When soloing and the chord changes, should I change scale or keep the same scale

Chords, scales, harmony, melody, etc.
KVRer
11 posts since 5 Jun, 2011

Post Fri Sep 17, 2021 10:16 am

Hi

Whenever I solo over a chord progression (guitar), I always change the scale when the chord changes. So, for instance, when an E major chord is played, I play in the scale of E major, and if the backing chord changes to A major, I play in A major. In fact, I had played many years before I even learned that most bandmates don't do this.

I've been trying to learn to keep the same scale, but I think it's much harder, because then I also have to keep track of how the chord notes changes within the scale, that is, which note is the new root, third, which is the fifth etc..., therefore I think it's easier to just change the whole scale. These days I don't play in a band, I just compose my own music, and I don't really bother making sure all the chords fit the same underlying scale (diatonic). Should I?

So, what approach is considered the more musical approach, or should I learn to master both approaches? Is this genre dependent? Or is it more about what sort of expression you want? As for the genre I play, I'd say it's somewhere between Rock, Funk and R&B.

KVRAF
22922 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from not here

Post Fri Sep 17, 2021 10:52 am

If A major is at a IV relationship; to a I, E, E is the tonic of the thing and an A scale is at high risk of being a mistake. As a principle it isn't a sound one.
"should I learn to master both approaches?" - where did you get the notion that changing scale to meet every change was a real approach?

Read back what you typed there: 'therefore I think it's easier to..." because you don't have your ducks in a row. It's an avoidance tactic.
We don't have to wonder when we know. We need to grasp what there's harmonically by ear in real time. You can't think and play at the same time (Sonny Rollins). But here there's just the scale of the key. Learn that first, before leaping to other scales. A B C# D E F# G# per tonic E is E mixolydian. B major scale per E tonic is E Lydian.
with tonic E, 'scale of A etc', unless we're headed to those tonic or key areas, is extraneous mentation. Knowing your notes' reliationship to a tonic is absolutely primary, not something to avoid.

One might find eg., the A scale on IV useful and interesting, but as a principle, a normative, no. It's highly liable to sound corny (*and less-than-competent) and get old fast.

Here's a couple of simple examples from rock music: Carlos Santana with i (minor i) to IV (eg., Gm to C), to support Dorian improvisation.
Frank Zappa with the D to C progression in Inca Roads ("Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar"), D mixolydian.
Going to a C scale in ex. 1 would be, well, just wrong*.
Going to a C major on C in ex 2, just as ruinous an idea.
IE: The D E F# G A B C on C has a Lydian aspect (in fact a fair few say it's C Lydian, but tonic is clearly D, the rest of the piece it's D.). The thing is very rich in itself. He's liable to go into blues choices and even abstruse 'out' choices from synthetic scales, whole tone, you-name-it but the whole first idea is the relationship with D. In the Santana example, with G.

KVRer

Topic Starter

11 posts since 5 Jun, 2011

Post Fri Sep 17, 2021 11:37 am

Thanks for your help. I suppose a little patronization is unavoidable on Internet forums.

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KVRAF
13121 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Post Fri Sep 17, 2021 12:06 pm

I'd have to hear some examples of you changing scale of the melody each bar before passing any judgement on it being right or wrong, or perhaps interesting. :shrug:
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KVRAF
2409 posts since 30 Aug, 2012 from Sweden

Post Fri Sep 17, 2021 12:24 pm

Just trust your ears and don't think too much about scales. If it sounds right it is right.

KVRist
205 posts since 4 Aug, 2020 from Montreal, Canada

Post Sat Sep 18, 2021 5:15 am

I'm learning guitar and I feel on the opposite side of you - changing scale in the middle of a run drives me nuts! I guess it's either a mentality difference or I simply need to practice way more ;)

A harmonic analysis will be your friend. If A major and E major are in a I-V relationship or a IV-I, I'd stay on the same major scale on whichever "I" is. If the song is in D major, now those two chords will function as V and II, and I'll alter the scale on the II chord. Or, if the song's in B major, the analysis will become bVII-IV, then I'll have to treat the bVII. The global picture rules!

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KVRian
804 posts since 4 Feb, 2021

Post Sat Sep 18, 2021 7:08 am

Which authority is asked for what purpose? You can do anything you want unless you aim for a formalized style or mainstream trends. Use your ear and listen to what you hear from outside your head as well as the whispers from your muse within it. Don’t mute her with formalizations for the sake of formalizations.
Tribe Of Hǫfuð https://soundcloud.com/user-228690154 "First rule: From one perfect consonance to another perfect consonance one must proceed in contrary or obligue motion." Johann Joseph Fux 1725.

KVRAF
22922 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from not here

Post Sat Sep 18, 2021 12:35 pm

pbholmen wrote:
Fri Sep 17, 2021 11:37 am
Thanks for your help. I suppose a little patronization is unavoidable on Internet forums.
That isn't patronizing, that's a fair critique of your mode of operation. If it hit home, it was supposed to: "both approaches", one of them seemed ad culum, the approach I took was to show examples from the real world instead. No, you described an avoidance tactic and I recognized what it is. I'm trying to pull you up out of some muck there.

Imagine a world with no internet forums :idea:

KVRer

Topic Starter

11 posts since 5 Jun, 2011

Post Sat Sep 18, 2021 3:55 pm

jancivil wrote:
Sat Sep 18, 2021 12:35 pm
Imagine a world with no internet forums :idea:
That's not hard. I've lived in it most of my life, so however big an idiot I am with music and soloing and chords and scales (and happy amateur!), at least that's a subject I know about.... :)

Bye bye.

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Rad Grandad
34411 posts since 6 Sep, 2003 from Downeast Maine

Post Sat Sep 18, 2021 3:58 pm

you're not an idiot :)
Exhaustipated, too tired to give a shit.

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Boss Lovin' DR
8917 posts since 15 Mar, 2002 from the grimness of yorkshire

Post Sat Sep 18, 2021 4:09 pm

Daimonicon wrote:
Fri Sep 17, 2021 12:24 pm
Just trust your ears and don't think too much about scales. If it sounds right it is right.
....and if you do by chance hit the wrong note then quickly bend it and pretend you meant it...

KVRist
205 posts since 4 Aug, 2020 from Montreal, Canada

Post Sat Sep 18, 2021 8:25 pm

donkey tugger wrote:
Sat Sep 18, 2021 4:09 pm
....and if you do by chance hit the wrong note then quickly bend it and pretend you meant it...
... and bend it again eight bars later ;)

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KVRAF
13121 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Post Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:44 am

Don't bend it, just repeat it to make it look like it was a concious decision.
We are the KVR collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Image
My MusicCalc is served over https!!

KVRist
61 posts since 22 May, 2020

Post Sun Sep 19, 2021 6:12 am

pbholmen wrote:
Fri Sep 17, 2021 10:16 am
So, what approach is considered the more musical approach
Generally speaking: The same scale

But it's far from the only option.

You might also use chords from parallel or relative keys, chromatic mediants, etc. and this would justify using another scale, but often a scale that is built off the same tonic note as the key you're already in.

You could also change the scale and/or key to one that includes each new chord in the progression as you've been doing.

BUT the success of this depends on voice-leading, though — which is a thing most guitar players don't really understand because it's not something that's really a part of the rock tradition and is too complicated to explain in a single post.

The short of it is, if the relationship between all the lines in the harmony is ensuring the smoothest possible movement, you can get away with a lot that would otherwise sound jarring.

Guitar music generally doesn't concern itself with this and just plays the chords in parallel, in the same position every time, especially in rock music and the relationship between the melody and chord movement is not of much concern beyond playing the right notes over the right chords — that generally works well for guitar music, and when you're keeping the same tonal center, but it's not conducive to more harmonically-elaborate passages.

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Rad Grandad
34411 posts since 6 Sep, 2003 from Downeast Maine

Post Sun Sep 19, 2021 7:25 am

the chords or the scale shouldn't determine every aspect of a solo, at least not imo...the solo should be it's own piece within the tune. If you think you are getting graded for being accurate, dont worry about it, this imo adds character to the solo, tension, mood, even closure.

I do use chordwizard software for alternate tunings on guitar, this helps me get a visual of the shifts and chords in scales when changing the tuning, it is a guideline only, I dont run the software while playing as I am not watching the software, I am kicking back going where the solo leads me :shrug:
Exhaustipated, too tired to give a shit.

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