Can a solo and a backtrack be in different keys?

Hello. I've been recently learning metal soloing and had this question.

 To give more information on this, my question is the following:Could I create a backtrack in the key of B minor and perhaps solo in the key of E minor (differs only by one note) or A minor (differs by two notes)? Would this perhaps sound terrible?I've yet to buy a looper pedal to fully test this.

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  • John
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    There's a somewhat famous piano piece - so famous I forget both the name and the player now. I wish I remembered - from the 1920's or 1930's.I'm thinking Fats Waller or Art Tatum. Rather slow and measured, he plays the tune and then each phrase ends on a note in the wrong key. So each phrase goes "crash" in the end, and all in different ways. And yet the song works in it's way, in the end.

    It is masterful composition because making discordance work quite so well is darn difficult. Most discordance is just headache inducing traffic jam music.

    Music theory is a road map, not so much a set of rules. Which doesn't mean that one can break the theory any time and any way, either.

  • 4 months ago

    I mean you can do whatever you want if you want to be avant garde. Bitonality - having two parts of a tune resolutely in different keys - is something early 20th century composer Charles Ives liked doing. He had a party trick where he could play just about anything you wanted in a different key in each hand.

    If you really do mean scale then yes you absolutely can play different scales if you're in one key, and it won't sound weird at all if you choose wisely.

    Let's do major keys as they're slightly easier to understand - if you're in C major and you play a scale of G then you could think of it as C lydian - i.e the major scale with a sharpened 4th (G major has an F#, which would be the 4th note in C). In fact it would probably make more sense to think of it as C lydian rather than G even though the notes are the same because the *tonal centre* isn't the same - if you use C lydian G is still the dominant, C is still the tonic and so on. 

    So what else could you use? Use the notes of F major and you get C mixolydian (i.e C major with a flattened 7th). Use Bb major and you get C dorian (flat 3 flat 7) - although of course it won't sound major any more because of the flat 3. 

    These iterations of scales are called 'modes'. The major scale is one mode (the ionian) and the notes of the key signature of the minor scale (i.e with no raised 7th/the natural minor) is the aeolian scale. Each one has a white notes only version, just like C major.

    C - ionian

    D - dorian

    E - phrygian

    F - lydian

    G - mixolydian

    A - aeolian

    B - lochrian

    So coming to your example, could you play a scale of E (natural - i.e no sharpened 7th) minor in B minor? Yes absolutely - you've flattened the 2 by turning the C# into C, so you're now playing B phrygian. It might sound a bit weird though, the phrygian mode is not commonly used, unlike ones like aeolian, dorian and mixolydian.

  • Anonymous
    4 months ago

    I guess music does exist where instruments are playing in different keys bit I don't recall ever hearing any (I don't think I'd want to either). 

    You “could” have the backing track in one key and the melody in another but it would be very unusual and would certainly sound “odd”.

    I'm wondering, when you speak of soloing, if you really mean “key” or if you mean “scale” in the sense of patterns on the fretboard?

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