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View Full Version : Is a lead usually within a scale?



uke5417
05-18-2010, 06:24 AM
So there I was, noodling along, toggling between chords F and Eb, in various positions up and down the fretboard. Looking to add some spice, I paused and started adding solo notes, which wanted to be A, Bb, C, Eb and F. As a noob to scales, I started wondering what scale I was in, so I started looking at various scales to find those notes. Turned out the Bb melodic minor scale has 'em (along with a Db and a Gb, neither of which seemed to flow with the piece).

Can anyone say why those solo notes worked atop those chords, and what does the Bb melodic minor scale have to do with it, if anything?

I did note that in the F/Eb chord toggle, the A-string notes turn out to be the same as the solo notes. F (2010)=A; Eb(3331)=Bb; F(5553)=C; Eb(3336)=Eb; F(5558)=F. Should I even be looking in scales for the answer to why my arrangement is working, or can one simply say that solo bits are where you find them, related to your chords but not defined by scale parameters? (I want to say no to that last, as I'm just learning the joy of noodling within pentatonic scales and am having a blast.) I'm always looking for the governing principle, I guess.

Sorry if I mislabeled anything in my description. I've never taken a class or anything.

NukeDOC
05-18-2010, 06:30 AM
my only explanation is that you were playing jazz. hahaha. sorry to be of no help.

i saw a video once where someone was explaining the lead behind a bb king song. he would talk about when bb played this chord, he would accent it using the whatever minor pentatonic scale. then when he switched to this chord bb would play a gigamuwhutsit scale along with it. i dont know if that helps, or if its even close to what youre talking about. but yeah. i hope.

luvdat
05-18-2010, 10:06 AM
BB King never played a chord in his life. Nor did he ever play individual notes while singing. This is nothing against you NukeDOC...simply a perspective on the BS Artist who might have taken a post-BB King shared session (?) and after several days, weeks, maybe years, shared a fantasy. In an interview BB King once joked that he didn't know any chords...but in fairness to your post did this guy say they were alternating chord and lead lines?

Here's a start and a very general one: country, folk etc leads are usually based on chord parts. Jazz and certain forms of pop: scales. Rock? It varies, but the familar pentatonic scale is actually derived from acoustic folk/blues...and which "rock music?"

Why am i going into styles and genres? Because the answer to your question depends on the context of the song you were doing, not simply the key. My guess is it was more towards the pop jazzy side...with the pattern of chord progessions associated with certain styles...I think to get at that theory it's good to start with this simple understanding of context.

penster
05-18-2010, 10:11 AM
I'm always looking for the governing principle, I guess.
Do you know about the Circle of Fifths? It tells you a lot about scales chords etc. I'm asking cos I would not want to give you advice about something you already know.
Penster

ricdoug
05-18-2010, 10:37 AM
Circle of 5th's from Tiki King:

http://www.tikiking.com

http://ukuleletonya.com/files/transposing_wheel.pdf

http://www.tikiking.com/images/circle_of_fifths.jpg

pulelehua
05-18-2010, 10:37 AM
Playing Eb and F will most likely imply Bb major. That's because Eb is the IV chord and F is the V chord in that key. If that doesn't mean anything to you:

Bb = 1 (I)
C = 2 (ii)
D = 3 (iii)
Eb = 4 (IV)
F = 5 (V)
G = 6 (vi)
A = 7 (vii)
Bb = 8 (or 1 up an octave)

So, all the notes you described not only fit Bb melodic minor, but Bb major, which is a much more common key. Melodic minor is really a relic of the 18th century. While it's been used a lot since then, it's purpose was to avoid the Moorish=Islamic=Infidel sound of those people who ruled Spain for hundreds of years, and which one finds in the more common Harmonic Minor.

The jazz way of thinking about it is that you're simply alternating between Eb and F, probably mixolydian, which would make those notes work, depending on their timing and context.

The answer to the other part of your question is YES: look to scales to help you construct solos and melodies. Scales are the basis of music all over the world. As a culture, we in the Western tradition are great at chords and harmony, but pretty simple-minded when it comes to melody and rhythm. That's a generalisation, but a useful starting point. Our music is largely about the relationship between chords and scales. So yes, keep learning!

(This is one of those moments where I've answered the question, but I'm not at all sure it will be useful to you. If it's not, let me know.)

T-Rock
05-18-2010, 11:06 AM
You are playing a IV-V Progression in the key of B Major, best scale sources would be Eb Lydian to F Mixolydian

uke5417
05-18-2010, 11:12 AM
Thanks for all the help, everyone!

Pulelehua, I like the idea about my notes being from Bb major scale and working because I was playing the IV and V of Bb with my Eb and F chords. I never thought to consider it from that angle.

As for the circle of fifths, I understand parts but probably not all of it. How might it have been used to arrive at the above conclusion?


luvdatuke, are you saying that scales don't figure into folk leads, or that the folk players tend to work off the chord parts and simply not concern themselves with scales?

I love this stuff. I love this board.

luvdat
05-18-2010, 11:19 AM
Thanks for all the help, everyone!

Pulelehua, I like the idea about my notes being from Bb major scale and working because I was playing the IV and V of Bb with my Eb and F chords. I never thought to consider it from that angle.

As for the circle of fifths, I understand parts but probably not all of it. How might it have been used to arrive at the above conclusion?


luvdatuke, are you saying that scales don't figure into folk leads, or that the folk players tend to work off the chord parts and simply not concern themselves with scales?

I love this stuff. I love this board.

Less so. Take a song like "Amy" ("What you gonna do etc") this goes back to puelehua's western music being more connected to hamonies and countermelodies (the lead part of that song like an inserted ditty, not techically a countermelody)...than the foregrounded use of scales...the question is how a particular sequence of notes functions. A guitarist overplaying that lead (and most guitarists overplay, LOL) with reference overly so to scales would sound ridiculous...or as if skating all over the place. Functionally the lead part is an inserted melodic break, following a chord progression, walking up and down... a scale? There is considerable reference to a bass line... For me, it functions differently than in something like jazz...or blues.

I still say we can't simply separate things from an organic living context, which is why puelehua's ref. to the Moors, etc is excellent. There is the theory of music and the traditions which music is made...which includes history, ethnic identity, politics and even theological viewpoints...this also applies to architecture.

penster
05-18-2010, 12:54 PM
As for the circle of fifths, I understand parts but probably not all of it. How might it have been used to arrive at the above conclusion?
I recently posted this thread:
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?30681-Chord-Progressions-1-Major-Chords
It explains some of the relationships between chords and scales using the Circle of Fifths. It may help you with the theory behind it.
Penster

uke5417
05-18-2010, 02:55 PM
I recently posted this thread:
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?30681-Chord-Progressions-1-Major-Chords
It explains some of the relationships between chords and scales using the Circle of Fifths. It may help you with the theory behind it.
Penster

I just pulled out a circle of fifths I've got that has the Roman numerals on it in a plastic overlay (Hal Leonard Chord Wheel). Sure enough, I could've used it to figure out which key my original-post notes were in. Woohoo! That would've saved me looking at page after page of scales. Next time...

clayton56
05-18-2010, 10:36 PM
There are quite a few scales so a lead is usually in one or the other.

To hear some scales, check out Musicstudents.com, the fragment you mentioned reminded me of a blues scale, although that's not quite it. You can see it and hear it here:

http://www.musicstudents.com/archive/002.html