#1
Hey, sorry if this is the wrong forum to post this in. I'm very familiar with the major scale and its modes but I'm not sure how to use them correctly.

1. As far as improvising/composing solos: Let's say I playing over a riff, said riff being based off the C Major scale. We'll say it's a I-III-V chord progression (so C, E, then G). If I grew tired of playing the Ionian mode (the "traditional major scale") and I decide to play the Phrygian mode, how do I do it? Do I just change my tonic from C to E while soloing and try to start/end on that note. Everything seems to sound off in every mode minus the Ionian/Aeolian (major/minor scale) and I always seem to end on C and A.

2. Too add to the above question, can you play any mode of the C major scale over the above progression? Or do you try to base it on the chords? Like Ionian for the above since it starts on the I and you'd save the Phrygian for something like a III-V-I.

3. How do I go about writing rhythm parts using the modes? Let's say I was writing in the key of C major once again and I wanted to write a Dorian sounding riff... Would I just start my riff with a D and use notes within the C major scale?
#2
1. The starting/ending note doesn't define the mode. The progression does. Resolve to chord tones when you play.

2. III-V-I is still in C major. The progression needs to resolve to Em for it to be phrygian. Something like an Em vamp.

3. If you're in C major you won't get a dorian sound. Play in dorian to get a dorian sound. Again, progressions are everything. You need to use all the natural notes and make it resolve to C. There aren't many progressions that do this, which is why modes are almost never used. A G-Dm vamp would work though.
#3
1. As far as improvising/composing solos: Let's say I playing over a riff, said riff being based off the C Major scale. We'll say it's a I-III-V chord progression (so C, E, then G). If I grew tired of playing the Ionian mode (the "traditional major scale") and I decide to play the Phrygian mode, how do I do it? Do I just change my tonic from C to E while soloing and try to start/end on that note. Everything seems to sound off in every mode minus the Ionian/Aeolian (major/minor scale) and I always seem to end on C and A.


You don't. Everything you play will be in C major. You can use a "Phrygian shape" but modes aren't modes unless you're playing modally. No matter what, you'll resolve on C if the progression does. Tonality doesn't change just because you switch chords.

2. Too add to the above question, can you play any mode of the C major scale over the above progression? Or do you try to base it on the chords? Like Ionian for the above since it starts on the I and you'd save the Phrygian for something like a III-V-I.

Play off chord tones of the given progression. If you're in a major key, you'll play a major scale. If you're in a minor key, you'll play in a minor scale. That simple. If you're playing a "Phrygian" scale over tonal music, it's just the natural minor with a diminished 2nd. Don't overcomplicate this. Be mindful of the notes in the chords, and don't try to put "modes" in where they don't belong.

3. How do I go about writing rhythm parts using the modes? Let's say I was writing in the key of C major once again and I wanted to write a Dorian sounding riff... Would I just start my riff with a D and use notes within the C major scale?

You need to vamp so the song feels like it is purely Dorian and can't possibly move from that center. It's more of a sound thing, but you are completely limited by those 7 notes in D Dorian and can't use accidentals or really add more than maybe one chord without forcing the music to be tonal. It's very limiting and is really just complexity for the sake of complexity.

Take modes off your pedestal and just learn to utilize chord tones. Modes are not amazing and they're not particularly useful other than maybe learning the major scale up and down the neck. CST is an overrated skill and working off individual notes rather than the roots of each individual chords will do you a world of good.
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#4
The whole OP is just a big no. Really, you are so far away from comprehending it.
Check the modes-stickies on this forum, cause the same things have been explained too many times. Good luck bro.
Last edited by deHufter at Sep 27, 2011,
#5
Quote by deHufter
The whole OP is just a big no. Really, you are so far away from comprehending it.
Check the modes-stickies on this forum, cause the same things have been explained too many times. Good luck bro.


Eh, sorry, didn't know about it. I suppose I should've looked but I'll check it out now. And thanks everyone. I'm still lost though haha.
#6
1. The thing is, if your progression is in the key of C major, you're playing in the key of C major. If you want to play modes, your progression has to be modal. Given your chord progression, you can't play modes over it.

I'm not sure what you have been trying to do. Did you try to play C Phrygian instead of C major? That doesn't work very well because the notes clash with the ones in the progression. Or did you play E Phrygian? Since the progression is in C major, you're playing essentially playing C major, not E Phrygian. They share the same notes so don't assume they sound different.

You can, however, play the same accidentals found in modes. For example, C Lydian has an F#, so you can incorporate that F# as an accidental to your C major scale. That gives you a Lydian-ish sound one could say. However, note that the C major chord has a perfect fifth, G, which is a semitone from F#. Those notes can clash quite badly so it's no wonder if it doesn't sound good. If your progression were more complex and had a Cmaj7#11 chord you could beautifully use a C major scale with a #4 over that chord and it would sound quite Lydian. That might not work for the rest of the progression and you might need to utilize different accidentals for the rest of the chords.

2. I guess I kind of said it already. You can only play C major over that progression.

3. I don't think that's the best way to think of modes. Yeah, D Dorian is basically C major starting on the second note, but treating it as an independent scale is more intuitive (minor scale with a major sixth). Remember that in a C major progression playing D Dorian = playing C major.
E:-6
B:-0
G:-5
D:-6
A:-0
E:-3
#7
Okay, I'm understanding things much better now after a lot of reading (I believe)... Two questions:

What does vamp mean?

So how do I play modally and incorporate modes?
#8
Quote by Born Headless
Okay, I'm understanding things much better now after a lot of reading (I believe)... Two questions:

What does vamp mean?

So how do I play modally and incorporate modes?

Vamp means having a "progression" which consists of 1-2 chords. The point is that it's static. A D Dorian vamp could be a Dm7 chord repeated over and over. An F Lydian vamp could be a Fmaj7#11 chord vamped (I think, at least).

Most modal stuff is done by playing over modal vamps. I'm not sure if you know, but this kind of modal music is extremely rare in popular music. Most of the time when you see someone in the internet talking about modes, he's treating them as scales, not modes. Look up chord scale theory (CST).

EDIT: I should add that CST is strictly tonal, so if you want to play modally, play modal vamps.
E:-6
B:-0
G:-5
D:-6
A:-0
E:-3
Last edited by Flibo at Sep 27, 2011,
#10
Quote by Flibo
Vamp means having a "progression" which consists of 1-2 chords. The point is that it's static. A D Dorian vamp could be a Dm7 chord repeated over and over. An F Lydian vamp could be a Fmaj7#11 chord vamped (I think, at least).

Most modal stuff is done by playing over modal vamps. I'm not sure if you know, but this kind of modal music is extremely rare in popular music. Most of the time when you see someone in the internet talking about modes, he's treating them as scales, not modes. Look up chord scale theory (CST).

EDIT: I should add that CST is strictly tonal, so if you want to play modally, play modal vamps.


Sorry for double post but how can you treat a mode like a scale? For instance if I play a D Dorian over a song in the key of C it's just a C Major scale technically and I'll resolve on a C note. And if I play a C Dorian over a song in the key of C it will just sound bad. It seems like modes are completely useless though I really wanted to get the different "flavors" supposedly associated with each. The only way to achieve this is vamps (which would just make the rhythm section pretty boring)?
#11
Quote by Born Headless
Sorry for double post but how can you treat a mode like a scale? For instance if I play a D Dorian over a song in the key of C it's just a C Major scale technically and I'll resolve on a C note. And if I play a C Dorian over a song in the key of C it will just sound bad. It seems like modes are completely useless though I really wanted to get the different "flavors" supposedly associated with each. The only way to achieve this is vamps (which would just make the rhythm section pretty boring)?


If you're in D minor, playing the D Dorian scale, it's just D minor with a major 6th.

Learn to use accidentals, not modes.
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#12
Your chord progression says you will be in C unless you resolve to E [for phrygian].
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#13
Quote by Hail
If you're in D minor, playing the D Dorian scale, it's just D minor with a major 6th.

Learn to use accidentals, not modes.

This.

Whether those accidentals sound good or not depends a lot on your chord progression. The progression you posted, C - E - G is not strictly diatonic, since the E major is borrowed from the parallel minor, C minor. That gives you an accidental, G#. So when soloing over the progression, try replacing the G in your scale with a G# when the E major is ringing out.
E:-6
B:-0
G:-5
D:-6
A:-0
E:-3