# The Modal Approach. Part Five: The Complex

author: Colohue date: 12/07/2010 category: music theory
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Hello again. I'm Tom Colohue and this is the fifth and final installment of The Modal Approach. It's certainly been an interesting journey for me, with opinion strongly divided, both here and on the forums, on whether I even know what I'm talking about. Curiously, and most comically, most of the arguments raised were questions that I answered in the first piece. A typo also caused some problems, but that was entirely my fault, and I apologise for that. Thankfully, most of you have been paying attention, so here we are. During this final piece, we're going to be seeing modal interplay to its logical conclusion. We're going to come to the end together by letting the modes themselves take us the last of the way. After that, any further learning is up to you. That said though, there is still some ground left to cover before it's all over, and that's what this particular article is for. Today we'll be covering what options are available when you let modes have their way. This will include how resolving outside of a mode can be beneficial, as well as pitch axis theory. The final quest in our modal adventure begins here.

## The Modal Approachby Tom Colohue

### Part Five: The Complex

Switching Tonal Centre Last time, we looked at how to make a progression modal based on an already established tonal centre. The most important part there was to hold the chosen tonal centre, ensuring that our chosen mode did not resolve to an alternate key at the time. This time, we're going to break that rule and, in order to change tonal centre, we're going to let it resolve. Say we're in G, and we're establishing the tonal centre.
```G    D    Am   C

3    2    0    3
3    3    1    1
0    2    2    0
0    0    2    2
2    x    0    3
3    x    x    x```
Here we have a fairly simple progression in G. Now, if, for example, we wanted to use a mode to change our tonal centre to D, we need a mode which contains the same notes as D, but starting on G. First, we take the G major intervals and notes.
`G A B C D E F# G`
Then, we take the intervals and notes of D and compare the two.
```G Major
G A B C D E F# G
D Major
D E F# G A B C# D```
Put them both with G as the root, and what do we have?
```G Major
G A B C D E F# G
D Major
G A B C# D E F# G```
What's the difference? Only a #4, which means that D Major contains the same notes as G Lydian. If we look over our chosen progression, we can see that three of our chords can contain the C# note, so let's make that progression modal.
```Gmaj7Dmaj7A7   C#m7b5

2    2    3    3
3    2    2    2
0    2    2    0
0    0    2    2
2    x    0    4
3    x    x    x```
Well there's a bitch of a progression. The C# in the Dmaj7 makes a very instable modal interplay, since it so obvious calls out to C major. The A7 might contain a G note, but by this point the damage has been done because it feels out of place in G major, and the C#m7b5 is the final nail in the coffin. This progression held onto the G tonal centre long enough to give a sound of Lydian, but in no time at all the Lydian collapses and, the next moment, you're in D major. So what? Now you're playing in D. Plan your chords to accommodate and all you've done is change tonal centre. You haven't failed at anything, in fact, you've succeeded in doing exactly what you were planning. You've simply gone from one tonal centre, to another. Switching Modes Switching modes after this is just as easy, and the logical route to take for your next step. Let's use the same example. G major going into G Lydian going into D major. We'll throw up a progression for D major.
```D    Bm   A    Em

2    2    0    0
3    3    2    0
2    4    2    0
0    4    2    2
x    2    0    2
x    x    x    0```
While G is present in one of these chords, it is quite obviously not the tonal centre anymore once you so obviously move from the C#m7b5 onto the D. All of the previous chords want to resolve in that exact moment, so you let them, and then you're in D, using this progression. So what's to stop you letting this establish itself as the new tonal centre, then going modal again? Perhaps you could once again use Lydian, or go Dorian this time. You could choose a new tonal centre all over again just by choosing a new mode to play around with. It's easy, you just follow it wherever you want the sound to go. It can be fast, sudden or slow and obvious. It's entirely up to you. Pitch Axis Theory Pitch Axis involves changing mode without changing tonal centre. It gets its name from this. The Axis is the tonal centre, and then you change pitch around it. Let's go back to having G as our axis. We've already explored G Lydian, so how about instead of moving on to D, we change a chord or two around and make a more stable modal progression. Leave out the C and, for example, put in an E minor.
```Gmaj7Dmaj7A7   Em7

2    2    3    0
3    2    2    3
0    2    2    0
0    0    2    0
2    x    0    2
3    x    x    0```
Now our final chord contains a G, it's major third in B and it's fifth in D. While D is also the root of D major, the note G is not present in the Dmaj7 chord, which helps to hold the tonal centre. Now we have a choice. We can either go back to the original G - D - Am - (C or Em) progression to further safe our tonal centre, or, if we feel that the progression is still fairly stable, we can change the mode. Let's move to another fairly close mode to the major scale: the Mixolydian.
```G7   Dm7  Amin7Em7

3    1    3    0
3    1    1    3
0    2    2    0
3    0    2    0
2    x    0    2
3    x    x    0```