#1
Well I have this backing track in E minor. When someone says "backing track in E minor", I think about the E minor scale and the E minor modes I can use to improvise over it.

But since this chord progression in the backing track is based on E minor, how can a minor mode sound well even though I'm playing over chords that are not Em? The chord notes are different from the Em ones, and the chord notes are all present in the E minor scale, not in the different minor modes.
#2
If the backing track is in Em, then you solo in Em. That's it. There are no modes involved.

I have no idea what you're talking about in your second question.
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#3
Quote by rockingamer2
If the backing track is in Em, then you solo in Em. That's it. There are no modes involved.

I have no idea what you're talking about in your second question.

This.

You're talking gibberish man.
#4
Since the BT is in E minor, I thought I could use all the 3 minor modes to solo over it:
E Dorian
E Phrygian
E Aeolian

But I can only use E Aeolian, right?
#5
Quote by Duarteman
Since the BT is in E minor, I thought I could use all the 3 minor modes to solo over it:
E Dorian
E Phrygian
E Aeolian

But I can only use E Aeolian, right?

You could use whatever you want.

You're still just going to be in E Minor.
#6
If the backing track is in E minor, all things are looked at from the perspective of E minor. When you play an E minor mode over that, this perspective doesn't shift -- it rips the modes of their authenticity, so to speak. Sure, when you play E Phrygian over it you'll still be hitting that b2, but it won't have an authentic modal sound. If that doesn't matter to you then go on right ahead. But be forewarned, there's no guarantee that that b2 won't clash with a nat 2.
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#7
Quote by Eastwinn
If the backing track is in E minor, all things are looked at from the perspective of E minor. When you play an E minor mode over that, this perspective doesn't shift -- it rips the modes of their authenticity, so to speak. Sure, when you play E Phrygian over it you'll still be hitting that b2, but it won't have an authentic modal sound. If that doesn't matter to you then go on right ahead. But be forewarned, there's no guarantee that that b2 won't clash with a nat 2.

Yeah if the BT contains the F#dim chord and I hit the b2 on the E Phrygian scale the results can be unpleasant, right?
#8
That would do the trick. An F over a D Major would also most likely sound terrible.

In fact, unless the F is used as a passing tone, it would probably sound bad over a diatonic Em progression. When you start dealing with chromatic progressions, things change, but that's probably not much of your concern at this point.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#10
Like the guy above, which chords are not in E minor which are giving you a hard time? Usually you use accidentals to compensate for the chords which are out of place in the key.
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#11
Is OP maybe confusing 'E minor chord' with 'E minor key' ?

Or does the OP not yet know that a key doesnt neccesarily need to have the tonic played, only implied? A key is nothing more than a collection of notes & chords and a context to imply a relationship between those. You dont neccesarily need to play any of those, as long as the context has been established that is.
#12
Quote by Duarteman
Well I have this backing track in E minor. When someone says "backing track in E minor", I think about the E minor scale and the E minor modes I can use to improvise over it.


Well you can use those...kinda...it depends on the rest of the harmony. You can play the E dorian scale over an E minor progression (because you're really just adding the major 6th) as long as it doesn't clash horribly with any of the chords. This is- I think- what you're talking about in your second question...


But since this chord progression in the backing track is based on E minor, how can a minor mode sound well even though I'm playing over chords that are not Em? The chord notes are different from the Em ones, and the chord notes are all present in the E minor scale, not in the different minor modes.


Lets get one thing straight: if the chord progression is in E minor, then you're in E minor. Makes sense, right?

Now, you can use the E dorian SCALE over that (dorian is essentially the natural minor with a major 6th), but you're not now in E dorian! What you're doing is playing the major 6th (a C#) over an E minor progression- for effect, for that sound.

To really make sense of this kind of modal playing you have to understand each chord individually and each scale tone you're playing over it. Because you're not "in the key" of E dorian, or E phrygian, you can't just say "this chord progression is in E minor, I can play E dorian over it". You can say "this is an E minor chord, I can play E dorian over it".

Hope that makes sense. If you don't yet understand this stuff, I wouldn't recommend learning it yet.
#13
Yeah I got it, I was making some confusion over the Keys. I think I understood it now. If I am in the Key of E minor (not knowing what chords are being used at all), its best for me to use the E minor scale. I know that I'm using another mode relative to E minor when I'm using the E minor scale but the background chord is in the Key of Em but not the chord Em.

If I have a progression in E minor and I know the chord progression, then I can use other modes on purpose to solo over the chords, individually. For example, if the chord being played at the moment in the BT is Em, then I can use any E minor mode over it, but when the chord changes it's better to find another compatible mode for that new chord, unless I'm using E dorian (E minor scale), which is compatible (since the BT is in the key of E minor).
#14
Quote by Duarteman
If I have a progression in E minor and I know the chord progression, then I can use other modes on purpose to solo over the chords, individually. For example, if the chord being played at the moment in the BT is Em, then I can use any E minor mode over it, but when the chord changes it's better to find another compatible mode for that new chord, unless I'm using E dorian (E minor scale), which is compatible (since the BT is in the key of E minor).
Eh, not quite.

Say you have a i iv v in E minor (Em Am Bm). If you were to play E minor (aeolian) over the i, A dorian over the iv and B phrygian over the v, you are really just playing E minor over the whole thing. If the song modulated twice, tonicizing each chord, then this method is plausible.

I already explained the idea behind root notes once today, so I'll copy and paste that so I don't have to explain it again, because I'm lazy.

Edit: Maybe I didn't. I mentioned it but I didn't really go into detail.

Anyways, here's how it works. Let's take a progression in E minor. We'll use the same progression as before, Em Am Bm. Say you play an A over the A minor chord. You wouldn't call this A the tonic, because E is still the tonic. You'd have to modulate in order for the tonic to no longer be E. As long as the song remains in the original key, the tonic is still E. Certain techniques (such as secondary dominants) do tonicize other chords, but this is still too temporary to really label as a modulation.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Aug 3, 2010,
#15
Yeah I know that. In that progression I can use the E minor scale over all the chords, and I know I'm using different modes over the Bm and the Am, although they are relative to the E minor scale.

But I can spice it and, for example, use E phrygian in the Em, A Dorian in Am and B Aeolian in the Bm. Right?

EDIT: I was wrong in the other posts. When I was talking about E dorian being the E minor scale, what I really meant was E Aeolian.
Last edited by Duarteman at Aug 3, 2010,
#16
Quote by Duarteman
Yeah I know that. In that progression I can use the E minor scale over all the chords, and I know I'm using different modes over the Bm and the Am, although they are relative to the E minor scale.
But you're not using different modes over the Bm and the Am. You're still using the same mode/scale. It's all E minor/aeolian.

Quote by Duarteman
But I can spice it and, for example, use E aeolian in the Em, A Dorian in Am and B phrygian in the Bm. Right?
Fixed, at least I think that's what you meant.

To answer though, no you can't. Even if you're thinking you're doing that, you're not, it's all still E minor (aeolian).

Although if you did in fact mean it the way you wrote it, then you're partially right. You could use different modes of the same root if you wanted to (such as the E phrygian you were talking about, the other two are out of the question since they have different tonics). This is called modal interchange.

I just remembered it wasn't I that made that post about roots/tonics, it was DiminishedFifth. I'll link you to that post in a minute.

Edit: Ah, found it. It was actually Eastwinn. I think this was the one I'm thinking of.

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showpost.php?p=24896719&postcount=20

I guess it may not be a perfect explanation since it's out of context, but I think it might help a bit.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Aug 3, 2010,
#17
Lol I used bad examples! I really know what you mean, but I'm going to reformulate one sentence in my last post:

But I can spice it and, for example, use E phrygian in the Em, A Eolian in Am and B Dorian in the Bm. Right? (now I'm not playing the E minor scale all over them, the last examples were "coincidence", and this proves that I don't know modes very well lol, I have to practice a lot)
Last edited by Duarteman at Aug 3, 2010,
#18
Quote by Duarteman
But I can spice it and, for example, use E phrygian in the Em, A Eolian in Am and B Dorian in the Bm. Right? (now I'm not playing the E minor scale all over them, the last examples were "coincidence", and this proves that I don't know modes very well lol, I have to practice a lot)
No, you can't. Like I said, they all have different roots, which is an issue.

You could do something like this:

E phrygian over the Em chord, E aeolian over the Am chord, and E dorian over the B minor chord.

Notice how the tonic doesn't change when the chord changes? This is the correct way to go about it.

Say I had a progression that goes Em F#° G Am Bm C D (Em). You can't just play E minor over the Em, F# locrian over the F#°, G major over the G, A minor over the Am, etc. because those all have different root notes. You can make alterations to your scale, but you can't just switch root notes to "spice it up." It doesn't work that way. E is the root note over that whole progression, thus playing a scale with a different root note just doesn't work.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#19
You can actually find out more about tonics in my signature.. the tension and resolution link.

One thing that a lot of people seem to miss is that you don't control the tonic. It's a natural phenomenon. You don't "make" D be the tonic in E minor -- whatever is the tonic will be the tonic. When the tonic changes, that's called modulation, and that doesn't happen within chord progressions*. As long as the tonic is still E, B Dorian won't sound like B Dorian, it will just keep sounding like E minor. It's totally fine to think of it as B Dorian if that helps you think, but you have to recognize that it's all in your head there.

When you step forth into modern modality, such tricks are everywhere. Modern modality teaches you to treat each chord as it's own island. Now, if you're taught properly, you'll know that B Dorian and E minor will sound the same when they're used that way. The real reason for doing it becomes apparent later, when it's needed for mental organization. Without thinking of it that way it would be like multiplying 1275 and 49 in your head

*Except for sometimes.
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#20
Quote by food1010
No, you can't. Like I said, they all have different roots, which is an issue.

You could do something like this:

E phrygian over the Em chord, E aeolian over the Am chord, and E dorian over the B minor chord.

I didnt understand this.

I've mentioned this: "E phrygian in the Em, A Eolian in Am and B Dorian in Bm"

And you are simply changing the roots? That's going to change all the scale into a completely different. I think that, in your point of view, instead of using those modes, I could use:
E phrygian in Em; E phrygian in Am (since it's relative to A Eolian); E Eolian in Bm (since it's relative to B dorian). And that's because like Easwinn said, we simply can't control the tonic.
#21
Quote by Duarteman
I didnt understand this.

I've mentioned this: "E phrygian in the Em, A Eolian in Am and B Dorian in Bm"

And you are simply changing the roots? That's going to change all the scale into a completely different. I think that, in your point of view, instead of using those modes, I could use:
E phrygian in Em; E phrygian in Am (since it's relative to A Eolian); E Eolian in Bm (since it's relative to B dorian). And that's because like Easwinn said, we simply can't control the tonic.
Sure, that would be perfect. I was just trying to make the point that Eastwinn was making, that you don't control the root.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea