#1
Hey,

I am wondering how you create chords or chord progressions using the modes (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian) in the major scale.

Thanks
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#2
Use the chords from their relative major scale. So if you're in D dorian or E phrygian then you can use the chords found in C major.
#3
in modal music, you don't have chord progressions. chord progressions imply that there is a key, which there is not in modal music.

you build the chords, however, the same way you build chords in tonal music. you simply stack notes in thirds.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#4
More often than not, it becomes VERY hard to have a complex progression (let alone a long, simple one) that will imply a Mode. This is because, with the way the Major scale is built, it will, more likely than not, want to go back to the Major Tonic.

So, having said that, the most commonly used modal progressions are very short and repeated.... a modal vamp. What you want to do is you want to make a progression that uses the "color tones" that make the mode that mode (like the #4 in Lydian, or the b7 in Mixolydian).

So, in F Lydian, we would build a I - II progression (F - G) (you can make it G7 - F if you want). This has that Lydian sound because it contains the B natural and the C, the #4 and the 5 of F Lydian.

In G Mixolydian, we would use a I - bVII. This uses the b7 and has a good Mixo. vibe to it. Another good one would be I - iv.

So on and so forth with all the modes.

Locrian, however, is EXTREMELY hard to do because, since the tonic in Locrian is a diminished triad, the tonic chord will always want to move to the bII (or the tonic of the relative Ionian).
#5
Quote by AeolianWolf
in modal music, you don't have chord progressions. chord progressions imply that there is a key, which there is not in modal music.

I wouldn't say that, it's just harder to imply the tonic in modal music because you don't have the easy I IV V progression to back you up ... but it can be done. I find mixolydian or phrygian chord progressions to sounds really nice.
#6
Quote by pwrmax
I wouldn't say that, it's just harder to imply the tonic in modal music because you don't have the easy I IV V progression to back you up ... but it can be done. I find mixolydian or phrygian chord progressions to sounds really nice.


even then, though, you still have to restrict yourself from making it sound like the relative major. even if you had a nice chord flow, i still wouldn't call it a progression because that still connotes a key.

i don't really disagree with you, though. i've been tinkering with the idea of modal keys for a while now. it's not quite fully developed, but i've recently started making some headway on it.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#7
Quote by AeolianWolf
in modal music, you don't have chord progressions. chord progressions imply that there is a key, which there is not in modal music.
I don't get this

I must be missing something in either how you are defining "chord progressions" "key" or "modal music".

What do you mean that chord progressions imply a key? If you mean they imply a tonal centre then there are two points I would like to bring up. First a progression can be tonally ambiguous. That is it can float around without nailing down a specific tonal centre, but instead suggest several tonal centres. Also to create a "modal" chord progression you need to be able to imply a tonal centre

If you mean a chord progression would imply a certain "key" than this is not necessarily the case either as a progression can be rapidly changing "keys" every two or three chords or only the most vague of "key centres".

Don't get concerned with the "strictly modal music" hang up that seems to be more contagious round here than herpes in a wh*re house - only more annoying. Modal music should be a term used to describe music that uses modes.

It is absolutely NOT necessary to keep the concepts of "tonal" or "key based" music distinct from "modal music". One can slip from one to the other and back again seamlessly in the same piece of music. One can use both at the same time or adopt an either or approach to an anlysis.

A mode is simply taking a scale and shifting the tonal centre to a different scale degree. It has nothing to do with using or not using accidentals or keys or anything else. It's a really simple concept. I have rarely seen anyone in this forum clearly explain the difference between "modal" music and "tonal music" or "key based music" or whatever other term they use for "non modal music". And for good reason -the difference is not as clear cut as they tend to imply.

But if we accept that a mode is a scale in which we have moved the tonal centre to a new scale degree then a chord progression that is "modal" will simply use those same chords harmonized from the parent scale in a way that shifts the tonal centre to a different place. For example if we used the chords of G major in a way that shifted the tonal centre to Am then we would have successfully a "modal" chord progression in A Dorian.

Such a progression might use any number of chords - the number of chords used is irrelevant. THough it is easier to start out using fewer chords just as it is easier to start out that way when composing with the major scale.

The trick is knowing how to shift the tonal centre, that comes with practice.

*******

Here's some ideas you might want to consider when playing around with creating modal chord progressions:

In the major scale the most common "trick" is a simple I IV V.
In the minor scale you will find a common trick is ♭VI ♭VII i (sometimes referred to as an Aeolian cadence).
I'm sure you can find numerous examples of each of those tricks if you look around for five minutes or more.

Now if we look we see that when we shift the tonal centre of the major scale from the I to the vi to create the "Aeolian" mode the IV and V become the ♭VI and ♭VII respectively only instead of resolving down a perfect fifth it resolves up a major second to a minor chord.

If we continue with this idea we could continue by trying the IV and V of the major scale as they relate to the various relative modes.

Dorian for example would see us use ♭III and IV with a minor tonic. i i ♭III IV for example would be a simple Dorian version of a three chord trick.

In Phrygian a three chord trick might look like this i ♭II ♭III. You might extend it out to a dominant seventh i ♭II ♭III7 for example.

"Modal" chord progressions don't have to be purely diatonic either. If you are predominantly diatonic and want to use a borrowed note or chord to help you resolve to the right place go for it. Modes and can quite comfortably accommodate accidentals and non diatonic chord substitutions. In our last Phrygian example you could use a tritone substitution on that III7 for a i ♭II VI7 three chord trick and could still argue that it is a Phrygian progression or at the very least as having a Phrygian character to it.

And you are not limited to three chord tricks. There are a number of strategies that you could try to create a "modal" chord progression using an array of chords but you just have to play with it and find what works for you.

One such strategy might be to use simple diatonic chord substitution or extensions in conjunction with the ideas outlined above. For example going back to our Dorian example we might use
i ♭III IV and push it out to i ♭III ii IV - try it out Am C Bm D back to Am. You might even try a IV7 at the end there Am C Bm D D7

Another strategy for creating a progression that uses more than three chords but is still modal might including a simple diatonic bass line that moves through the whole octave so in Dorian it might descend from A through G F♯ E D C B down to A. Then back up to start again. Then you just find the right notes from the mode to harmonize each stop along the way and viola you have a modal progression that uses more than three chords.

There's all sorts of strategies you can try - it's just about trying things and seeing what works and what doesn't.

Figure out what sorts of things create a sense of tonic in general (don't read it in a book play listen observe and make your own notes - you don't need anyones approval to come up with your own ideas in music). Try to figure out what sorts of things will lessen a sense of tonic.

Then when you have isolated a bunch of ideas focus on how you can manipulate each one (or how you can avoid it if you need to) in order to shift the sense of tonic to a chord you choose. After that creating a chord progression using modes is still a challenge but less of a mystery.

If you get stuck give me a yell.
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at May 25, 2010,
#8
Quote by 20Tigers
A brilliant post

I do believe they are afraid of experimentation and would stick to archaic principles outlined in an old farts book.

I agree with your explanation of the progs cos I use it that way, and its nice to see someone else using it.

#9
Simple fool proof way to modal vamps:

take chord IV and V from the relative major and play them over the root of the mode.

Bob's your uncle.
#10
You DON'T need to force everything out of one Mode. The idea is to use several modes, in IOW come up with progressions that force you to use different modes INSTEAD of ones that use one single mode. This is the heart of Modern Modal music...not being STUCK in one mode.


Have you ever tried playing the quintessential Modern Modal tune named So What by Miles Davis??? What's it's great for is it's modal but not stuck in the same mode. It use two modes, D Dorian and Eb Dorian as the chords change.

Try this to "play modally":

||: Gm7 | Gm7 | Gm7 | Gm7 | Bbm7 | Bbm7 | Bbm7 | Bbm7 :|| MAKE SURE YOU REPEAT, as you NEED to be able to nail that change back to the beginning!

Play G Dorian for Gm7 and play Bb Dorian for Bbm7. Working your way back to the beginning allows you to build tension towards the end of the Bbm7 chord and leading yourself right back into Gm7...IOW, create your own turnarounds to get from Bbm7 TO Gm7.

Try this one:

||: Dmaj9 | Dmaj9 | Dmaj9 | Dmaj9 | Dm7 | Dm7 | Dm7 | Dm7 :|| MAKE SURE you repeat!!!

D is the tonal center, use D Ionian for Dmaj7 and D Dorian for Dm7 (if memory serves me right).

Try this:

||: A7 | A7 | A7 | A7 | B7 | B7 | B7 | B7 :|| MAKE SURE you repeat!!!

Use A Mixolydian for A7 and B Mixolydian for B7. There are other options for scales but these will be all you need for a long time.

Finding progressions like this is where your playing is going to take a serious turn because, instead of continuously playing the same notes over and over when playing in ONLY one Mode, now you're playing Music, and something with a structure and a direction.

These examples are pretty basic, but VERY common. These types of progressions are the key to understanding Modern Modal playing. These types of progressions force you to change scales/modes and have direction...which is what Modern Modal music is about!
Last edited by MikeDodge at May 25, 2010,
#11
Quote by AeolianWolf

i don't really disagree with you, though. i've been tinkering with the idea of modal keys for a while now. it's not quite fully developed, but i've recently started making some headway on it.


I'd love to hear an example of that.
#12
Quote by 20Tigers
a brilliant post


everything was so well said that i'm inclined to believe that you know what you're talking about. i'll have to experiment some more with everything you've brought up. in my classifications, i only thought to distinguish between three types of music: tonal, atonal, and modal. i hadn't even considered tonally ambiguous, so i thank you for bringing that to my attention.

what really caught my interest is the thought that you can blend tonal and modal music seamlessly. when i first started posting here a few months ago, that was a concept that i thought might work. then i started seeing a lot of the concepts of strict modality on these forums, and i came to conclude that strictly modal music has no place in tonal music, since everything that can be done in modal music can be done in tonal music.

i know a shit-ton about tonal music, but i'm not ashamed to admit that my ideas of modality (particularly modern modality) aren't up to par. i'll have to think on the matter some more.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#13
Quote by AeolianWolf
when i first started posting here a few months ago, that was a concept that i thought might work. then i started seeing a lot of the concepts of strict modality on these forums, and i came to conclude that strictly modal music has no place in tonal music...
Your post was a trigger but what you said just there^ was the target of my frustration. (Not you or your view just a general thing really - I wasn't trying to pick on you so I hope it didn't come across like that).

The term "modal music" can be interpreted in few different ways. One way is to take a historical and some what exclusive definition of what it means to be playing "modal music". This interpretation seems to be the one most often proclaimed by frequenters of the dreaded MT modal threads that regularly pop up. Now it is fine with me if someone chooses to support this position but ONLY IF it can be backed up by a clear and concise explanation of what qualifies music as "modal music" and more precisely if that person can (and does, for the sake of the TS) explain the difference between modal music and whatever the term they use to describe music that is not modal. Without such an explanation the TS is invariably confused and mystified as to what the hell just happened to something he thought he was getting a handle on.

What happens though is when put into this position of having to explain the differences between "strictly modal" and "non modal" music the idea tends to break down. Though they seem to know that there is difference and feel confident in their ability to point to specific examples with relative accuracy it is not often they have conceptualized the difference nor are they able to pin it down precisely enough to actually explain it.

And it frustrates the hell out of me to see people argue for a position when they can't even clearly explain the fundamental basis of that very position. I mean doesn't it bother them to not be able to explain the difference.

I've looked into it and asked around and the best I can come up with is the following. There is music that is "modal" and there is music that is "non modal" which is often described as "tonal" or "key based".

In both modal and "tonal" music there is a tonal centre. That is there seems to be a tonal home that the piece of music can be identified with. In fact it is essential if you want to make "modal music" that you have a tonal home to build the mode from.

The difference is that in this strict historically based definition of modal music that particular kind of music is primarily melodic in nature. Traditionally this type of music would use a mode as a source of melodic ideas and harmonize those melodies usually by way of a "drone" or "pedal tone".

By firmly rooting the tonal home through the use of a drone one relies solely on the character of the mode and the strength of the melody to create interest since there is no real harmonic movement involved. This reliance on a strong melodic interest achieved through exploiting the unique modal character is at the heart of that strict interpretation of the term "modal music".

I don't prefer the term "Tonal music" to describe music that is "non modal" since for music to be modal it is important to have a clearly defined "tonal home" but since it seems to be the most commonly used term there's no real harm in using it.

By contrast "tonal music" is underpinned by a much richer and more dynamic harmonic content. It uses chords and dissonances to create a sense of momentum within the music. In "tonal music" musical interest is achieved as much through the harmonic movement away from and back to the tonic and through the creation and resolution of harmonic tension as much as by the melody.

In this sense it means little to talk of "modal progressions" etc.

But there is an alternative view. We can instead view modal music simply as music that uses modes. In this way it would not be something that is defined by it's distinction from tonal music but defined by it's use of modes. As such modes become just another tool that we can use in our search for new and interesting musical ideas, or to discuss, express, and analyze musical ideas. In this view modes are simply using a given scale step pattern and shifting the tonal centre to a different scale degree. So long as we do this then we can consider it modal.

Well my bro turned up and I'm not going to be antisocial so I got to go but that's pretty much it.
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at May 26, 2010,
#14
Quote by tremolonator
Hey,

I am wondering how you create chords or chord progressions using the modes (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian) in the major scale.

Thanks

Write out the notes in the scale, for every note take the third and fith note above it and you have yourself a chord. Figure out the qualities of the chord by counting the semitones. Add sevens if you're daring.
Inhuman evil take down!
#15
20T owns the thread... 20T owns the thread

+ 1 000 000 to 20T

Both very good posts...
#16
I am pleased my line of thinking has struck such a chord with you evolucian. I sincerely appreciate your appreciation.

But I don't want to own the thread in fact I kind of feel like I hijacked it a little with discussion about one of my pet peeves - though I did it in an attempt to help the TS. -I hope that I didn't overload him.
Si
#17
Of course it struck a chord with me... I think in the same way. So why wouldn't it

You never hijacked the thread... you said what needed to be said. Well done
#18
Quote by tremolonator
Hey,

I am wondering how you create chords or chord progressions using the modes (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian) in the major scale.

Thanks


First of all you should have a solid grasp on the musical alphabet.

Second you should be able to write out any scale without using the guitar, and identify the letters correctly

Third you should know how to form or name any triad in existence and get those letters spelled correctly

Fourth you should understand extended chords and how to look at any scale and determine all the chords that can be made

Fifth you should be able to determine every Modes characteristics and what makes them different

Best,

Sean
#19
Quote by griffRG7321
Simple fool proof way to modal vamps:

take chord IV and V from the relative major and play them over the root of the mode.

Bob's your uncle.

Cool shortcut!
Oh yeah.

Quote by hildesaw
A minor is the saddest of all keys.

EDIT: D minor is the saddest of all keys.