Hey Guys,

After reading several guides, including the ones in the sticky on modes, by Freepower, theres a small point that I'm really not sure about, when applying modes to chord progressions.

Say I have the C Ionian (major) scale:

C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

Of which you can apply the chords:

C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim

Using the "major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished " pattern.

However, after noting down the chords for C in each mode, I came across something that confused the hell out of me, and I can't find anywhere that explains it.

When you have the C Aolian (Minor) scale, (applying the 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 rule, given for the Aolian mode) you get:

C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C

At that point, I had just been writing down the chords in each key, changing the tonal root, as stated in one of the guides I read on UG.

If this reasoning is correct, would the CHORDS in C Aolian be either:

1. Cm, Ddim, Eb, Fm, Gm, Ab, Bb (if we used the pattern of the scale, in the chords)

or

2. Cm, Ddim, E, Fm, Gm, A, B (if we just changed the tonal root)

?

All the guides I've read suggest the latter, though none explain in detail, however, from a theoretical point of view, it would seem that the former is true, as they are the chords of Eb, whose relative minor is Cm, but with C as the tonal root.

Following the first example, would this make the chords in C Dorian either:

1. Cm, Dm, Eb, F, Gm, Adim, Bbm

or

2. Cm, Dm, E, F, Gm, Adim, Bm

If this is a stupid question, could a mod close this?

All I'm asking, really, is do you apply the pattern of the flats and sharps in the scales of the modes, when taking into account chords, instead of the scales?

Bryn
Modal Harmony doesn't work that way; you don't harmonize modes.

The way modal harmony works is that you build a chord off of the important intervals of the mode, so you can instill the atmosphere and flavor of the mode.

So there are no longer chord progressions but chords independent of themselves changing the atmosphere of the music.
Last edited by Pillo114 at Jul 23, 2010,
Quote by Pillo114
Modal Harmony doesn't work that way; you don't harmonize modes.

The way modal harmony works is that you build a chord off of the important intervals of the mode, so you can instill the atmosphere and flavor of the mode.

I kinda understood this part in the guide, for example, would the flavour of the Ionian mode is the major 3rd and perfect 5th?
Quote by Stud_Muffin
I kinda understood this part in the guide, for example, would the flavour of the Ionian mode is the major 3rd and perfect 5th?

The major 7th and 4th more importantly, it makes it unique from the other modes, but those work too.

stack the modes like this and you'll notice the differences:

Lydian
Ionian
Mixolydian
Dorian
Aeolian
Phrygian
Locrian

They are also on your guitar that way as well. Each succeeding one has a change in interval from the previous one. Of course that any interval works, you can use C Phrygian, C dorian or Caeolian for a Cmin7 chord but the difference is in the other intervals. You want to have the unique atmosphere come out on most cases.

Check out my Little Sunflower on my profile so you can see and tell the changes from Dorian to Lydian and back.
Last edited by Pillo114 at Jul 23, 2010,
By the way not to double post but just to clear it out as well. Any scale or note combination you can come up with is also considered a "mode". So you're not limited to the 7 diatonic ones.

You're likely to never encounter modal music beyond 2 chords unless you're playing advanced jazz though, so don't worry too much about it.
I guess I'll just keep reading up on the unique differences, I saw the perfect 4th and major 7th part in the description of the ionian mode in a guide, it does make sense, to a degree, but then my knowledge of keys and basic chords is getting in the way somewhat.

Does this mean that the dorian mode is characterised by a major 6th interval, which doesnt occur in the other minor modes?

if so, does this mean that the concept of modes is only a uniqueness in atmosphere, nothing more?
Does this mean that the dorian mode is characterised by a major 6th interval, which doesnt occur in the other minor modes?

Yeah, exactly. In the end remember though, that ALL the intervals make it up so you can use any regardless.

Modal harmony is unique in the sense that it doesnt follow the rules of keys and regular tonal diatonic harmony. There's no longer the need of the progression, so instead of being a succession of chords like a story, they are little universes within themselves.

That gives you alot more freedom into how you can build chords, and arrange them together not only by tension and release. But also by chord structure, root melody, upper note melody, the color and flavor of the mode, and a bunch of other ways that normally you wouldnt be able to in regular harmony.

Most modal music is in a vamp so you can explore the flavor of that single chord though.
Ok, thanks very much for your help, I'm trying to explore other ways of songwriting, rather than following basic patterns, and I think modes would help massively in making a song sound unique, because you've helped explain that it is a unique concept, so thankyou.
No problem, they're pretty interesting just because of the amount of freedom they give you in how you can build and voice the chords any way you want, compose by colors and flavors and even let you compose melodies differently.

PM me if you have any other questions and I'll help you out or go more in depth on something.
Of course the most unique (and indeed a defining feature) of modes is that their chord progressions are extremely limited, usually consisting of one or two chords characteristic of that mode.

What both of you think are modes, are just the major and minor scales with added accidentals.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
Quote by AlanHB
Of course the most unique (and indeed a defining feature) of modes is that their chord progressions are extremely limited, usually consisting of one or two chords characteristic of that mode.

What both of you think are modes, are just the major and minor scales with added accidentals.

No, I don't fall for that.

The modal music I'm talking about is music like Wayne Shorter's, Herbie Hancock's and so on's music in the 1960's.

This music is filled with non-tonal chord progressions that at first look make no sense at all until you look at the melody and the ambient created by the chords themselves.

While that type of Impressionistic music is extremely rare to be honest, it still is waist and shoulders taller than diatonic harmony because of the extra freedoms you get from a composition viewpoint.

Yeah like I said, most "modal" music is based on So What and are just extended vamps but efforts after that in the 60s greatly expanded that notion. There's a huge difference between Miles' So What to Circle and to Filles de Killimanjaro right before he went into the fusion stuff.

Same thing happens with Shorter's and Hancock's music. If you wanted to look at it from the classic music standpoint, this would be the Debussian and Ravelian period of Impressionism.
Well said Pillo and dead on correct - before you came along, I was feeling awfully alone like a lone wolf in the wilderness, and what you have explained Ive been teaching and watching students go forth making much more interesting music of a different character for the past several years after explaining the theory and application behind modes and composition. While others suggest 2 chord vamps these students are using 7-9 chords at their disposal, just to start their ideas....Its like you said, the charactoristic note. Whatever people want to call it, its a hella lot different that what people can come up with jamming Diatonic Major scales, and Pentatonics.

Sean
Quote by Stud_Muffin
Hey Guys,

After reading several guides, including the ones in the sticky on modes, by Freepower, theres a small point that I'm really not sure about, when applying modes to chord progressions.

Say I have the C Ionian (major) scale:

C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

Of which you can apply the chords:

C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim

Using the "major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished " pattern.

However, after noting down the chords for C in each mode, I came across something that confused the hell out of me, and I can't find anywhere that explains it.

When you have the C Aolian (Minor) scale, (applying the 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 rule, given for the Aolian mode) you get:

C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C

At that point, I had just been writing down the chords in each key, changing the tonal root, as stated in one of the guides I read on UG.

If this reasoning is correct, would the CHORDS in C Aolian be either:

1. Cm, Ddim, Eb, Fm, Gm, Ab, Bb (if we used the pattern of the scale, in the chords)

or

2. Cm, Ddim, E, Fm, Gm, A, B (if we just changed the tonal root)

?

All the guides I've read suggest the latter, though none explain in detail, however, from a theoretical point of view, it would seem that the former is true, as they are the chords of Eb, whose relative minor is Cm, but with C as the tonal root.

Following the first example, would this make the chords in C Dorian either:

1. Cm, Dm, Eb, F, Gm, Adim, Bbm

or

2. Cm, Dm, E, F, Gm, Adim, Bm

If this is a stupid question, could a mod close this?

All I'm asking, really, is do you apply the pattern of the flats and sharps in the scales of the modes, when taking into account chords, instead of the scales?

Bryn

Hi Bryn.

I see where you are going wrong.

The originating scale is what is called as the parent scale. As we shift the tonal centre to a different point we get a relative mode of that scale.

In this case if we use the major scale as the parent scale we have W W H W W W H. In C this becomes C D E F G A B C. Now when we shift the tonal centre to D (the second scale degree) we get the Dorian Mode. C Major and D Dorian are RELATIVE. They share the same notes but they have different roots and different step patterns.

The root note in C Major is C and the step pattern is W W H W W W H
The root note in D Dorian is D and the step pattern is W H W W W H W

The combination of these differences means that they end up using the same set of notes.
C major is C D E F G A B C (no sharps or flats)
D Dorian is D E F G A B C D (no sharps or flats)
This is what makes them RELATIVE.

If we use the SAME root and a different step pattern then we get a PARALLEL mode or scale.

So if we use the root C and the major scale step pattern W W H W W W H we get the C Major scale C D E F G A B C.
If we use the same root C and use the Dorian Mode W H W W W H W we get
the C Dorian Mode C D E♭ F G A B♭ C.
These are called PARALLEL modes.

So that's the difference between Relative and Parallel modes.

If we consider RELATIVE modes we now know they use the same set of pitch classes. For example C Major uses C D E F G A B C. The RELATIVE Aeolian mode would shift the tonal centre to the sixth scale degree - the A. This would give us A Aeolian and the notes for A Aeolian are A B C D E F G A.

Because they use the same notes then they harmonize to the same chords - only the chords will now fulfil a different function.
So harmonizing C Major would give us C Dm Em F G Am Bdim
Harmonizing the relative Aeolian mode would give us the same chords but now the Am would be the tonic chord Am Bdim C Dm Em F G

What you have done there is used PARALLEL modes.

The parallel modes of C Major will have different parent scales a different set of notes and so a different set of chords.
C Major would be C Dm Em F G Am Bdim C

C Aeolian would be the PARALLEL mode of C Major but it's PARENT SCALE is actually a Major Sixth below C which is E♭ Major. C Aeolian would share the same notes as E♭Major. Cm Ddim E♭ Fm Gm A♭ B♭ (the first one you listed). But you see in this example you aren't shifting the tonal centre away from C you're actually KEEPING it on C or if you want to compare it to it's parent scale E♭major you're shifting the tonal centre away from E♭ to C.

As an exercise you could try listing the chords formed by harmonizing C Major and all the RELATIVE modes and then list the chords formed by harmonizing each of the PARALLEL modes to C Major. Though it does look like you have it sorted for the most part with just that one point of confusion.

Best of Luck
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Jul 24, 2010,
Whilst I can see the argument that pillo and sean are running with, the obvious question is where do you draw the line then? It seems that TS has already equalled the minor scale with the aeolian mode, should we just leave it be?

I do see that you can derive certain sounds from the modes and apply them to more traditional songs and songwriting, but just adding little bits here and there to make minor and major scales resemble their modal counterparts does not seem enough to rename them completely.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
There is no line. It overlaps and blurs. Use terminology that fits. Describe what you are thinking playing or analyzing as best you can. There are times when Modes are a valid means of doing just that. Whatever it takes to communicate an idea precisely and concisely.
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Jul 24, 2010,