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Need advice chords and scales are strangling me.

navarro

Senior Member
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863
Hi all, has anyone come up with a simple solution as to remembering chord and scale signatures, my teacher is brilliant and patient, but I can not no matter how hard I try put a name to a face.

Playing the scales no problem I am fully aware of the required fingerings and do a passable chromatic run. I am now entering my fifth month of playing and joined a big band for beginners. But chord symbols are just meaningless to me. It could of course be my age.

Any trick of the trade welcome. I don`t diss the Dorian but the Dorian is dissing me (Nice rap line that.) Best regards N.
 

jbtsax

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8,009
The order of the sharps in key signatures: Fat Cows Go Down And Eat Buttercups

The order of the flats in key signatures is: B E A D G C F --- the order of the sharps backwards

One half step above the last sharp in a key signature is the name of the major key. 1# - G, 2#'s - D, 5#'s - B etc.

The next to last flat in a key signature is the name of the major key. 3 b's - Eb, 2 b's Bb, 7 b's Cb, 1 b is the key of F.

Chord symbols - triads: Generally capitals are major, and small case are minor.
Examples: C - major spelled C E G, c - minor spelled C Eb G, D - major spelled D F# A, d - minor spelled D F A.

Chord symbols - Dominant 7th chords (major triad with a flatted or lowered 7th) Capital letter followed by a 7.
Examples: C7 spelled C E G Bb, D7 spelled D F# A C natural, Eb7 spelled Eb G Bb Db

Chord symbols - Major 7th chords (major triad with the 7th as found in the major scale). Capital letter followed by Maj 7 or triangle 7.
Examples: C Maj7 spelled C E G B, D Maj7 spelled D F# A C#, Eb Maj7 spelled Eb G Bb D

Chord symbols - minor 7th chords (minor triad with a flatted or lowered 7th) small or capital letter followed by m7.
Examples: Cm7 spelled C EB G Bb, dm7 spelled D F A C, Ebm7 spelled Eb Gb Bb Db

These are the most common chord symbols and a good place to start. Being able to write out and play all 12 major scales provides a good foundation to begin to master intervals, chords, and harmony.
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Thanks jbtsax for your prompt reply and extremely helpful formulae. I will do my best to absorb this and have transferred it straight to my word processor to print out. Once more great advice given and gratefully received. Best regds. N
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Why not do what you want to do for a while?

Did you take up the sax for nourishment or punishment?

If you took it up for punishment, the CaSLM chastisement brochure can be on its way to you as well as Jules. >:)
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Navarro
Everything jbtsax says is fine and I don't disagree at all, but I'm just wondering how much you need to take on after five months learning. I'm assuming you have no previous music knowledge (otherwise the key signatures and chords would already be familiar). Adults learn differently and at different speeds, but at your stage and even playing in a basic band, I wouldn't have thought you needed to have learnt more than about four or five major scales, perhaps C,F,G,Bb,D, their relative minors and associated arpeggios (which are only broken triad chords). You don't need to know chord symbols yet or 7ths. I'm just thinking that the reason you think it's all strangling you is you are trying to take on too much too early!

As to help, there is some good stuff on Pete's main pages about learning scales and I've found the circle of fifths is an essential thing to learn - http://tamingthesaxophone.com/jazz-cycle-of-5ths.html .You can superimpose minor scales on the majors as well by moving everything anticlockwise until Aminor is opposite CMajor - that will show you the corresponding sharps and flats for each minor.

Have fun!
YC
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Hi old git, I took it up as just a fun pastime but my masochistic streak tuned in and I wanted to dance with the arpeggios and dream with the sevenths. So does the brochure come in a plain brown wrapper. Best Regds N.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
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5,946
Thanks jbtsax for your prompt reply and extremely helpful formulae. I will do my best to absorb this and have transferred it straight to my word processor to print out. Once more great advice given and gratefully received. Best regds. N
Quite a few books/tutors such as the Hal Leonard type books usually have a quick ref guide that covers this sort of material.

Here is something to go with OG's Chastisement Manual.....
 
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Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
Navarro
Everything jbtsax says is fine and I don't disagree at all, but I'm just wondering how much you need to take on after five months learning. I'm assuming you have no previous music knowledge (otherwise the key signatures and chords would already be familiar). Adults learn differently and at different speeds, but at your stage and even playing in a basic band, I wouldn't have thought you needed to have learnt more than about four or five major scales, perhaps C,F,G,Bb,D, their relative minors and associated arpeggios (which are only broken triad chords). You don't need to know chord symbols yet or 7ths. I'm just thinking that the reason you think it's all strangling you is you are trying to take on too much too early!

As to help, there is some good stuff on Pete's main pages about learning scales and I've found the circle of fifths is an essential thing to learn - http://tamingthesaxophone.com/jazz-cycle-of-5ths.html .You can superimpose minor scales on the majors as well by moving everything anticlockwise until Aminor is opposite CMajor - that will show you the corresponding sharps and flats for each minor.

Have fun!
YC
This is good advice. Maybe you should invest in some expert guidance for beginners.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Quite a few books/tutors such as the Hal Leonard type books usually have a quick ref guide that covers this sort of material.

Here is something to go with OG's Chastisement Manual.....
So pleased that someone else is aware of the Mathematics Professor.
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Hi Beckmesser, I have invested, I have a teacher who is one of the best in London and as you know they do not come cheaply.

He is patient and explains everything in detail. My teacher took a greenhorn who did not even know how to put a sax together and in three weeks had me playing the full range of the instrument and reading sufficiently well to be able to knock out from original scores Round Midnight, Goodbye Pork pie Hat etc.

In my fourth month April I passed an audition and got accepted for a big band beginners course. However I am a dumbo when it comes to handling the hands off, brain on situation thus the problem with chord signatures etc.

Thanks to jbtsax he put it into a formulae that I could comprehend and good advice from Young Col the door has opened. I have not absorbed it all but on the way to doing so. In fact the best thing I ever did was subscribe to this forum, the advice I have been given from mouthpieces to general encouragement has been invaluable. Best regards. N
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Thanks old git I`m still laughing . Does not the perpetrator of the song bear a passing resemblance to the young Paul Desmond whom I had the privilege of seeing and hearing with Dave Brubeck at Newcastle City Hall back in the fifties. Best regds. N
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Great that you're on the right track Navarro.

As to Tom Lehrer, I'm so pleased others remember him. Lines from Poisoning Pigeons in the Park and Be Prepared often come to mind. However, I thought it wise not to pass on the advice:
Don't solicit for your sister: that's not nice -
Unless you get a good percentage of the price.
Be Prepared!

when I was an assistant cub scout leader.
YC
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
Hi Beckmesser, I have invested, I have a teacher who is one of the best in London and as you know they do not come cheaply.

He is patient and explains everything in detail. My teacher took a greenhorn who did not even know how to put a sax together and in three weeks had me playing the full range of the instrument and reading sufficiently well to be able to knock out from original scores Round Midnight, Goodbye Pork pie Hat etc.

In my fourth month April I passed an audition and got accepted for a big band beginners course. However I am a dumbo when it comes to handling the hands off, brain on situation thus the problem with chord signatures etc.

Thanks to jbtsax he put it into a formulae that I could comprehend and good advice from Young Col the door has opened. I have not absorbed it all but on the way to doing so. In fact the best thing I ever did was subscribe to this forum, the advice I have been given from mouthpieces to general encouragement has been invaluable. Best regards. N
Well, I was obviously quite wrong. You are doing all the right things, and you seem to be prospering. As for myself, I seem to put in my foot in more often than is strictly necessary, and I will therefore refrain from giving advice or comment unless I am reasonably certain that I understand the situation.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Well, I was obviously quite wrong. You are doing all the right things, and you seem to be prospering. As for myself, I seem to put in my foot in more often than is strictly necessary, and I will therefore refrain from giving advice or comment unless I am reasonably certain that I understand the situation.
I hope you are not proposing this as a Forum rule, you spoilsport.>:)
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,946
I think it's just a matter of time, experience, and practice for it all to sink in if it's completely new to you. It will take a while to consolidate. If you're playing with a band on a regular basis, that will really help as it makes you sight read and you'll have things like tempo dictated to you! Being around other musicians means you'll be talking about stuff and that helps too.
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Hi Beckmesser , you did not put your foot in to it at all, in fact your comment made me examine myself and the methods I am using. So your comment had a positive vibe to it. I think it is wise to sit back occasionally and examine one`s motives and thanks to your comment I promptly did so. Keep up the good advice Best regards N.
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
You are absolutely right tenorviol, I did enjoy my first band practise and indeed I found that their tempo reined me in as I tend to rush at things. One of the things which I found amusing was the leaders use of band jargon ie "hot cross bun" for coda. It took me eight bars to catch on. Best regds. N.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,946
You are absolutely right tenorviol, I did enjoy my first band practise and indeed I found that their tempo reined me in as I tend to rush at things. One of the things which I found amusing was the leaders use of band jargon ie "hot cross bun" for coda. It took me eight bars to catch on. Best regds. N.
Well 'hot cross bun' would've foxed me! The commonest mistakes people make playing on their own are (not in any particular order):


  • uneven tempo
  • rushing short notes, e.g a run of quavers or semi-quavers, so you get ahead of the beat
  • cutting dotted or long notes short (minims, dotted crotchets etc) again getting ahead of beat
  • holding short notes too long or into a rest e,g quaver followed by crotchet request becmes a crotchet and a quaver rest etc - ends up behind the beat
  • seeing "long" note values as meaning "slow". E.g. time sigs of say 2/2 (unit of beat is a minim) which becomes minim = long note = slow. Wrong!

I'm prone to the second and the third points when playing the viol
 
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