Intervals in each chord of key

I’m trying to find a resource that will list out the notes of a key that ‘fit’ into each chord, I’m having trouble articulating the question well, which it possibly why I can’t find an answer!

For example in the key of C, I know that when I’m playing a vi chord (Am), then I can play the intervals 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7 of A (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) as each of these are in the home key of C.

I know the IV chord is the only chord with a sharp 4 and the ii chord is the only minor chord with a natural 6th.

Does anyone know of a resource where all these intervals are listed out? I’m tying to use intervals for some melodic improvising and this really help.

First off all the chords in the key are made up of the notes in that key. So your making it harder than it need to be.
For example in the key of C: the chord C is the 1 3 5, D is the 2 4 6, E is the 3 5 7, F is the 4 6 1
and so on.

There are conventional two ways of playing over chords You can stay in the Key in this case C or you can switch to the key of the chord(which by the way is still the same thing but a different way of looking at it)

So when playing over the Am(6th) you can switch to Am scale Pent or Natural. The 4 chord F doesn’t have a sharp 4 in the key of C the F is the 4 6 1(F A C) intervals of the Key of C so you can switch to the F major pent/scale or stay in the key of C avoiding the bad notes.

With the Dm you can do the same thing either switch to the D minor Pent or Natural or stay in the key of C

The Key of C contain all the notes needed to play the C major/pent, Dm pent, Em pent, F major pent. G major pent. Am pent and B dim pent if there is such a thing. So don’t worry about the intervals of there C major scale just switch to the appropriate scales to what ever chord you’re playing.

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I should as add: you can also play the appropriate mode so over the ii chord you’d play the Dorian mode. Over the vi Aeolian , over the IV Lydian. Basically the Parent scale starting on the root note of the chord.

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Are you looking for modes?

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Thanks @stitch and @Alexeyd

I didn’t phrase my question well, when I said the 4 chord has a sharp 4, I mean that in the key of C, if I’m playing over the IV (an F major) then I need to sharped the 4th note of the key of F (a Bb) to get a note from the parent key.

However I think you are both right about modes, I think I’ve just come at modes from the bottom up! I guess that in the example above the notes I want are from the F Lydian mode.
I’ll need to take a look at these in more detail but it seems like it might be what I’m after - thanks!

Paul the easiest way to look at modes is as your example

F Lydian is C major with the tonal center of F. But here’s the thing about modes is they are used in very specific ways and if used wrong they don’t sound very good.

If you are looking for a B over the F play the F Major pent with a flat 5

If you play diatonically, you play C major scale over ALL diatonic chords.
If you want to think in scales per each chord, you need to use the modes.
Of course, if you are looking for more complex solutions, you can play whole-tone scale or diminished/half-diminished ones.
And then there’s more…

No you don’t see my post earlier on how the Major scale contains the pentatonic scales of each chord. Chord tones is another way to go before trying to diving down the mode Rabbit Hole.

I thought the question was about a 7-note scale

I think Paul is trying to figure out what note in the C major scale would fit over the Chords of the Key when improvising and is over thinking the process. Modes have a very specific place in music and when played out of context do not sound very nice.

Paul correct me if I’m off track here.

Thanks again @stitch @Alexeyd

I’ve been using chord tones and pentatonic ideas for a while. Here I’m specifically looking at 7 notes scales as I’m trying to play with some different ideas using repeated interval patterns over different chords in a key. It does sound like modes may answer my question, whether I can make them sound good is another problem altogether!

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Paul - here is my 2 pence worth.

Modes are an amazing and deep hole of wonders. I wrote an extensive topic on them here: Modes Parts 1 - 9

But I would argue they are not the path you seek for your specific need.
Modes (exclusing Ionian and Aeolian - major and natural minor respectively) are peculiar beasts and most conducive to being played over one or two chord grooves and vamps. Sometimes three or four chords but with a heavy proportion of the tonic and one other chord and often with slash chords that sees the tonic note in the bass of all / most chords. Their use as scales for improvising and melody then leans heavily on the flavour notes that make those modes unique.
In Lydian, the #4 is a target.
In Dorian the b4 and natural 6 are targets.

You seem to be referring much more to longer chord progressions containing many chords - mainly but not exclusively diatonic.
That is what jazz players aim to do. I am a million miles form being a jazz fan let alone a jazz player.
But I do believe their approach incorporates arpeggios, triads and targeting chord tones, chromatic runs and more. I do not imagine they are switching modes as a conscious process.
I recently saw a video of a session player (I forget which, sorry) saying that he doesn’t know any player in Nashville who would approach a regular chord progression with modes at the forefront of their mind - it would be chord tones, CAGED, triads, pentatonics and arpeggios.


But they are… jazz players are taught to do that. You’re right about the vamps. This seems to me the best use case for the modes. But I know quite a few jazz players and they do think modes even in diatonic situations. Well… they don’t really think anything at a certain level. I myself struggle with this modes based method, but it seems necessary to learn, after you have control of pentatonics, triads and arpeggios, and chromatic approach to target notes, of course.


I wanted to also describe the methos of arriving at a target note by chromatically playing each note a semitone either sude but I can’t bring the name to mi d for some reason. Brain freeze. All I can think is framing and boxing but they’re not it.
I may jump awake im the night as sleep helps it come back to me haha.
Unless someone jumps in …

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Why? There are always the 2 note that just don’t play nice with the others.

Then just move the pattern to the next key. If moving from major to minor just flatten the 3rd in the riff/lick/phase. You can take any major riff and play it in any major chord and transpose it to a minor. the notes will be different but the intervals will be the same.

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I have a specific composition / improv idea I want to work on. I want to chose a set of intervals, for example 1, 3, 4, 6 and play them for notes in a major scale. When I do this I will want to adjust these intervals for each degree of the scale I’m playing over to keep the notes in the parent key.

OK - So thanks for all the help with this guys. Here’s an example of what I was trying to do.
I am in the key of C, and going up the first four degrees of the scale (C, D, E, F), each time I’m playing the intervals 1, 3, 4, 6 based on the degree I’m at, but I’m adjusting the intervals so they are in the parent key of C. For example I’m flattening the 3rd for the D and E patterns, flattening the 6th on the E and sharpening the 4th for the F.

I’m just using the modes to work out how to keep this diatonic. The goal would be to be able to compose lines or improvise using this idea, and it’s certainly a tough mental challenge right now!

@stitch, @Richard_close2u - I totally get your warnings about modes, I’m not trying to improvise using the modes alone or just noodle against a chord, rather using the underlying ideas to build diatonic patterns. Richard - I’ll take a read though your modes article - looks pretty comprehensive at first glance!

thanks again guys.

I would call it simpler than you do Paul. It is simply major scale melody playing.

Using CAGED scale patterns

For the C and Dm chords, the notes are simply taken from the A-shape pattern.

For the Em chord, the notes are taken from the G-shape pattern.


For the F chord, the notes are taken from the E-shape pattern.


Because you are moving laterally along the neck, not within ‘boxes’, another way to view this would be within the 3-notes-per-string system. I do not know if you have ever learned that so will leave it at one perspective for now.

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Thanks Richard - yes, that’s good way of looking at it. I was never trying to do anything more than major scale melody, but wanted to use repeating patterns to create them. What I liked about my approach is that it is formulaic and builds on my knowledge of intervals, which is how I have learned the fretboard.
I’ve not spent enough time on the CAGED scale patterns, so this is very useful. I’ve largely relied on knowing intervals rather than learning lots of scale patterns thus far, but I should probably invest some time in that too.

You can place those intervals in and around CAGED chord shapes. Several notes fall outside the general barre shapes but are close by. I have not used red for the root notes here but a consistent blue for all.

With notes …

With intervals (relative to the root note of each chord) …