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Stuck! Needing Help Regarding Scales With Music Composition

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One day I asked my piano teacher a question.

I asked him, when writing piano music...how do you know what scales to go to next, when writing in specific scale/key?

He told me, one good way to know what sounds good is to look at the circle of fifths, and to look at the relative minor key if using a major scale/key


But I was wondering...what if your song consists of all minor? If your using all minor scales or keys...how do u know what scale to jump to?

The reason I ask this, is bc from what Iv learned from my self help books and lessons, knowing what key or scale ur using wil help to determin which chords to use


If anyone could help me to understand this, that would be great...as I really want to make the most out of using scales...I just dont know which scale should follow a previous scale

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I'm sorry, I don't understand your questions, are you talking about "modulation" that is when you change your key, let's say the piece is in E minor and you want to modulate into other key, like perhaps A minor ?


If that's so, you can jump to any key you like, and you can use the dominant of next key to make the change, for example:


|----------E minor-------------|     |---------A minor-----


Em, Am, D7, G, C, B7 Em, E7 Am, Dm, G7, C etc


is that what you mean ?

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Im sorry if I caused any confusion about what I was asking...

Im still kinda new to the whole writing down/composing music thing. I just started learning how to write down what I play, only at the end of last year.


Im still trying to figure out what sounds good, and the rules for composing and all that

So like, if I started to create a melody using notes/chords in certain scale...how would I know where to take the melody, if I wanted to use a different scale?

What sounds good, compared to the scale I was using?

Is it just trial and error, when creating a melody? You just play around with the notes of differnent scales? Or are there rules for changing to a differnet scale?

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First, learn the basic harmony.


Scales, at least major and minor, in all keys.


C,D,E,F,G,A,B is C major, notice when is whole step and when is half step, C to D is whole, but E to F is half, so you have W,W,H,W,W,W,H steps, that will be always a major scale, so if you begin in G, doing same scale you'll have G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, why F# ? because you're keeping your scale structure, you have 1 sharp now in your scale, if you begin in D you'll have D, E, F#, G, A, B, C# why ? same answer, etc for all keys, same with flats, if you begin in F, you'll have F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E why Bb ? same answer. Learn all scales, keys signatures, how many sharps you have in E major, which notes ares sharp, same for minor scales.


Once you are familiar with all that, learn your degrees, which chord consist each of your degree in your scale, if your in C major, you'll have these degrees: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, B(b5)* , why in D is a minor chord ? because in C major your F is natural. why E is minor too ? because G is natural. Why F is not minor ? because your A is not flat, is natural, why B is dimished ? because it's 5th (that would be F#) is not sharp is natural, now notice which degrees are minor and which are major, I,IV,V are major, II,III,VI are minor and VII is dimished, well this will remain for all your major scales, in A major, your degrees will be A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, G#(b5) why C#m is minor, because your 3rd (E) is natural and that makes a minor chord, why F#m is minor too ? because your in A major scale and your A won't be A# to make a F# major chord, but is natural so is a minor 3rd.


When you tell me you understand all this perfectly, you won't have any problem to write down what you play.



Very Important, learn all this in the staff AND in piano keyboard, no matter what instrument you play.


Good luck.




*I use jazzy chords, but outside jazz, you can find other ways to write chords like this, might be Bdim, or Bø or others.

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Thanks, whatever the issue I had it seems to have gone away.

I think I was just feeling discouraged, bc to me...the idea of playing/creating a melody based on using different scales seemed it would be difficult.

But, now that I have messed around on my piano a bit, and tried creating something by playing around with different scales...I actually am optimistic.


I do understand what you mentioned a bit, I have alot of music theory/composition books that I been studying, reading.

But I havnt studied chords too much, so Im still learning about chords/ chord progressions.

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Hey Daniel,


Basically (and this is a humongous simplification), a melody is a string of notes that implies the harmony underneath... The melody is the thing that is defining the scale/chords whatever you want to think of. So to "move a melody to a different scale" you simply have to write an extension to the melody that can use chords from both the starting scale and the ending scale and then slowly transition to chords from only the ending scale. This is called a modulation. Often people use the term "pivot chord" as the chords that are part of both the starting and ending scale.

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