# and E, and the other F and Eb, at the same time (in different octaves) over a G chord - and the result sounds entirely "OK" and not harsh.

The only "rule" worth learning is use your ears.

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A lot can depend on how you play the F#. If it were played as a quick neighbor note to the G it may sound as a chromatic embellishment and not a proper scale tone. On the other hand, if it sounds like you are using the G major scale it certainly matches the G major chord, but moves away from the A (natural) minor tonality. Changing the tonality in that way isn't necessarily a bad thing. I suppose it might brighten the mood of the music a little. Try to make a choice that gives the expression you want.

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Am6 and Gmaj7 fit together very nicely. I just recorded this snippet to prove the point. It's alternating Am and G triads, with a melody absolutely LOUSY with F sharps!

But why are you asking us if it will sound good? Do it and see for yourself! When you discover it sounds just fine, discard any theory 'rule' that says it shouldn't.

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It isn't diatonic to the key of A minor, but over the Am the F# produces an Am6 sound and over the G it would produce a Gmaj7 sound.

With only those 2 chords to base an answer on, I would say the F# adds pleasing dissonance to the Am, and would naturally fit over the G.

The rest of the progression in the piece you are composing would provide more context and would likely influence what your next note choice would be.

I've still got a lot to learn myself, so I'm interested to see other answers, and of course, your ears will always be the best judge!

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  • Interesting that you consider a maj7 'natural' but an added 6th dissonant!
    – Laurence
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 17:41
  • You've got me wondering as well now! I suppose it comes down to context and familiarity. I heard, learned and used maj7 chords well before min6 chords, and early on avoided m7b5 chords all together (for the poster Amin6 = Gbm7b5). To my ear a maj7 sounds wide, full and peaceful, it might be that it has 2 major 3's and 2 perfect 5's. The min6 on the other hand having one minor 3, one major 3, one perfect 5 and a tri-tone might be what I'm hearing? I don't know that I have an actual answer but this seems plausible as an explanation to me?
    – Steve
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 13:25
  • 'Amin6 and F#m7b5 are the same notes. (Even if you shift enharmonically and call it Gbm7b5!). But there's a reason for having two names.
    – Laurence
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 18:29

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