Music Theory: How to use Chords and Scales | Solo Ray | Skillshare

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Music Theory: How to use Chords and Scales

teacher avatar Solo Ray, Music Producer + Music Director

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

18 Lessons (51m)
    • 1. Music Theory is a Tool, Not a Rule

    • 2. Before We Begin

    • 3. Intervals

    • 4. Scales

    • 5. Major Triads

    • 6. Minor Triads

    • 7. Inversions

    • 8. Bass

    • 9. Voice Leading

    • 10. Circle of Fifths

    • 11. The Number System

    • 12. Seventh Chords

    • 13. Suspended Chords

    • 14. Relative Minors

    • 15. Modes

    • 16. How to Play Scales

    • 17. Make Your Practices Count

    • 18. In Conclusion

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About This Class

Music Theory is not a set of rules you shouldn't break. It is a set of tools that allow us to do things.

In this class you will learn the building blocks of music theory and how to take advantage of them in your own musical journey. Whether you are brand new to music, or you are looking for that next bit of inspiration, the skills and concepts in this course will be invaluable to you. All instruments and vocalists are welcome!

In this class you'll learn:

  • How to use the Circle of Fifths
  • How to recognize intervals
  • What are scales? WHY are scales?
  • How to identify chords
  • How to structure chords using voice leading
  • An understanding of what each mode brings to the table

and so much more!

No matter what instrument you play or whether your voice is your instrument, you will leave this course equipped with the knowledge of how to train your ear as you listen to any type of music. 

You can connect with Solo here!



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Meet Your Teacher

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Solo Ray

Music Producer + Music Director


Hi! I am a music producer and music director based out of Montana. I predominantly produce, mix, and master in Logic Pro X, but I also will use
 Ableton and Pro Tools.


I first started with piano lessons when I was a child (hated practicing then, but now I'm so thankful my parents forced me to stick with it!). I discovered GarageBand when I was 12 and instantly fell in love, later graduating to Logic Pro. I produced my first album in Logic at 15, and I've been making music professionally ever since! I can't wait to help you progress to the next step of your musical journey!


You can sign up for my newsletter (free sounds and tips) here! 

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1. Music Theory is a Tool, Not a Rule: [MUSIC] Music theory is not a set of rules that you can't break. Music theory is a set of tools that allow you to do things. If you're playing an instrument, if you're singing, if you're a songwriter, music theory will help you be better at your craft. My name is Solo Ray, I've been producing music since I was 15. I spent a lot of time performing music live in front of people and I've spent a lot of time creating music. I want to show you how the theory of music makes each of those processes easier. In this course, we're going to get an overview of music theory as a whole, what the different concepts are, how they work together, and how you can take advantage of them. We're going to go over scales, chords, different modes, inversions, the circle of fifths, the number system. Having a basic understanding of these tools brings such crazy value to you as a musician, a songwriter, a vocalist. Whatever angle you're approaching music from, it is absolutely vital to at least be familiar with these systems, so get your notebooks out, get your notes app out, let's go through this stuff together, and I promise you you're going to learn so much. 2. Before We Begin: [MUSIC] Who is this class for? I would say any sort of musician. If you play any instruments and especially if you're a vocalist, I think vocalists stand to gain a tremendous amount from an understanding of music theory. We're not going to dive too much into rhythm in this course, this is geared more towards the harmony of music theory. Rhythm is a beautiful world that I'm very passionate about but I thought, for sake of clarity and focus, it'd be helpful to only talk about harmony for this course and leave rhythm for its own section. I would say too, if you feel overwhelmed by any aspect of music theory, if it just seems too much to understand or you just feel so lost, push through. Push through, just like how the best way to learn a language is immersing yourself in the culture and even if you don't understand all the words that are being said, as you spend time in that environment and in that culture, you will start to pick up the language as you start to use it, and you start to listen to it, you start to pick it up. Music theory is the same way. Even if you don't understand all of the terms right away, just let it wash over you. Keep pushing through and some elements will start to click together, especially when you start listening and trying to identify things. If a concept, in particular, feels just way too over your head, feel free to skip to the next video or feel free to slow it down or just watch it again until you feel comfortable and then you can move on. But push through that phase of feeling overwhelmed. Because music is a language, the best way to learn is by immersion. With that out of the way, let's dive in and start learning about intervals. 3. Intervals: [MUSIC] The first concept I think you should be familiar with when getting into the world of music theory is the idea of intervals. Now an interval is just the distance between two notes. Any chord will have a combination of intervals. Any melody will be broken up into different intervals stepping between each other. [MUSIC] Those are just intervals between them. Let's start with some examples. Now we can just do a single note. [NOISE] Great, that's C, that's not an interval. It's just a note, a good baseline to start from. If we go one whole step up, that's an interval. [NOISE] That's a second. I'm moving to the second note, it's the second interval. Now if I go another whole step from our C to that third step, that would be a third interval because I'm moving to the third note away. I'm just staying on the white keys and the QC for now. If we go one more, that'd be all the way to F, that's a fourth and so on and so forth. A fifth, sixth, seventh and the eighth, or the octave. Octave just means eight, so it's eight steps. Great. That's most of the intervals that there are. There are other variations that will surface in time, but that's a great stepping point to then talk about the other building block of music theory, which is what do we make with intervals? We build scales with them, and that's what we're going to talk about in the next video. 4. Scales: [MUSIC] So what exactly are scales? Scales are simply a subset of notes. In our Western music system, there are 12 notes available to us, and a scale is a subset of those notes, usually seven. The major scale, specifically, the C major scale, is, I think the easiest one to start with and understanding because if you look at a piano, it's very easy to see. It's just the white notes. So it's pretty easy to tell which notes are a part of that scale and which ones aren't. This is what the C major scale sounds like. [MUSIC] You're probably familiar with that sound if you've done any vocal warm-ups or have been in any rehearsal rooms, or practiced an instrument anything like that. It's very, very common and very typical because most of our music stems from this scale, they're just different placements of it, and there's a pattern that determines why those specific notes are chosen. It's whole, whole, half. Whole, whole, whole, half. In our last video we talked about intervals and I mentioned the major second interval , the second interval. [MUSIC] That's from the first note of the scale to the second note of the scale. You'll notice there's a black key in-between those. [MUSIC] Because we're skipping over that black key to get to our second note, it's called a whole step. Now, if we go up the scale a little bit from our third note to our fourth note from E to F right here, [MUSIC] you'll notice there are no black keys between E and F. That interval is called a half step. It's not a whole step, it's a half step because there are zero notes in-between them. [MUSIC] To make a major scale, we just have to follow the pattern of whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. Starting from C, [MUSIC] whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. Using that pattern, we can pick any notes and figure out what the scale would be for that note. Starting on E, [MUSIC] I might not know any of the names of these notes, but I know what the major scale should be just by following the whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half pattern. [MUSIC] Whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. If you play an instrument practicing scales and just drilling them over and over, going up, going down is one of the best ways that you can instill in your brain what the sound of the major scale should be. Probably the most helpful thing for learning intervals is just knowing where they're placed in the scale, what a sixth sounds like, what a third sounds like. Drilling scales will help drill that stuff into your brain the more you listen and perform these scales. Singing them is another fantastic way to develop your singing ability and to develop your musical theory too of knowing where those intervals are as you sing them over and over again, a fantastic vocal warm-up. In the next video, we're going to look at how to take that scale and using those subset of notes to create chords out of that. Actually, start to create harmony. That's coming up in the next video. 5. Major Triads: [MUSIC] Chords. We're going to take our existing C major scale, that we've looked at, and we're going to take certain combinations of those notes, and combine them together into chords. The most common chord shape that there is, is called the triad. There are as many triads as there are notes in this scale. Seven different notes, there are seven different triads that we can play. A triad is a combination of three notes. Typically, it is our first finger, our third finger, and our fifth finger, all played together. [MUSIC] That's a triad. Because we're starting on C, Our first note is on C, that's a C major triad [MUSIC]. There are exceptions, but the lowest note of the chord in this instance, when we're doing a chord like this, with 1, 3, 5, that note is called the root note. That's the note that the base would play. That defines what the name of the chord is. This is a C major chord [MUSIC]. Not every chord in the C major scale is a major chord, but there are two other major chords, the F major chord, the fourth one. If we go up the scale [MUSIC] to four, that's our F. If we start a major chord from that note, from F [MUSIC], same shape, we have to C major, [MUSIC] 1,3, 5. If we start from F [MUSIC], We get F major. The last major chord in the key of C is G major. Just a whole step north of that F [MUSIC], we have G. All of those together, the C, the F, and the G, that gets us that blues progression [MUSIC]. Now those are the major chords in the C major scale, but there are four other chords. There's three minors, and something else that's a little bit strange. We're going to take a look at that in the next video. 6. Minor Triads: [MUSIC] Now what makes a minor chord minor? Let's start with our C major and then we will alter it into a minor chord. This is the C major sound. [MUSIC] Now to make this chord a minor what we're going to do is flat our third. So, our third note, our third finger, this E here. [MUSIC] We're going to flat that by 1.5 step. We're going to move our third finger on this E down to this E-flat here. [MUSIC] That chord would be C minor. Now, the minor chord does occur naturally within the C major scale. If we don't add any alterations, no black notes, just stick to the white notes, the key of C, that minor chord naturally occurs in three places. If we make a triad starting on D, you'll notice it is a D minor chord. [MUSIC] D major would be this if we raise the third. [MUSIC] But that would be stepping outside the key of C. If we stay within the key of C, we're with D minor. [MUSIC] It also occurs on the third interval E minor. [MUSIC] It also occurs on the sixth interval A minor. [MUSIC] Now, if we make a triad based off of B the seventh note in the scale, we get something that isn't major and it isn't quite minor either. [MUSIC] That's what's called a diminished chord. To demonstrate what that is if we start with A major chord with our C major, [MUSIC] we can make it minor by flattening the third. [MUSIC] We can make it diminished by also flattening the fifth. [MUSIC] Diminished chords are an acquired taste, I think. It takes a little bit of finessing to get them to work in modern music contexts. But when used appropriately and sparingly they can be really, really effective. But most of the time, our chords are going to be built off of those first six scale degrees. Next, we're going to talk about how to actually take these chords and flip them and invert them into different forms and how to recognize what might sound like complex chords but are really just inversions of each other and that's what we're going to learn in the next video. 7. Inversions: Let's talk about inversions. If we go back to our C major triad, [MUSIC] it's built from three notes, like we talked about, C, E, and G [MUSIC]. Now, just looking around the rest of the piano, those three notes happen a lot of other places as well. There's a C, E, G here [MUSIC], another one here [MUSIC], and another one over here [MUSIC] There are a ton of C, E, G combinations and inversion is when I take the bottom note of the chord and move it to the top. Instead of C, E, G, the chord would be built like this, E, G, C [MUSIC] as opposed to [MUSIC]. The one with the root note on the bottom, that is called C major root position because the root is on the bottom of the chord. [MUSIC] Our inverted position with the C on top and the E on the bottom is called first inversion because we have inverted that chord one time [MUSIC]. If we keep going and invert it again by taking that E, putting that E on top with the G on the bottom, we now have second inversion [MUSIC] C major root position, [MUSIC] C major first inversion, [MUSIC] C major second inversion [MUSIC]. All of those [MUSIC] chords sound like C major, and they are all C major. They just have their own unique flavor to them, their own emotion that is slightly different with each one, and being able to recognize those different inversions and still recognize what the chord is. How we do that is all about the base, and now for the next lesson is about how to identify chords based off of the base note. [MUSIC] 8. Bass: [MUSIC] Bass is the key to understanding what the chord actually is or what its function is. No matter what instrument is being played, the bass note of that instrument is really going to define what that chord sounds like. We can demonstrate this by playing a C first inversion. [MUSIC] With our left hand we'll play the bass note, which would be C because it's a C major chord. [MUSIC] All of these inversions that we're going to do with our right hand. We're going to keep the bass on C. [MUSIC] That's how we can identify what the chords are when listening to them. Even if we can't tell what inversion is going on or maybe a piano is doing first inversion C. [MUSIC] But a guitar is maybe doing a slightly different version that's somewhere else on the neck. That obviously it's not those same exact notes that he's maybe playing this. [MUSIC] Then maybe there's a string section that's playing just a fifth. [MUSIC] There's lots of different chord voicings going on. But that bass note is going to be the clearest indication of what that chord is. [MUSIC] Even if we have all this information going on, [MUSIC] that bass note is going to be the clearest way to identify what that chord is. Here's a little example of what I'm talking about. I'm going to play the most common chord progression that there is 1, 5, 6, 4. You've heard this chord progression, even if you don't think you have. I'll play it a couple of different ways, using a couple of different inversions. But listen to what the bass is doing and how the bass very clearly communicates what the chords are. [MUSIC] Another way. [MUSIC] Another way. [MUSIC] They all sounded different, but the bass note never changed and was exactly the same regardless of whatever voicing was going on in the upper register, the lower register stayed exactly the same. That's a very easy way to identify what these chords are. Before we get into how to do that exactly, I think it'd be helpful to learn why we would choose different inversions on top. What the point of even doing that would be? We're going to go into that in the next video of how to use that as a tool to be more emotive in the music. 9. Voice Leading: [MUSIC] Voice leading is the concept of playing chords in a way that evokes a melody almost or that leads your ear to expect something. Now, simple example of this is a chord progression that we can voice in a way where there is a descending or ascending line on top of the chord. If I play from C to G, we have a C chord to G chord. A way I could voice lead that to maybe make it a little more pleasing is to use first inversion for that C to keep a C on top, and then I'll go to second inversion G. Now that note on top has moved down one. Let's say if we're going to go to A minor using that same chord progression we used in the other video, if we do C, G, A minor F. We'll start with first inversion C, The C on top. Second inversion, G, first inversion A minor, and then let's do first inversion F. Now, you'll notice, listen to the top of the notes and you'll hear that line step down. There's this melody that comes to the top. That's a way of using voice leading to create something. You can use voice leading to go in a different direction. Let's say we want this line to ascend, so maybe it we'll still start in C first inversion, but we'll go to G root position. A minor root, F first inversion. Now we get what I think is a little more pleasant. You have that note ascending, it feels a little more hopeful. [MUSIC] Then maybe you do a different voice on the second half of it. Then you go to the C second inversion. By using voice-leading, we can take that chord progression, which could sound very amateurish, but by adding a little voice-leading, it makes it at least sound purposeful and sounds like you could write a song on top of that and it would feel intentional in a way that's a lot better than moving the root position around. Now, I think it's time to start breaking out of the key of C, which is very exciting, and I think the best way to do that is to visit our good old friend, the circle of fifths. 10. Circle of Fifths: [MUSIC] It's time for the circle of fifths which is awesome. The circle of fifths is great. The reason it's great is it provides structure and it's really a map to how to navigate to different keys and how to know what chords to play and what stuff will sound good together, and how to break the rules, how to follow the rules. It's like a compass. It's like a musical compass that just tells you where to go and what you're bearing is in this landscape of music. We've been talking a lot about the key of C, so far all of our examples have stayed within the C major scale. I'll put up a little thing of the circle of fifths. You can see how the first key is C. No sharps and no flats, it's just all the white keys. Great. If we're going to go to the "next scale" that you will learn, you think, well, wouldn't I learn the D major scale because isn't that the next note? But that's what's great about the circle of fifths, is this idea of stepping through keys in fifths instead of just sequentially. The reason that's helpful is because of the concept of sharps. If we go one step higher to the key of G; one notch around the circle of fifths, we'll see that we add one sharp. G's key signature is one sharp. Now that means that it's all the white notes except one of the white notes has been replaced by a black note that is a half-step above it. Now, we can figure out the G major scale by following that pattern we talked about way towards the beginning: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. If we start on G and use that pattern, we could figure out the scale. There's another pattern that occurs when you step through the circle of fifths. That's that each time we rotate the circle, we go one step to the right clockwise, we add a sharp, and that sharp is going to be the seventh of our next key. If I'm in C, no sharps, no flats. I'm going to go to G one step around and I'm going to add a sharp of the seventh of our new key which would be F. I'm going to sharp that F to F-sharp [MUSIC]. Now this is what a G major sounds like [MUSIC]. Now we can keep that going as we step through more keys. From G major we'll go up a fifth to D. We'll sharp the seventh of our new key and we'll inherit that other sharp that we had from G, so now we have two sharps. We have F-sharp and C-sharp [MUSIC]. Let's do it one more time. Let's go up to A and we're going to keep our two sharps that we have and we're going to add our seventh, so a G-sharp [MUSIC], and so on and so forth making our way around the circle of [MUSIC] fifths. One of the ways the circle of fifths becomes immensely powerful is when it's combined with another concept called the Nashville number system. It's a way of identifying chords, and that's what the next video is all about. 11. The Number System: [MUSIC] Natural number system, in my opinion, is basically a prerequisite for playing live. It is just the most useful shorthand to communicate to a musician. This is the type of chord that we're playing right now. Let's go back to the key of C, and we'll use that as an example. We have seven unique notes in the key of C. Starting on C, we have C, D, E, F, G, A, B. The natural number system is saying, let's take all of those notes. Instead of referring to them by their note name, we will refer to them by the number of the scale that they are. Their scale degree numbers. Instead of calling this D, [NOISE] we'd call that two. It wouldn't be a D minor chord, it would be a two chord. Same thing with our F would not be an F major chord. We would call that the four chord. Let's take an example song like. [MUSIC] If we bring that over to a different key, we don't need to re-learn those chords in the other key. We just know that we played 1, 5, 4. If I go to the key of G, I can play 1, 5, 4. [MUSIC] Natural number system is used extensively in churches a lot, [MUSIC] or in live music settings and bars. It's really helpful just to be able to very quickly, hey, we're in the key of G. We're going to play this song and immediately you know what to do because you are learning the chords by their number, by the function that they have instead of the individual note name. Learning the natural number system is vital in my opinion and brings such crazy value to whatever team you're working on. There's no excuse not to learn it and it's so easy to do. As you listen to music, just try and identify what the chord number is, and just by doing that over and over and over again, your ear will naturally start to adjust and start to figure out the commonalities of a four chord. Always sounds like a four chord. A six chord has a certain flavor where it just sounds like a six chord. That might sound impossible right now if you've never tried listening to music in that way, but as you start and end by singing too if you just sing through the scale. When you sing through the scale, think of it as numbers and identify their number instead [NOISE] of C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. Think 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1. Start thinking about them in that way. I guarantee you naturally your ear will start to get familiar with the sounds of those chords, thinking in the natural number system way. In the next video, I want to go back to chords and start talking about some extensions, some alternate versions of chords so we can get a little bit spicy with some of those chords. 12. Seventh Chords: [MUSIC] Seventh chords. We have major chords, we have minor chords, those refer to the triad and adjusting the center note of the triad. When we say that a chord is a seventh chord, what exactly are we talking about? What seven is that referring to? That is referring to the seventh note of that chord. If I'm in C major, I play a C major seventh chord. That would be adding the seventh of C. [MUSIC] Now, if I'm still in C major and I play an F major seven, that is adding the seventh of F, because it's the seventh of that chord, [MUSIC] which would be E. In a chord name, any numbers inside that chord are always referring to the root note of that chord, not the key that they're taking place in. There are a couple of different types of sevens. We have the major seven, which is a major triad with a seventh on top. [MUSIC] There's also a minor seven, which is a minor triad with a flat seven on top. An example of this naturally occurring in the C major scale is with A minor seven. We have an A minor triad [MUSIC] with a seven on top [MUSIC]. The seven of A, normally would be G-sharp. But because it's a minor seven, it's flat. Both the third of A is flat because it's minor, [MUSIC] and then the seven is flat as well because it's minor [MUSIC]. If we start a seven chord on the key of G, we have what's called just a straight G7. It's not G major seven, and it's not G minor seven. It's just G7, sometimes called G dominant seven to specify. What that is, is a G major triad [MUSIC]. We're going to add the seventh of G on top. But because F sharp is not in the C major scale, we have to flat that F sharp so that it's in the C major scale and it's an F, which sounds like this [MUSIC]. Another cool thing that happens in a dominant seven. If we build the dominant seven step-by-step, we have G, B, D, and F. Well, if I look at the upper part of that chord, [MUSIC] there's that diminished chord [MUSIC]. Same thing if I build an F major seven [MUSIC]. There's an A minor floating inside that chord [MUSIC]. That's another really cool way that the base really determines the flavor of these chords. If I have an A minor [MUSIC], but if I add an F in the bass, [MUSIC] all of a sudden that's not really an A minor anymore, that's an F major seven [MUSIC]. The base is hugely powerful for determining the flavor of these chords. I think the seventh chords really demonstrate that really well. In the next video, we're going to talk about suspended chords, taking away certain notes, adding the back in, moving them around ways to just add some flavor to chords without changing what they're supposed to do. 13. Suspended Chords: [MUSIC] The best example of a suspended chord, I think, is if we take C major [MUSIC] and we suspend the third note, which means that we just lift it up, and we're not playing it, and in its place, we're going to play something different. If I don't play anything there, it's just a fifth [MUSIC]. Whereas if I play a fourth, in addition, [MUSIC] that's a C suspended four. We take a C major and then we move this third finger one note up to the fourth note, [MUSIC] so a suspended four or sus4, and then a lot of times that will resolve down. [MUSIC] You can also do it the other way, so a suspended two. [MUSIC] Suspended chords are great for just adding a little bit extra drama. They also sound beautiful when you just arpeggiate through them and sweep through them. Similar to how you can invert major triads, you can invert suspended chords as well and get some very pretty results [MUSIC] Sus4 [MUSIC] to major triad. [MUSIC] Just by staying in C major and just alternating between sus4, sus2, C major and just sweeping around, you can get these very interesting, very cool colors that are very beautiful. What's interesting about suspended chords, they don't really have major or minor tonality until we hear that third. That ambiguity is what makes them so intriguing and so cool. For example, if we go to the key of a, we don't know if this is A major or minor until I play the third. [MUSIC] Alternatively, MUSIC] Using that ambiguity can be extremely helpful in a lot of situations in life if you're transitioning keys or if you just want to not be so on the nose about something being major or minor. A suspended chords are a great way to make something a little less clear. Now, if I wanted the third in there in addition to adding the second or the fourth note, it wouldn't be a sus2 or a sus4, it would just be add two or add four. If I was going to do a C Major add two, there will be this. [MUSIC] Also very useful. You could also continue to add up by having an add six [MUSIC] or even an add nine. Then you might think, wait, there's only seven different notes. What note would nine be? Now basically, it would be if we continue up through our octave, which would be eight and add nine. The same thing as an add two, but we're specifying which two that is. It's the two that is above that octave. [MUSIC] That's an add nine. [MUSIC] Here's an add two. [MUSIC] Similar sound to add nine, just a little more open, and add two is a little more closed in just different flavors for different circumstances. So far, everything we've been talking about has been occurring in the major scale and a lot of that knowledge transfers over to other types of scales as well, such as minor scales, and so that's what we're going to talk about in the next video. [MUSIC] 14. Relative Minors: [MUSIC] The best introduction to minor scales I can give you is that for each major scale, there is a relative minor scale. For C major, there is a minor scale that uses the key signature of C major, no sharps, no flats, and that's A. If we play an A minor, we're going to use the same key signature as C. If I play in the key of C, starting on A and ending on A, I'll get the scale of A minor. [MUSIC] A quick way to remember what the relative minor is, is it's the sixth of whatever major scale you're in. If you're in D, the minor key would be B minor. To play in B minor, I would use the key signature of D, because B is the sixth of D. [NOISE] This concept of playing a scale using the key signature of something that's not the root note, is actually a great intro into modes. That's all this minor scale really is; is, it's actually the sixth mode because it's starting and ending on the sixth scale degree. We'll go into a little bit more detail about how to do other modes and why they're so cool and what we can do with them. That's why the next video is all about modes. 15. Modes: [MUSIC] What are modes exactly? Well, they are basically scales, but just those same seven notes arranged in different ways to give us different results. We've actually already been using modes as part of this course. The major scale is actually the first mode called Ionian. There are seven different modes and we've actually seen the sixth one as well. That's the minor scale, Aeolian. That first mode, Ionian, it's called the first mode because it starts and ends on the first scale degree. If we're in C major, we using that as our key signature. If we start on C and we end on C, that's the first mode. Now, Dorian is the second mode. If we start on the second scale degree in the key of C, which is D, and we go from D to D, that would be a Dorian mode. This is the sound of D Dorian [MUSIC]. It's similar to the minor scale, but the sixth is actually raised that [MUSIC] it gives it a little bit of a different flavor. It's a little more hopeful or something. The third mode is Phrygian. Now would start on the third scale degree of C and end on the third scale degree. Starting on E and ending on E, we have Phrygian [MUSIC]. This is used a lot in film scores to emulate a Middle Eastern sound, but still operating inside the western music scale. It also can be used in metal sometimes. The fourth mode is, I think my favorite, that's the Lydian scale. This starts on the fourth, ends on the fourth, starts on F ends on F, it sounds like this [MUSIC]. I love that sound. That's the John Williams Eve, the Star Wars thing. Those big bombastic chords [MUSIC]. Just really lush and beautiful, love Lydian, the fifth scale is Mixolydian, starting on fifth, ending on the fifth, starting on G, ending on G [MUSIC]. Mixolydian is actually a very common mode to use. I think a great example of this is in Sweet Home Alabama [MUSIC]. Hearing that G definitely feels like the stable part of the sound but then you have these other things going on like this, F, which shouldn't really go in the key of G major [MUSIC]. It's a great use of the Mixolydian mode or the Mixolydian scale. The sixth mode is Aeolian, which you've already had looked at with relative minors using the key signature of C. If we start and end on A, the sixth scale degree will have A Aeolian [MUSIC]. Another super common mode. This will show up everywhere in all pop music. The seventh mode is the most unusual, and that is Locrian. It's very difficult to make this mode actually work but if you start and end on the seventh scale degree, starting and ending on B, you have the B Locrian scale [MUSIC]. It is a very difficult skill to make palatable, but it can be done. I've heard some Locrian songs that just sound wild and nothing else because it's such an unusual scale. But those are the seven modes that we have starting from Ionian, going back to Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian. 16. How to Play Scales: [MUSIC] Now, this video is going to be mainly focused around a piano players, but I think it's important to cover a couple of basic technique things for when you're playing scales. Let's take the key of C, for example. There's a way to go from one C to the next C, that's very ergonomic and healthy for your fingers and it builds strength. You're able to do it quickly. By the way, we refer to our fingers using numbers as well. Because everything in music is numbers. Our thumb is going to be finger 1, finger 2, finger 3 finger 4, finger 5. Then fingers 1, finger 2, finger 3, finger 4 or finger 5. Pinky's are 5, thumbs are 1. The way that we'll play the major scale is we'll use 1,2,3. [MUSIC] If we know that we want to go further than what our fifth finger would go, then we're going to swing our first finger or thumb underneath our third finger [MUSIC] to hit that 4. [MUSIC] Then we'll finish the scale-out normal. There are five finger or pinky ends up hitting that C. [MUSIC] Same thing going back down only this time, once we get to that 4 note, that F, we're going to swing our third finger over our thumb to hit that third note. [MUSIC] Swing the third finger over the top to hit that E. If we wanted to extend the scale even further, we would drop our thumb under our fourth finger and then hit that C again at the top. [MUSIC]. We swing our thumb under and hit that fourth note. Going to swing our thumb under, hit that C. Now, we're back where we started and we can keep going on up forever. [MUSIC] The fingering positions for that might vary slightly from key to key. That's where they feel different to play through. If I'm playing through the key of E, for example, that feels different where I'm moving my finger. [MUSIC] The same thing applies with your left hand. If you're starting in C, you would start with your pinky. [MUSIC] Swing your third finger over your thumb as we go up. We hit our C with our thumb. Now, we'll swing our fourth finger over the top. Same thing as the major scale, it's just mirrored. [MUSIC] Playing that together is very difficult because your fingers are jumping at different times. As I play in unison, right hand's going to swing here , left hand is going to swing here. Right hand, left hand. Right hand, left hand. [MUSIC] When you practice scales, do it like this. Play through it very slowly with the right hand extending through the scale, at least two octaves, so you can get both of those jumps in there. Do the same thing with your left hand. Go through the octaves, get both jumps in there, and then do them together. You do it slowly with one hand, slowly with one, slowly together. It's a great way to train your fingers to start using those muscles and get your brain to talk to your fingers really well. Do that a couple of times. Gradually pick up your speed. You'll be flying through it in no time. 17. Make Your Practices Count: [MUSIC] We're reaching the end of the course here and I just wanted to give some helpful tips on how to practice effectively. Because it's possible if you're practicing piano, to just play around on the piano and run through your skills and not really get any better. You'll just make permanent. The things that you have practiced doesn't make perfect, it makes permanent. To actually get better and to make your practices count, here's some things that have been hugely helpful for me. One, really emphasize your timing. Practicing with a metronome is very helpful for this. You don't have to, but just be aware of your timing. Try and play each note as consistently as possible with each other. Try not to slow down or speed up but really focus on your timing. That'll make it a lot easier to play with other musicians and it just sounds way better. The next tip is to practice scales in the circle of fifths. As a practice regimen, I think the best thing you can do is draw your scales, use both hands, go through the whole major scale from C then move on to G, and D, and A and E all the way through the circle of fifths. Then once you make your way all the way back to C, that's a pretty decent practice. If you practice that every day for just a couple of weeks, you are going to be absolutely amazed at how natural those scales start to feel in your fingers and how natural they start to sound, where you will be able to just pick out when a note doesn't fit, it will just stick out as, oh, that's a wrong note. You'll get used to the environment of what those keys are supposed to sound like and feel like that when you need to play a song in D, or play a song in A, or play a song an E-flat, it's all the same to you. It doesn't really matter because you're just as comfortable. Whatever you're going to practice, really try and diversify it over a wide range of keys so that you don't get in a rut of really being able to play really good in certain keys and not very good in other keys. Because something that's super common is playing a song, you're performing with someone and the vocalist maybe wants to take the song up a half-step or wants to drop it a half-step. Super common, and that's something that as musicians, we should be able to do, is to be able to take D and then play a song just as well in D-flat, play a song in C, play it just as well in B. Being able to adjust how we're playing two different keys, the secret to doing that well is drawing scales over and over again in all 12 keys. 18. In Conclusion: That was a lot that I just threw at you and it can feel like drinking from a firehose a little bit if you're not familiar with these concepts at all. Like I mentioned in the class trailer one of the best ways to learn is by immersion, is just by continuing to think about these things. As you listen to music, try and identify the number of the chord, try and listen to what is that chord sound like, does that sound like a four? Where's it going, Went there that feels like a six that sounds like a five. Just try and identify what the functions of the chord is and I guarantee just by listening to music you will get better at music theory. You'll train your ear to identify these things. It's hugely, hugely powerful, and if I can encourage you in any direction of what to do next after listening to this course, it would be that trying to identify what the chord functions are. If you'd like free stuff I have a newsletter you can sign up for and that'll notify you when I drop new courses here on Skillshare, and I'll also do giveaways there. I'll give away free downloads, free samples, presets that sort of thing. If that interests you, the link to sign up is in my Skillshare bio. I'd really appreciate if you guys sign up for that. Thank you so much for watching this course, it really does mean a lot to me. If there's any questions you have about music theory or anything music related in general, please reach out to me. All of my socials and contact info or in my Skillshare bio and please give me a follow when you're there and follow all my socials. It really does help me create more content to put here, and if you have any ideas of what you'd like to see me teach next, please reach out and let me know too. I'm always looking for feedback. Thank you so much for hanging out! I hope you learned a lot. My name Solo Ray and until next time. See you