mixing scales

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by coregod, Nov 21, 2021.

  1. coregod

    coregod SS.org Regular

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    been learning music theory lately, I play Drop A so learned the A minor scale. I see a lot of things I can do with A minor to change the sound, hirajoshi scale which is pretty much a minor pentatonic, I sometimes add in the G# for harmonic minor sounds, then I found the diminished arpeggios in harmonic minor, today I learned A Dorian by learning the sailor moon theme and it’s only one note different than most of the other stuff I mentioned. would writing riffs with all these components in a few bars be too much ? can I switch modes more often when staying in the key of A?
     
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  2. gnoll

    gnoll SS.org Regular

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    It doesn't matter. If it sounds good it is good.
     
  3. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    You can do whatever you want. Theory is essentially giving names to musical expressions. You would call it a parallel modal shift; that’s when you play different modes over the same root note. If you, playing in A Minor, decided to apply the Dorian mode starting on D: then it would just be a modal shift, as it’s in the same key of C Maj/A Min.
     
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  4. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Yes you can. I can't tell you if it sounds good until I hear it, but it could be a cool idea.

    Melodic minor, for example, is two different scales.
     
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  5. Siggevaio

    Siggevaio SS.org Regular

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    The less complicated/specific chords You're playing over the more freedom you have regarding what scales/notes you use.

    Try to play over a vamp in A and see how different notes and scales sound over it. Experiment as much as possible.
     
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  6. wheresthefbomb

    wheresthefbomb SS.org Regular

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    ^ ^ ^
     
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  7. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Shoot, I’ll go so far as to say it doesn’t even have to sound good. Sometimes people measure awesomeness by the sheer craziness of the passage. I say do it! The only rule is there are no rules.
     
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  8. HungryGuitarStudent

    HungryGuitarStudent SS.org Regular

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    Is this an academic exercise? If not, use your ear?

    Is your goal to explore theoretical concepts (parallel modes, modal progressions, etc.)?

    Personally, I'm not a fan of theory as a prescriptive tool to compose, but if it helps you get unstuck in your composition process by generating ideas to test, then go for it. You do you :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
  9. Pyramid Gallery

    Pyramid Gallery ss.org Irregular

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    I find this to be very relevant. I want freedom to play whatever, but I don't want it to sound like shit.

    Hmmm... well, the more different stuff you cram into one sequence, the more chromatic/chaotic it will sound. Only you may determine if it sounds like shit or not. I guess the only rule of thumb is: experimentation.

    I like to mix dorian, harmonic dorian (same key), and lydian (diff key), when doing scale runs. Don't forget key changes: minor chords/scales an aug 4th/dim 5th apart gives that awesome gothic horror sound (think intro to Sepultura's Beneath the remains or Kreator's Coma of Souls
     
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  10. coregod

    coregod SS.org Regular

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    im trying to get a certain sound but most of the scales ive heard and learned didnt have that X factor im looking for so i thought that trying different sounds and mixing similar scales together might be helpful
     
  11. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Speaking personally... I've usually had better luck writing a progression or series of chord changes, and then figuring out what was going on harmonically, than I have sitting down and thinking, "Ok, I'm going to write in A Dorian for two bars, then A Phrygian Dominant for two bars, and then four bars of A Mixolydian."

    It's not that theory doesn't matter - far from it - so much as once you have something that sounds good, theory is useful to figure out WHY that is, so you can play over it.
     
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  12. j3ps3

    j3ps3 SS.org Regular

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    This. Chord progressions convey emotion better than a certain scale and people should pay more attention to those progressions instead of the scales, IMO.
    I mean, it's good to know your scales but people get too caught up on just thinking about scales and it makes the playing sound less musical.
     
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  13. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Scales are just what notes you can use in a melody over a chord/series of chords, be they played or implied. I definitely spent a LONG time thinking about it as "start with a scale, then find chords to fit in around it," but IMO that just leads you to writing a whole bunch of things that fit neatly inside diatonic harmony, and it's a lot more interesting to start the other way, figure out your overall chord changes/harmony, and then figure out what your options are for melody lines over the top (noting that there's never just one answer).
     
  14. gnoll

    gnoll SS.org Regular

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    Eh, no...

    Scales are just sets of notes, they're not some sort of manual telling you which notes you can use or not. If you want to use them prescriptively go ahead, but that's not what a scale "is".
     
  15. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    We can have this debate, but it's going to get meta VERY fast. :lol:

    Scales aren't arbitrary sets of notes, though, is the thing. They're sets of notes that have specific relationships with each other, and it's the way that different scale degrees relate that matters here. Our OP is talking about A minor and A Dorian, for example, in his opening post - those are two seven-note sets of notes, but they have a couple things in common - they share a tonic of A, the third note in the sequence is a minor third away from that tonic, and they have a perfect fifth, so either can be played over an A minor triad, which itself can be thought of as an extension of that group of notes, as the triad built from that set of notes off the tonic. They also differ in that the Aeolean/natural minor has a flatted 6th note while the Dorian has a major 6th, but otherwise the seven notes all relate to each other in the same ways.

    So, where I was going with this, to the OP, was rather than starting from the scales and working backwards to the harmony, "can I jump from A minor to A dorian to A harmonic minor in the the space of a few bars," I think it makes a lot more sense to go about it from the other way - "if I have this progression of chords, if I look at how the notes in those chords all relate to each other, what groups of notes can I use from them as part of a melody line?" I tend to think that's a lot less prescriptive than "Ok, I'm going to do two bars of A Dorian, then one of A Harmonic minor," and working at it backwards, because there are a lot more options open to you. A simple Am - Em progression, for example, could work with A natural minor or a Dorian, so it's really whether you like the sound of that major 6th (in A, C# vs C) or minor 6th in what you're writing (or, if you don't want it at all, A minor pentatonic is a valid choice too, since no notes conflict with anything you're playing over. It's just going to have a bit more of an open, expansive feel since the intervalic jumps are going to be forced to be a bit wider, with no 2nd or 6th).

    Let me know if ant of this is making sense - the way the group of notes in a scale all relate to each other is really just another way of talking about harmony, but harmony is only partly about starting from a scale and extrapolating it into a series of triads or extended chords.
     
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  16. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Scales are sets of notes suggested to sound good together.

    Whether you argue that the scales are describing something empirically understood about the nature of the notes contained in them or arguing that the notes that sound good together are empirically describing different scales, I think you are basically arguing the same thing.

    If you want to play a progression of C Am D Em Am D C and then toss a Db lydian scale over it, knock yourself out. Maybe it will sound interesting. Probably not, but you'll never know until someone does it and pulls it off, right?

    But... maybe if you find the natural minor scale to be too boring, and the harmonic minor scale to be more exciting, try the harmonic minor scale first.

    There are over 400 scales available in the 12 tone equal tempered system, plus modes off of each one, so there's a lot of framework to try out. Or don't use any framework and freestyle it, and I bet it'll ultimately fit into a framework that someone with a theory background will figure out once they look at it. As I mentioned, there are also a few dynamic scales described in theory, like the melodic minor, which is one scale on the way up and a different scale on the way down. There are also some maqam-style scales that have different notes depending on the octave of the melody.

    If you want an aggressive scale with a lot of melodic and harmonic opportunities, I'd recommend the Hungarian Minor. In A, it'd be spelled: A B C D# E F G# A. In intervals, that's 1 2 3 #4 5 b6 7. Think of the old Inspector Gadget cartoon theme song. If you don't know that cartoon, maybe check out the theme song on youtube or whatever. It sounds goofy, but there are a number of tricks that can help this scale sound interesting in a modern metal context.

    1. The 5th mode of this scale is the Byzantine scale: E F G# A B C D# E, or, in intervals 1 b2 3 4 5 b6 7. If the major third suggests to you that this is a cheerful sounding scale, guess again. Anyway, if you are in A (or whatever key) for a verse section, dropping over to the fifth mode for a bridge section or solo can make this sound a little more metal. A lot of pseudo-arabic riffs actually use this mode of the scale.
    2. In spite of the funky augmented (raised) fourth, the scale plays a lot like the harmonic minor. You can even just play a harmonic minor scale with an added tritone in it to imply this scale at times, or imply harmonic minor at other times. As others were mentioning chords and how the scale is implied by the chords, if you lean into the tritone more on chords or even emphasized notes within a riff, it's basically the harmonic minor scale's evil twin. Think Slayer - Raining Blood. With the right mindset, this scale or a combination of this scale and other minor scales can make some cool riffs, IMO. It's one of my favourites to use.

    I guess if you don't want to sound anything like me, you could go for any other combination of a scale and another scale with a tritone in it and layering/switching those back and forth.
     
  17. CanserDYI

    CanserDYI 5150 KVLT

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    Allan Holdsworth agrees.

    And the old saying in Jazz, no wrong notes if you play em fast enough.
     
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  18. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    2048, if you count all the "modes" too: All Possible Scales - Google Docs
     
  19. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    and "Repetition breeds legitimacy"
     
  20. CanserDYI

    CanserDYI 5150 KVLT

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    Do it once, it's a mistake, do it twice it's a feature :D
     
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