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Old 06-03-2014, 06:35 AM   #1
flaaash
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Yes - another mode (question) thread...

Lately I've been making a real effort to make sense of these damn things called Modes. I've always accepted that they play a special role in creating (and playing) music but always struggled to work out (a) their key roles and (b) when is a certain 'minor' mode better than another minor mode.

A few days ago I did the math and made a basic chord sequence using notes from the A Lydian scale. It seemed like just as good as place to start. So I've got the following chord sequence:

Amaj, B7, Emaj, F#m11, E7.

Now, when it comes time to lay a solo over it, do I 'A' as the root note or E, since A is the 4th note of Emaj scale! Am I starting to get the idea of modes ?

Last edited by flaaash : 06-03-2014 at 06:38 AM.
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:12 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flaaash
Lately I've been making a real effort to make sense of these damn things called Modes. I've always accepted that they play a special role in creating (and playing) music but always struggled to work out (a) their key roles and (b) when is a certain 'minor' mode better than another minor mode.

A few days ago I did the math and made a basic chord sequence using notes from the A Lydian scale. It seemed like just as good as place to start. So I've got the following chord sequence:

Amaj, B7, Emaj, F#m11, E7.

Now, when it comes time to lay a solo over it, do I 'A' as the root note or E, since A is the 4th note of Emaj scale! Am I starting to get the idea of modes ?

You use A. Just think of Lydian as major #4. I would suggest you completely forget about the fact that Lydian is infact Emaj starting from the fourth note. It only confuses you.

Why don't you just start treating A lydian as A major #4? It's own entity. When you play E minor you don't think of G major do you? (unless you of course modulate to the relative major)

"when is a certain 'minor' mode better than another minor mode."

It's simple: whichever you think sounds better for the situation!
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:30 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Elintasokas
.

Why don't you just start treating A lydian as A major #4?

!


I don't really know what that means. I'm going to fire up the google-mobile now though...

When I do a chord sequence like Emin, Amin, D7, Gmaj I def think of it as Emin (while G's twin sister). That may be a bit weird.

I'm going to understand this Mode thing if it's the last thing I do.
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:44 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by flaaash
I don't really know what that means. I'm going to fire up the google-mobile now though...

Well it means that the only difference between A lydian and A major is that in lydian the 4th note is half a step higher than in major. It's practical to treat it as major #4. Just sharpen the fourth note of any major scale and you have lydian.

That also obviously affects the harmony. So when you harmonize A lydian, every time there's a D note in a chord, you change it to D#. If you want the progression to sound lydian, you use those characteristic chords a lot. aka chords that have the #4 note.
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:57 AM   #5
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Cheers. Thanks for that. Perhaps this is the beginning of me being able to actually get a grasp of what modes do. Creating unique sounds. Perhaps a crude example is how Emaj (Ionian) and Emin (Dodian) do.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Elintasokas
...when you harmonize A lydian, every time there's a D note in a chord, you change it to D#. If you want the progression to sound lydian, you use those characteristic chords a lot. aka chords that have the #4 note.


I'm def going to have to fire up my multi track recorder so I can properly 'hear' it.




On a side note , my life would be so much easier if I'd made an effort earlier on to practice doing diminished chords. I built an E dim chord (E, G, Bb) but found it awkward as heck...
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Old 06-03-2014, 08:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flaaash
Lately I've been making a real effort to make sense of these damn things called Modes. I've always accepted that they play a special role in creating (and playing) music but always struggled to work out (a) their key roles and (b) when is a certain 'minor' mode better than another minor mode.

A few days ago I did the math and made a basic chord sequence using notes from the A Lydian scale. It seemed like just as good as place to start. So I've got the following chord sequence:

Amaj, B7, Emaj, F#m11, E7.

Now, when it comes time to lay a solo over it, do I 'A' as the root note or E, since A is the 4th note of Emaj scale! Am I starting to get the idea of modes ?


If you want a piece of music to sound like it's in A Lydian, you have to ensure:

1. The tonic is A
2. You mainly use the intervals (1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, 7) from A

In particular, the #4 above the tonic gives the immediately identifiable Lydian sound.

The only problem is that we hear certain resolutions so strongly we can sometimes get an unintentional modulation out of the mode and into the relative key.

If the chord progression contains the tonic chord and the dominant chord of the relative major key (in this case, E major and B7 respectively) their strong relationship can make it sound like a modulation to the relative key. If this happens it won't sound modal anymore.

One easy way to avoid this is to just bounce from the modal tonic, A, to another chord and back again to the tonic repeatedly. Reinforce the tonic as A, not E by simplifying the chord progression so it won't drop into a V-I in E.

Last edited by Jehannum : 06-03-2014 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 06-03-2014, 12:30 PM   #7
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The E7 in the end of your progression just makes it sound like A major instead of A lydian. Your progression is just I-V7/V-V-vi-V7 in A major. You are using a secondary dominant, you are not in lydian.

To get the lydian sound, use simpler progressions. The most basic "lydian vamp" (in A) is A-B/A.

As Elintasokas said, don't think modes as the major scale starting with a different note. Minor scale is also a mode of the major scale.

Compare parallel modes (same root note, for example A dorian, A lydian, A mixolydian) instead of relative modes (for example D dorian, G mixolydain, F lydian - they all share the same notes). To get the lydian sound, your tonic needs to be the root of that scale. You need to use your ears. So in A lydian your tonic is A, not E. You need to resolve to A to sound like A lydian.
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Old 06-03-2014, 02:57 PM   #8
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To expand on what was said above about A Lydian being A Major #4, and for your future reference, here's a little guide (the "minor" ones are "natural" minors as opposed to harmonic or melodic minors):

Ionian - Major
Dorian - Minor #6
Phrygian - Minor b2
Lydian - Major #4
Mixolydian - Major b7
Aeolian - Minor
Locrian - Minor b2, b5
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Old 06-03-2014, 04:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flaaash
Lately I've been making a real effort to make sense of these damn things called Modes. I've always accepted that they play a special role in creating (and playing) music but always struggled to work out (a) their key roles and (b) when is a certain 'minor' mode better than another minor mode.

A few days ago I did the math and made a basic chord sequence using notes from the A Lydian scale. It seemed like just as good as place to start. So I've got the following chord sequence:

Amaj, B7, Emaj, F#m11, E7.

Now, when it comes time to lay a solo over it, do I 'A' as the root note or E, since A is the 4th note of Emaj scale! Am I starting to get the idea of modes ?


what you've got isn't A lydian. that E7 -> A pull is going to completely destroy whatever lydian feel you might have had, and is going to make the D# in the B7 harmony sound like it's functioning as a V/V rather than the II, which nets you the lydian sound. this is straight up A major, and about that there is no question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
To get the lydian sound, use simpler progressions. The most basic "lydian vamp" (in A) is A-B/A.


this is what you need.
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:17 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone for your input (and teaching). I really appreciate it.

Would it be fair to think of each mode as a brand of the major or minor approach? As in you've got the simple, everyday brand 'Ionian', then there's the Lydian brand (which has the #4 note in the scale) for a different feel / taste / effect. Same sort of thing with the minor modes?

Earlier I put together a really simple (but interesting riff) of G & C9, while playing the G Lydian mode (G, A, B, C#, D, E, F#), it sounded OK. Based on a comment above, when would be a 'better' time to hit that C# note since there's a D in both G and C9, or would it be an either/or situation?

Would a chord progression such as G -> C9 -> G -> D (while soloing gently with the G Lydian mode) work OK? I think I'm actually getting the grasp of the concept.
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flaaash
Would it be fair to think of each mode as a brand of the major or minor approach? As in you've got the simple, everyday brand 'Ionian', then there's the Lydian brand (which has the #4 note in the scale) for a different feel / taste / effect. Same sort of thing with the minor modes?


i guess...? but that wouldn't be an effective way to treat it. you don't take the same approach to composing in modes as you do in keys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flaaash
Earlier I put together a really simple (but interesting riff) of G & C9, while playing the G Lydian mode (G, A, B, C#, D, E, F#), it sounded OK. Based on a comment above, when would be a 'better' time to hit that C# note since there's a D in both G and C9, or would it be an either/or situation?


uh, no. if you're soloing over G/C9 with C lydian something's off. a C# is going to clash hardcore with C9 because it is a semitone away from two different chord tones -- C and D. if you had to pick which chord was better for the C#, it's very much going to be C#. but if you have a C9 as a chord, i can pretty much guarantee you C lydian is out of the question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flaaash
Would a chord progression such as G -> C9 -> G -> D (while soloing gently with the G Lydian mode) work OK? I think I'm actually getting the grasp of the concept.


no. you're still missing an extremely fundamental idea, and that is to eschew the dominant-tonic relationship. modal music doesn't work that way. first off, as before, the C9 kills any possibility of it being lydian because you've introduced the C natural. the D - G relationship is going to make this progression sound textbook G major, even though there's a Bb in the C9 chord.

if you want G lydian, try playing a ||: G | A/G :|| vamp and see how that goes. if you know a voicing for Gmaj7#11, play that -- that's your lydian tonic chord. if you feel the need to play a D chord, put a G in the bass.
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:31 PM   #12
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E7 clearly leads back to A as the tonic.

Also, this isn't necessarily modal. You have key change is what's happening.

While all of those chords (except E7) fit into A lydian, you have a clear progression based on root movement, which generally falls outside the definition of "modal". You will get the most melodic sound by using chord tone soloing, rather than applying the same mode across the A B E and F#.

Now, you can jam that D# into the Amaj7 if you want, and it'll sound nifty, but then you'll also lose the dramatic effect of the B7-E change, which ought to sound like a temporary key change, because it is.

This is a situation where it's really up to you how "modal" you want to get. Try playing around with both modal and chord tone sounds, you'll find a good balance with some practice.
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AeolianWolf
i guess...? but that wouldn't be an effective way to treat it. you don't take the same approach to composing in modes as you do in keys.

uh, no. if you're soloing over G/C9 with C lydian something's off. a C# is going to clash hardcore with C9 because it is a semitone away from two different chord tones -- C and D. if you had to pick which chord was better for the C#, it's very much going to be C#. but if you have a C9 as a chord, i can pretty much guarantee you C lydian is out of the question.

no. you're still missing an extremely fundamental idea, and that is to eschew the dominant-tonic relationship. modal music doesn't work that way. first off, as before, the C9 kills any possibility of it being lydian because you've introduced the C natural. the D - G relationship is going to make this progression sound textbook G major, even though there's a Bb in the C9 chord.

if you want G lydian, try playing a ||: G | A/G :|| vamp and see how that goes. if you know a voicing for Gmaj7#11, play that -- that's your lydian tonic chord. if you feel the need to play a D chord, put a G in the bass.



Thanks again for your quick response.

With the chord progression I was using the notes G A B C# D E F# and not C D E F# G A B. It makes sense though when I used the C# it sounded a bit - sour.

Looks like I've still got a bit of reading and playing to learn to see what works and what doesn't!
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:54 PM   #14
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try playing C lydian over ||: C | D/C :|| and see how that sounds. that will allow you to begin internalizing the lydian sound.
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Old 06-04-2014, 01:22 AM   #15
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Ok so I've out pen to paper and looked at the difference between A Aeolian and [I]Dorian[/I. I could have as easily put Phrygian in there - but I thought a binary comparison would be good for now.

So I found that what sets them apart is:

  • Bdim/Bmin
    Dmin/Dmaj
    Fmaj/F#dim

Now I've just looked at A Phrygian and noticed that there's a Bbmaj chord in there (as opposed to the diminished and minor chord). I feel like I'm learning something...
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Old 06-04-2014, 01:42 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by flaaash
Ok so I've out pen to paper and looked at the difference between A Aeolian and [I]Dorian[/I. I could have as easily put Phrygian in there - but I thought a binary comparison would be good for now.

So I found that what sets them apart is:

  • Bdim/Bmin
    Dmin/Dmaj
    Fmaj/F#dim

Now I've just looked at A Phrygian and noticed that there's a Bbmaj chord in there (as opposed to the diminished and minor chord). I feel like I'm learning something...


definitely things to keep in mind. but what you should also keep in mind is that the further away you drift from the tonic, the less it's going to sound like a mode and the more it will sound like a key. that's why so many modal vamps have very few (often two) chords, and unless every other chord emphasizes the natural 6, you're going to have a hard time putting together a track in dorian. stick to two chord vamps for now, and expand from there once your understanding is solid. and i mean rock solid. like, don't even consider adding a third chord until you can tell whether the modal feel is there or not.
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Old 06-04-2014, 01:49 AM   #17
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......you have a clear progression based on root movement, which generally falls outside the definition of "modal".

Oh please don't start this again.
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Old 06-04-2014, 01:51 AM   #18
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Cheers. There's a few great songs I like which operate with 2 chords (Molly's Lips) by the Vaselines.

In terms of not drifting too far from the tonic - can any (realistic) chord after the tonic work, eg I/IV, I/iii, I/V ?

By adding a 7th, 9th or an added note....would that be straining the relationship?
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Old 06-04-2014, 02:13 AM   #19
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don't use V, because V will tend to want to go to the I. at that point you're out of lydian and in major. I/IV can't work because you'd need to use the chord based on #IV rather than IV, which, in G lydian, equates to G - C#, which is less than pleasant (and frankly will just sound like G - G, which isn't really lydian). I - iii doesn't include the #4 in any capacity, and therefore doesn't tell us anything about being in lydian.

for these reasons, I - II is often the best -- the tonic held underneath both chords. extended notes generally won't strain the relationship -- but it depends. the safest note to add over the I chord is the #11 (Gmaj7#11). keep the II chord a triad over the tonic note (A/G).

again, i reiterate -- stick to ||: Gmaj7#11 | A/G :|| for now. learn to identify the sound before getting crazy with the theory.
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Old 06-04-2014, 02:49 AM   #20
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Every way I look at doing Gmaj7#11 - it looks awkward as heck.

I really should expand my comfort zone more often.
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