Let’s talk about scales, but more specifically – what scales apply to what keys.
Something I hear a lot from people when they first contact me about lessons is:
“I don’t understand what scales go with what keys or chords.”
OK, so let’s say you’ve learnt a scale or 2 and would like to do some simple improvising over a riff, chord progression or backing track.
The first thing you need to understand is how to match the right scale to the right key.
The 2 most common keys in contemporary music are major and minor.
A major scale goes with a major chord progression, riff or backing track.
A minor scale goes with a minor chord progression, riff or backing track.
3 of the most common major type scales you can use over a major track are; the major scale, the major pentatonic scale and the major blues scale.
3 of the most common minor type scales you can use over a minor track are; the natural minor scale, the minor pentatonic scale and the minor blues scale.
Now, let’s talk about keys.
Every riff, chord progression or backing track you want to play over will have a key. When it comes to online backing tracks, most of the time they’ll tell you what key the track is.
If the track is in the key of Am, you’ll need to use an A minor scale. If it’s in the key of G, you’ll need to use a G major scale, etc.
Every scale is made up of multiple positions. This means that every scale has what can be referred to as “position 1.”
The lowest note of position 1 is the root note of the scale.
If you want to play over a track in the key of G, improvise using a major scale where position 1 starts on a G note. This will make the scale a G major scale and it will fit the track.
If you want to play over a track in the key of A minor, improvise using a minor scale where position 1 starts on an A note. This will make the scale an A minor scale and it will fit the track.