can scales be subjective?

Gabriel 1313

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Hey, this has been an on-going battle for me. Scales as they are written vs scales that I may or may not just make up because they have the tonal range I am seeking. I have had years of training in music theory and classiacal piano and cello. So when I began my guitar journey, I have been determined to compose with the knowledge that I already have. I know what sounds good to me, and that is what I want to play. I will be noodling around and come up with a lead that sounds tight and rich, then I will think of the rythem, but not having a diffinitive scale, I look at my book of scales and I'm like, it is almost a Lydan scale with and extended fith or what ever.I'm close to a lnown scale yet I have made a change that works, but finding a chord progression has and can be difficule. has this ever happen to you ? any suggestions.
By the way, my apologies for my rant on Matallica, I was watching way to many Megadeath vidoes (hahaha). I really do love the four horseman, I even have a Ride thr Lightning coffee mug.
 

olejason

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Music came before music theory. Theory, and documented scales, are simply an attempt to codify and describe standards that have been observed among musicians. Whether you want to "play by the rules" is entirely up to you.
 

wheresthefbomb

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In a strict sense no, but also sure, there are no actual rules and even the ones that there are are just arbitrary descriptions of our imperfect perception of inherently unknowable phenomena.

In practical terms, I find that I write in "almost-keys" all the time. Since you've got a background in theory you have a lot of options, one would be to treat your "almost Lydian" (for an example) as Lydian and view whatever is outside it as a chromatic extra and you can toss it into your chords as non chord tone flavor, you can build chords off it as a root if you're feeling really sassy (this is likely to work especially well if you can find an inverted version of that chord that is similar to one of your other chords but with a NCT), or you can ignore it altogether.
 

Crundles

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If it sounds good, it is good.

You can then use music theory to understand WHY it sounds good, and how to replicate/modify/expand it with other notes, but this is analysis after the fact; the fact being - it sounds good.
 

bostjan

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I think music theory is just a tool that we use to pick apart musical ideas. If you generate those ideas without employing the theory, other people with nothing better to do with their time (possibly me) will deal with that for you. If you want to frame everything around some theory rules, then that usually works, too.

Music is an art form, not a methodology.

If you want to see some chords for the lydian augmented scale ( 2 3 #4 #5 6 7), then here: I+ II III ivØ vØ vi vii+5
 

GunpointMetal

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What it really comes down to is "sounds good, is good". If you like using some non-scalar tones and they work over a scalar chord progression, awesome. If you have to throw an "off" chord in there to get things to sound the way you want, awesome. IMO theory should be used to EXPLAIN what you're doing, not guide it.
 

gunshow86de

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quote-you-are-never-more-than-a-half-step-away-from-a-right-note-victor-wooten-134-33-95.jpg
 

michael_bolton

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you can come up with any sequence of notes and call it any name you like. sometimes the scale itself is "standard" but the approach you're using to compose with it effectively creates a "new" scale - e.g. a go-to jazz approach of using "chromatic enclosures" would create a sequence of notes that doesn't fit into any of the "standard" scales even if the core scale you're applying this to is a basic diatonic scale.

chord progressions to use these over is a whole another can of worms, at the end of the day it's about the sound you're after vs a prescribed formula, although knowing these "standard formulas" defo helps as a starting point.
 

yan12

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This could be a long discussion, but I will submit this.

Modern electric guitar playing breaks any rule you can think of. You can do things on electric guitar, especially with distortion, that are hard to write on a piece of paper.

Music theory is just that, a theory and not an absolute.

It is nice to understand how to sound hip over a minor 2-5-1, but not needed unless you are writing it out for someone else.

METAL and hard rock break rules all the time. Once upon a time I played in a 3 pc where the dad was a great drummer and his son played bass, I played guitar. The dad was dying of cancer and his wish was to jam until the end, which we did. He loved playing with his son and was super proud of him. His son graduated with a performance degree from the Lamont school of music with Chris Broderick (Megadeth). Chris had 2 degrees, classical guitar and classical piano. My friend's degree was in jazz guitar, and he played a seven string fanned fret guitar like Charlie Hunter. A real badass.

And he had one mutha of a time playing metal because all his schooling told him what we were doing was not correct but he could not deny how good it sounded.
He was great at analyzing what we did, but some of it was truly inexplicable in a theory sense. One riff in particular was so nasty with dissonance he almost had a conniption. I would fret an E on the A string at the 7th fret and bend. Chugging the open low E and A string, the low E would drop in pitch due to the floyd while the E on the A string went up in pitch. Impossible to transcribe as no other instruments have floyds...but it sounded wicked. Hard to write in notation to bend up in a certain speed one note while the other detunes itself then returns to pitch without fretting that note. He also did not understand how Chris could go between all these worlds without a hitch. I think it was because Chris had played lots of rock and metal before and during his schooling whereas my friend only learned one style.

The point is, unless you are writing out music for others, especially in a rock and metal world, forget the name of exact scales or chords. Play what you feel and don't worry about getting a grade on transcription.

Welcome to the darkside my friend!
 

Hollowway

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Nothing to add here regarding theory, but what are you talking about the Metallica rant? Did you delete something?
 

Gabriel 1313

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This could be a long discussion, but I will submit this.

Modern electric guitar playing breaks any rule you can think of. You can do things on electric guitar, especially with distortion, that are hard to write on a piece of paper.

Music theory is just that, a theory and not an absolute.

It is nice to understand how to sound hip over a minor 2-5-1, but not needed unless you are writing it out for someone else.

METAL and hard rock break rules all the time. Once upon a time I played in a 3 pc where the dad was a great drummer and his son played bass, I played guitar. The dad was dying of cancer and his wish was to jam until the end, which we did. He loved playing with his son and was super proud of him. His son graduated with a performance degree from the Lamont school of music with Chris Broderick (Megadeth). Chris had 2 degrees, classical guitar and classical piano. My friend's degree was in jazz guitar, and he played a seven string fanned fret guitar like Charlie Hunter. A real badass.

And he had one mutha of a time playing metal because all his schooling told him what we were doing was not correct but he could not deny how good it sounded.
He was great at analyzing what we did, but some of it was truly inexplicable in a theory sense. One riff in particular was so nasty with dissonance he almost had a conniption. I would fret an E on the A string at the 7th fret and bend. Chugging the open low E and A string, the low E would drop in pitch due to the floyd while the E on the A string went up in pitch. Impossible to transcribe as no other instruments have floyds...but it sounded wicked. Hard to write in notation to bend up in a certain speed one note while the other detunes itself then returns to pitch without fretting that note. He also did not understand how Chris could go between all these worlds without a hitch. I think it was because Chris had played lots of rock and metal before and during his schooling whereas my friend only learned one style.


The point is, unless you are writing out music for others, especially in a rock and metal world, forget the name of exact scales or chords. Play what you feel and don't worry about getting a grade on transcription.

Welcome to the darkside my friend!
thank you. I ne3eded to hear that. By the way, Chris is awesome, big fan!!!!!!
 

Gabriel 1313

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Nothing to add here regarding theory, but what are you talking about the Metallica rant? Did you delete something?

It was an earlier post. I was saying that looking back at some of the videos ( some kind of monster) I began to see a little Pompass attitude in James and Lars. I had been watching Dave Mustaine and his technigue because I had just pirchased a RR Jackson and was unfamiliar with that style of body shape. anyway he wass talking about how James and Lars had treated him. It kind of fell into place when I looked at what had happened to Jason. My perspective was the same as Mustaine's, James and Lars are Matallic and there will be no other leaders. I was surprised at Kirks solo project even being allowed by them. But all things aside, Matallica, the blackalbum, is wht got me hooked on Metal.Rhoads kept me there with the classical input, made me feel at home.
 

estin

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Pretty neat discusion in here, I am a "play by ear" person who also loves making tonal and drone music with synthesizers. My friend is a classically trained opera singer. He listened to one of my electronic tracks that I also incorperated guitar on and was like "this is awesome, but how did you come up with these chord progressions without knowing music?!?!" He went full windows blue screen when I said "well, I heard what I wanted in my head, so I played until until what I was hearing aloud, matched what I heard in my head"
 

kamisama

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I only remember the minor pentatonic and harmonic minor scales, I think. But you'll probably find yourself wandering to different sounds regardless of what you know, just be aware of the difference between how half-steps and whole-steps sound and most things will be easier to traverse. This is basically how I do it. Chord knowledge, and just knowing where certain notes are on the fretboard are helps a lot too. Everything's sorta vague but works out anyway.
 

JohnIce

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OP, sounds like what you're describing is the use of accidentals, rather than actually inventing new scales? That does make harmonizing a little more tricky, because it can easily sound out of place if your voice leading isn't smooth. And that's a good example of why, no matter how much or little theory you know, taste and trial and error is still the biggest factor in composing good sounding music.
 

LostTheTone

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OP, sounds like what you're describing is the use of accidentals, rather than actually inventing new scales? That does make harmonizing a little more tricky, because it can easily sound out of place if your voice leading isn't smooth. And that's a good example of why, no matter how much or little theory you know, taste and trial and error is still the biggest factor in composing good sounding music.

Yeah, that's the feel I get too. And I think you're right that this is something you need to treat with care.

It's easy enough to just play some notes that sound good together without any care about the key they are in. Sometimes they will sound fine alongside normal scales, and in that case who even cares, and you don't need to think about it as a new key. Sometimes though, they really don't work alongside normal scales. When that happens I would almost always suggest shifting your music to fit an existing scale, rather than trying to make something new.

Unless you are deliberately trying to do something odd - Microtonal music, or some odd tuning - Then I don't think you should be so precious about your riff that you won't gently massage it so that other musicians can work with it. It's really tiring when you come to work on a song with someone and they say "Yeah, it's not really in a key". When the original is only a semi-tone away from being a normal scale, it's fine to just bend to convention.
 

thraxil

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I think it's also important to keep in mind that much of what we call traditional "Music Theory" is the study of the music that wealthy Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries enjoyed listening to and writing. They had some good ideas and wrote some nice songs, but pretty much ignored or were totally ignorant of entire other continents' worth of music. If you aren't a German aristocrat living in the 1800's, you shouldn't need to worry too much about strictly adhering to their theories.
 

kamisama

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I think it's also important to keep in mind that much of what we call traditional "Music Theory" is the study of the music that wealthy Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries enjoyed listening to and writing. They had some good ideas and wrote some nice songs, but pretty much ignored or were totally ignorant of entire other continents' worth of music. If you aren't a German aristocrat living in the 1800's, you shouldn't need to worry too much about strictly adhering to their theories.
This tbh. Ancient Sumerians and Assyrians were creating songs based around their heroes like Gilgamesh or their patron gods thousands of years before anything western even appeared as a culture.
 


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