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Lyle Ronglien >> Fretboard Theory >>



Fretboard Theory

Lesson 5 - Harmonized Major Scale

Lyle: One of the big questions I get from guitar students is “How do I know what key I'm in and what scales should I use”? If you know how to analyze the chord progression you'll be able to see how each chord relates to each other. What you need to know is the resulting chords of the harmonized major scale.

Lyle: Here we take a C major scale, stack it on itself at the interval of a third (starting on 'e'), again at the interval of a fifth (starting on 'g'), and again at the seventh (starting on 'b'), and the result is a harmonized scale in the key of C.

ex. 1 - C maj scale

ex. 2 - stacked thirds

ex. 3 - stacked triads

ex. 4 - 4 voice chords

ex. 5 - other chord voicings

Lyle: The resulting chords are:

I     – Cmaj7

II     – Dm7

III    – Em7

I      – Fmaj7

V    – G7

VI   – Am7
VII  – Bm7b5

Lyle: Notice that the II and II minor chords are a whole step apart. Notice that the IV and V are a whole step apart. Things like this will help you analyze a chord progression quickly. Through the process of elimination, you'll be able to come up with the key center of the chords being played.

Lyle: Only four different chord types:

I & IV       = Major 7

II, III, VI   = Minor 7

V             = Dominant 7
VII           = Minor 7b5

Lyle: This formula works for ANY harmonized major scale.

Lyle: If you saw a chord progression of C - Dm - Em - Dm, this would have to be the I, II, III, II chords related to the key of C.

chord progression 1

Lyle: This means you could play the C major scale and any of the modes for the key of C against this chord progression.

C major scale - basic pattern

Jam Track 1 in C

Lyle: Play a C major scale against this jam track that uses these chords and you'll hear how everything blends and harmonizes together.

Lyle: If you saw a chord progression of Am, Dm, and Em, you would be looking at the VI, II, III chords in the key of C.

chord progression 2

Lyle: You can still play the C major scale and all of its modes against this chord progression since these chords are related to the key of C. Here's a jam track of these chords, try playing the C major scale against this jam track:

Jam Track 2 in C

Lyle: If you saw a chord progression of G - F - C, you would have the V - IV - I in the key of C.

chord progression 3

Jam Track 3 in C

Lyle: In Jazz style you find this type of progression many times, the II - V - I. In C this would be Dm, G7, Cmaj:

chord progression 4

Jam Track 4 in C



Key and Chord Chart


Lyle: Look at the chart above. Note that a Major 7 chord is related to a Major chord, and a Minor 7 is related to a Minor chord. The only position that holds the dominant 7 chord is the V position.

Lyle: If you had a chord progression of G7 only, what major key is this chord related to and what major scale could you play over it?

chord progression 5

Jam Track 5 in G7

Joel: G major?

Lyle: no....

Joel: C?

Lyle: The G7 chord is the V chord in the key of C major. You could play the C major scale over the G7 chord.

Lyle: If you had a chord progression of Am and Bm, what key is that in and what major scale could you play over it?

chord progression 6

Jam Track 6

Bart: guessing: G major?

BigTX: G

TBone: G

Lyle: And why are you picking G?

Bart: Am is the II chord of G and Bm is the III chord of G

kirk: because Am7 and Bm7 are the IIm7 and the IIIm7 of G

Lyle: Right!

G major scale



Lyle: If you had a chord progression of Bm7, E7, what key is that in and what major scale could you play over it?

chord progression 7

Jam Track 7

kirk: A major?

Lyle: And why?

tallpaulonline: A

tallpaulonline: E7 is the 5th

A major scale

Lyle: A is the right answer! Bm7 is the II, E7 is the V, both in the key of A.

Lyle: This means you could play the A major scale over this progression and any of the modes in the key of A.

Joel: :)

BigTX: Could you play a A pent?

Lyle: minor or major?

BigTX: minor

Lyle: No, you would probably want to play the A Major pentatonic because you're in the key of A Major.

dh: or F# is the realitive minor and therefore you could play an F# pentatonic scale

Lyle: F# Minor pentatonic yes.

floydwhammy: You mean you can play A Ionian, B Dorian, C Phrygian etc., right not A Dorian, A Phrygian, A Lydian etc.?

Lyle: That's right!

Lyle: Not all chord progressions stay in the same key.

Lyle: If you had a chord progression of A7 to D7, you would technically be switching to two different keys becasue these are both dominant chords. Only one dominant chord is found in each key.

Lyle: A7 is the V in D Major, D7 is the V in G Major.

BigTX: A7 and D7 progressions are the heart of blues?

Lyle: Dominant chords are used in Blues style all the time.

Lyle: Try playing the D major scale then the G Major scale against this jam track:

Jam Track 8 - A7 to D7

A7 to D7

erlon: so A mixolydian then A dorian?

Lyle: Nice one erlon, that is right!

Lyle: Takes awhile to sort all this new information out. You simply look at this chart:

Key and Chord Chart


Lyle: Understand that in ANY key, there are chords that relate to it.

Lyle: By the huge process of elimination, you come up with what key you're in.

BigTX: the 7 confuse me. is that it could be a 7th chord?

Lyle: You start to recognize certian "red flags" when analyzing a chord progression, like two minor chords a whole step apart = the II and II chords of a key....

Lyle: There are Major 7 chords, there are Minor 7 chords, there are Dominant 7 chords.

Lyle: There is also the VII chord, which is refering to the VII degree of the Major scale.

BigTX: cool, I get the jist of it.

Lyle: Good time to take a break.

bluesguitarmp3: thanx teach

tallpaulonline: Thanx

Lyle: Welcome, hope this helps.

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