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#1061537 - 11/13/04 01:13 PM Scales
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
I understand a major scale is made up of any 7 consecutive keys starting with any key from A to G and which follows the 7 step formula of W W H W W W H. But what then is a minor scale or is there no minor scale?

Thank you.
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#1061538 - 11/13/04 02:20 PM Re: Scales
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
Daren, see THIS ONLINE LESSON SITE about that topic.
(specififcally, the links at that page bottom)

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#1061539 - 11/13/04 02:27 PM Re: Scales
dissonance Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 20
Loc: Scottsdale
major scale: CDEFGABC has steps WWHWWWH
minor scale: ABCDEFGA has steps WHWWHWW

Any other notes (tonic) you begin with will have the same pattern.

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#1061540 - 11/13/04 02:53 PM Re: Scales
cranky woman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 282
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
There is actually a current thread about scales and modes in the Piano Teacher's forum. But, here's a quick explanation:

The natural minor scale[/b] shares the same key signature as it's relative minor, ie C Major and a minor. If you want to play an harmonic minor scale[/b] , the natural minor scale is played with a raised 7th. A melodic minor scale [/b] is played with a raised 6th and 7th ascending, and a descending natural minor scale.

Hope this helps!

Cranky Woman \:D
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#1061541 - 11/13/04 03:10 PM Re: Scales
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
 Quote:

minor scale: ABCDEFGA has steps WHWWHWW
[/b]
Except there are three types of minor scales \:\)

My teacher refused to accept that fixed spacing definition, even for Natural Minor. She made a big point of insisting that the definition of the relative minor was the scale starting at the 6th note of the relative major scale... that is, for example, in the major key of C, the relative minor scale is the same keys and key signature, but starting at A (in this case).

I really doubt the number 6 is so intrinsically important. I assume this stress is due to this method of relating them as pairs (since they are so related). Others, like the Harvard dictionary and the site link above, also define it that way too.

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#1061542 - 11/13/04 06:49 PM Re: Scales
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
I realize that some of the follow-up posts to the origial post get into some pretty detailed discussions and are not necessarily meant for the original poster. However, personally, I do read them all and visit any informative sites listed.

Now here is another very basic question. When starting to play a new tune, how can I tell what scale it is in? Or can a tune use more than one scale? Or does it matter? And are the chords confined to that one scale or are they used unpredictably? I would have thought there would be a notation up by the Time Signature that would tell me what scale and accordingly the chords are in.

I am trying to play Got Those Blues outlined in Alfreds"s Basic Adult Piano Course, Level One. The first note in the Treble Staff is an "E". Does this signal to me that the music is in the E scale or is this too simplistic?

The Bass Staff starts with a three fingered chord "C E G" I (one) which I understand is a Major C Chord and then moves to a IV and then a V7 which I understand are also in the Major C scale. So is it the Bass Staff that indicates to me what scale the tune is to be played in?

Thank you.
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#1061543 - 11/13/04 07:50 PM Re: Scales
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Daren, that piece is in C Major. You can tell because it comes just after they introduce the C Major scale. ;\) just kidding.

Actually, you can tell because there are no flats or sharps in the key signature (b or # next to the G & F symbols) and because the final chord in the piece is a C chord.

If you look at the note in the beginning of "Cockles and Mussels", it explains the key signature.

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#1061544 - 11/13/04 08:04 PM Re: Scales
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
The key signature is the law which indicates which scale is used, and it also tells which notes are always to be played sharp or flat on the black keys.

This tune on page 67 has a blank key signature, which is a very valid key signature, specifically meaning the key of C. Blank means no sharps or flats, so C uses only the white keys.

Then this next part may be confusing right now, but there are two cases... the same blank key signature could instead be used for the relative Am key, which is the same key signature, which is also a blank key signature. C and Am are relative major/minor to each other, meaning these corresponding relative major or minor scales play the same scale notes (but in different scale orders, one starting at C and the other starting at A), so these always have the same key signature. Every major key has a relative minor key and vice versa. The Am chord is vi for key of C.

This tune is surely key of C instead of Am (its key signature could be either), because it is frequently usual (but not at all required, and not always true) that the first chord is a C (chord I if C), and the root of the last chord is a C (ends on same I). It is common (but not required) that this be the case for many tunes, but not every one. There is no hard rule here, except that the key signature dictates it is either C or Am. But you will see some evidence for the one that applies.

Note that C F G is I IV V ONLY in the key of C, and this song is the key of C. Other keys (scales) will have different notes for their I IV V, whatever notes are I IV V in that scales order. For example, if it were Am, then I would be A, not C, so then a I chord would be A C E (if key was Am).

See for example the following page 68 in the pink box about key of C. And page 70 about key of G. The key signature of G is recognized by it having one sharp at F#, and one sharp at F# means "key of G", because that is correct for the scale of G. Then it also means that EVERY note F of any staff is to be played as F# and not as F (unless one might be otherwise marked to be different). See all the following pages for more.

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#1061545 - 11/13/04 08:06 PM Re: Scales
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
Got it! Thank you. I read that page but missed the point. I understand now that if there are no sharps or flats the music is in the C Major Scale and if there are sharps or flats in the key signature, by counting them I can tell what the scale is from the Circle of Fifths.

Is that rule infallible or just a general guideline that piano music will end with the final chord being the Major Scale chord?
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#1061546 - 11/13/04 08:12 PM Re: Scales
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
Lightnin, thanks. I obviously was replying to Bob Muir's response as you were posting yours. You know, with all the help I'm getting, I think I am finally getting to understand scales and chords a little better, at least sufficiently well enough for now.
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#1061547 - 11/13/04 08:12 PM Re: Scales
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
Lightnin, thanks. I obviously was replying to Bob Muir's response as you were posting yours. You know, with all the help I'm getting, I think I am finally getting to understand scales and chords a little better, at least sufficiently well enough for now.
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#1061548 - 11/13/04 09:31 PM Re: Scales
DuCamp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 263
Loc: Mexico City
Recipe for finding your scale... I think it's the easiests way, but might be a tad confusing at first. Just needs a little practice.

First part of your recipe and it doesn't require any kind of analysis, just accept them as God's law \:\)
- No alterations on your key signature: C Major or A minor.
- Only B Flat in your key signature: F Major or D minor.

Second part: Learn the order of appearance of sharps and flats. For sharps it's F C G D A E B and for flats it's backwards, B E A D G C F. Now, knowing this, you can only have either flats or sharps in your key signature, so let's move on to the little analysis...

- For sharp only key signatures: check which note is altered by the last sharp in your key signature. For example, you have as key signature sharps in F C G D A. The last altered note is A. Just go up a grade from that last alteration and that's the name of the scale you are, so for our example we go up one grade from A and we find that we are in the scale or key of B Major. We go 3 grades below our scale's name and get our relative minor, which would be G# minor. Note the sharp added to the minor's scale name, because of our already existing alteration in our key signature.

- For Flat only key signatures: Check what is the second to last alteration in the key signature and that's the name of the major scale you are in. So, let's say you have as key signature flats in B E A. Second to last is E, so we are in the scale of Eb Major. Notice that all MAJOR scales with flat key signatures will also have the flat included in their name. Go 3 grades below and you'll see that Eb Major's relative is C minor. No flats for this minor relative since C is not altered in our key signature.

Again, it might sound a tad difficult, but it's really easy to apply and you don't need a lot of knowledge, except being familiar with the order of sharps or flats in your key signature.
I hope it's not confusing you more than helping. God knows I can use more words than needed sometimes... ;\)
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#1061549 - 11/13/04 09:42 PM Re: Scales
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
 Quote:
Originally posted by DarenT:
Is that rule infallible or just a general guideline that piano music will end with the final chord being the Major Scale chord? [/b]
A general guideline, and not an infallible rule.
It doesnt have to be written that way, but most often is. You can count on it, except for when it fails \:\) It wont fail often.

My knowledge of the overall total picture is still very limited, but it is a good rule of thumb that the first and last chord is I. It is generally true, and is in agreement with regular music theory. However the composer of the song can always write it any way he pleases.

Unless you are improvising chords, perhaps this is academic, at least at this time, because the key signature is marked, and the notes and chords are written, so you can just play what is written. Surely not a pressing problem for the first year.

The key signature always wins any dispute, but the one key signature does denote two keys, relative major and minor, and it can be either.

See Raisins and Almonds page 88, key signature is one flat at B, which is key F major or Dm. F and Dm are relative to each other (because D is 6th note in scale of F) so they have the same key signature (and same notes of the scale, but a different starting point).

The marked signature note of Bb says all B everywhere are played as Bb, except if noted, if any, which is true regardless of which of the two keys. The key signature is reminding us that Bb is in this scale instead of B, for the keys (scales) of F or Dm. But we dont know which yet.

The first chord and last chord (played open here, sequentially, not block) is Dm, which is DFA. Key signature says this Dm chord is either I for key of Dm, or that it is vi for F major, so the general rule clearly says this is probably not vi in F, but instead is I in Dm, and this song is in a minor key.

The sharpened 7th at C# is also very telling, this is certainly minor (there are three types of minor). I wouldnt worry about that part just yet. There are other more basic things to learn first.

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#1061550 - 11/13/04 09:53 PM Re: Scales
DarenT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Vancouver, BC
DuCamp, thanks for your help. I will study it and try to apply it.
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#1061551 - 11/13/04 10:18 PM Re: Scales
DuCamp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 263
Loc: Mexico City
No problem Daren, ask whatever tickles your mind. We are all happy to help and this part of music learning actually is very important if you wanna make serious progress.
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#1061552 - 11/13/04 10:27 PM Re: Scales
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Daren-

I learned 'Got Those Blues' from the Alfred's Book 1 about 2 months ago. It was the first tune that really gave me a feeling of accomplishment! Once I got it down, I played it over and over and over again. It was a real confidence booster. Now I'm working on 'O Sole Mio!' on pg 124...
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#1061553 - 11/14/04 05:06 AM Re: Scales
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
Daren,

You might want to check out the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory (or a similar type of book). It's a fairly decent read, covers a lot of standard material, and answers a lot of questions that you've been asking. Of course, feel free to keep posting here, as there are a lot of knowledgeable people here.
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