Why it's different to write a song in C Major to write it in D Dorian, E Phrygian, etc. I know very little theory so I'm sorry if this question is stupid
K. ....listen to these two songs.
Always With Me Always With You - Joe Satriani - B major
Flying In A Blue Dream - Joe Satriani - C Lydian

each mode has a different feel to it, these songs explain that pretty well, even though only one note in the scale is different.
Always with me/you is in the E lydian mode (same as B major, but still lydian phrases)
i always think of modes differently... i memorize the interval patterns so that i know the notes no matter what root note i start on.

it saves me having to do the following thought process:

1. "hmm... i want to play something that sounds kinda phrygian"

2. "i guess i'd like my root note to be E"

3. "so if i want e phrygian, then i need to take my C major scale pattern, and start it on the third note..."

4. "which means that i need to adjust my fingering like so"

that's a lot of steps. if you know that any phrygian scale is spelled 1 - b2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7, then you can just memorize that interval set, choose your first note, and go wild. the thought process becomes:

1. hmmm, i'd like to play something phrygian

2. let's do that in E...

and i'm done. it just seems quicker to me to think of it that way. it's good to know how to derive the modes both ways, but when i'm jamming with others, the music usually gets called by scale and root note, and everyone assumes that the others just know whether it's major or minor overall. for example, some will say "play dorian, in D..." i know that he means to play a D-rooted scale, with the pattern 1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - b7. Because i see a minor third and a minor seventh, it's a good guess that the underlying chords are going to be in D minor, and we'll all have to be mindful of using the 6 in our chords.
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Last edited by frigginjerk at Jan 2, 2009,
so the only difference is the root?
yeah. you just find the root note anywhere on the fretboard, and then FROM that note, in ANY direction, you can play the given intervals.

So if I have E Phrygian, my notes are the root, flat/minor second, flat third, fourth, fifth, flat sixth and flat seventh. (1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7). These notes work out to be E, F, G, A, B, C, D. no sharps or flats for this scale in this key. for reference we're taking notes out of the 12 intervals in western music, which are:

1 - b2 - 2 - b3 - 3 4 - #4/b5 - 5 - b6 - 6 - b7 - 7, where 1 = ANY note.

if the 2 is not in the scale, it does not cease to exist. we just don't play the note two frets up from the 1.

we can look at this in the old-school terms: E Phrygian can also be considered as a mode of C major, which has no sharps or flats. But since you're using E as the root, the listener's ear will hear a very minor-sounding key of E, not a happy C major sound, despite these being the same notes.

but if you just apply the intervals to the fretboard, you can start thinking of modes as entirely unique scales, not just derivations from reordering the notes of a different scale in a different key.

the phrygian pattern, for ALL root notes, is 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7. That means if 1 = E, then the b2 is always a half-step up from E, which is F. you can play any F on the fretboard, and you know it's always always always going to appear one fret up from the root, because it's a flat second. so if you know where your root is, you also know where your b2 is.

then you can just apply that logic to everything. the b3 (which is G in this case) can be found three frets up on the same string, or two frets towards the headstock, on the next highest string. any incidence of the b3 on the neck will do. then the fourth, which is easily found on the same fret, next highest string, OR on the next lowest string, two frets towards the headstock. you generally want your root note to be the deepest, but you should always try to think in 4 directions (higher or lower on the same string, and higher or lower on adjacent strings) when playing, not just from lowest to highest, like it's always written.

remember that if we were in a different key, the distances between the notes would be the same, but the note names would be different. F# phrygian would have the notes F# G A B C# D E. The note G is now the b2, but it's still one fret up from the root, F#. and the A note is now a b3 and it's still three frets up on the same string, or two frets back on the next highest string. but if you knew where all your F#'s were already, you can switch to phrygian in a different key without changing your pattern, just your position.

if you can build maps in your brain of how many frets and strings you need to go FROM THE ROOT in order to play a certain interval, you will be able to use any mode, any key, anywhere on the neck. it's lots of fun.
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Last edited by frigginjerk at Jan 3, 2009,
Quote by piola998
Why it's different to write a song in C Major to write it in D Dorian, E Phrygian, etc. I know very little theory so I'm sorry if this question is stupid

Because you'd be playing over different chords.

so the only difference is the root?

It's not quite that simple...thinking of the root as the difference implies you believe all that misinformation abount "starting the scale on a different note". Modes are nothing whatsoever to do with patterns or shapes.

The tonal centre is what's different, the tone that the music as a whole wants to resolve to - generally the more chords you're using the more likely things are to resolve to the relative major or minor. Conversely the less chords you have (just one is great) the easier it usually is to fix a different tonal centre to enable modes to come into play.
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