Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Wednesday Morning Theory Workout

Got an e-mail this morning from a friend looking for some answers. Check this out:

"I'm working on a new song and the melody follows a rather "different" scale. I was hoping you could help me identify the key and the direction I should take with noting the incidentals.... Yes...I tried to look it up, but am coming up short or just shy of what I'm looking for and KNEW you would be able to point me in the right direction. :) SO.... On the piano keyboard, the scale would go:
Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, Fb, G, Ab:"

My answer:

Well, typically - six flats would be the key of Gb - but this is that scale:

Gb - Ab - Bb - Cb - Db - Eb - F

I - ii - iii - IV - V - vi - vii°

If your melody begins with Ab - then consider the following possibilities -

Ab - Bb - C - Db - Eb - F - G

I - ii - iii - IV - V - vi - vii°

four flats in Ab - now compare to your scale

Ab - Bb - Cb - Db - Eb - Fb - G

First of all - remember that B and C are a half step apart - as well as E and F. So the corrected Ab scale would look like this:

Ab - Bb - (B) - Db - Eb - (E) - G

Now, if you listen to the scale - it's a minor (Abm) - a harmonic minor, to be exact, because your seventh note (G) is raised a half step from the natural minor.
intervals: 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,7
half-steps: 2-1-2-2-1-3-1

Normally - the natural minor seventh degree would be flattened.

So, we're in Ab minor. For reference sake - what major scale has Ab as its sixth note? We can determine the correct number of flats by looking at the relative major scale.

intervals: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
half-steps: 2-2-1-2-2-2-1
notes: B,C#,D#,E,F#,G#,A#

6th note - G# = Ab

So, I think you probably want to be thinking of this in terms of sharps as opposed to flats. Let's take another look at the relative minor. Same notes, starting on the sixth note of the scale.

intervals: 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,b7
half-steps: 2-1-2-2-1-2-2
notes: G#,A#,B,C#,D#,E,F#

And, taking into consideration the raised seventh note - making it a harmonic minor scale:

G# Harmonic Minor Scale
intervals: 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,7
half-steps: 2-1-2-2-1-3-1
notes: G#,A#,B,C#,D#,E,F##

Did you follow all that? Would you like to learn the language of music? Contact me for music theory instruction!

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