View Full Version : Basic Solo Writing

07-01-2004, 10:13 AM
I'll start of by saying i have pretty much no idea about all this musical stuff. I know the notso on the fretboard, and i can solo really poorly with the E pentatonic scale. I was just wondering...
If i were to write a solo, or start improvising over a song, Say i started the solo in the E pentatonic scale, then to extend it, i moved into the d# pentatonic scale, can i do that? is that how it's done? Also, how do i know what key a song is in? Is it by working out the route note of the first chord?

07-01-2004, 12:42 PM
The answer to the first question is yes, conditionally based upon many factors including how "outside " you are willing to go.
Is that how it's done?
How what is done?
THe concept of key center has been dscussed here numerous times. If you search you can find plenty of threads with that info. But in a nutshell, the analysis of the chord changes is how you know.

07-02-2004, 04:54 AM
the key is most often where--and this is the easiest way to locate the key--it's where your ear feels most at rest when the song gets back to that chord. no tension. find the chord where the tension all goes away and the music feels at rest, and thats often the key.

that's often the case but not always. sometimes you'll get tricked. it will turn out that the chord that was set up to sound like the home chord will eventually get re-framed by an 'apparent' key change, where suddenly the progression will drop to a new resting place. this does not always mean the key has changed. the song might have been treating one of the other chords in the key as the root chord, and then...surprise!

the only way to know for sure what key a song is in is to analyze the chords. they always proceed in one order (root notes of the chords falling on the steps of the major scale, in sequence) for a major key. in this order, the key center being the first major 7 chord.

major7, minor7, minor7, major 7, dominant7, minor 7, diminished.

as triads, they go major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished

roman numerals are applied to the chords of a key. the above chords are often referred to as the I, the ii, the iii, the IV, the V, the vi, and the vii. this is really useful. it allows you to analyze any chord progression as a generic entity. since all keys have the same internal structure, this lets you draw comparisons between progressions in various keys, and lets you transpose progresisons to new keys in a snap.

oh yeah, continuing...so for key of C, then, you take the major scale c, d, e, f, g, a, and b, and you turn each of those notes into the chords mentioned above--triads or 7th chords-- in sequence.

a minor key uses the same chords, but they start with the minor 7 chord directly following that dominant 7 chord, and then go in order until you reach the last chord before you repeat.

so there are seven chords in any major or minor key.

since every key has only one dominant 7 chord (and because its a very important chord that will often pop up in any give song) simply finding that chord by ear will allow you (in a major key) to count down five scale steps--which works out to 7 frets, or 7 half-steps on the piano. (if you try it you'll see the reason it's more apparent steps is that the major scale leaves out some intervening notes). the note you arrive at will be very often the key you're in. the dom7 chord is most often a pointer chord that can instantly orient you even if you just hear it in passing. this doesnt always apply, though, since the blues uses a lot of dom7 chords, and sometimes they're thrown in for other reasons.

another thing to keep in mind is that if you see a major chord in a progression, it is going to be the I, IV, or V chord, unless something tricky is going on. if its a minor chord you're looking at, chances are it's ii, iii, or vi.

it can be a bit more complicated than that. read the forum, though, and try to see how these chords spawn from the scale, and it should make sense almost immediately.

07-02-2004, 04:58 AM
major7, minor7, minor7, major 7, dominant7, minor 7, diminished.
This should be
major7, minor7, minor7, major 7, dominant7, minor 7, minor 7 b5

07-02-2004, 07:19 AM
yeah, my bad. i just always substitute the straight minor 7, or else a suitable chord on the flat7. i don't even know anyone who uses diminished or 7b5 chords!

07-06-2004, 12:12 AM
Good point, and it will more than likely be a passing tone or not more than one bar in length. By the time I figure out the b5 part -- the band has moved on and I've missed the chord.

Not right but, the world I walk around in.

07-06-2004, 01:26 AM
i guess i should clear this up right now. szulc, malcolm, someone:

it is not proper to call the "minor 7 flat 5" chord a "diminished 7" chord, is it?

i seem to be foggily rememebering something...doing this would imply that the seventh note is also flattened? by one or two half steps?

what is the scaletone recipe for a "diminished 7" chord? versus a 7b5?

07-06-2004, 01:42 AM
* "minor 7 flat 5" is sometimes called half-diminished. The chord formula is (R m3 b5 m7)<R m7 b5 m3>

* "diminished 7" chord formula is (R m3 b5 bb7(M6))<R b5 m3 bb7(M6)>

Thus flattening m7 in "minor 7 flat 5" gives you "diminished 7".


07-06-2004, 02:46 AM