# Is this musically correct?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Murmaider, Jan 28, 2014.

1. ### Murmaider

Oct 20, 2013
Let's say you're playing something and you're going for a sort of eerie/ heavy sound (please excuse my ****** tab writing):

A ---------7--5------------7--5
E 5-7-8-5--7--8-5-7-8-5--7--8

Is it musically correct if you flatten that entire riff on the next two measures?

A----------6---4-------------6---4
E 4-6-7-4---6---7-4-6-7-4---6---7

I like how that sort of thing sounds, and I plan to use it sometime when I think up some riffs, I'm just not sure if it is musically right to do that, although I feel like it is.

So yeah, is this correct?

2. ### BioWeapon

Feb 16, 2013
Calgary, Alberta
Why would you worry about how "musically correct" a riff is, if it sounds great to your ear?
There's no need to be correct in order to play music. What sounds good, sounds good.

3. ### Duckwater

May 10, 2010
USA, Washington
You can do whatever you want

4. ### Murmaider

Oct 20, 2013
Well I mean if a song was in the key of A minor and you did that riff, flattening it would mean none of the notes you are playing are in the key of A minor. So either this isn't musically correct, or there is some sort of TERM associated with this sort, whether it be "diminishing" or "augmenting," I don't really understand fully what either of those are so forgive me haha

But yeah, is there a term for that in theory?

6. ### DiabolusInMusicFunctionless Art is Merely Tolerated VandalismGold Supporting Member

Remember that music theory is just that, theory. Nobody is practicing musical science.

EDIT: Are you doing it mid song? Your just changing the key (To G#/Ab), if you mean moving the whole song to a half step down, you would be transposing it it to another key. diminished and augmented are terms applied to chords or intervals.

7. ### Squinty JonesBravely eating @ MacDonald'sSupporting Member

Feb 1, 2004
In looking at it, the easiest definition I have for it is:
A minor to B major to E major. A usable pattern... Would provide a lot of cool solo opportunities for a guitarist (for instance)...

8. ### Murmaider

Oct 20, 2013

Are you saying flattening that riff changes the key to B major? That doesn't seem right, explain haha, I'm a theory noob x)

9. ### Squinty JonesBravely eating @ MacDonald'sSupporting Member

Feb 1, 2004
Definitely musically "correct"! Rock On!!

10. ### Bassist4ErisFrat-Pack Sympathizer

Aug 11, 2012
elsewhere
If it sounds good when you do it, it must be correct.

It's called modulation - a fancy word for changing keys. You're moving (or modulating) from A minor to A flat minor.

11. ### Squinty JonesBravely eating @ MacDonald'sSupporting Member

Feb 1, 2004
Naw! It looks at a glance to center around A minor with a B major to E major aspect for the "tension-release" aspect in the harmony... It could from this point be more than this discussion...

When you begin the riff or, shall we say, start the cycle again- it starts on the A string with the (tabbed) 5-7?

Seems to be rooted in A minor...

To answer your inquiry, you're hearing a I/II/VII sound in the riff... I guess the c (minor 3rd of A) and b notes along with the flat 5 of the A in both the B major and E major chords...

12. ### jbalou02

Mar 8, 2010
Ask Rob Zombie, I bet he'd know. If he doesn't reply then he may have stolen it.

Do what your ear tells you...

13. ### metlman72

Jun 29, 2011
Long Island NY
The way I see it is this, can the drummer play a beat behind it and does the guitar hit the change with you, then it is right. That is a very workable pattern. From your bio it looks like your a death metal guy. Try that pattern as groups of 16th notes instead of single notes. Would make a rather nice run.

14. ### MalcolmAmosSupporting Member

Is it correct?

It sounds good.

Yes, I know, but, is it correct?

What do you mean by; Is it correct? The first riff is all notes from the C major scale, no flats or sharps, so if you were trying for the C major scale, it is correct. And like any riff if you take that same order of notes and move it up or down X number of frets it'll still sound good. But, it no longer is in the C major scale.

I'll ask the question another way. Is the second riff correct?

Correct in what way? It no longer has the notes of the C major scale, it still sounds good, ..............

...... and if you return to the notes of the C major scale this little side trip was correct. It's OK to go out if you return to the original key/scale to end the phrase or tune. Now the question is how long can you stay out before coming back in? I paraphrase here, but, Satriani said to be back in for the 6th note. Now if you are modulating to another key, then that is another story....

15. ### lfmn16Supporting Member

Sep 21, 2011
charles town, wv
If you are trying to write a Bach Invention then it is not correct. If you are trying to write rock music, there are no rules. As someone else said, music theory tells you what you did, not what to do.

16. ### Nashrakh

Aug 16, 2008
Hamburg, Germany
To my ears it simply sounds like A minor to Ab minor. Nothing about it, people like Wayne Shorter do these nondiatonic chord progressions all the time (see Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum!)

17. ### Bainbridge

Oct 28, 2012
Forget the philosophical discussion, just tell him what he wants to know, people.

What you're doing is called "transposition". Transposition is when you take an idea and move it to a different pitch level. This can be either diatonic (within a single key) or chromatic (keeping the same interval relationships; going to a different key). Yours is chromatic. The original is in the key of A minor. Then, you transpose it down by a half step (the interval of a minor second) to the key of G# minor. If you do this a third time (to G minor), then it is called a sequence. If you do it a fourth time (to F# minor), then it is still a sequence, but as my composition teacher once told me, "if you do it twice, it's a coincidence; if you do it three times, it's a sequence; if you do it four times, it's a mistake," so be aware of how things are balancing out musically.

Transposition can also be done by different intervals. You could go from A minor to G# minor (down a minor second) to E minor (down a major third). Transposition down or up by thirds (minor thirds are a distance of three frets, major thirds are a distance of four) is kind of a cool sound. Experiment around with it.

18. ### Mushroo

Apr 2, 2007
Massachusetts, USA
Nice explanation, Bainbridge.

Lots of songs have a section that is transposed up or down a distance of 1 or 2 frets. It is 100% "musically correct."

19. ### atticpenny

Jan 5, 2011
Virginia
Some very good advice on here. Modulation/transposition is a fun tool in the musical toolbox, and is pretty common in many styles of music. Some very popular examples is Zep's "Heartbreaker," which takes the primary riff and modulates up a full step (IIRC). The song "Fever" (Peggy Lee's version, IIRC) modulates a half step up twice in the song. Very powerful dynamic.

The only advice I'll add is that if you are going to modulate the key, chances are you want to make sure everyone else modulates with you, so you stay in the same key. Of course there may be the chance that shifting a riff while the other instruments stay the same might work. Worth trying, but usually that kind of dissonance can sound too "jarring" and might sound awful. That's what rehearsals are for. I'm of the school of thought that musical experimentation is always worthwhile.

20. ### DiabolusInMusicFunctionless Art is Merely Tolerated VandalismGold Supporting Member

You don't transpose mid song, you modulate. You transpose songs into another key. Mind you, I am not formally educated so I might be wrong.

The problem with musical terms is that there are about 5 acceptable terms for everything. Like flat 5, diminished 5th, augmented 4th, tritone, they all mean the exact same thing.l

21. ### Bainbridge

Oct 28, 2012
To add to my first post, chromatic transposition means that you're modulating, but modulation does not mean that you're transposing. Transposition requires that you have the same melodic idea moving around. Modulation only means that you're moving from one key to another. This happens very often with unrelated melodic materials, such as a verse being in A minor and the following chorus being in F major. Modulating sequences usually occur in the confines of a single section.

*Edit*

I typed up my addendum while you posted this. I believe it will address the distinction. TL;DR -

Same material, different key - transposed and modulated.
Different material, different key - just modulated.

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