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#1
I've had an idea for some time about starting a channel on YouTube dedicated to creating backing tracks for exotic scales. I love working on all my harmonic minor, melodic minor, harmonic major, hungarian minor modes, etc. but I haven't found very many quality tracks and I resort to using a looper. I'd like to provide the community with a helpful FREE resource but I'm curious about a few things.
Everyone is at different levels obviously but I'm wondering what would be a good way to communicate the modes. I'd like it to be universal to all instruments but I know some guitarists don't read music or know notes.
Pertaining to the mode featured in the backing track, would you prefer:
Note names
A full fretboard diagram
A fretboard diagram for only one position
Tabs
A short video lesson at the beginning
Thanks for your input!
#2
soloing over backing tracks isn't music

go to pornhub instead if you want to jerk off and waste your time 
modes are a social construct
#3
A backing track is meant to help you get comfortable working in new keys/scales. What exactly are you contributing here?
#4
no it isn't, learning music is

scales are useless exercises outside of warming your fingers after you've learned what a triad is. all of the time you've spent learning how to go up and down exotic scales has been worthless and you've learned nothing remotely useful from that experience
modes are a social construct
#5
How on earth do you expect to improvise in a genuine setting if you can't even find your way around your instrument? I know hundreds of quality musicians. Not one of them would support your philosophy. Why don't you back up that bold claim with some samples of your own playing?
Last edited by UseYourThumb at Mar 7, 2017,
#8


here have a video of me improvising on banjo from 3 years ago 
modes are a social construct
#9
Not saying that I am a quality musician, but I do echo Hail's opinion on that scales are not a meaningful way to practice actual music.

As to you, OP, I'd like to ask you some questions: do you know how to create a backing track that uses a mode of hungarian minor? Do you know how to write modal music? Do you know how to utilize exotic scales in a proper musical setting? I'm not saying that I expect you couldn't, but I do think that there's no point in making a backing track that simply uses some chords derived from some mode, calling it a practice tool for modes, and calling it a day. There are better ways to learn how to utilize modes and exotic scales than that.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#10
Lol I have nothing more to say to you Hail
Kev - I'm not claiming that someone is going to take a generic backing track and create authentic, widely enjoyable music from it. A backing track is a tool for practice and nothing else. The person mentioned above is claiming that aside from warming up, scales are entirely useless. Obviously I wouldn't show up at a gig and run scales all night but having these modes in multiple fingerings around the neck (check out Bill Leavitt's 12 fingerings) provides you with a palette of unusual sounds to dive into at a moments notice, even if only for a few measures. This is all speaking for improvised music.
And yes, I've been studying classical music and composition for 6 years now. I can do this stuff.
What are your thoughts on an effective way to practice modes?
#11
UseYourThumb 

Back to the topic,  I don't use backing tracks but I have a few gripes that you could take into consideration:

1) limit the chords to one,two or three - max :  a backing tracking cycling through 10 chords is of no use to learn a new mode or a scale,- keep it simple.  Even a one chord vamp can do the trick. the important thing when learning a new scale is understanding the intervals, which just can't happen effectively if the track is bouncing from chord to chord.   

2) a full printable fretboard diagram + a simplified one would make sense. I would also indicate the construction WWHW etc and intervals (1, 2, b3, 4 etc.) .  

3) for the love of god please insert some dynamics and feeling into the track - I can't stomach backing tracks because they are so damn cheesy - it's a midi nightmare.  Try to have a touch of human error in there. If possible record a real drummer and real instruments.  If not possible, then  try very hard to make the track musical and downplay the fake elements in the mix - make the performed parts front and center. 

Most modes/scales  have a specific chord and one note that really distinguishes it - for example, Dorian being minor and  having a  natural 6th ( and the minor 6 chord) - it would be helpful I think to point that out for each mode/scale  and maybe to have each backing track play to that in some way. 


 
#12
Quote by UseYourThumb
What are your thoughts on an effective way to practice modes?

don't, because you're not writing gregorian chants. we're not savages that don't know how chords work anymore. modal music is obsolete outside of exercises specifically to identify what music sounded like before bach died for our sins 
modes are a social construct
#13
Thank you Reverb, for the first helpful post. I appreciate your thoughts on this and I agree, nothing is worse than playing to a machine. I do plan on recording real musicians playing bass, guitar, and drum set live in one take to get the most interactive/musical fluctuations out of it. For the more unusual modes, I might just create a separate but short video lesson. Thanks for the feedback
#14
^^^ Perhaps for your "modal" backing track make the chord progression actually modal.

If you're instead using modes in the context of CST, label the backing track in it's appropriate key and suggest different "modes" that people can play as each chord comes along.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#15
Quote by reverb66


  Most modes/scales  have a specific chord and one note that really distinguishes it - for example, Dorian being minor and  having a  natural 6th ( and the minor 6 chord) - it would be helpful I think to point that out for each mode/scale  and maybe to have each backing track play to that in some way.


 

If the backing track doesn't do that I don't see why you'd call it modal.
Quote by UseYourThumb

What are your thoughts on an effective way to practice modes?

I think actually learning and listening to modal music is a pretty good start. As far as I know, most metal/rock guitarists who seem to be infatuated with modes nowadays have never heard a modal tune in their life, nor do they know what makes a song modal or even what modes actually are.
Quote by UseYourThumb
I do plan on recording real musicians playing bass, guitar, and drum set live in one take to get the most interactive/musical fluctuations out of it.

This is infinitely better than looping 20 seconds of MIDI for three minutes, so if you can do this with each backing track that's great.

What kind of genres are you focusing on? Modal music is quite rare outside of jazz in modern popular music, did you think about focusing on jazz backing tracks?

I would also keep the video lessons either separate or at the end of the backing track. Nothing makes me press backspace faster than opening a video for a backing track and listening to some guy talk about modes for the first three minutes.

Do you have any examples yet? If not in video form, even as a chord chart? I'd be interested in seeing what you've come up with regarding some more exotic scales.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#16
Quote by Kevätuhri
  I think actually learning and listening to modal music is a pretty good start. As far as I know, most metal/rock guitarists who seem to be infatuated with modes nowadays have never heard a modal tune in their life, nor do they know what makes a song modal or even what modes actually are.

I'm not a rock/metal guitarist And I know this is part of the issue. 1 - they don't have an idea of what it's supposed to sound like and 2 - so many musicians don't want to put in the research to the essential chord tones for each mode. They learn the 7 notes and call it a day. Noel Johnston has a great book on this.
Quote by Kevätuhri
 What kind of genres are you focusing on? Modal music is quite rare outside of jazz in modern popular music, did you think about focusing on jazz backing tracks?

They will be jazz oriented. Other styles mixed in but definitely still rooted in modern jazz sounds. That's pretty much what I had intended.
Quote by Kevätuhri
I would also keep the video lessons either separate or at the end of the backing track. Nothing makes me press backspace faster than opening a video for a backing track and listening to some guy talk about modes for the first three minutes.

Can't agree more with that. I was going to make a separate video and just link to it. Maybe have one guitar specific video for beginners/people new at theory or understanding notes around the neck and another for musicians that can speak a universal language.
Quote by Kevätuhri
Do you have any examples yet? If not in video form, even as a chord chart? I'd be interested in seeing what you've come up with regarding some more exotic scales.

A lot of my own compositions for my band are rooted in modal music. I may have decent recordings within a month or so. I'll see if I can get one into pdf form in the next few days.
#18
^^^ Your piece appears to be in E major. Anybody is welcome to correct me, but the G, A and B chords suggest that the song is definitely not in the mode of E phrygian.

Most jazz pieces aren't modal, jazz players tend to employ CST however to accomodate for out-of-key chords. Also I'd stray away from making generalisations about musicians who play genres other than jazz, what you're saying is generally not true and won't win you any friends.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
Last edited by AlanHB at Mar 11, 2017,
#19
i'm having trouble hearing anything but E major too

i see you're gonna try putting a vamp later in the track, but just gonna go ahead and throw out there: you can make a modal song, and you can make a song that starts modal and becomes tonal, but once you've make a legitimate chord progression, it's very hard, if not impossible, for it to function as just a modal section within the context of the piece. the big example that used to float around here that i think alan used to mention a lot was moondance



i really doubt van morrison was trying to make modal music, though. they just wanted something that sounded good. don't get so into your head about your music, TS - it's about the ears, not the brain. 

also, modes come from harmony, not melody. i think that's where your main confusion is coming in. somewhere between that and misunderstanding things outside of the realm of diatonicism. and aeolian major is not a thing
modes are a social construct
Last edited by Hail at Mar 11, 2017,
#20
What do you look for in a good backing track?

1] It is black
2] It is round
3] It is flat
4] It has a paper label in the center that reads "Miles Davis", "Kenny Burrell", "Sonny Rollins"...
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
Last edited by PlusPaul at Mar 11, 2017,
#21
Quote by AlanHB
  ^^^ Your piece appears to be in E major. Anybody is welcome to correct me, but the G, A and B chords suggest that the song is definitely not in the mode of E phrygian.

  Most jazz pieces aren't modal, jazz players tend to employ CST however to accomodate for out-of-key chords. Also I'd stray away from making generalisations about musicians who play genres other than jazz, what you're saying is generally not true and won't win you any friends.

I said the intro was in E phrygian. It definitely is. Look at the notes in the chords. If you're confused by the key signature, know that writing a major or minor key signature and later adding accidentals to indicate changes is standard practice. It makes it more clear where tonality is than perhaps writing three sharps which would indicate A major of F# minor. There's no arguing that. It's the way people write music. And I think you might have been referring to slash chords later on...that would indicate bass notes.
I did not make any generalizations about non jazz musicians. I was stating that I am not a rock/metal guitarist. Then I stated separately that I agree with Kev's idea of where the problem is.  As for my advice to you, I would ask that you not make generalizations about jazz. I could go on and list every jazz standard that is considered modal by the populace but that is what we have the internet for. Whether or not you personally would tackle them in that fashion is your choice. 
Quote by Hail
 i'm having trouble hearing anything but E major too

There is literally not a single D# in the entire song. Maybe listen harder?
Quote by Hail
i see you're gonna try putting a vamp later in the track, but just gonna go ahead and throw out there: you can make a modal song, and you can make a song that starts modal and becomes tonal, but once you've make a legitimate chord progression, it's very hard, if not impossible, for it to function as just a modal section within the context of the piece. the big example that used to float around here that i think alan used to mention a lot was moondance

i really doubt van morrison was trying to make modal music, though. they just wanted something that sounded good. don't get so into your head about your music, TS - it's about the ears, not the brain. 

I'm really not looking for anyone's validation of my music. And yes. I write music first for the ears. You can classify it later but I'm not focussed on adhering to any rules while I'm writing it. If you would like an example of a song that falls in and out of modality, listen to this:

Specifically compare the main motivic section to the harmonies in the solo section. The bassline is loosely Phrygian but still leaves lots of room for other harmonies. 
Quote by Hail
also, modes come from harmony, not melody. i think that's where your main confusion is coming in. somewhere between that and misunderstanding things outside of the realm of diatonicism. and aeolian major is not a thing

I really apologize if I come across like a jerk, but it's you that is misunderstanding this. I decided not to reply earlier because I just assumed you were trolling. You literally have a world of free information right in front of you. All you needed to do before accusing me of not understanding diatonicism is Google what Aeolian major is. I'll save you the trouble. It's Aeolian with a major third, also known as Aeolian dominant and Mixolydian b6. It's the fifth mode of melodic minor. The essential tones in non-functional Aeolian are 1, 2, 5, and b6. You have a very rudimentary understanding of things.
Last edited by UseYourThumb at Mar 11, 2017,
#22
UseYourThumb  Just to clarify, are you saying that because the intro to your song use chords not diatonic to E major, it is not in E major?

It sounds to me like it resolves to an E major chord, it's really driven there by the G - A that you play at the end of the intro. This is why I think it's in E major. Even that longer D5/E chord at the start seems like it really wants to resolve to an E chord, although at that time, it is unclear whether it would be an E major or minor.

Songs that are actually modal don't have these strong resolutions. It's similar to the Moondance example above, because once other chords are introduced (here the G major and A major), the tonality of the song becomes less ambiguous, resolving to an E major chord (like the effect of bringing in the chorus in Moondance).

But I think our real point of contention lies here:

I would ask that you not make generalizations about jazz. I could go on and list every jazz standard that is considered modal by the populace but that is what we have the internet for. Whether or not you personally would tackle them in that fashion is your choice.


I think you're talking about modes as an approach to improvisation over a song, also known as CST, and very popular with jazz standards, whilst we talking about songs that have a modal harmonic context (is. they are not in a key, they're in a mode).
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
Last edited by AlanHB at Mar 11, 2017,
#23
I use backing tracks when I need to get a quick idea out of my head and I am too lazy to make a loop. It's nice just to conveniently search the internet for something like,"guitar backing track Am7"; you even have the convenience of a bassist and a drummer.

but I feel like if i'm asking myself,"what am I looking for in this backing track?" then I might as well make my own backing track.
which is just y'know making a track......................................
"ba doo doo ba doo doo ba doo daa"
- earth,wind, and fire
Last edited by hecks at Mar 12, 2017,
#25
Hail Dude... Really?
do you have to be so obtuse?
Learning scales is far more valuable than as just a physical exercise. If you honestly believe that learning scales has no value outside of technical exercises then you fundamentally don't understand what a scale is.
If you're learning a scale properly then what you're doing is learning the relationship between a set of intervals and what sounds are available to you. Backing tracks are a great resource for this. If you use them right then you're training your ear to understand the harmonic and melodic character of a set of notes.

In terms of your comments about modes... Again, really?
He obviously wan't referring to the traditional modal system when he referenced learning modes. He was talking about using a scale within tonal harmony with a specific accent(s) applied. Referring to these things as "modes" is just a shortcut in vocabulary - making discussion easier by using colloquial terminology.
Rock [James] Roll
#26
To answer your question - There's a great channel called "Now You Shred Jam Tracks Online" on YouTube, which should point you in the right direction. Watch a few videos on that channel. What they do is provide a backing track and then give an example of some scales, and suggest which accidentals to use over particular chords etc. Some of it is quite intricate. Well worth checking out because I think it'll give you some good ideas.
Rock [James] Roll
#28
AlanHB - I do think that it is possible for a mode to have a pull to a specific chord. I hate to keep using the same example but Phrygian Dominant is perfect for this. You hear a pull and resolution to that dominant 7 chord all the time in traditional flamenco music. This would be called a functional mode. A nonfunctional mode example would be a mode that does not have harmonic direction. In a non functional Phrygian Dominant setting, you would essentialize the 1, b2, 4, and 5 scale degrees. The other notes from the mode still exist, but you treat these four notes as the "essence" of Phrygian Dominant. Seriously, check out the book I had mentioned above. It opens a whole world of understanding for composition.
I think your point about the confusion here is right. We're just not understanding each other. 
Jiimmyyy - Thank you. You've restored a bit of my faith in this community. I'll check out that YouTube page
#29
"Functional mode" is in tonality and doesn't work as a mode, and this is what I believe Alan and Hail assert you are using
A mode by definition has no function in tonal music, therefore one is a paradox and the other is redundancy

Phrygian's character pitch is b2, and to establish dominant (vs Phrygian), 3 is required.

Re: the guy whose book you recommended, I take issue with calling this Phrygian:

There's too much harmonic resolution to C minor.

@everyone in this thread: please, less snark. Address the ideas.
#30
UseYourThumb As above mate - you're talking about a "functional mode", rather than the harmonic context of the song being modal.

So as I first started, make sure to label the backing track with the appropriate key, so that people are not mislead into thinking the track is modal.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#31
if you really wanna be inventive, instead of backing tracks just shred for 4 minutes and let the viewers figure out what chords and rhythms to play under you

now that would encourage skills that actually matter 
modes are a social construct
#32
NeoMvsEu Like I said, there's a lot more to understand than just those two concepts. Noel Johnston spells it out nicely in his book. Take a look at his credentials. That alone might give you reason to reconsider your current train of thought. Same for AlanHB 
#33
Tbh, I couldn't care less about credentials; it's the content that matters.
#34
For me, backing tracks are a decent way to solidify certain ideas and what not that I'm already working on and how to apply them in real time in specific situations, usually being confined to improvising over one chord and trying to not make it stale and redundant. I'm not so much learning anything from it as much as I am just tightening up my chops. As a person who (tries) to play jazzy things and fusiony things, I think it's pretty helpful. I think with this in mind, I don't believe backing tracks are totally pointless and evil. 
#35
Quote by Hail


here have a video of me improvising on banjo from 3 years ago 

Sounds like drunkard garbage. No talent. Learn more scales please.
#37
Quote by Fear The Abyss
You're too edgy for this post man.

Hail isn't too edgy for posts, posts are not edgy enough for Hail.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#38
I think backing tracks are good to get people used to improvising, rain some confidence around using scale positions and thinking on the fly.

For actual musicianship though I think their use is quite limited. I find that my favourite solos and licks are pre-written and short. It is extremely rare that a 4/5 minute solo would improve, rather than detract from the quality of a song, I would never approach a real song in the way I'd play over a backing track.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#39
UseYourThumb 

I think any of the first four things you listed would be helpful: Note names, a full fretboard diagram, a fretboard diagram for only one position and tabs. 
#40
Quote by NeoMvsEu
Tbh, I couldn't care less about credentials; it's the content that matters.

Right...but when you're in disagreement with a guy who makes a living teaching techniques like this at the highest level, it would probably be wise to check yourself. 

olix95 stevenjmal Thanks for your thoughts guys.

AlanHB My point exactly. Backing tracks are not etudes in musicality, but they are good for getting comfortable with the three things you mentioned in your first sentence.
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