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How to find out which scales are used in your favourite songs

You can use the songwriting tool Sundog Song Studio to find out which scales were used in your favourite songs. The following technique works most of the time (as long as the song stays in one scale of course).

Simply do this:

  1. Play back the song.
  2. Open Sundog's Jam page: Go on "Tools -> Jam with current instrument" or press J on your keyboard.
  3. Most western songs use either the Major or the Minor scale (and more than 80% of EDM/dance songs will tend to the Minor scale), so either select Major or Minor here.
  4. Set the root note to "C" and quickly press the keys 1 to 6 on your keyboard. Play around some more and try to find out if it sounds harmonious or dissonant.
  5. Case A) If it sounds good: Congratulations! You probably found the right scale. But you will need to do another test. Press the key "1" repeatedly and decide by your ear if the note sounds good the whole time. If you find another note on the scale that seems to fit better, you need to either change the scale from Major to Minor or from Minor to Major. You will also have to set the root note to the note that sounded better. Test that scale again and see if it works for you. (Reason: Each Major scale has a Minor scale that consists of the same notes. The root note that you just found out is very important and indicates which scale is used in that song).
  6. Case B) If it sounds dissonant: Set the root note to the next note, e.g. "C#". Repeat the steps in point 4.
  7. Repeat step 6 until you find the right scale.

Test this technique with a few songs and you will find out that your ears will quickly show you the right scales.

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