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Beginner What scales to play over chord progressions

Beginner Theory

Dismemberer

Garage band Groupie
Oct 16, 2021
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I now have a better understanding of scales and I know about chord families of notes. Let's take Key of C for example, It'll have the chords C , Dm, Em ,F , G, Am and b diminished. If these chords are being played in a random order then If I'm correct you'll have to play in key of C. How do you figure out what scales you can play over a certain chord progression when improvising? Thanks Synners 🤘
 

Christian Schulze

Hot Topic Tourer
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Nov 11, 2019
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You can play a lot of things.
Technically in a C major progession just to start of (because I do not command any other scales)

You can play C major scale
C Major pentatonic scale
Chromatic scale

But in an advance sence. Think less of scales and more of notes that harmonize with the chords that are being played underneath.

Like if you play a C major chord...you can play the notes that are in it or notes present in the C major chord extensions.

There are no rules basically XD just music
 
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Dismemberer

Garage band Groupie
Oct 16, 2021
30
48
You can play a lot of things.
Technically in a C major progession just to start of (because I do not command any other scales)

You can play C major scale
C Major pentatonic scale
Chromatic scale

But in an advance sence. Think less of scales and more of notes that harmonize with the chords that are being played underneath.

Like if you play a C major chord...you can play the notes that are in it or notes present in the C major chord extensions.

There are no rules basically XD just music
Thanks the harmonizing tip helps a lot
 
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Andrew Milner

Campfire Attention Holder
  • Nov 11, 2019
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    I now have a better understanding of scales and I know about chord families of notes. Let's take Key of C for example, It'll have the chords C , Dm, Em ,F , G, Am and b diminished. If these chords are being played in a random order then If I'm correct you'll have to play in key of C. How do you figure out what scales you can play over a certain chord progression when improvising? Thanks Synners 🤘

    You are correct about the C major scale there.

    As for the 2nd part, the first thing you can do is to figure out the scale in which the chords belong. I actually created a lesson on major scales a while back, which you can check out here: https://synner.com/threads/theory-request-1-major-scales-explained.4540/

    Take it one step at a time.
     
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    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
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    The above answers have already bit the nail on the head here. But one thing you might want to think about Modally is where the 'Tonal Centre' lies in your progression - basically, which Chord sounds like the chord that could potentially start or end the tune. As mostly any song you hear will have a clear chord that's favoured and returned to, rather than a random generation of chords from the key. Whichever chord from the key you pick to be that chord will change the way that your Scale can be used.

    For example you could have these chords from the key of C:
    Dm / G7 / C Dm/ G7 C / Dm

    In this, we're always leading the ear back to that Dm chord as being the head of the progression, so.this would be a Dorian progression (Chord 2 of the key, Mode 2 of the Major Scale). Technically you could play shapes of the C Major scale over it and it wouldnt sound wrong, but there are certain Dorian tones you might want to favour over others to compliment whichever chord you're on. D, F, A B, C etc)

    The same thing goes.for any chord from the key you make the 'Tonal Centre'. You would just use the C Major scale, thinking of it at whichever mode the progression dictates 👌
     
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