#1
Dear UG Community,

Lately I finally got around to learning the modes of the Major scale. I can play scales around the entire fret board and I have a grasp(or lack thereof) of what it is to solo, but I believe that there is another level to be reached. I've been stuck with the "carpet bombing" technique, but I know music has more to offer. Furthermore, learning this theory is useless if I can not apply it. Please help me out!

What I am interested in is how to use these modes. I know the names of each and how they relate to one another including their place on the fretboard, amount of sharps/flats, etc, but their use is my primary concern. Supposedly some modes (provided specific emphasis on some notes) change the mood? Please clarify how this is done, or provide the reality to the myth.

In addition, please elaborate on how you use modes in relation to specific things you like to do for soloing. For example, do you like to emphasize the root of each chord played, or do you have something else that works? Perhaps there are some core fundamentals you like to use no matter what or you have some other interesting ideas.

I appreciate anything you bring to the table.

By the way, if there are any lessons/tutorials/threads that answer these questions please direct me to them.

Thanks,

Alex
A-mart
#3
Quote by stratplyr01
Dear UG Community,

Lately I finally got around to learning the modes of the Major scale. I can play scales around the entire fret board and I have a grasp(or lack thereof) of what it is to solo, but I believe that there is another level to be reached. I've been stuck with the "carpet bombing" technique, but I know music has more to offer. Furthermore, learning this theory is useless if I can not apply it. Please help me out!

What I am interested in is how to use these modes. I know the names of each and how they relate to one another including their place on the fretboard, amount of sharps/flats, etc, but their use is my primary concern. Supposedly some modes (provided specific emphasis on some notes) change the mood? Please clarify how this is done, or provide the reality to the myth.

In addition, please elaborate on how you use modes in relation to specific things you like to do for soloing. For example, do you like to emphasize the root of each chord played, or do you have something else that works? Perhaps there are some core fundamentals you like to use no matter what or you have some other interesting ideas.

I appreciate anything you bring to the table.

By the way, if there are any lessons/tutorials/threads that answer these questions please direct me to them.

Thanks,

Alex

In all honesty I'm unsure if modes are going to give you the answers you're looking for. They aren't really an evolution or progression of the stuff you currently know, they're more an offsohoot - a different way of understanding music.

Modes in the modern world are all about context. Music nowadays is far more varied and free from restrictions than it used to be in the days when the modes were really prevalent and that makes it much harder to apply them. Most of the time the theory behind the major scale is more than enough to explain what's going on.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that modes have nothing to do with shapes, patterns or "where you start playing from". They're all about sound - modes are harmonically unstable, they don't really resolve in the way we've grown accustomed to things resolving. That means you have to first provide a musical context suitable for using them.

I'll use D dorian as an example - D Dorian has the same notes as C major. The major scale is ingrained in everyone's brain, it's how we're used to hearing music. If you hear those notes, or make chords from them most of the time you'll end up with something in C major or the relative minor of Am. To make those notes behave and sound like D Dorian you need to pin things down, fix the tonal centre somewhere else and stop it drifting back to the stronger major or minor. The easiest way to do that is with a static droning bassline - if you have a constant bassline of D notes and use the notes of C major over it they'll become D dorian because you're keeping everything away from those powerful C and A tones.

You can use chords too, ideally a one or two chord vamp highlighting the signature intervals of the mode. However the more complicated the song becomes the more likely it's going to stray back to the major or minor tonics - if you want to start using modes over sequences of chords you have to be very considered about your choice of notes.

In modern music the key is, well, key...if you have a chord progression that resolves to a chord then that chord is your tonic and will dictate the root of any scales you use over it. Typically the chord changes in contemporary music aren't going to influence the overall tonality of a song, if it's in C major then it's in C major regardless of which chords you use or how often they change...you don't have odd things occuring like the mode changing with each chord or anything like that, it simply doesn't happen. You *can* fit into a modal passage within a song but that usually involves dropping out of the main structure and playing over a single chord or simpler vamp for an extended period - typically it takes around 9 seconds to replace the old tonal centre in the listeners mind. Joe Satriani is arguably a master of that particular compositional technique.

The most sensible thing to do when looking at music is to see if the simple approach works, if the major scale and keys explain it all then there's nothing much to be gained from trying to overcomplicate matters.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Sep 6, 2010,
#4
Well do you understand which modes are enharmonic (the same)? As in C Ionian has the same notes as D Dorian. And the order is Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian. If you're in the key of C playing the chord Dminor, you use D Dorian to create melodies over it, which is the same as the C major scale with an emphasis on the notes D, F, B, and C, because those are the characteristic notes of D Dorian, the degrees (degree 1 being D) 1, 3, 6, and 7. Or if you were playing over the chord Eminor in the key of Cmajor, you'd use E Phrygian. To use E Phrygian, you use the C major scale with an emphasis on Phrygian's characteristic notes. To learn the characteristic notes of every mode, go here:

http://www.guitarlessons.com/guitar-lessons/guitar-modes.php

scroll down to where it let's you click on a link for each mode, then each mode has a video and a description.

The different modes do have different feelings, and some of them, being very commonly used, have othr names too, like Ionian is the major scale and Aeolian is the natural/relative minor scale. There's a thread here that describes each mode's sound:

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=997405

Check out all the mode threads in the top of the musician talk forum.

A function of modes I recently learned is soloing over non-diatonic chords. A non-diatonic chord is a chord that isn't in key. So if the chord progression is in the key of C, and you use Cmajor add#11, you have to find a scale or mode which every note of that chord fits into, and every note of Cmajor add#11 fits into C Lydian. The only difference between C Ionian and C Lydian is that #11 or #4 (same thing). C Ionian is CDEFGABC, C Lydian is CDEF#ABC. that F# is that #11. Or, if you used Cdominant 7, the only mode that works is C Mixolydian, which is FGAA#BCDEF, that A# note is in the chord and isn't in the key of Cmajor, or C Ionian, so you need to use Mixolydian, which contains that A#.

Then there's pitch axis theory, which I think you can learn from the sticky threads about modes.

Another idea I consider "modal" is moving the pentatonic scale for each chord. Whether this is really using modes or not, I have no idea, but this works for any chords except for augmented or diminished. Actually I think there are pentatonic scales for those to, but I haven't learned them. For augmented or diminished chords I'd use different scales, like the whole-tone scale over audmented, and the half-whole diminished or whole-half diminished over the diminished chords.

So the way you use the pentatonic scales like this is major pentatonic over each major chord, and minor pentatonic over each minor chord. Like in the progression Dminor, Gdominant7, Cmajor, you would use the Dminor pentatonic scale, then Gmajor pentatonic scale, then Cmajor pentatonic scale. When using power chords, you have to know what is diatonic to the key you're using. If you use the power chord G5 in the key of C, you should know to use the Gmajor pentatonic scale, not Gminor, because the Gminor chord is non-diatonic in the key of C.

But if you're using two power chords and you don't know wat key you're really in, you have options depending on what sound you want. So F5, G5 is you're progression and yu have options. F could be the degree 2, and G could be the degree 3, in which case you'd use Dorian and/or Phrygian or the minor pentatonic scale for each because the 2nd and 3rd chords are always minor. Or these chords could be 1 and 2, in which case you'd use F Ionian and/or G Dorian, or the F major pentatonic scale and G minor pentatonic scale. And then these chords could also be 4 and 5, which would mean you use Lydian and Mixolydian or the major pentatonic scale for each. If you alter or extend these power chords, you don't have as many options, like if F5 becomes F5add7, you need to use F major pentatonic or F Lydian or F Ionian, because those modes include that 7 note.

Then, if you're a rhythm guitarist, there's modal chord progressions. In the mode E Phrygian, a common modal progression would be Eminor, Fmajor, or E5, F5, or whatever else you can figure out works in that same way. The reason behind this progression is that a characteristic interval in Phrygian is the half step between the 1st and 2nd note, so a chord progression that would represent that would obviously be made up of chords based on those 2 notes. If the resolving chord is 2, you're using a progression in Dorian, if its 3, Phrygian, etc. Technically, I think all of your progressions would be modal, because if it resolves to 1, that's Ionian, its just a different way of thinking about it. And then of course there's chords characteristic of each mode, which I sort of went over earlier, like how a chord with a #11 is in Lydian, and a dominant7 chord is Mixolydian.

Hope all this helped! Let me know if you don't understand anything.
#6
Quote by TMVATDI
If you're in the key of C playing the chord Dminor, you use D Dorian to create melodies over it, which is the same as the C major scale with an emphasis on the notes D, F, B, and C, because those are the characteristic notes of D Dorian, the degrees (degree 1 being D) 1, 3, 6, and 7. Or if you were playing over the chord Eminor in the key of Cmajor, you'd use E Phrygian. To use E Phrygian, you use the C major scale with an emphasis on Phrygian's characteristic notes. To learn the characteristic notes of every mode, go here:

You could think of it as using D Dorian over Dm in the key of C, but it's really just C major. If you're in C major, you can only use the C major scale or the other parallel C modes that the progression/context allow.
You won't be getting a modal sound by doing that unless the tonal center actually changes from C major.

Perhaps you meant something like this?
If you're playing a Dm chord (and that's the tonal center) and you play the notes of C major, you're using D Dorian.

In which case I would agree.

Emphasizing the characteristics of D Dorian but with it still resolving to C major will just be C major. Even if you end on D/Dm to 'resolve' it, it will just sound incomplete and unresolved.
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Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Sep 6, 2010,
#7
playing modes against traditional diatonic harmony is frustrating at best...trying to set a point of resolution is futal...

a full understanding of diatonic harmony should be intergrated in your playing and then the study of modes and their application... in todays music..jazz and fusion sounds seem to welcome non-diatonic harmony with ease...(john mclaughlin, herbie hancock, chick correa etc)

this would take a concentrated study to see the working of how "modes" are used in these types of music...to use modes with some knowledge takes time...its not just playing a string of notes over a chord...although in another sense is it...its the understanding that your not going toward something or away from something..as in diatonic harmony...your already THERE...

in a nutshell..when thinking/playing in a modal framework in todays music (as apposed to Renaissance music) the harmonic framework is not part of a "key center" thus allowing modes to be expressed without restriction of the "push pull" of a tonic or dominate function.

this is not the only dynamic in this style of playing but it is one of the most powerful examples of it...

play well

wolf
#8
Quote by wolflen
playing modes against traditional diatonic harmony is frustrating at best...trying to set a point of resolution is futal...

a full understanding of diatonic harmony should be intergrated in your playing and then the study of modes and their application... in todays music..jazz and fusion sounds seem to welcome non-diatonic harmony with ease...(john mclaughlin, herbie hancock, chick correa etc)

this would take a concentrated study to see the working of how "modes" are used in these types of music...to use modes with some knowledge takes time...its not just playing a string of notes over a chord...although in another sense is it...its the understanding that your not going toward something or away from something..as in diatonic harmony...your already THERE...

in a nutshell..when thinking/playing in a modal framework in todays music (as apposed to Renaissance music) the harmonic framework is not part of a "key center" thus allowing modes to be expressed without restriction of the "push pull" of a tonic or dominate function.

this is not the only dynamic in this style of playing but it is one of the most powerful examples of it...

play well

wolf



This, basically. Get a better grasp of harmony, particularly non-diatonic or non-functional. This is assuming you already have a firm grasp on diatonic harmony, however.
#9
I have two things for you to read...

1. http://lessons.mikedodge.com/lessons/MusicTheory/Diatonic/DiatonicTOC.htm This will explain (in-depth) the harmony found in one Diatonic scale

2. http://lessons.mikedodge.com/lessons/MusicTheory/Diatonic/ModalExample1.htm This will explain how to handle and find the next level when you end up with chords in a Key and chords not in the Key.

Once you understand the inside and outside Key application then delve into these great tunes that utilize modal aspects and will take what you learned above to the next level from a musical perspective...

So What by Miles Davis - Dorian
Impressions - Dorian
Maiden Voyage by Herbie Handcock - Dorian
Song for John by Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea - Lydian with tensions
Km-Pee-Du-Wee by Steve Vai - Lydian
Norwegian Wood the Beatles - Mixolydian and Dorian
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed by The Allman Brothers - Dorian
Windows by Chick Corea - Lydian
Moondance - Dorian and Aeolian
More Ravi Shankar and Shakti than you can shake a stick at!

I suggest you look up the original versions of these songs on youtube or your favorite music site and pick one or two and give them a try. I would stay away from live versions to start since modal music can go off the deep end pretty quick in live expression.

I have a BUNCH of Modal lessons if you're interested, and can explain many of the tunes listed above. But first read those two links I posted in their entirety.
Last edited by MikeDodge at Sep 7, 2010,