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#1
I'm trying to learn how to actually use modes, but I haven't been able to find ANYTHING on the internet that really helps me. I read in some places that it based on the "tonic center", and I really don't understand any of it. Can somebody give me a brief rundown on how to properly use modes, or at least give me a link to a site that explains it well?
#2
Use a droning Note. Don't change it. Play the mode. Don't change the droning note in the background.

That or make sure you understand and mastered diatonic harmony, and understand chord composition, and extended chords, Like if I walked up to you and said, Play me an A Maj7 #11 you need to be able to do so, and tell me what's the significance of the #11 and what mode does it suggest.

Do that, and you'll be on your way. Modes arent just like pentatonics over power chords, if you are used to that sort of thing.

If you don't like answer 2 go back to a droning note, play the mode, and never change the droning note. Or, chances are you'll end up playing a minor or major key and not a mode at all. I teach advanced modal composition and analysis last after everything else for that reason....its not something that you walk right in and understand, you need a framework to build it off of.

Or...drone a note and play the mode, and never change the droning note.

Best,

Sean
#4
Take a simple chord progression. Find the degrees of each chords root note. Try switching to the relevant mode when the chord changes.
#6
The tonic is the first scale degree of the diatonic scale and the tonal center or final resolution tone. For example in C major the tonic is C in A minor the tonic is A
Read the Unorthodox Tonalities lessons here or get the Mark E. Boling's Jazz Theory Work book or J.P Befumo's Exotic Scales book
#7
That vid is great, but there's one tiny thing I disagree with: he said that it was fine if you learned them as "mode 1, mode 2," etc., but you should really just learn the names. Otherwise, in the future you might be chilling with some other musicians who'll start talking about modes in terms of ionian, dorian, phrygian, lydian, mixolydian, aeolian, and locrian, and you'll have no idea what they're talking about. Those names are much more commonly used than 1, 2, 3, blah blah blah.
Gotta finish my work, then play some grooves, so I can turn my room into a house of blues...
#8
Quote by Dio10101
Take a simple chord progression. Find the degrees of each chords root note. Try switching to the relevant mode when the chord changes.


This is probably the most common mistake/misconception about modes.

If you want to know about modes, first learn about the minor and major scales, and how they work in different keys. They're far more useful than modes anyway.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#9
Quote by rickyj
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKbPIGnqt80

watch this, chappers knows his shit

That helped me a lot! Thanks

One question though. Say someone is playing this progression: B, D#m, G#m, F#. Obviously the key is B, so could I play G# Phrygian over it, or A Dorian if I wanted?
What if that progression was all powerchords, would that work as well?
#10
Quote by piszczel
That helped me a lot! Thanks

One question though. Say someone is playing this progression: B, D#m, G#m, F#. Obviously the key is B, so could I play G# Phrygian over it, or A Dorian if I wanted?
What if that progression was all powerchords, would that work as well?
No, because the key is B, not G# phrygian or A dorian. The key (more correctly "mode") has to be G# phrygian or A dorian.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#11
Quote by food1010
No, because the key is B, not G# phrygian or A dorian. The key (more correctly "mode") has to be G# phrygian or A dorian.

So what do you use? B Phrygian or B Dorian etc? This makes no sense in relation to the video I just watched.

What would be a G# Phrygian progresion?
#12
For G# Phrygian would it be something like G#m, A, D#?

A Aeolian would be E, Cm, F#, A?

I watched some vids and I think I'm getting the hang of it haha
#13
Quote by piszczel
For G# Phrygian would it be something like G#m, A, D#?

A Aeolian would be E, Cm, F#, A?

I watched some vids and I think I'm getting the hang of it haha


Key of b major = b major scale. Key of b minor = b minor scale. By virtue of their nature, major or minor keys are not modal.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#14
Quote by AlanHB
Key of b major = b major scale. Key of b minor = b minor scale. By virtue of their nature, major or minor keys are not modal.
This.

Generally modes don't use chord progressions, usually drones or vamps.

G# phrygian might look something like G#m A or a G# (single note), Gm, Gm7/Gm7b9 drone.

The problem with aeolian is that it is identical to the natural minor scale so that makes it a bit harder to distinguish it from a minor key. You'd probably be safe using an Am C/A or Am G/A (or even Am Dm) vamp or something.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#15
there isn't no difference in modes and the major minor scales its all the same .
#16
My advise is to stop giving yourself a headache over it, if you dont understand the basic terms you arent even ready to be learning it anyways. All in all, modes arent the answer to open up your playing. For some reason alot of guitarists think learning modes is the answer to their playing problems, it's not.
#17
Quote by boudo
there isn't no difference in modes and the major minor scales its all the same .
This post makes my head hurt.

If you're saying modes and the major/minor scales are the same, that couldn't be more wrong. I'm going to just leave it at that.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#18
Quote by food1010
This post makes my head hurt.

If you're saying modes and the major/minor scales are the same, that couldn't be more wrong. I'm going to just leave it at that.



there aint no difference its just how ya use the scales .

either with a single note or over a bunch of chords there all major or minor basically.
#19
Quote by boudo
there aint no difference its just how ya use the scales .

either with a single note or over a bunch of chords there all major or minor basically.


Sorry mate, you're incorrect. Not only are there different notes involved if you regard them as just scales, they also can only exist in modal contexts, where minor and major scales cannot.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#20
Quote by boudo
there aint no difference its just how ya use the scales .

either with a single note or over a bunch of chords there all major or minor basically.

Do you mean to say that modes are all derived from major and minor scales?
#22
All the arguing over modes is due to the fact that they carried the names from
( modal harmony ) to ( tonal harmony ) . And the fact that there favorite players refer to the scales as the modes .

what else would you call them if they didn't use the ( modal harmony ) names ?

would you call them what that guy does in that video ( scale 1-7 ) ? no i don't think so .
#23
I am all for curiosity about everything. Its not even the TS fault. They don't know better. There are those who head chop, when the question comes up, I'm sometimes one of them, because you cant explain them without a foundation...if the person has no foundation, its pointless to answer other than in the "You're not ready for modes yet", or "You understand it wrongly" sense.

Of course no one wants to be told they are not ready, so now we are in the position of proving to them they are not ready. It gets old fast.

It is the last course offered at my Academy for a reason... You have to have a pretty strong music theory foundation, before you're ready for it.

When someone wants to fly they first go to ground school. The pilot instructor doesn't point to the plane and say "There you go, thats the throttle thats the gas...gun it and pull up when you think youre ready...by the way, I'll stand here and watch you."

I suppose we can just qualify the question "What do you understand about music theory" and answer from that basis.

Best,

Sean
#24
I have come to terms with the fact that the kind of music I play doesn't need modes. So I don't really talk about modes.

Most popular (or semi-popular) music doesn't use modes anyway.
#25
there aint no difference its just how ya use the scales .

either with a single note or over a bunch of chords there all major or minor basically.


bahahaha

i instantly picture a middle-aged les paul playin' AC/DC fan
Quote by BlitzkriegAir
1. Get drunk
2. play pentatonic scales fast
3. throw in some divebombs and pinch harmonics
4. Get killed onstage
5. become legendary guitarist instantaneously


Quote by Holy Katana

How dare you attack the greatness of the augmented sixth?
#26
^What's wrong with being middle aged, playing a Les Paul, and liking AC/DC?

I only fall in one of those catagories.. maybe two, AC/DC is alright.
#27
CsDy13,

I have a TON of Modal Application lessons, I will post them here as time permits.

I will start with an explanation of somethings to understand and then follow up with one comprehensive Modal Application lesson. From there I will post a number of other Modal Application lessons that vary in sizes.

Stay tuned.
#28
Quote by Sean0913
I am all for curiosity about everything. Its not even the TS fault. They don't know better. There are those who head chop, when the question comes up, I'm sometimes one of them, because you cant explain them without a foundation...if the person has no foundation, its pointless to answer other than in the "You're not ready for modes yet", or "You understand it wrongly" sense.

Of course no one wants to be told they are not ready, so now we are in the position of proving to them they are not ready. It gets old fast.


I suppose we can just qualify the question "What do you understand about music theory" and answer from that basis.




i can understand were this gets frustrating for the forum .

i would say modes must be the most misunderstood and most asked about topic in music theory .
#29
Quote by CsDy13
I'm trying to learn how to actually use modes, but I haven't been able to find ANYTHING on the internet that really helps me. I read in some places that it based on the "tonic center", and I really don't understand any of it. Can somebody give me a brief rundown on how to properly use modes, or at least give me a link to a site that explains it well?


I personally found this very helpful http://www.classicalguitarblog.net/2010/08/how-to-use-modes-for-improvising/ .
#30
CsDy13,

Before going into Modal Applications I would strongly advise you to completely understand functional/diatonic harmony and concepts. All of these concepts will come into play and without them these examples could get over your head pretty quick if you don't have a good grip on things like:

1. Intervals
2. Basic Chord Construction
3. Functional Harmony built within a Key (how chords relate to a Key)
4. A Scale is not a Key, it's a reference for the Key
5. The notes that aren't fundamentally in the Key/Scale are just as important as the notes in the Key/Scale
6. A song in a Key doesn't necessarily only contain notes and chords from the fundamental scale
7. Borrowed chords
8. Cadences

And, if you are ever given a Modal Progression and there's a repeat sign MAKE SURE you repeat as you need to start learning how to resolve to the top chord again. This is very important!!!

Another thing is...(and I'll repeat this and demonstrate it's worth further in the lesson)

When people show guitarist patterns and forms, most guitarists look at them as "these are ALL the note I can play". A Musician doesn't really look at it that way. A Musician looks at it like "these are the notes I MIGHT want to play". The resulting difference is; a scale being run up and down v/s music being made by note choice

OK...and away we go.
#31
You'll find there are a few different genres or classifications (if you will) for dealing with Modes...or Modal Application.

Tradition Modal - Commonly referred to as Pure Modal, Simple Modal, or Dronal Modal (although the results aren't "simple" sounding). A Mode is used over one static Tonic. The Tonic doesn't change and neither does the Modes. There is no harmony except for the sound of the Modes notes played individually against the drone.

Diatonic Modal - This involved harmony within the Mode, and it uses either a static vamp (one chord functioning as the "I chord") or it can include other chords derived directly from the notes of the Modes. So while the chords can change, the Mode stays the same.

Modern Modal - In this case there is a mix between chords either in a Key or a Mode as well as other chords and Modes that aren't Diatonically connected to the original Key or Mode.

The key is to first realize where you MIGHT apply Modes, and to where you MIGHT NOT apply Modes.

You can almost always stick by these two ideas for knowing when and when not to care about Modes:

1. The more chords you have that are Diatonically related = Less Modal = More Diatonic

2. The more chords you have that aren't Diatonically related = More Modal = Less Diatonic

In most music you don't really need to consider applying modes, but in some music modes are the music.
Last edited by MikeDodge at Sep 16, 2010,
#32
In Pure Modal you take one droning note and play a specific scale over it. The scale you play creates a mood or feeling. Although, in dronal playing you get more fuel out of less notes than you do out of more notes. IOW, you might play a scale based on a 7 note Diatonic Mode, but where the juice is can be found in 4 to 5 of the notes.

So, you can get a lot of intricate and intriguing feelings out of smaller groups of notes.

This is similar to what is called a raga in traditional Indian music. The difference though is that the ragas are not only based on the group of notes but also the rhythm counts while playing the notes. The two of them together create the effect or mood of the raga.

Experimenting with dronal music is something I highly recommend. And I also recommend you REALLY listen to everything within the mode of choice and learn to pick out certain notes of the mode that really give your playing a direction and distinct sound or rub against the drone.

While it's great to take a standard diatonic mode and play over the drone until the cows come home, I also recommend trying to play notes randomly against the drone and try and pull out notes that simply "sound great together" and come up with your own mode. These notes don't even have to come from a preconceived scale but just off the cuff. Most of the time you can get more out 3 notes than you can out of 7.

For instance, when I do this I find a TON of options that sound great individually as well as pieced together to create long scales that don't necessarily contain the same notes per octave...and I write down the things I find...here are some examples of some Dronal Modal stuff I work on...

I work with this sheet below over a G Drone...there is a list of scales that you can intertwine together to create your own scales containing pieces of each scale...this gives you scales that don't have the same notes per octave and can make for some interesting lines to say the least. The scale drawing are random from of notes I collected that give off a special vibe or feeling. Who even knows where some of them come from...I'm not really too concerned except that I make them sound good.



Here's a Dronal piece I recorded using E Lydian...http://test.mikedodge.com/mvdmusic/MikeD1/elydian.mp3 To approach this I think of it as if I'm play nothing but a B Major scale or a G# Natural Minor scale, except the drone is E. By doing it this way, playing-wise I never really use E as any kind of resolution, so it sounds more exotic and like I'm playing "on top of the drone" more than just "on the drone" if that makes sense. It's like two other views of the E Lydian scale that sit nice on top of the drone. Try it yourself by looking at it from those perspectives and see what your results are.

Here's a 5 note scale I use, I copped it from some music by Shakti a long time ago. It's based out of C Mixolydian, like a Dominant Pentatonic scale I guess. It's played over a straight C drone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avdyJznN600

Here's a E Ionian dronal clip I did as a lesson, there's a lot of good info in it pertaining to playing over the E drone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_16GNaUCoOM

Those are some decent examples of dronal modal music. You could also look up Shakti, Ravi Shankar, Sultan Kahn and others that play music from South and North India.

'll be back with more...any idea if "dronal" is even a word???
Last edited by MikeDodge at Sep 16, 2010,
#33
Ah, a good ol' mode thread with lots of people knowing jack 'bout modes.

Man i missed those.
#34
For Diatonic Modal you'll either play over a one chord static vamp or a set of chords using a mode that contains the complete harmonic structure of the static chord or all the chords within it. With this idea its best to completely understand how to build chords within a mode and also how to relate chords back to modes. This will help as a basis to build on:

maj traid = found in Ionian, Lydian, Mixolydian
maj7 = found in Ionian, Lydian
maj7#11 = found in Lydian
maj13 = found in Ionian
dom7 = found in Mixolydian
dom13 = found in Mixolydian
min traid = found in Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian
m7 = found in Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian
mb5 triad = found in Locrian
m7b5 = found in Locrian
susb9 = found in Phrygian

Definitely take the time to learn extended chord formulas and scale formulas, most of the time they can narrow stuff down for you pretty quick and get you headed in the right direction for know which scales fit which chords and vice versa.

Knowing all the chords created in a Key or Mode will help you draw connections in chord relationships. The strenth in this is not only knowing when a handful of chords are created but just as importantly, knowing when you run into a chord that is not related to the other ones. Common sence tells us that we can use one scale if all the chords are created from that one scale, but we need to change scales when we run into a chord that is not built from the same scale as the others.

So if you pick a Cmaj7 chord to vamp with you can use either C Ionian or C Lydian. Which one, well if you try Cmaj7#11 instead and it sounds like the sound you what to experiment with then use C Lydian. If the #11 doesn't sound good to you then try C Ionian...becuase C Lydian contains a #11 interval and you might have determined you don't want the sound.

So, for the purpose of the one chord vamps, work out the harmonies agaist the Root and the chord and fine the sound you like, but the chord type will help you narrow it down to fewer options.

So, JUST play one chord, and play one scale over it. Modes are played over "I chords", you don't really need to get much more detailed than that. IOW, remember this idea that modes are played over "I chords" as that will be important as you learn about Tonal Centers and running into chords that do not belong directly in the mode or scale.

I will forego any deep explanation of vamps or songs that contain multiple chords from one mode. But I will cover it in depth further into the lessons.
#35
Re: Adding to Mikes Dronal ideas - One of the things I have students do is drone a note and play each note in that mode over it one at a time or a few notes at a time, and then I have them characterize the way the notes sound against the drone, i.e "lost" "sad" "indian" "different" "exotic" "bad" etc. This way they create a sonic "map" about what notes work well for them and what notes are good as passing notes or notes to really hit for a certain effect, and then bringing it back to the drone note, it's all their opinion, I challenge them to get out there and "hear" what they are playing and learn what works for them and what doesnt.

Best,

Sean
#36
Quote by Sean0913
Re: Adding to Mikes Dronal ideas - One of the things I have students do is drone a note and play each note in that mode over it one at a time or a few notes at a time, and then I have them characterize the way the notes sound against the drone, i.e "lost" "sad" "indian" "different" "exotic" "bad" etc. This way they create a sonic "map" about what notes work well for them and what notes are good as passing notes or notes to really hit for a certain effect, and then bringing it back to the drone note, it's all their opinion, I challenge them to get out there and "hear" what they are playing and learn what works for them and what doesnt.

Best,

Sean


Yeah that's a great way to give yourself (meaning the OP or a student) the chance to listen, feel, and find what you like. With modes the less notes the better. This way you learn how to carve things out of the modes and they turn into moods and sounds more than just patterns or large scales.

Once you start carving little things out that sound great and find more of the same, you can start stringing them together to move through sounds as opposed to up and down a scale.
#37
What's Modal and what's not Modal?

What you have probably learned so far is "Diatonic Theory" NOT Modal Theory or any Modal music. Have you read any books describing on Modal music or Modal Application??? Chances are you haven't, but you've read MANY on Diatonic Theory. This is why most people are still confused about Modes no matter how much they read/learn...because there's only a handful of modal teachings compared to diatonic teaching with the word "modes" attached to it.

Working on music that contains Modal aspects is the key to using Modes. Modes are special, and their use is special, they are NOT used every where in every Music, but used almost 100% in much Modal music.

Modal Music can be it's own entity or it can be used within other musical entities. Again, you use Modes when things AREN'T Diatonic. The less Diatonic something is, the MORE Modal it is. The more Diatonic something is, the LESS Modal it is.

Examples:

||: C | Am | F | G :|| This is not Modal, it's Diatonic (or also known as Functional). That's a I-vi-IV-V progression in C Major. This is probably along the lines of some of the stuff you've read before, and also that you are confused about when it comes to Modes. Don't think about Modes here, just play in Key and follow the chords (or chord tones and chord functions if you will).

||: D | D | Dm | Dm :|| This is Modal, not Diatonic/Function. This is a I-Im Modal progression. You can say it's in D Major because the progression resolves to D Major. This is also a clear cut example of a couple of things:

1. How important the notes that aren't in the D Major scale can be to the Key of D Major.
2. How to recognize a Tonal-Center. In this case D is the Tonal Center and each chord moves the harmony around the Tonal Center of D.

With the first example, the scale stayed the same for each chord, you would use the C Major scale. For the second example the scale HAS TO change, you would use D Ionian->D Dorian.

In the first one all the chords are from the same entity, or scale. In the second, each of those chords are their own entity, or get their own scale. This is common concept in Modal music.

Now, let's embellish those chords a bit more:

||: Dmaj9 | Dmaj9 | Dm7 | Dm7 :||

Now use D Ionian for Dmaj9 and use D Dorian for Dm7...

BANG!!!! THAT'S Modal.

Hopefully this is pretty clear cut on the surface, because if you are familiar with any diatonic teaching there are no Major an Minor chords from the same Root anywhere in a Key.

Next we will dig deeper.
#38
Some cool ideas there Mike. That's pretty much the idea behind pitch axis theory right?

Something that I'm confused about is how the D - Dm example has to be modal. I definitely agree that it is not diatonic, and it's a perfect situation for modes to be utilized, but can't that also take on tonal characteristics if the melody suggests so? A lot of tonal music is not diatonic. To my understanding, this flexibility of tonal music is pretty much the differentiating factor. Obviously pitch axis theory has some similar ideas of "flexibility" but I always thought that a mode was a limited set of notes to be used in a melody whereas a key was a looser set of rules that allowed a less limited set of notes to be used as long as they support the resolution and characteristic of the key.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Sep 16, 2010,
#39
Quote by food1010
Some cool ideas there Mike. That's pretty much the idea behind pitch axis theory right?

Something that I'm confused about is how the D - Dm example has to be modal. I definitely agree that it is not diatonic, and it's a perfect situation for modes to be utilized, but can't that also take on tonal characteristics if the melody suggests so? A lot of tonal music is not diatonic. To my understanding, this flexibility of tonal music is pretty much the differentiating factor. Obviously pitch axis theory has some similar ideas of "flexibility" but I always thought that a mode was a limited set of notes to be used in a melody whereas a key was a looser set of rules that allowed a less limited set of notes to be used as long as they support the resolution and characteristic of the key.


Just remember the two rules, or ideas...

the more diatonic, the less modal...and the less diatonic, the more modal.

And remember, modes are played over "I chords".

It's modal in the sense that each chord is it's own "I chord", but D it the tonal center. D is the Tonic and the Tonic is "I", so you would think of this as a I-Im progression.

Your lines can "resolve to the I chord" each time the chord changes.

A good term to look up for this is Modal Interchange. It's how two or more modes support each other to form a musical link, so to speak, or a song. Pitch Axis falls in line with that...

Pitch Axis is the movement of Modes (and harmony) around a Tonal Center.

If you go back to the Pure Modal idea, traditional there was no harmony, only the modes tones against the drone. But where traditional modal music didn't really change modes, pitch axis does. But...

in the D-Dm example when you take the modes you are changing/using and you look at all of the chords built from the two modes the chord progressions you could get are endless but the modes still stay the same!

The half steps between the scale are very important to making them "connect with meaning".

Hope all that made sense.

I'm going to explain this more in the next lesson where I'm going to do a seriously lengthy explanation of how to handle this simple chord progression...

I'll show you where I got this progression, how I narrowed it down to a tonal center, and how I can expand it harmonically to get the sounds and views many of the great modern modal players (Mclaughlin, Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, etc...) use to find the interworkings of the basic progression.

Stay tuned!
Last edited by MikeDodge at Sep 16, 2010,
#40
You may want to keep a backup of these Mike for a UG lesson.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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