Hi everyone, I have been reading about/practicing the different modes today and I'm starting to grasp the idea but I still have a little difficulty. I wrote a song and I'm trying to figure out what modes I use, just for the sake of curiosity but also because I think that'd be a good tangible way for me to comprehend it.

I understand that the scale I am using during most of the song is D Major: D-E-F#G-A-B-C#

The intro (before I sing) starts with a chord whose root note is D so I guess this part is in the D Major Mode? I looked up the chord I start with:x,x,12,11,10,9 and it's supposedly a Dmaj7 chord, then I pick x,x,9,11,10,12 which no chord was found for.

The verse is simple. I start off with an A chord, then F#m, then F#m with a D note on the B string, then F#m again. Since the first note/chord I play is A I figure it's some A mode. The notes used here are A---C#D-E-F#--. This doesn't fit any modes that I see because I only have 5 notes. What mode would this be?

The Chorus consists of F#m slide to G, A, F#m, whatever chord F#m + D is, and then F#m. The notes used are the same as on the verse but with 2 more so it looks like F#G-A-B-C#D-E-. So my 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes are all flat. I can't figure this one out either. I'm assuming it's an F# mode cuz F# is the first note I play.

There are some other parts of the song but they are a bit hard to describe, so I will just leave it at this right now. If you could tell me what mode(s) I'm playing in and why I'd greatly appreciate it.

Here is the song in case you wanna listen: Listen on Youtube

I'm a bit of a beginner, so this is a little new to me, trying to learn here; and be warned, it's not very punk haha.
Well firstly stop thinking about modes, or at least saying them. If a song is in a major or minor key, there are no modes involved (unless it modulates). So you can't have an A major mode, it's an A major scale, or a key of A major.

You're describing this song pretty complexly, I'll just try to make out a chord progression.

Verse: Amaj, F#min, F#min with a D note (or Dmaj, depending on which strings you are playing), F# min

That's a progression in A major, use the A major scale over it.

Chorus: F#min, G, A, F#min, F#min with a D note (or Dmaj, depending on which strings you are playing), F#min

Sounds like it's still in A major, it's pretty common to have a song which is in a major or minor key that has a verse or chorus that starts or ends with the relative major or minor. The G chord would be borrowed from the parellel minor (ie. A minor). Alternatively the key is F#minor, but I can't listen to your song right now.

You suggested that the scale may be D major, which is arguable, I can't hear the song so I don't know where the song resolves to.

So remember no modes, welcome to UG
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Alan's got it.

No modes involved. I suggest you put the term "mode" into the back of your mind for a while. Not to doubt your intelligence or anything, but 99 times out of 100 when people try to understand modes before they have mastered keys and scales, they get really confused.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
If you understand what your doing is tonal (and from alan HB's analysis I'd guess in A major) , not modal but want to use modes a chord scales (as improvisers are generally taught to) you'd use A ionian over the A major chord, D Lydian over the D major chord and F# dorian over the F#minor chord (phrygian would also be correct, but dorian is often used more often, despite the fact that the notes are not diatonic to the key of A major), and you can play G lydian or ionian over the G chord.
If you want to use some accidentals here and there (most notably over the G major chord in the chorus), I'll support the captains advice.

But in terms of theoretically correct, I don't think the song would resolve to a new note every bar, so the actual use of modes to improvise over the song and analyse it in a different way is limited in that respect.
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you could solo in G it would prolly sound pretty good...or you could start on G but play the A min/Maj scale too...
you could solo in G it would prolly sound pretty good...or you could start on G but play the A min/Maj scale too...

No you definitely could not solo over an entire song in A by playing in G major. I don't know why you'd want to use A melodic minor either.
you could solo in G it would prolly sound pretty good...or you could start on G but play the A min/Maj scale too...

its got all the notes just augment the 4th..and i didnt say thro the entire song...and i didnt say G maj either

id prolly use it for runs and such all the way up to D something

its just like playing in E but your solo is like a D minor panitonic riff..and it sounds good, i dont see why it wouldnt work

infact looking at it..and depending on the progression..you coud play riffs in D, E, and F# also
its got all the notes just augment the 4th..and i didnt say thro the entire song...and i didnt say G maj either

id prolly use it for runs and such all the way up to D something

its just like playing in E but your solo is like a D minor panitonic riff..and it sounds good, i dont see why it wouldnt work

infact looking at it..and depending on the progression..you coud play riffs in D, E, and F# also

I think you're quite misinformed. You might want to read one of the UG lessons about keys and the major scale.
But in terms of theoretically correct, I don't think the song would resolve to a new note every bar, so the actual use of modes to improvise over the song and analyse it in a different way is limited in that respect.

Not this song no (and not most pop songs, though some older ones modulate a good deal). but see (most of these modulate every 2-4 bars) blues for alice, falling grace, giant steps, stablemates, moment's notice, epistrophy, neferiti, dolphin dance, I got rhythm (the bridge), any 12 bar blues, solar, tune up, caravan (the bridge), autumn leaves (to the relative key which isnt a HUGE modulation), ESP, the sorcerer, parts of spain, round midnight, stella by starlight, on green dolphin street and many more tunes, some of which are fairly basic (to play through/with by ear). Also, the use of modes in this way gives you a sort of built in way to resolve your lines (once you get past thinking of every chord as an island, you know the charecteristics of the chord/scale's your using, where tones want to resolve to and its much easier to improvise over changes by sight/modulations stop being scary).
Last edited by tehREALcaptain at Sep 29, 2010,
Quote by tehREALcaptain
Not this song no (and not most pop songs, though some older ones modulate a good deal). but see (most of these modulate every 2-4 bars) blues for alice, falling grace, giant steps, stablemates, moment's notice, epistrophy, neferiti, dolphin dance, I got rhythm (the bridge), any 12 bar blues, solar, tune up, caravan (the bridge), autumn leaves (to the relative key which isnt a HUGE modulation), ESP, the sorcerer, parts of spain, round midnight, stella by starlight, on green dolphin street and many more tunes, some of which are fairly basic (to play through/with by ear). Also, the use of modes in this way gives you a sort of built in way to resolve your lines (once you get past thinking of every chord as an island, you know the charecteristics of the chord/scale's your using, where tones want to resolve to and its much easier to improvise over changes by sight/modulations stop being scary).

I relation to this approach, why do you opt to use G ionian over the G in TS's chord progression? If I were to use an application of modes to it to visulaise accidentals, I'd actually opt for A mixolydian.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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I relation to this approach, why do you opt to use G ionian over the G in TS's chord progression? If I were to use an application of modes to it to visulaise accidentals, I'd actually opt for A mixolydian.

A mixolydian over the G Major chord (though if it isn't then go for it, as the point of any approach that melds theory with improvisation is to spend as little time as possible on the semantics and theory part)? wouldn't it be easier to call it G lydian in relation to the G chord, which I suggested, as neither are really wrong Lydian has more color but Ionian is oftentimes more familliar to beginners. I might also use G mixolydian or bebop dominant, as the seventh is not specified (and therefore would not clash, though when I improvise I usually have a no remorse attitude towards intended dissonances) and the F can move nicely by half step to the E of the A chord (while the F# in Ionian/Lydian cannot move by half step to a chord tone in A).
Last edited by tehREALcaptain at Sep 29, 2010,
Why are there so many of these threads? Someone should edit the stickies to tackle this once and for all.
lol guitar
I'm just trying to understand the reasoning behind it. I just opted for A mixolydian because the notes would accommodate for the G major whilst still being in the key of A major. So basically you're just flattening the 7th of the scale you're already using, rather than changing it.

Using your approach, is it a suggestion that major modes be played over major chords, and minor modes be played over minor? Also, you mentioned this wasn't an approach of using a "chord as an island", but isn't that exactly what it is?

Don't take offense, I'm just trying to understand the logic behind it.

Quote by Serpentarius

Mike Dodge is in the middle of writing some great lessons, expect them to feature in the modes sticky soon along with a "Modes FAQ". I agree that the current ones can still be misleading for those new to modes.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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Quote by AlanHB

Mike Dodge is in the middle of writing some great lessons, expect them to feature in the modes sticky soon along with a "Modes FAQ". I agree that the current ones can still be misleading for those new to modes.

Cool, I don't really think they're too misleading it just needs to emphasize that true modal playing/composition =/= 'relative-mode-pattern-expanding-in-a-tonal-context'
lol guitar
Quote by Serpentarius
Cool, I don't really think they're too misleading it just needs to emphasize that true modal playing/composition =/= 'relative-mode-pattern-expanding-in-a-tonal-context'

Oh that will definitely feature in the Modes FAQ for those who cannot be bothered reading the articles.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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Quote by AlanHB
I'm just trying to understand the reasoning behind it. I just opted for A mixolydian because the notes would accommodate for the G major whilst still being in the key of A major. So basically you're just flattening the 7th of the scale you're already using, rather than changing it.

Using your approach, is it a suggestion that major modes be played over major chords, and minor modes be played over minor? Also, you mentioned this wasn't an approach of using a "chord as an island", but isn't that exactly what it is?

Don't take offense, I'm just trying to understand the logic behind it.
I agree with your logic here. Modes (with the exception of pitch axis theory which is a bit of a different idea than I'm talking about) do not correspond to individual chords. You generally don't look at a chord within a progression and say "what mode does this individual chord suggest?" What you do is you look at a vamp or drone, etc. and say "what mode does this vamp/drone suggest?"

I haven't really been following the conversation about TS's chord progression, but I'll try to interject a bit: So we have a progression in A major. You see a G chord. What do you think here? You think modal mixture/chord substitution. In this case (as you explained), the chord is borrowed from the parallel minor (it uses the G instead of the G#). What does this mean for your lead line over the progression? It means you use a G natural instead of a G#. Nothing more.

I don't see the resulting scale as G lydian, as the tonality is definitely not G, nor do I see the resulting scale as A mixolydian. A proper usage of A mixolydian might occur over a static A or A7 chord, or over a mixolydian vamp, not over a G major chord.

This is arguably the biggest differentiable factor between tonal harmony (which is flexible and allows for the harmony to progress, taking twists and turns) and modal harmony (which generally does not progress, it either remains static or simply revolves around a static center, such as a drone). Tonal harmony allows for temporary alterations to be made according to the way the harmony progresses/retrogresses like this.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea