i have determined my song is in D# but i dont know which mode to use. (ex. Minor pent, dorian, harmonic) how do you determine which mode to use?
pretty sure minor pentatonic and harmonic minor scales aren't modes.

with major / minor, you could play D# major, or the relative minor which is C minor. (Then also C minor pentatonic, C harmonic minor, or D# major pentatonic.)

As for modes apart from Ionian (major) and Aeolian (minor) modes... not too sure, I don't use them that much...
well, if the song is in D# /Eflat then work out if it is in the minor or major key (the relative major of Eflat minor is Gflat and the relative minor is C. So you can either use the C minor (natural minor, pentatonic minor... choice is yours!) or Gflat Major. for the modes, the order relates to the chord progression formula (if you're not familiar with this, it's I, ii, iii, VI, V, vi, VII) - Maj, Min, Min, Maj, Maj(Dom), Min, Diminished - (Sorry if I'm wrong I've been refreshing my memory to do this! been a little while :P) The Modes you can use relate to this. The order of the modes are Ionian, Dorian, Phyrgian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian. in ascending order these go from I - VII

For a Minor key, you start on the sixth degree - the vi chord becomes the first (I) chord and you adjust the positions and names according - this also means the 'order' of the modes changes, beginning on Aeolian.

If you have any questions just post back or drop me a pm.
You've already determined that your piece is in the key of Eb (major or minor?), which specifies a tonal piece of music, not modal. Accordingly, you'd use either Eb major or Eb minor, depending on which pool of notes your progression accommodates, as the overall fundamental when composing.

Your notes, respectively for each potential key are:

Eb Major
- Eb F G Ab Bb C D

Eb minor
- Eb F Gb Ab Bb Cb Db

Depending on which pool of notes your progression features, you'd use the most fitting and employ your tones as you see suitable.

Modal repertoire itself really doesn't have a place in the context of tonal music, and its only true function resides in traditional modal church chorales from over five centuries back, as a way of explaining intervallic structures functioning over a prolonged or static drone note. Because the drone itself doesn't imply a strict tonality as such in themselves, modal interchange was free to occur, so these subsets of intervallic structures were fitting for the period and their cause.
Conversely, tonal music, which categorizes a large majority of contemporary Western music, features a shifting chord progression implying an overall tonality in which a pool of notes functions relative to an overall tonal center, which is what you likely have.

As for developing lines and phrases to function with a tonal progression, you may wish to start out targeting chord tones, or in other words, the notes residing in each chord you're be playing over (or complimenting). If your progression is a simple I IV V in Eb major (Ebmaj, Abmaj, Bbmaj) for example, you could emphasise each chord's colour by playing their respective notes - Eb, G, and Bb for an Eb major triad; Ab, C, and Eb for Ab major; and Bb, D, and F for Bb major.

This wildly differs from a dangerous, but common misconception of modes - that misconception stating that you'd be using ''a new mode over each chord'', which simply isn't the case; your key and tonal center are implied by the chord progression and its resolution, and you'd simply be targeting chord tones or extensions to function suitably over each chord in the progression.

I'd recommend you disregard the word ''modes'' for a while, and start out by learning how to construct the major scale, understand its intervallic structure, how to construct triads from the major scale, and repeat that third step for each major key going by the structure of The Circle of Fifths. Following these steps will help you understand contemporary tonal music and functional harmony, allowing you a better comprehension of the theoretical techniques you'd be most likely to employ when writing, composing, improvising, or anything in regard to contemporary Western music
Last edited by juckfush at Jul 6, 2011,
If the key is D# major, you can ONLY play the D# major scale. If the key is D# minor, you can ONLY play the D# minor scale. You can play accidentals if you wish. If there is a key there is no mode. And 99.99999% of time, there's a key.

And that's about it.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
What I do when I'm thinking of a solo is first figure out the chords Im playing over and the key I'm in. Once thats done I try to find common tones in the chords that I can play on the chord changes so its not just like, "Look at me playing over all these chords with one scale." So since your piece is in Eb, use the Eb major (or minor whichever one it is) scale as a guideline to the solo. Now with the major scale in mind, take the chords for your solo and start creating little melodies using the major scale and emphasizing on the chord tones. Scales are really just places to start for solos and melodies.
Quote by jedke
i have determined my song is in D# but i dont know which mode to use. (ex. Minor pent, dorian, harmonic) how do you determine which mode to use?

The best way to do that, is do the following:

1. Identify where your assumptions are incorrect. If you move according to the wrong ideas before you get started, you'll never get there. Consider if your question was a geographical one.

"So I'm in Denver Colorado, and I have my Hybrid car packed and aimed WEST ready to take on New York City. I'm gonna drive for days going WEST till I make the Big Apple. Once I get there can anyone tell me the best Sushi Bar in NEW YORK? I'm ready to go! Westward Ho!"

What would you tell a guy like that?

Well you might first let the guy know, "uh dude, if you drive WEST, you're likely going to hit Los Angeles and then the Pacific Ocean...if you want to get to NEW YORK, might be a good idea to make sure that you are pointing the car in the right direction, and WEST aint it. You need to head EAST."

Well it's the same with your question. Your question shows that you don't have a clue what you are doing, and as such you'll never answer your question until you fix these assumptions, and decide it's better to point yourself in the correct direction.

Now I'm not jumping all over you. Its a common mistake, but the bottom line is, we need to make sure we are pointed in the correct direction towards understanding, and away from ignorance... and then tackle what your needs are. Does that make sense?


Last edited by Sean0913 at Jul 6, 2011,