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I'm a beginner guitarist and I've been reading the articles and lessons on this site about musical theory. I'm up to the section on chords and where they come from. It has been interesting but somewhat difficult for me to grasp the logic of music theory. For example, this question has been driving me nuts and so I'm turning to the forum for help.

Question: Other than tediously mapping out each of the 7 modes of the Major Scale and extracting the chords from them individually, is there a way to quickly tell from the chord itself what mode or scale it is derived from? For example, an A minor is made up of the notes A, C and E. If I want to find the 7th note of the scale so as to turn the Am into an Am7 I need to know what scale this chord comes from. Again, what's the quickest way of doing that?

Sorry if this is a dumb question.

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Take a look at Kirk's PlantTalk method. It will help you to 1) learn the cord inversions and 2) where the intervals are in the chords. Here is the link:


He has a special going on right now with free shipping when purchasing the full package.

Welcome to the forum!


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Hey there Lovecraftian,

forget about modes for now. The basics 1) what is the major key and 2) it's relative minor (the sixth note in the major scale). Pretty much all chords come from and are made from the major key. So if there's no sharps of flats, the key is C, so Am (A,C,E) when in this key the seventh (counting from the A but using the notes from the key of C) is G.

Hope that helps and welcome.

Kind regards, pH :yes:

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That 7th note your looking for doesn't have to be derived from any 'scale' knowledge. Just like the 3 and the 5, it's just a matter of further counting down the alphabet from the A. 'A' will always have a G as b7 and a G# as a 7th.

Now...take that A minor 7th and have it playing as a backing chord, for you to solo over it.

You are totally free to use any scale you like over it, Some common and very consonant choices that would be A Aeolean, A Dorian, or A Phyrigian. If your slick learn to put a little of each in there! Learn them as flavors and add them to your solo brew like a seasoned chef.

To my ear, Dorian is bitter sweet. A bit of easyness to it, but still sad. very melancholic

Aeolian is going to be all out sad. Even evil at times. Think stairway to heaven, among many solo uses of this mode.

Phyrigian, is going to sound the most pained and twisted... Clockwork Angels from Rush has some of this mode used.

Also, it can easily sound Egyptian or Spanish.

Keep in mind getting to these modes is as EASY as setting up an A minor pentatonic scale (5 notes) and simply plugging in the right 2 note sequence. Each mode has it's own 2 note 'code' so to speak. All 3 modes I mentioned will be contained in that same A minor shape!! don't limit yourself to just this shape, but in the beginning thats how you can get this stuff under your hands FAST!

Good luck! and if you need to know more just ask.

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As a beginner, you don't need to know all the basic modes to do chord construction. The only 2 scales you need is major and minor scales. All the basic chords fall into that. Then study the 7th chords within these 2 scales. For example - major scale:

I is major

II is minor

III is minor

IV is major

V is dominant

VI is minor

vii is half diminished

PS also don't just memorize these information. Construct them using the notes in the scale to understand why these chords are major or minor.

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