Questions tagged [scales]

For questions about playing, understanding, or studying scales.

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47 votes
9 answers
188k 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 or ...
7 votes
5 answers
804 views

What is the name of that magical sound: a II chord in a major scale?

Forgive me if my terminology is not the best. I've long loved cadences where, in a major scale, a II is played instead of ii. For instance, G, A, Bm, C, D, Em, F#dim rather than G, Am, Bm, C, D, ...
0 votes
1 answer
121 views

Is there a ''mathematical'' reason for the distinction of black/white keys on a piano or is there only a cultural reason?

This question can be found in different forms on the internet and this website. Unfortunately, I am not satisfied with the given answers: They are partly even different from another. So please let me ...
2 votes
4 answers
140 views

12 bar Blues in Bm scale

The first four bars of the Bminor blues are Bm7 / Em7 / Bm7 / Bm7 What does the 7 mean? Does it indicate that the 7th note of the Bminor scale (A) needs to be included in the chord and the same for ...
0 votes
4 answers
127 views

Fuzzy notes or some clearer, well-known term out there for what I mean?

Pondering about a yet-to-implement feature in a DIY software tool, also to be yet well-documented for other computer musicians who might be interested in the future. The tool is an interpreter or ...
14 votes
9 answers
9k views

Does the starting note for a song have to be the starting note of its scale?

Does a scale always have to start off with the note it is named after? For example, the Dm scale is defgab♭cd`. If I wanted to sing a song in D minor, would I have to start with the note D? Or could ...
1 vote
1 answer
93 views

Are there widely accepted names for 31edo modes?

I am looking for scales and modes in 31edo, and I found this page: https://en.xen.wiki/w/31edo_modes It's overall a nice library of scales. The issue is, the namings are too unique that I cannot find ...
3 votes
2 answers
71 views

Chopin Nocturne in C sharp minor Scales RH and LF correspondence, does one choice make more sense musically than another?

Take the longest scale (measure 56--in this previous discussion some alternatives were given but it does not address my question): The Henle edition I have (shown here) seems to group rather evenly (...
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

Pentatonic and Chinese tradition - what I am getting wrong?

I am not a musician, just a dilettante. I am interested in the traditional Chinese music system, which is supposed to be a pentatonic scale. According to Wiki, one way to get a pentatonic scale is to ...
0 votes
1 answer
87 views

Are there any disadvantages to using 12 letters for the musical notes, instead of 7 letters with sharps/flats? [duplicate]

I am working on a fantasy spoken language for a fantasy world ultimately (long ways away from that!). One thing I'm currently dealing with is the basic letters used to make the sounds/words, and ...
1 vote
4 answers
91 views

Major chords on bass guitar

So I've been playing the bass for about a year and a half, I play most nights and play with friends as often as I can. Until now I have only played songs I can get tab for, and spend time learning it ...
8 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why does this Roman numeral chord have a ♯ prefix?

These are the chords for some A minor scales: For melodic minor, why does the F♯o diminished chord have a '♯' in front of the Roman numeral, and the G♯o diminished chord does not?
35 votes
5 answers
3k views

The notes outside the major scale form a pentatonic scale

Something that woke me up in the middle of the night, realising that if you take the 12 notes in an octave in western music, and from that you remove all those belonging to a major scale, you are left ...
0 votes
1 answer
70 views

I can generally sing on-key, but I fear that I'll sing off key in front of the audience. What should I do?

So I've been wondering that: I can generally sing a song with correct pitches (is it called on-key singing? Sorry, english is not my first language) without guide melody on home. But throughout my ...
3 votes
2 answers
644 views

How to practice guitar scales on the first 3 strings [closed]

I am just beginning to learn the guitar. Maybe it is natural, but personally I find it more difficult playing the upper part of a scale (or higher in pitch, 1st, 2nd and 3rd strings) mainly because of ...
0 votes
1 answer
120 views

Can we shift the diatonic scale "one fifth" to the left?

The seven-note Pythagorean scale is obtain by completing the cycle of fifths until we get to the eighth fifth. The diatonic scale is obtained by starting with the fourth and then running the cycle of ...
11 votes
5 answers
2k views

Why is the key typically the first and/or last note (or chord) of a song?

Is there a strategical reason when composing for the key to commonly be the first and/or last note (or chord) of a song?
13 votes
5 answers
4k views

How to find scales to improvise with for "How Insensitive" by Jobim

I am pretty new to improvisation. So far I have improvised over a 2 5 1 change using the diatonic 7th chords and the underlying scale tones that fit in with that chord. I am playing on a guitar. As a ...
4 votes
6 answers
390 views

"The" versus "a" diatonic scale

A diatonic scale is defined as an ordered collection of pitches. However, given the many modes of the diatonic scales, what is meant when someone says "the" diatonic scale? Wikipedia says it's an ...
2 votes
2 answers
106 views

How did minor 2nd get its name?

In the natural, or harmonic or melodic minor scale, we do not find the minor 2nd note which is rather found in Phrygian or Locrian Mode, or maybe Ionian#1. Then why is this note called minor 2nd if it ...
1 vote
1 answer
151 views

What is a scale consisting of Root, m3, M3, P4, P5, M6, m7 called?

In a chord progression that follows a circle-of-fourths pattern with each chord being a dominant 7 chord (each chord is R, M3, 5, m7), each successive pair of chords contains 7 notes, with one shared ...
7 votes
5 answers
1k views

Confusion regarding intervals

In my study of intervals I learned that two notes separated by one semitone is a minor 2nd interval. This feels quite intuitive to me and I readily accepted this fact a long time ago. Just recently, ...
2 votes
3 answers
573 views

Why does Cmaj7 and Emaj7 sound good (or a name to describe this progression)?

I have an extremely limited understanding of theory, and from what I currently understand, chords will sound good together if they share a common key/scale (e.g. for C major scale, the chords that ...
0 votes
1 answer
87 views

What is the difference in playing a mode in key vs in sequence?

So I got more serious about guitar recently and I learned the major scale and all of the modes. My question is, what is the difference, assuming you’re in the key of G major, in playing A Dorian, and ...
2 votes
3 answers
198 views

Are there names for the different Pentatonic scales?

We all know on the guitar there are 5 positions for the Pentatonic Scale and a big deal is made about position 1 being the minor pentatonic and position 2 being the major pentatonic. But what about ...
10 votes
3 answers
751 views

With modes, is 'tonic' still the appropriate term for naming the first note of the scale?

Or is it better to just call it 'first note' (eg: In D Dorian, is 'D' the tonic or just 'first note'). And I suppose same question for the the rest of the scale degrees too (super tonic, mediant etc.)....
6 votes
1 answer
230 views

When, why, and how did Mayamalavagowla become the fundamental scale of Carnatic music?

Students of Carnatic classical music are taught Mayamalavagowla (melakarta 15), aka the double harmonic major / gypsy major scale, as the default. The introductory exercises for voice and ear training ...
2 votes
5 answers
194 views

Why when playing 12 bar blues why does the min7th note seem to set up the change to the 4th chord

When playing a 12 bar blues progression, playing a min7th note over the I chord seems to naturally set up the change to the IV chord. Why is this? For example: in the key of A, it sounds good to ...
4 votes
2 answers
206 views

How do i arrange chords after mixing pentatonic modes?

The Ionian mode which is the Major scale - is the second mode of the minor pentatonic scale (the Major pentatonic scale) plus a Perfect 4th and a Major 7th notes. It is also a combination of, for ...
5 votes
3 answers
1k views

How to handle songs whose scales are neither major or minor in harmonic mixing?

Harmonic mixing typically relies on the circle of fifths, often renamed as the "Camelot wheel" in the context of harmonic mixing. However, that circle/wheel only contains two scales: major ...
1 vote
1 answer
147 views

Could a program perform automated scale/mode detection beyond just the major and minor scales?

The automated scale/mode detection programs that I am aware of such as Mixed in Key can only detect major and minor scales, in addition to the key. Could there also be programs that could perform ...
2 votes
3 answers
2k views

pharygian and harmonic minor scales

I am hearing that the harmonic minor scale has the same notes as the phrygian scale built from the 5th of the harmonic minor scale. But when looking at the A harmonic minor scale I see a G# while the ...
7 votes
5 answers
3k views

Why is music using a temperament other than 12-TET rare today?

There are several other temperaments like 19-TET and 31-TET, but almost all modern music uses 12-TET. Why aren't the two former used more often?
10 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why is the scale of Hotel California B-min but not F#-phrygian?

I was listening Hotel California by Eagles and decided that F# is the key/tonic for this song. Thus it has to be F#-Phrygian scale. But over the internet I see that it is B-minor. It means it has same ...
5 votes
3 answers
684 views

Playing a scale with a flat 10 across multiple octaves

Let's say I'm playing a keyboard solo and I'm using a C major scale with a flat 10. So I play an E in the first octave and an E flat in the second octave, but then I get very, showy prog-rocky and I ...
6 votes
4 answers
362 views

Does this progression through the modes have a name?

I discovered that if I play a major scale, i.e. Ionian mode, then move through the modes with the same root note in the following order: Ionian Mixolydian Dorian Aolian Phrygian Locrian At this ...
1 vote
3 answers
146 views

How to know what scale to use for filler licks in a chord progression?

I learned about secondary dominants recently, and I found that this particular progression in the key of C major sounds quite nice: C - E7 - Am I - V/vi - vi I am playing it in the following voicings: ...
1 vote
0 answers
93 views

How do find the key signature in "Fantasia on Greensleeves" [closed]

Can someone verify if Ralph Vaughan Williams "Fantasia on Greensleeves" is played in F natural minor/melodic minor scale or C minor, if not which key signature?
1 vote
0 answers
64 views

What is the specific key and tuning for this tongue drum I just got? [duplicate]

I just got a tongue drum and I'm not sure how to look up music or tabs specifically for it. The numbers starting at 1 and going around clockwise are: 1, 6 with a dot below, 2, 5, 1 with a dot above, 5 ...
3 votes
3 answers
75 views

Do added-tone chords change depending on the key?

I'm so confused. I have three questions. 1. Is the added tone (or note) counted from the tonic of a key or the root note of the chord? 2. Since, with the same scale degree, a note changes depending on ...
-3 votes
5 answers
292 views

What is between a Major Key and a Minor Key? (keys with a neutral third)

I know the 2 main types of keys are major and minor, but is there a 3rd type of key? (Diminished keys would be extra-minor keys; so, that is not what I am searching for.) I’m looking for keys with a ...
2 votes
0 answers
56 views

Why is it the C Major scale that is played without accidentals, instead of A [duplicate]

Why is it C's Major scale that comes without accidentals instead of A? The C Major scale is played C D E F G A B C The C chromatic scale is played C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C Why was it decided ...
2 votes
2 answers
204 views

Brahms Concerto Piano 1 Rondo : Hungarian Gypsy scale?

Piano part, Measures 136-139 (in Breitkopf's) - Pollini playing A/ Can I understand the right hand part as based on an Hungarian Gypsy scale ? B/ Are there any functional ? harmonic ? logical ? ...
2 votes
4 answers
2k views

Intervals or scale degrees?

A couple people were saying in a previous post, how for ear training one should think in scale degrees and not intervals. So if I'm on the note E and I want to get to the note G, then I shouldn't ...
-1 votes
2 answers
107 views

Two categories of scales

There are scales like C-Major or Eb harmonic Minor or A-octatonic or G# Mixo(#11) or E-acoustic. Heck, what not, a plenty of scales actually, more you could imagine to be listed here. And there are ...
0 votes
1 answer
126 views

Why are all legato practices about 3 notes per string?

Is it normal if I practice legato on 5 positions major, minor scale? The thing I notice practicing legato with 5 positions scale is harder to keep tracking on metronome, since some string only has two ...
0 votes
3 answers
150 views

How to find the parent scale (prime form?) for a group of sibling modes?

Reminder: I know just enough theory to be really annoying. this is everything I know about it. so far. I've calculated all the possible modes and recently learned they all have names but what eludes ...
8 votes
3 answers
4k views

What are the modes derived from the C major scale?

I'd like for someone to explain the 7 modes derived from the C major scale.
3 votes
2 answers
149 views

When to use Blues scales in jazz

I looked it up and found that the key shows you what blues to use during solos. But I find songs with a key of C but using A blues. Does this mean the key doesn't show when to use specific blues ...
1 vote
1 answer
99 views

How do I use moveable solfege to play songs by ear? [duplicate]

I've been told solfege will help me play a melody by ear and have been learning about it. One thing that really confuses me, is do I approach it by using intervals to remake the song? For example when ...

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