Brian Schroth asks the question "What scale is this?" as he's confused by the sequence of notes (A B C# D E F G A) that he has encountered in a Bach piece he is learning. There are two interesting answers: D melodic minor and A mixolydian b6.

But the question is closed for being off-topic. Why? The FAQ clearly mentions "music theory" (indeed there's a tag for it) and this question arose from Brian's own playing.

  • The FAQ also clearly mentions "identification" in the negative ;)
    – user28
    Apr 19, 2013 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


We decided early on that song identification questions would be off-topic and shortly thereafter broadened to most types of simple identification questions. There are a couple reasons for this:

  • The asker doesn't really learn much. Rather than asking for scale identification for every new scale they run into, they should ask how to identify scales and then they can do the identification themselves! SE as a network is essentially for building and sharing expertise; simple identification questions don't do that.

  • They usually are Too Localized because they are only useful to the asker. In the case of text they are completely unsearchable and they also often consist of images or links instead. And it's unlikely that someone who stumbles across the post will have the same question. Questions that are unlikely to be useful to others are closed in line with the goal above — we want to be a repository of expert knowledge that is helpful to readers.

I think this was mostly discussed in chat or in comments, unfortunately, but there is another Meta post touching on my first bullet above.

  • 2
    Always, or is there some threshold? By that reasoning, this question about identifying the locrian mode would be off-topic, but it's got a lot of votes and covers an unusual topic. I didn't intend to ask "how do I identify the mode?" as (I think) I already know that -- but I found a case that seemed really, really weird, so I came to the experts here. On-topic or off-? Apr 19, 2013 at 15:52
  • 1
    @MonicaCellio There's always room for the mods/community to use their judgment, and in the case of your question I don't really think it's so much about identification as it is about history -- and it seems to require expert interpretation.
    – user28
    Apr 19, 2013 at 15:56
  • It does require expert interpretation; I was trying to figure out if that's enough. It makes sense that that would be a factor, thanks. Apr 19, 2013 at 15:57

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