Surf Guitar Progression Analysis

Chords, scales, harmony, melody, etc.
KVRist
474 posts since 4 Jun, 2018 from Wiltshire, Uk

Post Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:58 pm

I’m working through a surf guitar course and in one of the lessons, the chords are as follows, all in their major form...

E C A

A F D

I need help making sense of this progression, I.e. what scale/mode is it derived from? It doesn’t sound like the usual Ionian modality.

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KVRAF
12776 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Post Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:56 pm

This here is just walking down the scale. The next chord is a third down from the previous. Compare that to "Autumn Leaves" where it takes steps of four. The second bar is a copy of the first, but modulated by a fifth.

Mind you, when guitarists are just strumming chords, they don't think about which scale or what mode they are in. That's what piano players do. If it sounds good, it is good.
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KVRAF
21869 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from not here

Post Wed Mar 31, 2021 3:05 am

No, there is no single scale even if you grant two key centers hence two scales; normally that there isn't called walking. It may be thought of as a minor 6 up and a minor 3 down, root-wise.
if A has the sense of home for the first three, if you need an explanation it'd be that there is an ambiguity of major and minor, a V, a bIII, a I; then the same relationship a 4th up or a 5th down. Generally, since A to D is a I to IV relationship should we need to name keys, we'll call if up a fourth (convention rules ok).

Not everything has to make the kind of sense you're expecting. My inclination is to guess A and then a move to IV, D as centers. The A to D is a pretty normal move as I suggested.
But chords given with no tune or rhythm given are just some chords. I can imagine a surf feel from those suppositions, tho.

KVRAF
21869 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from not here

Post Wed Mar 31, 2021 3:14 am

Being a guitarist :P

KVRist
146 posts since 18 May, 2020

Post Sun May 09, 2021 1:37 am

Hi,
To analyse the the exact "thing" behind the chords, one would need the melody line. But if we look on the chords only, I see two possible explanations, which are both common in rock music.

1. The chords are based on "Chromatic Mediant Modulations". Just search for it, you'll find a lot
2. If you take only the root notes of the chords and you build a scale based on it, you'll see, that the tones are both present in a-Minor and d-Minor scales, which both are used a lot in rock music. To take all the notes of a minor scale and to play a Major chord on those (I-II-bIII-IV-V-bVI-bVII) is very common in whole history of rock.

Of course normally musicians (besides the academics, means classical and jazz musicians) don't care about the theory, they just play what sounds good for them. And as both musical theories simply sound good in rock music, they are used a lot without the musicians being aware of it.

Hope this helps :)
Last chance

KVRAF
21869 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from not here

Post Sun May 09, 2021 6:08 am

Yes, third relationship(s). I never like the jargon 'chromatic mediant', it throws people off the scent looking at words methinks. the term has never occurred to me creating music, certainly.

if you for whatever reason like sense by the roman numerals, what happens, and I didn't explicate it well really, is the intervals:
you have a V bIII I on A and then on D. minor third from I is big for rock, major I or key conformity notwithstanding

KVRist

Topic Starter

474 posts since 4 Jun, 2018 from Wiltshire, Uk

Post Thu May 20, 2021 9:28 am

Tyrs wrote:
Sun May 09, 2021 1:37 am
Hi,
To analyse the the exact "thing" behind the chords, one would need the melody line. But if we look on the chords only, I see two possible explanations, which are both common in rock music.

1. The chords are based on "Chromatic Mediant Modulations". Just search for it, you'll find a lot
2. If you take only the root notes of the chords and you build a scale based on it, you'll see, that the tones are both present in a-Minor and d-Minor scales, which both are used a lot in rock music. To take all the notes of a minor scale and to play a Major chord on those (I-II-bIII-IV-V-bVI-bVII) is very common in whole history of rock.

Of course normally musicians (besides the academics, means classical and jazz musicians) don't care about the theory, they just play what sounds good for them. And as both musical theories simply sound good in rock music, they are used a lot without the musicians being aware of it.

Hope this helps :)
interesting, thank you :)

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