#1
I've known about the modes of the major scale (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian...) for a long time now, and I understand how to use them in terms of moving within the major and minor scales. What I am having trouble with is playing in the key of a specific mode.

Lets say I'm improvising in A Phrygian. I get this instinct to revert to the D Minor Aeolian mode (or scale; whatever you want to call it). In essence, I simply do not know how to play in any of the church modes without wanting to transfer to the Ionian or Aeolian modes. Can some one please help me understand why I can't do this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Last edited by Andrew C. S. at Nov 28, 2011,
#2
You stumbled upon the answer: instinct. We've become programmed and conditioned to resolve things in a logical tonal manner after a couple hundred years of hearing the same resolutions time and time again. In short, you're not actually using modes, you're simply trying to shoehorn a new tonic where it doesn't belong.
#3
Yup, what he said. You should examine the intervals that modes have, and how they vary from each other. Then check Guthrie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkaqfgSqtHg
Pamposh’s final question before drifting into a state of transcendent ecstasy was, “But Master, if everything is an illusion, then why does anything matter?”

To which the master replied, “It may all be an illusion, but it’s a very real illusion.”
#4
Quote by Andrew C. S.
I've known about the modes of the major scale (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian...) for a long time now, and I understand how to use them in terms of moving within the major and minor scales. What I am having trouble with is playing in the key of a specific mode.

Lets say I'm improvising in A Phrygian. I get this instinct to revert to the D Minor Aeolian mode (or scale; whatever you want to call it). In essence, I simply do not know how to play in any of the church modes without wanting to transfer to the Ionian or Aeolian modes. Can some one please help me understand why I can't do this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Hey I'm glad you've come to this realisation. A lot of players will not. I was introduced to modes about 7 years after I started playing. I instantly asked the same question "why am I playing the same notes and calling them a different name for no particular reason?". The reason I could ask this question was because I already had a firm grasp on major and minor scales and keys, and using accidentals.

The reason that it sounds like D minor is because you are in fact playing D minor. No A phrygian at all. So why is it D minor? Because the CHORD PROGRESSION RESOLVES TO D MINOR. Let that sink in.

Observe these "progressions".

Use the notes of D minor over this:

Dm Bb F C

Sounds like D minor? Sure does! It's in D minor.

Now use the notes of D minor over this:

A Bb A Bb

Sounds like D minor? Sure doesn't! This is a standard progression in A phryg. See how the progression feels kinda floaty? How it still doesn't "rest" at the end like the first progression? Welcome to an actual modal progression. It still resolves to A, but the pull to the tonic is doesn't feel anywhere as certain as the pull to the D in the first progression.

Of course when considering this you'll be thinking "but wait mr x said y", well the choices are:

- Mr x is wrong

- Mr x is talking about CST or employing accidentals, neither of which are used in a modal context
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#5
You know, I didn't think I would get much sincere input (this is UG after all), but these posts actually helped me quite a bit, especially that Guthrie Govan video. Thanks people!