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Thread: I've got the chords, How do i find the scale?

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyzzy View Post
    Well, sure, variance in opinions is what makes a forum different from a blog. To me it seems absolutely clear that by saying he expected a "shorter route" and indeed asked in the OP "how can i know which scale they belong to without looking in every scale i know" he is asking for a general solution to a general problem. My feeling was that limiting a response to the exact chords and key he was using as an example was in fast missing the mark, and so I attempted to offer a "shorter route" to solving the general problem.

    I don't think he was asking whether if he took some chords from a song in A-minor, they were best accompanied with other objects also in A-minor. What would have been the point of that? That could have been asked without using the clues Dm,Am,C as an intermediate step. This is why I thought that speaking to the more abstract problem was, in fact, precisely responsive to the OP.
    Yeah you are probably right. Maybe I am just being pedantic or obtuse (or whatever the right word is).

    I am not disagreeing with your answers.

    But just to explain - when Roi replied to Jed saying he hoped for a shorter route, I wanted to clarify whether Roi was clear in his mind about certain basic theory ideas (such as playing scale X over chords in the key of X) ... because in his OP I noticed he talked about the individual notes being major or minor, and he asked how can i know which scale they belong to without looking in every scale i know where .... , as if thinking perhaps there would be only one particular scale.

    IOW - apart from the more complete general answer which you and Jed gave, I just wanted to check with Roi whether he was clear first on those basic points (otherwise the more advanced explanation may go over his head).

  2. #17
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    An additional couple of things to know is the order of addition of sharps and flats.
    Sharps are added to a key signature in this order - F > C > G > D > A > E > B
    Flats are added to a key signature in this order - B > E > A > D > G > C > F
    * Notice how the order of addition of flats is the exact reverse of the order of addition of sharps *
    To the OP: a useful mnemonic for the above is:
    Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle.
    There are other mnemonics, but this one is neat because it reverses for the flats:
    Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles's Father

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossroads View Post
    Yeah you are probably right. Maybe I am just being pedantic or obtuse (or whatever the right word is).

    I am not disagreeing with your answers.

    But just to explain - when Roi replied to Jed saying he hoped for a shorter route, I wanted to clarify whether Roi was clear in his mind about certain basic theory ideas (such as playing scale X over chords in the key of X) ... because in his OP I noticed he talked about the individual notes being major or minor, and he asked how can i know which scale they belong to without looking in every scale i know where .... , as if thinking perhaps there would be only one particular scale.

    IOW - apart from the more complete general answer which you and Jed gave, I just wanted to check with Roi whether he was clear first on those basic points (otherwise the more advanced explanation may go over his head).
    Ok, so first of all i know that notes can't be major or minor, sorry for not
    being accurate (typing really fast without reading the post before posting).

    When i wrote those three chords in my example and said that they belong
    to the Am scale, i knew that because i made up this chord progression
    to explain my problem.
    I wanted to know how to find out which scale those chords belong to if i
    found them by ear from a song for example (or any other chords ofcourse).

    I know about the fifth's system for getting the scale's sharps/flats
    (what jed said).

    One thing jed said about the fifths that i didn't understand is this line:
    "for example descending 5ths from F# > B > E > A > D > G > C > F > Bb > Eb > Ab > Db > Gb. This is the cycle of 5ths descending from six sharps to six flats. As well is presenting the key signatures in order, descending 5ths is a very common chord movement."

  4. #19
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rg12 View Post
    I know about the fifth's system for getting the scale's sharps/flats (what jed said).
    So this is the first time that I'll point out to you that there's a difference between knowing about some construct or device - and having internalized that construct or device so that you can use it to your advantage while playing at tempo. Many students, hear and learn about something and think they know that thing. But each little thing has many, many ramifications and potential permutations that each must be internailzed. This then is the real work to be done.

    Quote Originally Posted by rg12 View Post
    One thing jed said about the fifths that i didn't understand is this line: "for example descending 5ths from F# > B > E > A > D > G > C > F > Bb > Eb > Ab > Db > Gb. This is the cycle of 5ths descending from six sharps to six flats. As well is presenting the key signatures in order, descending 5ths is a very common chord movement."
    So the cycle of 5ths runs descending from:
    C# - 7 sharps - F# C# G# D# A# E# B# to
    F# - 6 sharps - F# C# G# D# A# E# - to
    B - 5 sharps - F# C# G# D# A# - to
    E - 4 sharps - F# C# G# D# - to
    A - 3 sharps - F# C# G# - to
    D - 2 sharps - F# C# - to
    G - 1 sharp - F# - to
    C - no sharps - to
    F - 1 flat - Bb - to
    Bb - 2 flats - Bb Eb - to
    Eb - 3 flats - Bb Eb Ab - to
    Ab - 4 flats - Bb Eb Ab Db - to
    Db - 5 flats - Bb Eb Ab Db Gb - to
    Gb - 6 flats - Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb - to
    Cb - 7 flats - Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb

    There are many tricks to make memorizing this a little bit easier:

    C# is the same as C except every note is raised 1/2 step to it's sharp
    Cb is the same as C except every note is lowered 1/2 step to it's flat

    F# has six sharps, F has 1 flat - 6 + 1 = 7
    B has 5 sharps, Bb has 2 flats - 5 + 2 = 7
    E has 4 sharps, Eb has 3 flats - 4 + 3 = 7
    A has 3 sharps, Ab has 4 flats - 3 + 4 = 7
    D has 2 sharps, Db has 5 flats - 2 + 5 = 7
    G has 1 sharp, Gb has 6 flats - 1 + 6 = 7

    Note that knowing the cycle of 5th, the key signatures for each key and the order of addition of sharps and flats - is just the beginning. To be able to use this information ultimately you'll want to memorize each key in terms of note names with the proper sharps and/or flats. It sounds like a lot of work but it's not really that bad if you work on it just a little bit each day. Each day is more important that spending a lot of time one day and not working on it again for a week or so.

    cheers,
    Last edited by Jed; 06-07-2011 at 12:43 AM.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    So this is the first time that I'll point out to you that there's a difference between knowing about some construct or device - and having internalized that construct or device so that you can use it to your advantage while playing at tempo. Many students, hear and learn about something and think they know that thing. But each little thing has many, many ramifications and potential permutations that each must be internailzed. This then is the real work to be done.



    So the cycle of 5ths runs descending from:
    C# - 7 sharps - F# C# G# D# A# E# B# to
    F# - 6 sharps - F# C# G# D# A# E# - to
    B - 5 sharps - F# C# G# D# A# - to
    E - 4 sharps - F# C# G# D# - to
    A - 3 sharps - F# C# G# - to
    D - 2 sharps - F# C# - to
    G - 1 sharp - F# - to
    C - no sharps - to
    F - 1 flat - Bb - to
    Bb - 2 flats - Bb Eb - to
    Eb - 3 flats - Bb Eb Ab - to
    Ab - 4 flats - Bb Eb Ab Db - to
    Db - 5 flats - Bb Eb Ab Db Gb - to
    Gb - 6 flats - Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb - to
    Cb - 7 flats - Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb

    There are many tricks to make memorizing this a little bit easier:

    C# is the same as C except every note is raised 1/2 step to it's sharp
    Cb is the same as C except every note is lowered 1/2 step to it's flat

    F# has six sharps, F has 1 flat - 6 + 1 = 7
    B has 5 sharps, Bb has 2 flats - 5 + 2 = 7
    E has 4 sharps, Eb has 3 flats - 4 + 3 = 7
    A has 3 sharps, Ab has 4 flats - 3 + 4 = 7
    D has 2 sharps, Db has 5 flats - 2 + 5 = 7
    G has 1 sharp, Gb has 6 flats - 1 + 6 = 7

    Note that knowing the cycle of 5th, the key signatures for each key and the order of addition of sharps and flats - is just the beginning. To be able to use this information ultimately you'll want to memorize each key in terms of note names with the proper sharps and/or flats. It sounds like a lot of work but it's not really that bad if you work on it just a little bit each day. Each day is more important that spending a lot of time one day and not working on it again for a week or so.

    cheers,
    First of all i gotta thank you for the time, so thank you!
    Now, you make some interesting points, different angles of looking
    at the scales and counting their sharps and flats, but it's weird that
    you have a system to know the sharps/flats but not all the scales are
    included (for example A# and a few others are missing).

    The system i use is:
    C 0
    D 2
    E 4
    F -1
    G 1
    A 3
    B 5

    When positive number means the number of sharps and negative flats.
    The number of sharps is applied on the fifths cycle F C G D A E B from the
    beggining and the number of flats from the end.

    For example D scale has two sharps which are F C when looking at the
    fifths cycle.

    If for example i want to know the sharps/flats of a minor scale, let's
    say the Dm scale, i would take it's number (2) and reduce it by 3,
    so if D is 2, Dm would be -1 (one flat which is counted from the end
    of the fifths cycle, which is B that becomes flat).

    If i want sharps/flats, for example D# i would take it's number which
    is 2 and increase it by 7 which would give me two double sharps which
    will be F and C and the rest will be all regular sharps.

    If i need D#m, i would take the number 2, do a minus 3 to get to
    minor and then add 7 to get to the D#m (2-3+7=6 sharps for D#m).

    Roi.

  6. #21
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rg12 View Post
    you make some interesting points, different angles of looking at the scales and counting their sharps and flats, but it's weird that
    you have a system to know the sharps/flats but not all the scales are
    included (for example A# and a few others are missing).
    I only listed the 15 "common" major scales. A# is not a typical major key. Write out the A# major scale and you'll quickly see why. Can you give us an example of where you would want to use an A# major scale (10 sharps) rather than a Bb major scale (2 flats)?

    Quote Originally Posted by rg12 View Post
    The system i use is:
    C 0
    D 2
    E 4
    F -1
    G 1
    A 3
    B 5

    When positive number means the number of sharps and negative flats.
    The number of sharps is applied on the fifths cycle F C G D A E B from the
    beggining and the number of flats from the end.

    For example D scale has two sharps which are F C when looking at the
    fifths cycle.

    If for example i want to know the sharps/flats of a minor scale, let's
    say the Dm scale, i would take it's number (2) and reduce it by 3,
    so if D is 2, Dm would be -1 (one flat which is counted from the end
    of the fifths cycle, which is B that becomes flat).

    If i want sharps/flats, for example D# i would take it's number which
    is 2 and increase it by 7 which would give me two double sharps which
    will be F and C and the rest will be all regular sharps.

    If i need D#m, i would take the number 2, do a minus 3 to get to
    minor and then add 7 to get to the D#m (2-3+7=6 sharps for D#m).
    It's good that you have a system that works. I like the logic. But note that your system is a way to calculate the key signature. But do you really know the scales? Can you visualize the scale (as a sequence of note names) without doing the calculations? Can you see all of these scales on the fretboard? - in any position? Can you name the chords for each of these keys without calculation? Ultimately, you want to memorize each of those scales so you don't need to calculate anything - so they will be available at tempo in actual playing situations.

    cheers,
    Last edited by Jed; 06-07-2011 at 01:29 AM.

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    I only listed the 15 "common" major scales. A# is not a typical major key. Write out the A# major scale and you'll quickly see why. Can you give us an example of where you would want to use an A# major scale (10 sharps) rather than a Bb major scale (2 flats)?



    It's good that you have a system that works. I like the logic. But note that your system is a way to calculate the key signature. But do you really know the scales? Can you visualize the scale (as a sequence of note names) without doing the calculations? Can you see all of these scales on the fretboard? - in any position? Can you name the chords for each of these keys without calculation? Ultimately, you want to memorize each of those scales so you don't need to calculate anything - so they will be available at tempo in actual playing situations.

    cheers,
    Well...like i said, it's a "system" and if i had everything in my head i wouldn't
    need anything to try and remember the scales.

    I guess i will start memorizing the scales....
    Thanks alot!

  8. #23
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    I realize this is an old question from 2011 but I looked over the answers didn't see the easy explanation.

    If the song starts on Am and ends in Am, there is a 99% chance its in Am. (unless it is really weird stuff)

    I do play one song that starts in F and ends in C, but its obvious by sound it's NOT in the F key (no Bb)

  9. #24
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    Honestly from my studies of chord scale relationships I don't think there is a simple way to know what scales go with what chords. You of course have many rather involved ways of looking at the combinations of the notes of chords in a progression but that gets dicey the more chords you have and can fall apart in some cases. You also have to deal with ear training and how you hear the chord progression and then think of the progression/chord scales based on how you hear it. So there is not a quick fix IMHO

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