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  • #9129
    Jan
    Participant

    Hi Johnny,

    I’ve started practising Stand By Me with the band but being pretty clueless about keys and music theory in general, a lot of what we’re doing is playing by ear. When listening to the original song by Ben E King, I zeroed in on a match with the singer by playing in the key of G minor on my tenor. Does this mean that the guitar/keyboard should play in F minor? And would you happen to know if I’m right in my assumption of (and listening ability to) identifying this as the original key?

    Best

    Jan

    #10694
    Jan
    Participant

    … Then again, when I look at the various guitar tab websites they seem to say that guitars play in Amaj – in which case I should play Bmaj? Maybe I’m just confused?

    #10695
    john
    Keymaster

    The original version of that song is in A major. So yes, you will be playing in B major on tenor.
    The chords for the guitar are:
    A, F# minor, D, E, A
    This is a very typical and standard 1, minor 6, 4, 5, 1
    Many many songs use this progression so learning how to improvise over it will go along way.

    #10697
    Jan
    Participant

    Thanks again, Johnny. You’re a hero.

    Let me just get this right: So, when I improvise following the mentioned progression, I should play pentatonic scales of (1) = B, (minor 6) = G#, (4) = E, (5) = F#, and back to (1) = B ?

    Best

    Jan

    #10698
    Jan
    Participant

    – which in my impro table would mean the following (if I’ve understood it correctly): x = progression – y = pentatonic scale

    X || 1 || m6 || 4 || 5 || 1 ||
    =================
    1 || B || Ab|| E ||F#|| B ||


    2 ||C#||Bb||F#||G#||C#||


    3 ||D#|| C ||G#||A#||D#||


    5 ||F#|| Eb|| B ||C#||F#||


    6 ||G#|| F ||C#||D#||G#||
    ==================

    Sorry, it gets a bit out of shape when published. The idea is to follow the notes going down the columns as the song progresses along the 1-6m-4-5-1 pattern.

    Jan

    #10700
    john
    Keymaster

    Not understanding your chart but basically yes, stick to pentatonic major scales.
    Remember, G# is the relative minor to B major so the B pentatonic will work for both of those!

    #10703
    Jan
    Participant

    Hi Johnny,

    Reading down through the columns, I was trying to list the tones in a pentatonic pattern that I can include for improvisation as the song progresses through its 1-m6-3-4-5-1 sequence. I failed abysmally, I think. What is actually meant by a minor 6? Is it the pentatonic minor scale of the B major’s sixth note? Or, how would you explain it?

    Jan

    #10704
    Jan
    Participant

    Sorry, I had to remove the new table again because this posting system doesn’t allow for original spacing, and as a result it looks confusing.

    J

    #10705
    john
    Keymaster

    Yes, most musicians speak the language of numbers instead of actual letters.
    So in the scale of B major: B C# D# E F# G# – the G# is the 6, the E is the 4, F# the 5 etc.

    And like I said earlier, the G# is the relative minor of B major so we can play the same notes when we solo over those two chords.
    Here is the B pentatonic major scale: B C# D# F# G#
    Here is the G# pentatonic: G# B C# D# F#

    Study these two scales because they are the same note, just one starts on a B the other a G#.
    It’s important to understand this because whenever you have this progression, i, 6, which is quite common, you know that you can play the same notes over both chords, again, this is because they are relative to each other.

    C major is relative to A minor
    D major is relative to B minor
    E major is relative to C# minor

    Do you see the pattern? They are a minor 3rd away from each other, just as B and G# are a minor 3rd away from each other.
    Don’t let it confuse you, it’s just music theory, just like math, once you know how the numbers add up it’s not confusing or scary anymore!

    #10710
    Jan
    Participant

    Thanks a lot, Johnny.

    I guess the Devil is really in remembering the non-related pentatonic scales, and apply the “new/different” notes in an interesting way when appropriate. Do you have any good advice how to keep check on when what is safe to play at any given time – or how to remember then non-related scales and the different starting notes in the related ones? Practise, practise and practise is – I guess – always a good idea, but apart from that?

    I’ve also noticed that a lot of the tunes I’m now playing centres around the use of the octave key. Not only is it difficult to maintain a good tone when going into the upper register, but the C# for instance doesn’t sound as good when played at the top of the lower register instead of at the bottom of the higher register. My problem is that moving fast between the high B in the lower register and the C# in the higher octave register requires a lot of unusual fingering because of the use of the low semi-tone key. What do you do, or is it just my YAMAHA YTS-25 (Japanese model) that isn’t particularly refined? I like the fuller/warmer tone of the low C# in the higher octave register better, but battle to play it fast enough when otherwise moving mostly between F-C.

    Does it make sense?

    Jan

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