I'm curious why the D# sounds good in the guitar solo of Pink Floyd's Mother. You can check for example the tab here - the 14p13 is a pull-off from E to D#, but D# isn't in the G major scale even though Mother is in the key of G major.

  • Are you sure there isn't a key change in the solo? Also, D# is the leading tone to E minor (E harmonic minor) and that is the relative minor to G major. In that context it does work. I think he is clearly soloing in E minor. – ggcg Dec 12 '18 at 0:26
  • I believe the solo resolves on a G and that all the rest of the notes other than the D# are in the G major scale for what it's worth. Not sure that he's soloing in E minor but I don't know... – user1493652 Dec 12 '18 at 0:57

Basically, D♯ doesn't mean he's playing the ♯5 in this case. He's playing the ♮7 in E minor.

The solo is played in the key of E minor (which is G major's relative minor), and a common thing to do when in minor is to raise the 7th degree, often for harmonic purposes (it creates a leading tone, because D♯ resolves better to E than D does). You'd never guess that they call it harmonic minor. Another common thing to do is to raise both the 7th and the 6th, making melodic minor.

So, one is soloing in E minor, the relative minor of G major, and one uses the harmonic minor scale to get that D♯ in the solo.

  • Indeed. If OP wants a seasonal comparison, here's the sheet music for What Child Is This? in E minor with a lovely D# near the end of each phrase. – Luke Sawczak Dec 12 '18 at 4:40
  • Isn't the nat.7th of Em D nat? (1st para). Did you mean D#? It's probably the way it's phrased - the normal seventh note in Em is D# - apart from the Dnat found in E natural minor. That's just dinged an alarm bell. Imagine the scale 'A flat natural minor' Sounds like a contradiction in terms! – Tim Dec 12 '18 at 7:42
  • @Tim I see the potential for confusion, so I'd just say naturalised seventh or raised seventh. The natural seventh would be D♯ (the 7th is D, naturalised up to D♯ even though it has a sharp). I and many others call it that way because major scales include a natural seventh, not a sharp one. Also, the sharp 7th would just be enharmonic to the octave. "A flat natural minor" is weird, but completely standard – user45266 Dec 12 '18 at 16:23
  • @Tim also, this makes a lot more sense in keys like D♭minor, where C♮ is the natural 7th. I guess another way to look at it is that in natural minor, the 7th degree is flattened, and undoing that takes a natural, not a sharp. – user45266 Dec 12 '18 at 16:25
  • It's just, maybe only to me, but C maj and several of the 'flat' keys (F, Bb, Eb etc)all have a leading note that is in fact a natural, whereas all the sharp keys (G, D, A etc) have a sharp (not a natural) for their leading note: major and two minors. I understand the leading note is natural (normal) for any key, it's just that some readers may suffer confusion! Merely trying to make things as clear as poss. – Tim Dec 12 '18 at 16:31

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