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Re: Neoclassical Progressions

01-30-2009 10:57 AM
Well, one of my favorites is
i bII V7 i. So.. in the key of D minor, Dm Eb A7 Dm
Uses a neopolitan chord substitution. Has a very powerful sound.
My favorite chord progression for that kind of genre would probably be the one from Paganini's 24th
Caprice theme. I can't recall it from memory, but you can look it up, or just analyze the piece and find it out
yourself. I might post it when I get home.

I V vi iii IV I IV V
i V bVI bIII iv i iv V
or something like that
heres one
add some suspension
IV i

add diminished chords based on these degrees of the parent scale of the key : 2 b4
b6 7
The chord can resolve up 1/2 step or to the i chord.
add a i min(maj7) resolving to i for extra points
add i min(#11) for harmoninc minor modal stuff - (diary of a madman style)

phrygian chords :
bVI (with maj7th)
Pair any of those up with major or minor I chord. (major I chord is phyrgian
dominant...minor i chord is plain phrygian)
Add bIII to the above for more phrygian stuff.
Emphasize 7th and #11 of the bII chord over the bII chord (and the 1/2 steps
between 7th/root #11/5th)

heres something interesting...not necessarily neo-classical but it could work:

i bVI II7 i
To me this is a modal progression...the bVI chord is aeolian. The II7 gives you that
minor #11 sound (minor #11 in relation to the i chord). aeolian is a mode of the
major scale. minor #11 is a mode of harmonic minor (the 4th mode I believe). So
those are the scales you can play over that progression.
More true to the style, the II7 chord is usually used as a secondary dominant. In this
manner, the II7 leads to the V chord which could be major or minor at that point. So
here's a progression using secondary dominants. The secondary dominants are the
II7 and bIII7 chords:
i v bIII7 bVI II7 v V7 i
So in the above, using the minor v chord keeps it in line with the natural minor
sound. You can experiment with replacing those minor v's with major V's also. The
bVI is also part of the natural minor. The bIII7 is being used to lead into the bVI, the
II7 is being used to lead to the minor v, and the V7 is being used to lead back to the
minor i chord.
You can also remove the secondary dominants, depending on the sound you want:
i v bVI v V7 i

Also, don't forget that a lot of neo-classical is not based on progressions - more like a
riff being played by the rhythm section...and then the soloist just playing over the
top of that.

Sometimes there will be a part like that and then the soloist will play some arps in a
progression-like manner. At that point it kind of crosses the line into a progression.
You can also take any progressions and turn them into arp sequences to mimic this

Neo-classical scales in diatonic chord

I am not sure if my Q is correct or not... forgive my ignorance.
Is it possible to use neo classical scales for soloing in diatonic chord progressions and can the neo classical
chords be mixed with diatonic chords for composition??
kindly revert back with example. Thanks
There are a number of ways I could interpret your question, so I hope the following answer helps you...
Firstly, by "neo classical scales" I assume you mean scales such as...

Harmonic minor scale

Phrygian dominant scale

Diminished scale

These seem to be the most commonly used scales in neo classical music.
Now, because these scales include non-diatonic tones, certain chords within a natural diatonic key would
need to be substituted with chords built around those scales.
Let's first look at a diatonic example in A minor...
Am / Dm / Em / Am / Em / Am
That's a basic i / iv / v / i progression taken straight from the natural minor chord scale (diatonic).
If we were soloing using harmonic minor, we'd need to accommodate this by making that natural minor v
(5) chord (Em) a major V chord (E major or E7) because the 5th degree of harmonic minor corresponds to
its 5th mode, Phrygian Dominant, a MAJOR scale.

So our new progression would be...

Am / Dm / E7 / Am / E7 / Am
So by changing that natural minor v (5) chord to a harmonic minor V chord, we have something that will be
compatible with harmonic minor and its 5th mode Phrygian and therefore more appropriate for the neo
classical sound.
So yes, neo classical scales can be mixed with diatonic chord progressions, but be aware of which chords
correspond to the scale/mode you're playing and substitute the diatonic chords with those corresponding
The chords of harmonic minor would be as follows in the key of Am...
Am / Bdim / Caug / Dm / E / F / G#dim
Compare that to natural minor...
Am / Bdim / C / Dm / Em / F / G
Note that the diminished chord in the natural minor scale extends to a half diminished (e.g. Bm7b5) in
contrast to harmonic minor, where the same chord extends to a diminished 7th (e.g. Bdim7)
So to summarise the most common chord substitutions from diatonic - harmonic minor...
Bm7b5 becomes Bdim7
Em becomes E7
Gmaj becomes G#dim7 (this is because the 7th degree interval in harmonic minor is a half step higher than
the same degree in the natural minor/diatonic scale).
- See more at:

Pedal Points - repetition of a note or group, with a scalar, melodic line played
Ostinato - strict repetition of a single phrase or idea.
Scale Sequence - a stylized way of ascending or descending through a scale or
mode, where a set pattern is observed.
Fast Arpeggios.

Typical Elements Of The Genre

Harmonic Minor Scale - Aeolian mode with a raised 7th scale degree.
Melodic Minor Scale - Aeolian mode with a raised 6th and 7th scale degree.
Diminished Arpeggios - a series of minor 3rd intervals stacked one on top of the next.
Cycle Of Fifths - a chord progression where each chord becomes the dominant of the next e.g.: Am, Dm,
G, C, F, Bdim, E, Am.

Suspensions - cadences or "chord progression endings" where the true harmony chord is pushed out or
"suspended" by another, non-harmony note and then reasserts itself. Examples: 4th replaces 3rd; 6th
replaces 5th; 9th replace 8th or octave.
The chord progressions, arpeggios, and fast scale runs of neo-classical metal are inspired for the most part
from Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Niccolo Paganini, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig
van Beethoven, particularly the first three. So lets get on to some examples.
Ex. 1 Harmonic Minor Scale (Aeolian mode with a raised 7th scale
degree) |----------------------------------1-2-4---5-----| |----------------------------2-3----------------| |---------------------1-2-4---------------------| |----------------3-4-----------------------------|
|--------2-4-5-----------------------------------| |-2-4-5-----------------------------------------| Melodic minor scale (Aeolian mode with
a raised 6th and 7th scale degree) |---------------------------1-2-4-4-2-1----------------------------| |-----------------------2-4-------------2-3------------------------| |-----------------1-2-4---------------------4-2-1------------------| |-----------1-2-4---------------------------------4-3--------------| |-------2-4-------------------------------------------5-4-2--------| |-2-4-5-----------------------------------------------------5-4-2--|

A melodic minor scale is a minor scale where you play the 6th and 7th degree a half
step up, but only when playing the scale ascending. Then when playign the scale
back down you usually lower the 6th and possibly the 7th depending on what sound
you want. For neo-classical metal it's going to convert to a harmonic minor. I read a
greta post the other day where someone was explaining about the raising of
degrees. It really helped me understand it. If you was to take say A natural minor for
A B C D E F G - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Harmonic minor has raised 7th

A B C D E F G# - 1 2 3 4 5 6 #7

Melodic minor has raised 6th and 7th

A B C D E F# G# - 1 2 3 4 5 #6 #7
Cicle Of Fifths.
Learning how to use this can really help you develop classical sounding ideas. If you listen to a lot of
classical music - the chord patterns are based around this. Here is an example of a chord pattern.
Am Dm G C F B E Am

Here is a diagram which explains the element to a certain extent. Please note: you
will need to be generally good with music theory to even have a chance of
understanding this straight away.
"If you start on any equal-tempered pitch and repeatedly ascends by the musical interval of a perfect fifth,
you will eventually land on a pitch with the same pitch class as the initial one, passing through all the other

equal-tempered chromatic pitch classes in between." This is out of a book. Sounds confusing I know. It
took me a while to understand. This is how I see it.
The circle is split up into 12 parts or 'segments' - what ever takes your fancy. The key of C is at the top. In a
clockwise sequence, key signatures are added to each segments in intervals of a 5th. If you move clockwise
in 5ths around this circle, you will find that each major scale differs from the preceding scale by only one
note. In each case, the subsequent major scale is formed by raising or sharpening (#) the note on the 7th
degree (the leading note) by a half step/semitone.
In a similar fashion, if you go counter-clockwise (or the other way for you who are not familiar with long
words) the circle in 4ths there is also just one note difference between each pair of scales. In these cases,
the new scale is formed by lowering/flattening (b) the note on the 4th (Sub-dominant) degrees of the
previous scale. My final example is a lick which is derived from Paganini's style of playing.
Paganini Style Violin Lick |----8-7-8-5-8-7-8---10-8-10-7-10-8-10-----------| |-5----------------6------------------------------| |------------------------------------------------| |------------------------------------------------| |------------------------------------------------| |-------------------------------------------------| |----12-10-128-12-10-12-10-7------7------------------| |-10--------------------------------9-------9--------| |--------------------------------------10-----10-7---| |-----------------------------------------------------| |----------------------------------------------------| |----------------------------------------------------| |--------------------------------------------12-15-------| |-9---------------------------------------13-------------| |---10-7-----10-7-----------------------14---------------| |----------9-------9-----------------14-------------------| |-------------------11-12-14-15--------------------------| |--------------------------------------------------------|

It's played in 16ths at around 120 Bpm.

Here is a pedal tone exercise which is also classically inspired.
||--19-20-17-20-15-20----20-19-20-17-20-15-20---20----------|| ||-------------------19---------------------19-------------|| ||---------------------------------------------------------|| ||---------------------------------------------------------|| ||---------------------------------------------------------|| ||---------------------------------------------------------||
Here's a Harmonic Minor Run, which is good for building your shred technique
|----------------------------------------------------| |---------------------------------------------------| |-----------------------------------10-12-14-12-10--| |------------------------11-12-14-------------------| |-------------9-11-12--------------------------------| |-9-1112--------------------------------------------| |-----------------------------------------| |------------------------------------------| |-----------------------------------------| |---14-12--11-----------------------------| |------------------12-11-9-----------------| |----------------------------12-11-9-(9)--|
Here are a couple of Phyrgian Modes which are used by Yngwie Malmsteen and Joe Satriani.

|-------------------------------------------------------------------------------| |-------------------------------------------------------------------------------| |---------------5-7-9-7-9-5-9---9---9-----------------------------------------9-| |------6-7-9--------------------7--6----9-7-6-------6-7-----7-9-----------------| |-7-8--------------------------------------------8-7-8-----8-7-----8-7-8-7------| |-------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

|----------------------------------------------------| |---------------------------------------------------| |---------------------------------------------------| |---------------------------------------------------| |-----12-14-15-12-15-12-14-----12-14-15-12-15-12-14--| |-15-----------------------15-----------------------| |-------------------------------------------------------------| |-------------------------------------------------------------| |-------------------------------------------------------------| |-13-14-------------------------------------------------------| |---------15-14-15-14-12-----14----15----14---12--------------| |------------------------------15----15----15----15---15--15--|
This is an excerpt from Malmsteen's Far Beyond The Sun, in my opinion a great example of neo-classical
|-----------------------------------------------------------| |----------------------------------------------------------| |-------------------------------------------------------6--| |--4-4-4--3-------6-6-6--4------7-7-7--6--9-9-9-8--8-9-----| |----------------------------------------------------------| |----------------------------------------------------------| |-------------------------------------------------------------------------| |-7-----------------------------6----------------------4------------------| |---------7-7-7--6--6-7-9-------6-6-6--4-4-6-7----4-4-4-6-3---------------| |---------------------------------------------------------------5-2-------| |-------------------------------------------------------------------4-1---| |-------------------------------------------------------------------------| |-----------------------------------------------| |-----------------------------------------------| |--------------------------------------------6---| |--------------------------------4----------6---| |---------2-4-5-4-2-----------4-------------4---| |-2-4-5--------------5-4-2-1--2-----------------|

This will of hopefully giving you some information of neo-classical metal and
hopefully it should of given you some understandin if you didn't have any before on
how to produce maybe your own material. If you want a good example of some
great neo-classical metal. Check out Yngwie Malmsteen's Far Beyond The Sun or
even Jerry C's Canon Rock.