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#1124154 - 02/15/17 11:19 PM Theory Question  
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 33
Don Bellew Offline
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Don Bellew  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2003
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Ellicott City, Maryland USA
So.... I do an acoustic solo act. One of the songs I play is "Can't Buy Me Love" by The Beatles. Nice song. I like it.
Anyway, the song is in a major key yet the melody vocal follows a minor scale...same key...chords are major... melody is minor.
Playing guitar, sometimes taking a solo, I'll play in the minor of a song when the chords are in the major. It works well. My question is, Why does it work? Is there some layman's explanation as to why this works?
All opinions are welcome!
Thanks,
Don

#1124156 - 02/16/17 02:02 AM Re: Theory Question [Re: Don Bellew]  
Joined: Jun 2011
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Barry David Butler Online content
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Barry David Butler  Online Content
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YES...The Beatles probably landed on a space ship and do all kinds of magic with their songs.....lol

#1124157 - 02/16/17 02:58 AM Re: Theory Question [Re: Don Bellew]  
Joined: Feb 2017
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Trentb Offline
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Trentb  Offline
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Originally Posted by Don Bellew
So.... I do an acoustic solo act. One of the songs I play is "Can't Buy Me Love" by The Beatles. Nice song. I like it.
Anyway, the song is in a major key yet the melody vocal follows a minor scale...same key...chords are major... melody is minor.
Playing guitar, sometimes taking a solo, I'll play in the minor of a song when the chords are in the major. It works well. My question is, Why does it work? Is there some layman's explanation as to why this works?
All opinions are welcome!
Thanks,
Don


Hi Don, I think it works because rock music is based on the blues. And minor notes bending up to the major is what gives the blues it's sound.

For example, if you hit a b flat note, over a g major chord, technically, the b flat would be part of the g minor chord, not the g major, but in blues this is done intentionally.

What won't work, is if you play sharp! Then you start playing a different style of music altogether!

#1124161 - 02/16/17 03:25 AM Re: Theory Question [Re: Don Bellew]  
Joined: Dec 2008
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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John Lawrence Schick  Offline
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There can be a theoretical explanation for any combination of notes. I use a lot of dissonance in my music. Clashes with neighboring half-tones can even be used effectively, like C/Db. The stacking order of notes determine the chord name, e.g., an Eb6 chord (Eb,G,Bb,C) built on the root note C (C,Eb,G,Bb) becomes a Cm7 chord. So the bass note can alter the name of a chord. Bottom-line... if it sounds good to you, that's all that matters. No right or wrong.

John smile

#1124458 - 02/23/17 04:34 PM Re: Theory Question [Re: Don Bellew]  
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Jody Whitesides Offline
Jody Whitesides  Offline

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You're using the relative minor to the major. Thus if the song is in G major, your singing the E minor. Both use the same notes, what changes is where the resolution lays.

That being said: Can't Buy Me Love the chorus is in E minor. The Verses are in the relative major of G major. They occasionally change to some 7th chord structures and modify the melody accordingly. Thus you're not singing a minor melody over major chords, you're singing a minor resolution over the minor part and a major resolution over the major part.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
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#1124461 - 02/23/17 07:07 PM Re: Theory Question [Re: Don Bellew]  
Joined: Feb 2017
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Trentb Offline
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Trentb  Offline
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The relative minor might explain why it works over can't buy me love, but I think he was asking in general why minor notes work over major chords. Technically they don't, but in blues they do. Same thing with singing, it's ten times better to sing flat than sing sharp, a lot of times it gives it a blues feel, and easier fixed.

But this should explain what I was trying to articulate before
http://www.fretjam.com/minor-pentatonic-over-major-chords.html

#1124538 - 02/24/17 07:38 PM Re: Theory Question [Re: Trentb]  
Joined: Dec 2001
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Jody Whitesides Offline
Jody Whitesides  Offline

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Park City, UT, USA
Originally Posted by Trentb
The relative minor might explain why it works over can't buy me love, but I think he was asking in general why minor notes work over major chords. Technically they don't, but in blues they do. Same thing with singing, it's ten times better to sing flat than sing sharp, a lot of times it gives it a blues feel, and easier fixed.

But this should explain what I was trying to articulate before
http://www.fretjam.com/minor-pentatonic-over-major-chords.html

Trent, you really should read my whole post before responding.

If I play an E minor scale over a progression of G major, C major, D major - that's gonna work just fine. But if I play D minor over those same chords it won't. There is no "technically" to it. Either you're using the notes of the key or you're not. E minor & G major use the same notes.

As for the link suggesting to play E minor pentatonic (E, G, A, A#, B, D) over E A & B major - that's rather bizarre as this would only result in a minor 3rd (over the major 3rd of the chord) and the "blue" note of the tritone is now the A# which is way off - it doesn't resolve well at all with those notes. The "schooled" method would be playing C# minor pentatonic (C#, E, G, G#, A, B) over E A & B major. This allows for that tension of the minor 3rd to resolve to the Major 3rd. Said minor 3rd of E is the tritone from C# (AKA a passing tone, which is the true nature of blues - passing tones). The reality of this is that the ear will pull the resolutions to the E major, which is the relative major of C# minor.

As for whether anything sounds good sung flat or sharp or fixable - that's in the ear of the beholder. I'm not a fan of singing out of tune, regardless of style.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#1124539 - 02/24/17 09:20 PM Re: Theory Question [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
Joined: Feb 2017
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Trentb Offline
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Trentb  Offline
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I read your post Jody, I just thought he was asking less about can't buy me love, as much as he was why minor runs work over major chords There is a "technically" because music educators have beeen teaching students forever that if the note doesn't belong in the chord, you shouldn't play it.

My example of b flat being played over a G major chord is playing the minor third, not the major third. Basically your playing B flat note, and the arrangement is playing G major chord with B major notes, the third of a G chord

Those two notes in theory clash like night and day. But blues musicians have done this since the beginning. Music teachers would say what they were doing was musically ignorant, but blues did not care, that is what made it unique, and gave it it's unique sound.

And since blues gave rise to rock, and country, and everything else, that's why it happens in rock and country too. I studied blues guitar for 2 years. You say playing a minor pentatonic over a 1-4-5 progression is "bizarre" , your saying what the opponents of blues said all along, but it's not bizarre at all.

It's what chuck berry did In Johnny b Goode and just about any tune from that era.

As for singing out of tune, everybody does it, auto tune leads people to believe nobody does, but even the best of the best sing out of tune. You saw Adelle start the song over on the Grammys cause she was singing out of tune? Especially live, better to be flat than sharp though

Last edited by Trentb; 02/24/17 09:29 PM.
#1124541 - 02/24/17 09:36 PM Re: Theory Question [Re: Don Bellew]  
Joined: Feb 2017
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Trentb Offline
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Trentb  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 165
Chuck berry style, notice him ripping on the c note over an A major chord, and all down the line.

Nothing bizarre about it at all, this is the great Chuck Berrys style https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/solo-guitar/chuck-berry-style-lesson/

Last edited by Trentb; 02/24/17 09:46 PM.

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