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How to Change Keys in Heavy Metal Guitar

Let musician Alex Skolnick teach you how to change keys on guitar in this heavy metal guitar lesson from Howcast.


Changing keys. There are many keys to change to. If you're playing in one key and suddenly it switches, a couple of things you have to keep in mind. One of the most important things to do is search for common notes. Most keys have at least a couple of notes in common. You can use these notes as anchors.

As an example I'm going to look at E minor and C minor, two very different keys. They do have a couple of notes in common, however. So, if I play an E minor chord, alright. I can play a D, right. That's the seventh note of the scale. Suddenly the key switches to C minor. Well, I can still use my D, except now it's the second note of the scale or the ninth.

OK. Same thing with G, right. Here's a G. So, if I play over E minor this G is the third note of the scale. One two three, alright. So I'm going to use that, play a phrase based on that.

Then all of the sudden they trip me up. They switch to C minor. But I'm not worried, because G works for C minor. It's the fifth of C minor. One two three four five. OK. So, I might switch from a phrase using G and E minor to a phrase in C minor. And since I have both of these notes, D and G, as common tones I can really use those as anchors. Now I'm going to play a little bit over E minor to C minor, and notice how I navigate the change.

Now, before you change keys it's really important to learn the scales of whatever keys you're playing over. In this case I'm playing over E minor and C minor. The only way to get around learning the scales is just to stick with the common tones. But in this case you would only have two notes. Then again you could play a decent solo with two notes, perhaps. But to really make things interesting learn the scales and learn the common tones.

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