How To Find The Key Of A Piece Of Music Choosing a Guitar Scale to Solo With

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Choosing a Guitar Scale to Solo With

One of the questions I always get from the beginning as a guitar player is how to decide which scale to use on a particular chord change. You have drilled your minor pentatonic into the ground and you are looking for something new. There are a number of different ways to think about it, all of which are valid. I want to show you a good way to start with the least amount of thinking.

First you need to find out what the key to this song is. It will give you a basic framework. Take a look at key signatures if you are working with standard markers. The lack of it is usually you can tell by the last chord of the piece. You are looking for a chord that comes to rest.

Let’s say we are in the key of F major. Your chord is F Gm Am Bb C Dm Edim.

Since you are in the key of F major, you can play and F major on any of the chords shown above. Each note in each chord is displayed on that scale. That’s why we call them “chords”.

Now you may notice while you are playing with it that some notes do not work well on some chords even if you are playing the right scale. You really want to use your ears here to decide which note you like or not on a particular chord. They all work in theory. It just matters that you want to make a Bb note on a Gm chord would fit perfectly. Note C, less, but it works as a chord extension, which is really okay.

The idea is to shoot for the chords. So on the main chord F you will play F, A and C. That does not mean you can not use other notes, but all three will sound very solid. Fill in the other notes, but set those three goals in key places, such as type 1.

Now let’s say we have an evolution like this: F A7 Dm Bb Which chord has a note that is not in our F scale? If you say A7, you are right! There is C # in the chord which is not in our scale. Therefore, beyond the A7, your normal F scale will not sound good.

The solution? In the future, you can learn how to switch to a completely different scale when you encounter non-diatonic chords, but for now the easy way is to just switch the natural C in your scale for C # above that A7 chord. . C # labeling on the A7 will make your lines stand out because your listeners will hear that you are following the chord changes correctly.

Practice on the first two chords F and A7, changing C to C # each time. When you can, the rest of the process is back to your normal scale.

So find out the basic scale of your home to use on most parts. Then set the chords with notes outside that scale and be sure to nail them as they cross. It takes a lot of stress out of solo singing because you really don’t have to change the scale for a strange chord.

Of course, this is just one way to think about it, but I found it to be the simplest entry point. Good luck!

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