#1
Can someone please explain to me what pitch axis theory is?
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Quote by theogonia777
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#2
Basically, it's the idea that you can change to parallel modes over a single pedal tone.

Like if I held out a C and just played over it, I have a potential of 7 different modes and 2 scales to use:

C Ionian
C Dorian
C Phrygian
C Lydian
C Mixolydian
C Aeolian
C Locrian

C Minor
C Major

though some would argue that C Ionian and C Major are the same.

To solo using the PA theory you could start in C Ionian and then after a phrase change it to C Phrygian and after a phrase go to C Locrian.

This is pretty much it.

But you NEED a Pitch to Axis on. There MUST be some sort of held note for this to work.

EDIT: The guy below is right too... you CAN do it with chords, but it makes it just a wee bit harder. With a C Major you only have 3 Modes to choose from, with C Minor you have 3, C Diminished you have 1. CM7 you have 2, C7: 1, so on and so forth.
Last edited by DiminishedFifth at Jun 9, 2010,
#3
Quote by Wikipedia
Pitch axis theory suggests that for each mode, there is a chord that accompanies it. When that chord occurs, the corresponding mode should be used for the melody or for soloing.


link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitch_axis_theory
different description: http://www.guitartricks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=18077

that quote basically sums it up. using modal scales for chords that suggest a particular mode.
#4
Quote by DiminishedFifth
EDIT: The guy below is right too... you CAN do it with chords, but it makes it just a wee bit harder. With a C Major you only have 3 Modes to choose from, with C Minor you have 3, C Diminished you have 1. CM7 you have 2, C7: 1, so on and so forth.

By this, you mean that 2 of the modes in C have the chord tones of CM7 in them? And that 1 of the modes in C has the chord tones of C7?
Call me Andrew. It's my name.

Quote by theogonia777
i fond God too, man! i sat next to him on the bus once. he told be the meaning of life and then gave me a pretzel. i can't remember what the meaning of live was, but it was a good pretzel, man!
#6
Here's a modal progression that should clear up misconceptions.

An example...
progression: F/G -- G13 -- Em7 -- D/E
modal view: G-mixo -- same -- E-dorian -- same
key centers: C major -- same -- D major -- same
pitch-axis: G mixo -- same -- G lydian -- same

What you want to focus on is the key centers. Remember that in the key of D major, the IV is G, thus why you can play in G lydian.

Questions?
Last edited by STONESHAKER at Jun 10, 2010,
#7
so would this be the reason for the use of power chord's? no 3rd would leave it open to
any scale wouldn't suggest major or minor.

not saying that switching through all the major and minor scale's over one chord progression would sound good though .
#8
Quote by modem
so would this be the reason for the use of power chord's? no 3rd would leave it open to
any scale wouldn't suggest major or minor.

not saying that switching through all the major and minor scale's over one chord progression would sound good though .

Powerchords could be ideal, but not as ideal as a single note. Using a single note, such as C, leaves you all of those options. However, using the C powerchord, which is just C and G, limits you to not be able to use Locrian, seeing as it has a diminished fifth. Its still versatile, but not as versatile as a pedaled C
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#9
Pitch axis theory is basically cycling through modes with the same tonal centre.

Lets take Not Of This Earth by Satriani for example.

The chords are Emaj13 Em7b6 Emaj13 and E7sus

Over the Emaj13 he plays Lydian, (the 11th isn't included in the chord)

Over the Em7b6 he plays Aeolian and over the E7sus he plays Mixolydian.

Check out the tapping break in Satch boogie too, another example of pitch axis.

Off the top of my head some other songs which use Pitch axis:

The riddle - Steve Vai
With Jupiter in Mind- Satch
Attack - Satch
Clouds race across the sky - Satch

The way Satch uses modes is really quite clever and inventive, like in flying in a blue dream (not pitch axis but still modal so i'l write it anyway).

The song puts a twist on the standard 12 bar blues progression. The dominant 7ths being replaced by a series of Lydian chords with some interesting voicings using a quintal harmony approach (Stacked 5ths with tone clusters). The expected move to F actually goes to Ab, then to G, to F and comes back to C.

Ab, G, and F lydian are used appropriately.
#10
So for using this with chords...
If I were using C Ionian, C Dorian, C Phyrgian etc. would the chords I use under that also have a root of C?

If I had a C7 chord for example that means I could use C Mixolydian over it?
Quote by DiminishedFifth
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#11
Quote by FacetOfChaos
So for using this with chords...
If I were using C Ionian, C Dorian, C Phyrgian etc. would the chords I use under that also have a root of C?

If I had a C7 chord for example that means I could use C Mixolydian over it?

That means you could ONLY use C Mixolydian over it.
#12
Pitch Axis is a concept that certain players use to memorize and play scales and the sounds of the scales and the chords they produce.

As far as I understand it's not necessarily a real method but more of a concept/term Satriani came up with for moving through chords that have the same Root, musically. Or, looking at all the chords and scale from one Root or the next closest Root.

Music wise in modal music it would simply be considered/termed as Tonal-Center.

For instance, the jazz classic Night and Day has this progression in the verse:

||: Bmaj7 | Bb7 | Ebmaj7 | Ebmaj7 :||

People who get all caught up in Modal terms would think:

Bmaj7 = B Lydian
Bb7 = Bb Mixolydian
Ebmaj7 = Eb Ionian

But what I've found is many people 'thinking/playing" over this progression are simply using this:

Bmaj7 = Eb Aeolian
Bb7 = Eb Ionian
Ebmaj7 = Eb Ionian (or Eb Lydian too)

So what you get is this simple Eb Minor to Eb Major sound. The Tonal-Center in this verse is Eb, and the scales 'progress' as a Minor to Major sound.

Once you see this idea you see everything in it's simple 'nutshell' and you'll find that 'thinking' simpler like this actually frees up your playing as opposed to thinking "this scale to this scale to this scale" where you instead nail the underlying musical factors...Minor->Major from the same Root.

Record that progression and play Eb Aeolian to Eb Ionian/Lydian. You'll be amazed at how tight it sounds.

This Minor->Major sound is one thing but there are also Major->Minor sounds too...take a IIm-V-I in C:

||: Dm7 | G7 | Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 :||

Most players 'think' D Dorian, G Mixolydian, C Ionian right? But the problem with this is they COMPLETELY miss the altered sounds over the G7. So players who don't think but instead play over this progression play C Major, G Altered, C Major. So, now you've narrow things down scale wise.

Now follow me...


The chord built from the m3 of Dm7 is Fmaj7 or Fmaj9, and the chord built from the b7 of the G7 altered scale is a Fm7b5 chord. Players can use this F Major to F Minor sound as a Tonal-Center moving to C. So...try this...

Dm7 = Fmaj7 arpeggio
G7 = Fm7 arpeggio
Cmaj7 = C Ionian

Just use Fm7 instead of Fm7b5 since it will sit nicely as part of G Altered but also C Ionian. So F is the Tonal-Center for a while before moving to C.

Now you have a simple Major->Minor move for a IIm-V progression that covers the bases pretty good.

All in all, while Pitch Axis seems like this cool technical thing, but it's been part of Modal playing and Tonal-Centers forever.
Last edited by MikeDodge at Jun 10, 2010,
#13
wonder why they called it pitch axis why didn't they just say im playing parallel
major or minors?
#14
Quote by fretboard12
wonder why they called it pitch axis why didn't they just say im playing parallel
major or minors?

Satch coined it.

My guess is because you are treating the pitch like an axis and going in and out between the parallel modes.

It's also a lot easier to say "Pitch Axis" than it is to say "I'm playing parallel modes".
#15
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Satch coined it.

My guess is because you are treating the pitch like an axis and going in and out between the parallel modes.

It's also a lot easier to say "Pitch Axis" than it is to say "I'm playing parallel modes".

^ + 1

It's also more marketable. "ohhhh pitch axis.... that sounds advanced...... must learn"


as stated in the 2nd post, it's really quite a simple idea. (though it does require a certain level of knowledge)

Quote by DiminishedFifth
Basically, it's the idea that you can change to parallel modes over a single pedal tone.


thats what it is in a nutshell.

and my personal guess is that Satriani coined the term to sell his instructional DVDS, but was not the 1st one ever to explore the idea of changing keys around a single common pitch.
(no offense to Satch..... what he does with it IS cool).
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jun 10, 2010,
#16
Quote by GuitarMunky
^ + 1

It's also more marketable. "ohhhh pitch axis.... that sounds advanced...... must learn"


as stated in the 2nd post, it's really quite a simple idea. (though it does require a certain level of knowledge)


thats what it is in a nutshell.

and my personal guess is that Satriani coined the term to sell his instructional DVDS, but was not the 1st one ever to explore the idea of changing keys around a single common pitch.
(no offense to Satch..... what he does with it IS cool).


Satch has instructional DVDs?

And yeah in interviews he says he learn pitch axis off his guitar teacher, was some jazz guy i cant remember.
#17
Quote by griffRG7321
Satch has instructional DVDs?

And yeah in interviews he says he learn pitch axis off his guitar teacher, was some jazz guy i cant remember.


I think so.... I see vids on You Tube. I assumed they are taken from DVD's, and I thought I remember seeing some at the music store. Could be wrong though, since I never owned any of them.
shred is gaudy music
#18
Satriani likes it too. Did my post help anyone? I thought I explained it pretty well. If not let me know so I can elaborate.