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I'm still new to the world of jazz. Just when I thought I had understood what chord changes meant for the improviser and what were meant by scales, I get all muddled up and confused again :T I probably made a stupid mistake along the way.

So I've decided to come to the experts... Heh. Hopefully you can answer my questions and maybe share some of your knowledge and advice.

So I have this sheet of paper with all the major, dominant and minor scales.
For A min, it shows a scale with a F sharp. But then when I decide to seek some knowledge on the internet, it always seem to say that A minor has no sharps or flats. Like on this website www.musictheory.net/lessons/22

Am I just plain wrong? Did I make a mistake somewhere? Do I have my theory all messed up?

Thanks for your help guys.

Oh... P.S: Here's what my knowledge is limited to... Bare with me here and please tell me if I'm wrong.
Chords are made up of notes played at the same time. The root note, 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.
We then use these notes to help us choose a scale to solo over the chord changes. E.g: G7 have these notes: G, B, D, F. So I can use other scales with these notes. E.g: G7, CMaj7, Dmin7 and Emin7? (not sure about the last one..)
Amaj has 3 sharps, A dominant 2 and A minor 1. Emaj has 4, E dominant 3, E minor 2. And so on.
 

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For A min, it shows a scale with a F sharp. But then when I decide to seek some knowledge on the internet, it always seem to say that A minor has no sharps or flats. Am I just plain wrong? Did I make a mistake somewhere? Do I have my theory all messed up?
There are three common forms of the minor scale:

 

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So I have this sheet of paper with all the major, dominant and minor scales.
For A min, it shows a scale with a F sharp. But then when I decide to seek some knowledge on the internet, it always seem to say that A minor has no sharps or flats. Like on this website www.musictheory.net/lessons/22

Am I just plain wrong? Did I make a mistake somewhere? Do I have my theory all messed up?

Thanks for your help guys.
It depends on which minor you are talking about, Dorian or Natural. The page you cited is talking about the natural minor. Dorian minor is the second mode of any major scale whereas natural minor is the sixth mode. Hence A Dorian minor is the G maj scale starting on A and therefore does have F# in it, but A natural minor is the C maj scale starting on A and doesn't.
 

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In traditional (classical) music, the first minor scale people think of it the 6th mode, or "natural minor". This would be an A scale that originates from it's relative major scale, C major.
Jazzers often conceptualize minor chords as using a dorian mode (2nd mode) hence the A dorian scale (with an F# in it, organic to the G major scale.
Confused yet? There are many "flavors" (or different modes) that are minor scales ...
 

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The classic definition of a chord is "two or more notes sounded simutaneously." Three note chords (1-3-5) are triadic hamony and four note chords (1,3,5,7 is a seventh chord, 1-3-5-#7 is a major 7th chord and 1-b3-5-7 is a minor seventh chord) are called quartal harmony. The 9th, 11th, and 13th above the root are usually named non-hamonic notes, or extensions. The major or minor character of chords is determined by a major third interval or minor third interval relative to the root, i.e; 1-3 is a major interval and 1-b3 is a minor interval.
 

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The short answer is that there are different minor and other scales and which ones are the more appropriate to use, mostly depend on the harmony.

It's not always like this but it is a good starting point.

It's all in music theory.
 

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The major scale has 7 modes, 3 of those modes work over minor chords. The 2nd mode - Dorian has a natural 9 and natural 13, the 6th mode - aeolian has a natural 9 and a b13, the 3rd mode - phrygian has b9 and a b13 - all 3 can work over a minor chord. A minor with an F# or natural 13 is a Dorian scale. It might imply that you're in the key of G major - it might not... all the different modes can be used to color the basic minor triad or minor 7th chord. There are also many other scales and modes that work over minor chords - I find it easier to teach by having students focus on the chords themselves - not the scales, in other words learn to improves using chord tones first, this will develope your ear and help you hear harmony, once you can hear harmony, chord scale theory is very easy to grasp - it sounds just like a melody.
 

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Music Dictionary entries regard scales:
pentachord a diatonic Scale with five notes to the octave
Pentatonic a term refering to any Scale consisting of five notes to the octave, esp. a major scale of which the fourth and seventh are omitted (thus eliminating minor 2nds).
Hextonic, a term referring to any Scale consisting of six pitches to the octave.
Heptachord seven-note Scale, such as the modern major and minor scales.
Heptatonic a term referring to any scale consisting of seven pitches to the octave.
octotonic of a Scale, consisting of eight notes to the octave; esp., consisring of eight notes alternating whole steps and half steps.
chromatic Of a Scale, including all the semitones comprising all the semitones comprising an octave, opposed to diatonic
diatonic the major and minor scales, and the church modes
 

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The most important thing about any minor scale is the flat 3rd, e.g. C in the key of A. The F# means that the scale is not A natural minor, but A dorian, which is a common scale to use. Don't get confused - a lot of explanations are misleading and hard to understand.
 

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You'd likely play differently over an Am7 based on the key you're in. An Am7 in G Major, C Major, A Minor, etc. is not handled the same. Most chord/scale jazz theory doesn't account for this -- better to get used to it now.

You will be ahead of the game if you discipline yourself to understand how the chord functions in the musical phrase. Know whether the chord is functioning as tonic or dominant (or pre-dominant). Figure the Roman numeral notation. Know the chord's relation to the key. This will dictate which scale(s) you play.
 

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Go to the local college and take a music theory course. This topic is too vast. The trick, IMO, to getting "in the door" to playing jazz is to learn basic music theory very, very well. But I'm just a beginner, don't listen to me.
 

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The way I learned this (and still learning) was/is as follows:

Understand and play all the Major scales
Know the degrees of each major scale, or at least know 1,3,5 and 7

For example, C major is CDEFGABC where C=1 E=3 G=5 B=7

Dont get hung up on all the minors too early, just solidify the concept of one type. I think Aeolian or Natural minor is the easiest.

For the Aeolian(Natural) Minor it is build off the 6th degree of the major scale. There's two ways to look at it, with a formula like:

1,2,b3,4,5,b6,b7 which for C is

C D Eb F G Ab Bb C

OR

Think of it as a Eb Major scale starting on C. Why does that work? Because the Aeolian mode is based off the sixth degree of the major scale:

So, Eb major is Eb,F,G,Ab,Bb,C,D,Eb - Start that sequence on C and you have C,D,Eb,F,G,Ab,Bb,C or 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,b7.

If you know all of your major scales then you know all of your natural minors also. It all depends on where you start.

If you use the circle of fifths to referenc a "relative major" to work out the sixth mode you cant go wrong.

This is why the relative minor of C is A, because 1=C 2=D 3=E 4=F 5=g and 6=A
Therefore A minor does not have any flats or sharps in the key sig, as you play a C major scale starting on A and it gives you the same result as thinking 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 or (in A) A B C(b3) D E F(b6) G(b7)


 

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So I have this sheet of paper with all the major, dominant and minor scales.
Well, learn all those scales and chords and you can play the major II-V-I's. That's something I've been working on for the last couple of months using the Jamey Aebersold II-V-I play along. You might want to practice scales following the circle of fifths.
 

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Well, learn all those scales and chords and you can play the major II-V-I's. That's something I've been working on for the last couple of months using the Jamey Aebersold II-V-I play along. You might want to practice scales following the circle of fifths.
This is also great advice. The Vol3 Aebersold book Ex 1 track one will help you learn minor dominant and major arpeggios in one exercise in all keys. I've been drilling this one thing for nearly 2 years (but hey im slow)
 

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This is also great advice. The Vol3 Aebersold book Ex 1 track one will help you learn minor dominant and major arpeggios in one exercise in all keys. I've been drilling this one thing for nearly 2 years (but hey im slow)
What me and my professor started working on is to write a lick for a II-V-I and transpose it in all keys and play it along with the track.
 

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Every answer given above is right on the money. It is easy to get confused until you start to see how everything relates, so I want to re-emphasize what saxpunter said about learning the 12 major scales inside and out to the point you can instantly name all the notes in each major scale and identify what scale degree they are: for ex, C major scale the 1 is C, 2 is D, 3 is E, 6 is A, 4 is F, 7 is B, 5 is G (I put some out of order on purpose because you need to be able to identify each and every one). In A, the 3rd is C#, the 6 is F#, and so on. Don't get too hung up on the number of sharps and flats in each key. That's fine for starting out and learning each major scale, but eventually you can get past that and just know the notes. Of course you'll want to be able to play them on your horn, but in terms of theory, once you know the 12 major scales everything can be seen in relation to those scale degrees.

So, for example, going back to your question about minor scales, when you think about a minor scale or minor key, the one defining characteristic that makes it minor is the flatted 3rd (in C you know the 3 is E, so the b3 is Eb). Other notes can vary depending on the type of minor scale or chord, but that b3 is what makes it minor, simple as that.

Chords are defined as 2 or more notes played at once, but you can't do that on a sax. What you can do is play chord arpeggios, running up and down the chord, using the chord tones. Don't get too hung up on what scale goes with what chord, because then you end up just playing a bunch of scales, and as hgiles pointed out, the function of the chord is important and that will result in a change in the "chord-scale." Far better to learn the chord tones and use them as your guide. If this part doesn't make sense now, don't worry, it will eventually.

Hope I didn't confuse you. For a start get those major scales down! That will make everything to follow much easier to understand.
 

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Most importantly: it all starts making sense only when you start hearing it. This means there is no shortcut. You can learn all the complex theory stuff by heart but it won't be of any use until you internalize it - which will take its time, naturally, so do not stress out.
Play and sing everything you learn, or else it will be a waste of time.
 

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Most importantly: it all starts making sense only when you start hearing it.

...Play and sing everything you learn, or else it will be a waste of time.
Man, is that ever the truth! Some statemtent to this effect should be posted with every discussion, article, book, lesson, etc, on music theory and improvisation.

To use the example at hand, go to the piano and play a major 7 chord: A C# E G#, then flat the 3rd: A C E G#. You'll immediately hear the difference and what a minor sound means. Then flat the 7th to hear yet another minor sound. You can do this with all the chords and scales; on the piano, on your horn (chord arpeggios in that case), and also sing a major scale, minor scale, chord arpeggios, and various intervals. The idea is to get the sound embedded in your mind.

It don't mean a thing if you can't hear it.
 

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Wow. Everytime you guys seem to reply with the most thoughtful and professional advice, I can't thank you enough.
The help I got here when i was trying to grasp this stuff was the same - just fantastic and one of the great things about this forum. it's good to be able to "give something back"
 
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