I'm just starting to figure out modes and get a little more interested in theory. I was wondering are the modes just the fingerings used in the CAGED system for major scales? Are the mode fingerings the same in every key?
NO!! It's best to think of modes as scales that, although derived from the major scale, cannot be interchanged directly with the major scale.

You are learning scale positions. Each of those positions are the major scale, just started at a different point in the scale.

The difference is that, even if you start on the second note of the C major scale, if the song resolves to C, you cannot be playing in D dorian. You'll still be playing in C major. To play D dorian, the piece must resolve to D, and use the notes in C major.

It's best to not think of playing C major and resolving to D, but to think of D dorian, resolving to D. Then you're using modes.

Edit: But for now, just hold off on modes. Learn the major scale, its intervals and diatonic triads, then look at modes.
Oh yeah.

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Last edited by hockeyplayer168 at Jun 14, 2010,
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I'm just starting to figure out modes and get a little more interested in theory. I was wondering are the modes just the fingerings used in the CAGED system for major scales? Are the mode fingerings the same in every key?

Functionally you can use them in that way if the underlying progression is modal. Its a question of form versus function. Because the guitar fingerboard lends itself to pattern based playing you have only half of the answer, knowing when you are functioning modally is the other part because the harmonic gravity will center on the central modal root, if its used right, but its very hard to do unless you simply use them over a pedal tone. For example Drone an E bass and nothing but an E Bass while using a Caged C Major anything and the harmonic gravity will pull to an E because of the droning E in the bass.

For the vast majority of people who don't know what they are doing, their experience with modes will most likely be a variation of improvising over a major or minor key and the simple function will be major and minor and not modal.

The steps needed to intelligently understand and apply modes are substantial.

Best,

Sean
I obviously need to go back and learn more theory before I move onto modes. I just kinda wanted to get an idea of what they were. So if I'm playing a C major scale but starting on the D note and emphasizing D, that's D Dorian?
No - modes are nothing to do with "where you start" , context is everything. What you're playing over is just as important as what you're playing.
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I obviously need to go back and learn more theory before I move onto modes. I just kinda wanted to get an idea of what they were. So if I'm playing a C major scale but starting on the D note and emphasizing D, that's D Dorian?

NO....

D dorian is it's own scale even though it shares the same key signature as C Major (no sharps or flats),

C Major = C D E F G A B C

formula = W W H W W W H

D dorian = D E F G A B C D

formula = W H W W W H W

2 different scales, with 2 different formulas/sounds..... applicable in 2 different places.
(C Major over a C Major progression...... D dorian over a D dorian progression or vamp)

If you spend time studying harmony from The Major/minor tonal system, that will better prepare you to understand modes. I would definitely recommend spending some quality time there.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jun 15, 2010,
Judging by your name, chinacat, I'm guessing that you like the Grateful Dead (I do too). If this is the case, do not listen to a single word on any Dead forums about modes. You will just get confused by completely wrong information. Listen to these guys here.
"His name is Robert Paulson"
Last edited by Unlockitall at Jun 15, 2010,
What would be a D Dorian progression?

EDIT: And is the CAGED system pretty much just good for learning major scales up the neck and applying them to a chord shape?
Quote by chinacat420
What would be a D Dorian progression?

EDIT: And is the CAGED system pretty much just good for learning major scales up the neck and applying them to a chord shape?

a progression in the key of no sharps and flats..... that points to Dm as the place of resolution.
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Quote by chinacat420
What would be a D Dorian progression?

EDIT: And is the CAGED system pretty much just good for learning major scales up the neck and applying them to a chord shape?

Well modal progressions are generally much more strict than that of a normal diatonic piece. I'm still learning about them so I can't help that much but the easiest way to keep it centered is to have a static D note or Dm chord playing in the background so it wants to really resolve to D. For progressions you want to use chords that have the characteristics of the mode and that resolve where we need it to.

Yeah, pretty much. It don't think it will help you with modes at all except for knowing the fretboard and major scale over the neck.
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I obviously need to go back and learn more theory before I move onto modes. I just kinda wanted to get an idea of what they were. So if I'm playing a C major scale but starting on the D note and emphasizing D, that's D Dorian?

Theoretically it's possible, however as the others said context is everything, you cannot simply emphasise the D because the second you play a B C leading tone, you've hijacked the melody. You must construct a melody in such a way that it feels like its centered and wants to resolve on D, it can be done if you're Miles Davis and Mike Dodge, but the vast majority of people know better to not even try and delude themselves. So while theoretically possible, the most honest answer is No.

Best,

Sean
dont learn the "CAGED" system its horrendous, like these guys say first learn the major/minor scales, start out by doing one octave, 3 notes a string. theres three sensible ways to play it (starting with your index finger, starting with your middle, and starting with you little finger), and once you know them its really easy to connect 2+ octaves. and its a lot easier to approach the modes