Modes and scales

by Roger Hoffmann
(Toowoomba, QLD, Australia)

Hi, I know I'm, punching above my weight here but I was trying to learn some new things and I managed to get confused.

I'll try to keep the question simple. In the key of C, actually a C minor chord sequence (Blues I-IV-V 12bar), it was suggested I could use the Aeolian mode to solo over the sequence (amongst others). But I have found two different scales, and on several web sites. Some sites tell me it is this A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A (ie the C scale starting at A) I also find this C D Eb F G Ab Bb, this is done using the intervals I believe.

So which one would I use and why would I choose it?
Also if I'm using the first one, which note would I resolve my lick to? (The key root C or A because I'm using the Aeolian scale).

As I write this and research more I think both maybe correct, so now I'm really confused!!..Roger


Hi, Roger--

Hmmm YES you are confused on several levels. Let's see if I can begin to clear it up:

1. The [progression that you mention is NOT a C Minor progression. A MINOR blues progression goes like this: i 1v V-- the One chord is minor as is the Four chord, while the Five chord is major.

What you described is a traditional I IV V progression in a MAJOR key. Therefore THAT will be the progression that I address from here.

2. The AOLIAN mode is the mode that has been adopted by our "WESTERN" music as the NATURAL MINOR scale. It is based on the 6th note of the major scale.

In the key of C Major, the Aolian scale is a scale that begins on A and ends on A and has the same key signature as C Major (no sharps or flats).

The second scale that you mention is also Aolian, but it is in the key of Eb Major (a C Natural Minor Scale has the same key signature as Eb Major).

Therefore, the only choice that you really have in the key of C Major is the A natural minor scale (A Aolian).

That said, if you are playing a Major Blues progression, the most likely choices are the C pentatonic minor and the A pentatonic minor scales.

Here is my advice:

You need to learn a LOT more about music theory before you jump into modal scales. Try this:

Music Chord Progressions

And then THIS:

Guitar Scale Modes

Both are Absolutely FREE! Then if you still have questions, feel free to ask.

Best Wishes,

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Feb 18, 2011
Thank you
by: Roger

Yes thank you, I see some errors I've made. Like assuming what I've been told is correct. HA HA , anyway I also assumed that info I gave would suggest a minor scale. Sorry the chords are Cm7, Fm7, Gm7 and they use a G7#9 the end of the turnaround (a bit jazz blues). So are we still a major key or is this a minor. I left out some info before sorry.
I am looking at the links, thanks, I will advise how I go as I'm sure I'm not the only person to be confused by this. And yes I know it is deep theory, and I have a lot to learn but I'm starting and it has my interest. Thanks again Roger

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