I have a limited knowledge of guitar despite playing for 10 years. I understand the penatonic and all that comes with it, along with the major and the mixolydian (off of the 5th) and dorian (off of the second). But when do i use these in song. If the key is A does that mean i can use the major on A along with the pentatonic and access the others form there? If it helps, use a song like stairway to heaven or something to help illustrate. I feel like i have a lot of the pieces, i just need to put em all together.
If you need to ask this, then you don't know them nearly as well as you think you do and you in fact aren't ready to even think about modes yet.
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If the key is A you use A major; B dorian and E mixolydian don't even exist.

Using stairway as an example: it's in A minor. The only scale you use is A minor, that is the notes A B C D E F and G. The piece isn't modal in nature so that's it, the modes don't exist when playing that song. That's not to say you can't use notes from outside the A minor scale but they are accidentals and nothing to do with modes.
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moved to MT...play nice boys and help the ts, don't start another modes bitchfest between yourselves
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First things first, if you think that playing a mode over its relative major/minor somehow makes it modal then you couldn't be more wrong. You're still just playing in the said major/minor only in different positions.
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moved to MT...play nice boys and help the ts, don't start another modes bitchfest between yourselves


TS, study what keys are and understand that, without understanding them, you can't understand scales (which are essentially just collections of supplementary notes derived from a given a key or chord to make it easier to think numerically than musically in a given scenario)
modes are a social construct
If you understood them, then you would be able to use them. Just being a nazi here....

But for cereals, if a chord progression resolves to a note, then it is in that key. All 12 notes sound a certain way in the key depending on where the note is in relation to all the other notes and the tonic. I think singing solfeggi is the best way to learn/unlock the ability to hear all the note functions in a given key.
Everything revolves around the major scale. The major pentatonic is just the same scale with two notes taken out.

And forget about modes entirely. Google functional harmony and diatonic harmony. That should be a good place to start.
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Yeah half the modes confusion is because people think that if you play a major scale starting on a different note than the root, then you're playing a mode! You're not...yet SO many people, teachers included, espouse this! Gah.

You're playing the major scale. Notes outside this scale could be considered modal by some....and theres a whole other flame war....

Yes. generally, if the key is A major and the chords in the progression are A major, then you can use the A Major scale to solo/melody all the way through. I dont know stairway but I would guess it moves away from a single key here and there.... but go and record a chord progression using A Major chords, solo over it using the A Major scale and you'll find that it mostly sounds ok... there may be a few times things dont sound so great... but thats okay...come back and ask when you've done it
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It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.