I'm just starting out experimenting with modes and although I understand the basics, I'm still a little unsure as to when to apply a mode to a chord progression (it was always so easy with the minor pent )...

So say I have a nice chord sequence such as AMinor, GMajor, FMajor, EMajor, FMajor, AMinor, AbMajor, AMinor. I'm sure if you play through this you will get the sense it has a Spanish/Latin feel (as a separate note I don't really understand how these chords fit together as they can't all come from one scale given the number of majors...). So given I want to stick with the Spanish sound, I would assume I would need to solo with the A Phygian over the AMinor chords, but then I'm lost. Given the rest of the chords are Majors and the Phygian is a Minor scale, how to I pick a mode while maintaining the 'Spanish' feel?

Quote by dan.c

So say I have a nice chord sequence such as AMinor, GMajor, FMajor, EMajor, FMajor, AMinor, AbMajor, AMinor.

Progression is in A minor. E major is derived from the melodic minor and the Ab major acts as a bII.

I'm sure you knew that. Well knowing this you'll know exactly why the progression isn't modal, what scale is derived from the key and how to account for accidentals in the out-of-key chords.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Two quick Modal rules, or things to recognize in music...

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

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

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

"Diatonically related" just means all the chords are within the same Key. For instance:

This next example is Less Modal because we are simply in the Key of C...as all the chords are built within the Key of C...

||: C | Am | F | G :||

This next example is More Modal since neither of these two chords are built from any one single or direct Key or scale:

||: Gm | Gm | Gm | Gm | Bbm | Bbm | Bbm | Bbm :||

Here's a standard list of tunes I give someone when they want to learn, or actually study, modes and modal music. Check out these tunes for practical modal application:

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!
Last edited by MikeDodge at May 27, 2011,