Author Topic: Scale & Key  (Read 1179 times)

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Offline Progmetty

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Scale & Key
« on: June 17, 2020, 12:01:14 AM »
Question from a strictly tabs guy who's been playing for like 15 years but only now decided to try understanding some theory..
When somebody says that a note is out of key, does that mean the same thing as out of scale?
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Offline bl5150

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2020, 12:19:35 AM »
Question from a strictly tabs guy who's been playing for like 15 years but only now decided to try understanding some theory..
When somebody says that a note is out of key, does that mean the same thing as out of scale?

In very basic terms if a song is strictly in the key of C major , then all the chords/notes within the music will be derived from the C major scale.   So yeah............an out of key note would be a note that is NOT a part of the C major scale.

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Offline pg1067

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2020, 10:45:37 AM »
Question from a strictly tabs guy who's been playing for like 15 years but only now decided to try understanding some theory..
When somebody says that a note is out of key, does that mean the same thing as out of scale?

In very basic terms if a song is strictly in the key of C major , then all the chords/notes within the music will be derived from the C major scale.   So yeah............an out of key note would be a note that is NOT a part of the C major scale.

Also, I've never heard the term "out of scale," but I would assume it's the same thing as "out of key," which is what bl5150 described.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2020, 08:35:55 AM »
I have a list of things I want to learn before I die:

- How to hotwire a car
- How to juggle
- How to pick a lock (extra credit for being able to jimmy a car, though I've sort of done that, kinda)

And number four, in case I learn any of the top three, is "modes".   I get the basic idea of "keys", even if I don't have any of it memorized, but for the life of me I don't even get conceptually what "modes" are. 

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2020, 09:14:28 AM »
Modes aren't too complicated of a concept, but there's a lot of not-so-helpful information about them. The question is really, why would you want to learn it? If you're planning to be a great improviser, knowing your modes is quite essential, but if you're a campfire guitarist or someone who just likes playing along to songs, there's no real need to know everything, I think.
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Offline pg1067

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2020, 09:18:13 AM »
I have a list of things I want to learn before I die:

- How to hotwire a car
- How to juggle
- How to pick a lock (extra credit for being able to jimmy a car, though I've sort of done that, kinda)

And number four, in case I learn any of the top three, is "modes".   I get the basic idea of "keys", even if I don't have any of it memorized, but for the life of me I don't even get conceptually what "modes" are.

Fundamentally, a mode and a scale are the same thing.  As you probably know, the most well-known scale is the major scale (e.g., C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C), which is also known as the Ionian mode.  The other common modes simply cycle through the same notes but start on a different note (or "degree").

For example, the minor scale starts on the same degree as the sixth note of the major scale.  Thus, in the key of C (all white keys on a piano), the "relative minor" is A minor, which is also known as the Aeolian mode.

The other modes in the key of C are:

Dorian (starting on the second note of the corresponding C major scale):  D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D
Phrygian (starting on the third note of the corresponding C major scale):  E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E
Lydian (starting on the fourth note of the corresponding C major scale):  F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F
Mixolydian (starting on the fifth note of the corresponding C major scale):  G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G
Locrian (starting on the seventh note of the corresponding C major scale):  B-C-D-E-F-G-A-B

And you can do that for different keys (e.g., in the key of B major, which has 5 sharps, the relative minor (or Aeolian mode) is G# minor).

There are other less common modes and variants of the modes and, of course, simply knowing what a mode is and knowing all of the names and what the notes are in each mode doesn't really do much for you in terms of how to use them, but it's the first step.
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Offline bl5150

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2020, 09:21:10 AM »
Finding some good material on the concept of parallel modes would be a good start in terms of how (IMHO) some of the better guitarists think of modes.  Then start looking into breaking the modes up into minor/major modes and the characteristic note/s (and common notes) of each mode and it will possibly start to gel a bit.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2020, 09:40:52 AM by bl5150 »
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Offline Indiscipline

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2020, 09:21:39 AM »
I have a list of things I want to learn before I die:

- How to hotwire a car
- How to juggle
- How to pick a lock (extra credit for being able to jimmy a car, though I've sort of done that, kinda)

And number four, in case I learn any of the top three, is "modes".   I get the basic idea of "keys", even if I don't have any of it memorized, but for the life of me I don't even get conceptually what "modes" are.

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Every scale is defined by its set of intervals. Let's take the C Major scale:

I C (whole step interval) II D (whole step interval) III E (half step interval) IV F (whole step interval) V G (whole step interval) VI A (whole step interval) VII B (half step interval) C

the above WWHWWWH intervals set is the formula that gives the major scale its distinctive (happy reassuring) sound. Let's call it the first mode of C Major, or Ionian.

Now try to run the same scale, but this time start from D and finish on D.

They are the same notes as befor, but the intervals have now shifted: WHWWWHW. This is now the second mode of C Major, or Dorian.

Go from E to E: HWWWHWW, third mode, or Phrygian

Go from F to F: WWWHWWH, fourth mode, or Lydian

Go from G to G: WWHWWHW, fifth mode, or Mixolydian

Go from A to A: WHWWHWW, sixth mode, or Aeolian

Go from B to B: HWWHWWW, seventh mode, or Locrian


Let's go a bit deeper:

Ionian is a major mode (a whole step between II and III), with a major 7th (half step between VII and I): it's the focking major scale. Happy sound.

Dorian is a minor mode (half step between II and III) with a minor 7th (whole step between VII and I) and it's different from your regular natural minor scale because its 6th note is not flat (there's a whole step between VI and VII). It's a funny sexy minor scale, sounding like Oye Como Va and generally noodling Santana.

Phrygian is a minor mode (ditto) with a minor 7th (ditto) and it's different from your regular natural minor scale because its 2nd note is flat (half step between I and II). It's a mysterious mediterranean minor scale, sounding like Al Di Meola racing with the devil up and down an Ovation's neck.

Lydian is a major mode (ditto) with a major 7th (ditto) and it's different from your regular major scale because its 4th note is sharp (a half step between IV and V). It's a quirky alien major scale, sounding like ... the focking Simpsons theme.

Mixolydian is a major mode (ditto) with a minor 7th (whole step between VII and I), which makes it a dominant major scale. It sounds bluesy. Thin The Mule.

Aeolian is a natural minor scale (3rd, 6th and 7th notes flat). It sounds unoffensively sad. Sound of Silence.

Locryan is a minor scale (ditto), with a flat 7th note (ditto), a flat 2nd note (ditto) AND a flat 5th note, which makes it a half-diminished dominant scale. It sounds mysterioulsy eccentric, almost deceptively atonal. It's often used in fast dominant runs toward a minor conclusion or metal disturbing shredding.


IMPORTANT:

. Every scale generates modes, all you need to do is shift the starting tone and figure the resulting intervals

. It still is the same scale we've started with. It's just the emphasis on the peculiar "divergent" intervals that gives the peculiar modal sounds.


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Offline Stadler

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2020, 11:05:09 AM »
Okay, thank you both, that was incredibly helpful. SERIOUSLY.

But here's the question: in terms of my thinking, in terms of my playing, if I'm playing in the key of C Major, how do the modes help me?   Or it is just putting a name to something that is otherwise... not "untuitive", but an extension of what I already know?   In other words, if I'm soloing in the key of C Major, all I need to really make sure of (and bear with me: I'm being simplistic for a reason here) is that I play one of those eight notes in the scale.  If I start the solo with a "B" or a "G", there's no real difference in terms of the key, is there?   Does the "mode" just put a label to the fact that in the first case, the next jump is a half-step, and in the latter it's a whole-step?   There's no "tonal" difference is there?   Do I help my fellow player if I say before hand, "I'm going to solo in Mixolydian mode, bitches"?   

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2020, 11:05:58 AM »
What pg1067 said, and Indiscipline expanded upon is correct, but I want to add something that might help clarify things.  Or maybe just make it more confusing, who knows?

A lot of people point out that the C Major scale is the same as Ionian mode, going from D to D gets you Dorian mode, etc.  But the important thing is that modes are defined by the intervals between the notes, period.  They are not tied to any specific notes.

For example Aeolian mode just means that the 3rd, 6th, and 7th are flat.  It has no real connection to the note A other than that Aeolian mode is what you get if you were to go from A to A and only play naturals.  In music theory, you usually learn Ionian, Dorian, and Aeolian first, because Ionian is the same as a major scale, Aeolian is the same as a minor scale (and handy because Aeolian starts with "A" and is what you get if you go from A to A), and Dorian is sometimes called the "blues" scale because a lot of blues has the flatted 3rd and 7th but natural 6th.  And handy because Dorian starts with "D" and is what you get when you go from D to D.

So if you're playing in G major, you can call it G Ionian.  If you're playing in G minor, that's also G Aeolian.  You can play in any mode in any key, just as you can play major or minor in any key.  In that sense, modes are just how you define things when you go beyond major and minor.

Offline Stadler

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2020, 11:16:32 AM »
Not confusing what YOU wrote, but you touched on why this is confusing to me.   A to A, Aeolian, is WHWWHWW.   In the key of C major, that's A-B-C-D-E-F-G.  But you wrote that Aeolian, the 3rd, 6th, and 7th are flat.  Where are the flats there? 


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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2020, 11:25:06 AM »
Sorry, I just meant flat as compared to the major scale.  Most of the time, one thinks in terms of the major scale (or Ionian mode) as the "base" or starting point.

If you're playing C major, everything is normally natural (C D E F G A B C).  But if you lower each of E, A, and B a half step, you're flattened them, so you get C D Eb F G Ab Bb C, which is C minor or C Aeolian.

If you're playing A major, C, F, and G are normally sharps (A B C# D E F# G# A).  But if you lower each of them a half step, you've flattened them, so you get A B C D E F G A, which is Aeolian.

Offline pg1067

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2020, 02:08:46 PM »
I only used C major/Ionian and the modes that result therefrom because it's typically the starting point for this sort of analysis.  The first scale that virtually any beginning musician learns is C major because "it's all of the white keys."

If you're a guitar or bass player, you can just learn the "shapes" of the modes, and you can then play ANY mode starting on ANY note.  If you play an Aeolian mode starting on an A, then you're in the key of C major.  If you play a Phrygian mode starting on a D#, then you're in the key of B major.  Want to play a Locrian mode in the key of A major?  Start on the G#.

Your question about "how do the modes help me?" is what I was alluding to when I wrote, "simply knowing what a mode is and knowing all of the names and what the notes are in each mode doesn't really do much for you in terms of how to use them, but it's the first step."  It's also a point in theory that I didn't progress to.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2020, 02:24:10 PM »
Sorry, I just meant flat as compared to the major scale.  Most of the time, one thinks in terms of the major scale (or Ionian mode) as the "base" or starting point.

If you're playing C major, everything is normally natural (C D E F G A B C).  But if you lower each of E, A, and B a half step, you're flattened them, so you get C D Eb F G Ab Bb C, which is C minor or C Aeolian.

If you're playing A major, C, F, and G are normally sharps (A B C# D E F# G# A).  But if you lower each of them a half step, you've flattened them, so you get A B C D E F G A, which is Aeolian.

So why isn't "C Major Aeolian" A B C D E F G A?   

Offline Indiscipline

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2020, 02:35:13 PM »
Sorry, I just meant flat as compared to the major scale.  Most of the time, one thinks in terms of the major scale (or Ionian mode) as the "base" or starting point.

If you're playing C major, everything is normally natural (C D E F G A B C).  But if you lower each of E, A, and B a half step, you're flattened them, so you get C D Eb F G Ab Bb C, which is C minor or C Aeolian.

If you're playing A major, C, F, and G are normally sharps (A B C# D E F# G# A).  But if you lower each of them a half step, you've flattened them, so you get A B C D E F G A, which is Aeolian.

So why isn't "C Major Aeolian" A B C D E F G A?

Try to look it from another side.

C Major has seven modes, all featuring notes in the key of C:

C Ionian CDEFGAB

D Dorian DEFGABC

E Phrygian EFGABCD

F Lydian FGABCDE

G Mixolydian GABCDEF

A Aeolian ABCDEFG

B Locrian BCDEFGA


C Ionian is the first mode of C Major

C Dorian is the second mode of Bb Major

C Phrygian is the third mode of Ab Major

C Lydian is the fourth mode of G Major

C Mixolydian is the fifth mode of F Major

C Aeolian is the sixth mode of Eb Major

C Locrian is the seventh mode of Db Major


And so on

Offline The Walrus

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2020, 02:57:40 PM »
Also, because calling it "C major aeolian" is unnecessarily complex. The letter name is important, so when you say "C major aeolian" you're really saying "C major aeolian" which is just C D Eb F G Ab Bb C.  A B C D E F G A on the other hand has A as the root note - because you're specifically starting with A - therefore it's A aeolian. Or, just "A minor."
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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2020, 03:06:57 PM »
The shorter answer is that "Major" and "Aeolian" are contradictory.  Major = Ionian mode.  Minor = Aeolian mode.

So why isn't "C Major Aeolian" A B C D E F G A?   

Calling it "C <anything>" means that you start and end on C.  The sequence of notes in the scale are C _ _ _ _ _ _ C.  You don't call it "C <something>" if you start and end on A.  You call it "A <something>".  And the "<something>" is either either "major", "minor" or a mode.

Mode is defined by whether each of the scale steps is a half step or whole step.  Major is the same as Ionian mode, in this case WWHWWWH.  That final Halfstep takes you back to the root (C if you started on C, A if you started on A, etc).

Aeolian is defined as WHWWHWW.  So something cannot be "Major Aeolian" because Major is by definition a certain sequence of Half and Whole steps, and Aeolian is by definition a different sequence.


This is why I said that to really understand it, you should not associate the modes with specific notes (A B C D E F G A, for example).  Modes are defined by the spaces between the scale steps.  The association with white keys on a piano keyboard is useful in remembering where the half steps are, but that's it.  It just becomes confusing (or more confusing, as the case may be) if you literally associate modes with specific notes.  Modes are not the notes.  Modes are defined by the spaces between the notes.

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2020, 04:08:19 PM »
Modes are not the notes.  Modes are defined by the spaces between the notes.

This is really the gist of it, I would say. If you're going to learn sequences of notes and try to remember those without having any framework as to why it's that specific sequence of notes, it's going to be hard to memorise. You don't learn your major scales by learning sequences of notes, you learn them by having the theoretical concept of a certain sequence of intervals.

That said, I personally 'see' major scales and corresponding modes in key signatures in my mind; e.g. D major has two sharps, so that's how I 'know' the notes - A mixolydian (the V-chord in D) also has two sharps etc. etc.. This is usually called the derivative approach.

Another one is the 'parallel major comparison' in which you literally compare the intervals to the parallel major scale, similar to what Indiscipline did in his first post here. In this same example I used above for the notes of A mixolydian; A major has three sharps (F#, C#, G#) and the mixolydian mode flattens the 7th of the major scale. In A this is the note G# which, when flatted becomes G. A mixolydian therefore has 2 sharps (F# and C#).

Especially with minor key harmony (modes for melodic and harmonic minor scales), the derivative approach is probably 'easier' to understand at first, but there's multiple ways to look at it.
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Offline pg1067

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2020, 11:32:27 AM »
I found this handy-dandy "modal circle of fifths."  A pretty good reference tool.

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2020, 11:52:01 AM »
Yuck, that's way too much information in one picture :lol
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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2020, 02:07:05 PM »
Yeah, that's more of a conversion reference.  If you're in a second-year Music Theory class, and the TA says to write something in Db Dorian mode, you can look and go "Oh, that's just B major".  So you write something centered on D-flat, but using the notes in a B major scale and... ta-da! You're in Db Dorian.  That's what this shit is all about.

And honestly, that's the only real practical application I can think of.  Even Jazz guys, whose entire careers are practically based on the solos they take (and thus the notes and tonality), don't think of it that way.  They just solo in a Db blues and they're fine.

Offline The Walrus

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2020, 03:32:44 PM »
My music teachers would slap me for thinking in B major when writing in D flat because key signature matters when writing out the music and you technically would not be using the notes in a B major scale (sharps) in a flat key (D flat major). :neverusethis:

Just being anal for the lolz, I love charts like those.
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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2020, 04:01:21 PM »
Yeah, bad example.  I was approaching as a question of what key to "think in" while soloing, then realized that you wouldn't even use such a conversion in jazz; you just know.  But when I changed my example from soloing to a music theory exercise, which is really the only place you'd ever find such a thing, I didn't take that into account.  My teachers would've smacked me, too. :p

Offline pg1067

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2020, 04:56:33 PM »
Damn...Walrus beat me to it.

Of course, if you were to ask me, no sane person would think about C-flat major/A-flat minor (or C# major/A# minor).
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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2020, 04:57:48 PM »
 :lol :lol
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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #25 on: June 20, 2020, 02:29:23 AM »
Damn...Walrus beat me to it.

Of course, if you were to ask me, no sane person would think about C-flat major/A-flat minor (or C# major/A# minor).

Pieces in Db-major or B-major are still fairly common, though in F#/Gb they're more rare (but I have seen them). Beyond 6 sharps/flats, I'm sure there's something out there, but I can't think of something at the moment.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #26 on: June 22, 2020, 09:26:44 AM »
The shorter answer is that "Major" and "Aeolian" are contradictory.  Major = Ionian mode.  Minor = Aeolian mode.

So why isn't "C Major Aeolian" A B C D E F G A?   

Calling it "C <anything>" means that you start and end on C.  The sequence of notes in the scale are C _ _ _ _ _ _ C.  You don't call it "C <something>" if you start and end on A.  You call it "A <something>".  And the "<something>" is either either "major", "minor" or a mode.

Mode is defined by whether each of the scale steps is a half step or whole step.  Major is the same as Ionian mode, in this case WWHWWWH.  That final Halfstep takes you back to the root (C if you started on C, A if you started on A, etc).

Aeolian is defined as WHWWHWW.  So something cannot be "Major Aeolian" because Major is by definition a certain sequence of Half and Whole steps, and Aeolian is by definition a different sequence.


This is why I said that to really understand it, you should not associate the modes with specific notes (A B C D E F G A, for example).  Modes are defined by the spaces between the scale steps.  The association with white keys on a piano keyboard is useful in remembering where the half steps are, but that's it.  It just becomes confusing (or more confusing, as the case may be) if you literally associate modes with specific notes.  Modes are not the notes.  Modes are defined by the spaces between the notes.

You're all a great help, and I appreciate your patience with me, but I think this post helped to clear some of the mist once and for all (that and walking through the intervals like Walrus did in the post before this one.)   I'm still not sure I FULLY understand it, but I have a starting point.  THANK YOU.

One of the few regrets I have in this world:  that I didn't take a music theory class as an elective in college.  Fucking lazy (the arts buildings were literally all the way across campus) and no excuse. 

Online Orbert

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #27 on: June 22, 2020, 10:06:58 AM »
I only took one actual theory class, although I'd studied theory independently in high school, and continued a bit after college.  I was fortunate in that my laziness didn't factor too strongly into whether or not I went to my music classes.  Yeah, they kinda sucked, but the College of Music was very close to my dorm, and there were of course the babes.  I hated the fucking Class Piano they made me take, so I blew that off as much as possible (and ended up flunking), but Theory 101 was at least interesting.

Offline pg1067

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #28 on: June 22, 2020, 10:25:21 AM »
One of the few regrets I have in this world:  that I didn't take a music theory class as an elective in college.  Fucking lazy (the arts buildings were literally all the way across campus) and no excuse.

I only took one actual theory class, although I'd studied theory independently in high school, and continued a bit after college.  I was fortunate in that my laziness didn't factor too strongly into whether or not I went to my music classes.  Yeah, they kinda sucked, but the College of Music was very close to my dorm, and there were of course the babes.  I hated the fucking Class Piano they made me take, so I blew that off as much as possible (and ended up flunking), but Theory 101 was at least interesting.

I started college as an applied physics major, with the intent to transfer to electrical engineering.  When I quickly realized that wouldn't likely happen at the college where I started, I transferred to another college as an EE major.  I then quickly decided that wasn't for me and started changing my major on the regular.  After my third year of college, I spent a year and a half at a local community college taking mostly recording engineering and related classes (which resulted in this video that I posted here a while back - https://www.dreamtheaterforums.org/boards/index.php?topic=3241.msg2407891#msg2407891 ), including a theory class.

When I took bass lessons in 86/87, I learned a little theory, and I really loved the class.  At the time, I felt like I learned a lot.  However, my daughter just took AP Music Theory in high school, and she learned tons of stuff that doesn't look at all familiar to me.  I'm actually considering taking a theory class at a community college this fall.  Since most classes will be online and self-paced, it seems like a pretty good time to do it.
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Offline Indiscipline

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #29 on: June 22, 2020, 10:41:24 AM »
I completed conservatory (classical guitar) at the same time I graduated my country's version of high school. I was pretty young and immature, and wanted to play rock, therefore for a couple of years I left all the theory in a sort of mental closet labeled as "very useful info but the stuff I like to play doesn't need that". Huge mistake. Later, when I had to re-study the same notions and pass the same theory tests at Performing Arts School, but this time singing everything, it definitely clicked forever and became second nature. Kinda like brain and ear needed my voice, and not just the fingers, in order to close the circuit.

If I may presume to give you a bit of suggestion, Stadler (in case you want to dig in), start from what you already play and your ears know well, and treat theory as a map where your familiar knowledge is put into context, explained in new terms, and connected to new info (or old info you have already interiorised in a not formal structure), rather than the other way around.

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #30 on: June 22, 2020, 02:39:14 PM »
I teach music for a living.
Hey dude slow the fuck down so we can finish together at the same time.  :biggrin:
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Offline Indiscipline

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #31 on: June 22, 2020, 02:42:08 PM »
I teach music for a living.

Honestly, if I didn't already know, I would have still gathered it by your excellent posts in this thread

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #32 on: June 22, 2020, 03:20:43 PM »
My degree is in piano education, so ideally someday when I own a house and a second piano I will be able to teach people that way. There's no way I'd survive teaching music to, like, a classroom, even if it's little kids. One on one is more my style, watching select individuals grow and accomplish an instrument they (hopefully) want to learn has always been delightful for me in the past.

When I warm up before I get to the meat of my practice sessions, sometimes I run through the modes to spice the routine up. Keeps the brain sharp even if you never think about using those scales
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Offline Stadler

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #33 on: June 23, 2020, 08:00:51 AM »
Indi, that's a great idea, and I think I might do that.

Walrus, that's part of my problem; I tend to think too much.   Most of the things I do well in life - negotiate, hit a softball - I do without conscious thought.   When I start to think, things go haywire; it's why I suck at golf.   I used to have trouble throwing a baseball - think Steve Sax or Chuck Knoblauch - and it was almost entirely because I'd think about it.  Worst thing ever when I was playing third base was a slow grounder; I always much preferred the hard shots to either side because I'd have to pop up and make a quick throw.  Virtually every time I try to learn a new part on guitar, the initial session is horrific; I'll put it down, come back later or tomorrow and try to play it and it's usually pretty close (or at least far better than the day before). 

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Re: Scale & Key
« Reply #34 on: June 25, 2020, 06:45:39 AM »
Don't feel too bad about it Stadler. Years ago I learnt the shapes for the modes (most of the usual ones anyway) but had no way to apply them. They sounded shit over the songs I was soloing over so I eventually just left them behind. If I wasn't so lazy I would've learned to use them properly.
Now I sort of have an idea of the shapes when I improvise but play much more with an idea of the note I'm going for rather than what scale it's in.

Not learning much theory is a huge regret for me. I focused more on techniques than knowledge. Probably explains why I'm still shit.That and having no memory for music at all.