Ok, in the sticky about the modes, it says something along the lines of:

Don't ask about modes unless you know:

Intervals (names and sounds)
Scale formation
Diatonic chords
Relative major and minor keys
Chord progressions and how they create and resolve tension
Chord extensions

And as I was reading this, I realized I don't know some of these, so I have a few questions.

Question 1 (my main question): Chord progressions + tension. Could somebody please explain this to me? I think I get what he's talking about, but I want to be 100% sure I know.

Question 2: I'm thought I understood what a mode mode is, but I just want to make sure.

Modes are basically when you play part of one scale, but play it with a different root note then what it normally is played in, right? Too create a certain mood/atmosphere? Something along those lines?
Last edited by crazy8rgood at Aug 5, 2009,
well, to describe tension I'll have to give an example. let's say you have a simple progression in C major, like C F Bm7b5 Cmaj7.

well, the Bm7b5 will create a lot of tension, because it pulls so strongly to the C, and then you play the Cmaj7 which resolves the tension.

you've pretty much got the right idea of modes. to demonstrate using an example again, with E Phrygian it's the same notes as C major, but the tonic has been moved to E, and for it to really be E Phrygian you have to make sure the progression resolves to E.
Last edited by The4thHorsemen at Aug 5, 2009,
TS, modes aren't quite that simple - the important thing to understand is that they have absolutely nothing to do with shapes or patterns.

Also, although the modes use the same notes as their relative scales that's not how they're used. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you can mix up C major with D Dorian, then throw a bit of E Phrygian in there to spice things up because like The4Horsemen said the important thing with modes is the harmony. If you're playing over anything then that backing is what defines the "tonal centre", the note the music wants to resolve to. If you're playing over a chord progression. Most of the time that's going to be a chord progression of some form or another and it will have a single key that it resolves to, and in those instances relative modes don't apply.

However, what you can do is look at parallel modes, that is modes with the same root note. For example, if you have an E minor chord progression then you could look to modulate to E Phrygian to change things round a bit, although it's probably easier to not bother and simply look to use your out of key notes as and when you see fit.

Modes are harmonically unstable, they don't resolve well and for that reason they tend to be easiest to use over a simple backing, a single drone note, a static chord or a vamp of 2 or maybe 3 chords - anything more complex and it becomes a lot harder to prevent the music from resolving to the far more stable relative major or minor.
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