Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by merlyn »

If you were jamming with someone and they asked you "what key?", then you would say "G# minor" to get them in the ballpark. If we think on the A chord as the outside chord, as Wurlitzer suggested above, then this tune is G# aeolian (scale of B major) and G# phrygian (scale of E major) for a bar when the chord is A.

To be "in a minor key" though it would have a D#7 - G#m cadence which uses the harmonic or melodic minor. Without that it's modal and uses modes of major scales.

House of The Rising Sun is in a minor key and has a real minor sound because it uses the natural, harmonic and melodic minors :

Am C (natural) D (melodic) F Am C (natural) E E (harmonic) Am

There's also a well used progression :

Am G F (natural) E (harmonic) Am

If that was

Am G F Em Am

It would be modal.

For a real theory-fest if the A chord in Frank's tune was A7 it would be more like a minor key because A7 is a tritone substitution for D#7. In A7 the third is C# and the seventh is G. In D#7 the seventh is C# and the third is F## (=G). A7 is D#7b5b9 which works in a minor key. A7 brings in a G (F##) note (the major seventh of G#) from the harmonic minor.
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by Wurlitzer »

RichardT wrote:
OneWorld wrote:
manwilde wrote:Sorry to go off-topic but I´m listening to your "Best orgasms form 2011 to 2018" and enjoying it a lot! :clap::clap:

I'm inclined to agree. It is clear that Ennio Morricone is an influence and at times sounds like the background music to some 60's 'Exotic Art Movie' but hey, nothing wrong with that, it is pleasantly quirky, and most of all quite listenable.

I often struggle with deciding what key a piece of music is in, if for example I am clearly in the key of C Major, but then, for example, a chromatic shift going from

Cmaj->Gmaj->Fmaj->Emin->#Dmaj->Gmaj->Cmaj

have I stayed in C major or have I changed key and added some 'accidentals' ?

You’re still in C major. The D#maj doesn’t act as a tonic.

Not to mention the fact that D# major doesn't exist. :)
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by Ben Asaro »

Wurlitzer wrote: Not to mention the fact that D# major doesn't exist. :)

Sure it does, it's just much easier to use its enharmonic equivalent of Eb for naming purposes.
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by Wurlitzer »

Sorry I meant the key doesn't exist.
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by GilesAnt »

As Ben said - it does. Where there is a note there is a key as well.
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by merlyn »

It's worth noting that :

(number of sharps to notate a key) + (number of flats to notate a key) = 12

e.g. F# major (6 sharps) = Gb major (6 flats)
B major (5 sharps) = Cb major (7 flats)

So D# major has 9 sharps since Eb has 3 flats.

I've never seen D# major used. Theoretically it exists but it's a bit nutty to use 9 sharps instead of 3 flats. :)
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by RichardT »

merlyn wrote:It's worth noting that :

(number of sharps to notate a key) + (number of flats to notate a key) = 12

e.g. F# major (6 sharps) = Gb major (6 flats)
B major (5 sharps) = Cb major (7 flats)

So D# major has 9 sharps since Eb has 3 flats.

I've never seen D# major used. Theoretically it exists but it's a bit nutty to use 9 sharps instead of 3 flats. :)

I never knew that! If there are 9 sharps in D#, then two of them must be a double sharp as there are only 7 notes to sharpen. That would be a very intimidating key signature!
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by merlyn »

Another way to think about it is D major has 2 sharps. D# major then sharpens everything resulting in F## and C##.
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by blinddrew »

You see stuff like this is why people give up on music theory!

:D
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by merlyn »

This is a question of spelling. The sound of this triad exists whatever you call it and it can be 'spelt' two different ways. To be honest we haven't got to 'theory' yet -- it helps to be able to spell first. :)

Either Eb -- Eb G Bb
or D# -- D# F## A#
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by Ben Asaro »

blinddrew wrote:You see stuff like this is why people give up on music theory!

:D

lol Totally!

An easy way to think about it is: each scale needs to have every pitch class for that scale.
So in a major scale, you need to have 7 pitch classes (eg, C, D, E, F, G, A, B). Some composers will go through great lengths piling on enharmonics to keep that structure when it would be easier to just notate it in a different key. It is, however, a personal choice of the composer.

Edit -- different scales have different requirements (pentatonic, octatonic, whole tone, etc)

I hope that helps!
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by blinddrew »

You're already over my head Ben, I'm not even keeping up with Merlyn's spelling! :)
I mean, why isn't F## just G? :headbang:
You don't need to answer this, I'm not trying to drag the thread off topic!

For the record, I'm not proud of this and my ignorance isn't something I've set out to preserve, it's just having been pretty much self-taught as a musician*, and primarily on guitar, I've just never engaged with the music theory side of things and I fear I'm a bit of a lost cause now.
I'm sure if I were to dedicate the hours to it I could pick up the basics, but there are other things I would rather be dedicating my hours to! :)

* I use this word very loosely!
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by Ben Asaro »

blinddrew wrote:You're already over my head Ben, I'm not even keeping up with Merlyn's spelling! :)
I mean, why isn't F## just G? :headbang:
You don't need to answer this, I'm not trying to drag the thread off topic!

LOL it's not dragging the topic down at all, imo.

F##, in terms of pitch, is the same frequency of G (assuming they are in the same octave). Remember how above I said you have to maintain the pitch classes? This is a perfect example of applying that. There will be occasions where you have to label a note double sharp so that you don't have the same pitch class twice (there are cases where you will see F## and G in the same measure, for example). In other words, you can't have a C major scale that has the pitch class of G twice. But if you are expressing other keys and keeping your notation in C, that's where you start to see these wild enharmonic interpretations...
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by blinddrew »

Sorry but you lost me at 'pitch class'.
I think this is part of the problem with coming at this, ahem, later in life. There is a whole lexicon that you have to learn as well as the conceptual side.
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Re: Chords progression of one of my songs - phrygian mode?

Post by Ben Asaro »

blinddrew wrote:Sorry but you lost me at 'pitch class'.
I think this is part of the problem with coming at this, ahem, later in life. There is a whole lexicon that you have to learn as well as the conceptual side.

True!
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