#1
I am curious about modes and wonder if they might be something useful to me. Some advice would be welcome.

firstly, i like quite monotonic, hypnotic music with a lot of drone in it. Most of my compositions build and progress b!y changing dynamics and textures and effects. Partially because i like this, but also because i find it hard to avoid a cliched obvious chord progression. i prefer to have a simple little bass riff going on and then, somehow, introduce little phrases and sprinklings of notes over that.

would modes be a useful tool for me in this situation? Im vaguely imagining that i could keep a strong tonic/drone happening, and change modes over it? I'd appreciate some tips in applying some theory in this way if it seems appropriate. Im also open for any other suggestions, if modes are not what im looking for
#2
What do you want to do and how do you think modes will help?

What is your grasp on major and minor scales, harmonisation, chord construction, accidentals and keys like?

Also just a note, if you are drawn to cliche chord progressions, these will not be modal. However there are certain patterns of accidentals derived fom modes that you may or may not like, completely dependent on hour music preference. But a knowledge of the above is required before you can understand how to use them.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#3
Don't look at modes, look into minimalism. It seems like you naturally have an inclination to write in a minimalist style. Look up Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and have a listen to John Adams - Phrygian Gates.
#4
In the interest of what you're trying to do, I think you should deal with modes on a completely sonic level and not get too bogged down on the theoretical side of it. The stronger your understanding of intervals and chords, the less you'll really have to be thinking in terms of modes the majority of the time. But if you try to relate each mode to its I chord and internalize the specific sound and 'feel', you'll be able to use each mode effectively.

For example, when I think Phrygian mode I think Spanish music. Lydian mode makes me think of dreamy music or maybe Steve Vai/Joe Satriani. Dorian makes me think jazz/fusion. I think in practical terms, it's much easier to think of modes for specific sounds and feelings you want to put out there, or for soloing over non-diatonic chord progressions where you change scales for each chord.
#5
Quote by AlanHB
What do you want to do and how do you think modes will help?

What is your grasp on major and minor scales, harmonisation, chord construction, accidentals and keys like?

Also just a note, if you are drawn to cliche chord progressions, these will not be modal. However there are certain patterns of accidentals derived fom modes that you may or may not like, completely dependent on hour music preference. But a knowledge of the above is required before you can understand how to use them.



I want to introduce a bit more diversity into what I'm doing. I can set up a loop or groove just fine, but when I try to advance, it's always too abrupt.

Say my bassline is E----5-5-5-5-5-7-5-5 over and over. I now start playing a small melody using A minor notes. Then I might bring in a lttle feedback or repeating note on a second guitar, an A, or some note from the scale. Then I change the main melody/phrase, to something else in A minor.
I start having trouble after a while though because something needs to change, but every change I try seems too much, I don't understand how to take a step from this point, that isn't a giant leap into a chorus. I want my music to progress, slowly and tastefully forward, but without a hint of verse/chorus/verse or obvious chord progression, and I am lost!

I thought maybe changing mode every now and then would help add something, but retain the strong A minor feel, but maybe that's not what the modes are for? It's kind of hard to know what to do with them when every single discussion on modes just degenerates into bickering over what modes are

I probably need to understand how to use chord progressions in a way that isn't so obvious, like maybe imply them by choosing a few suitable notes on several instruments, rather than strumming through them. Perhaps inversions in some way? I'm perfectly happy to try out some other areas of theory if it seems more appropriate, my question is if modes are useful, not how to make modes do what I want.


As to my current grasp on theory, I know what major and minor scales are, and play very often with the natural minor (normally over the root chord, or a simple two chord progression). I can (with a bit of thinking), play a progression, given a key to derive it from. I understand how to pick out what notes are in D Dorian, but have little clue on grander ideas like progressions and actually applying this theory into a style which I enjoy. I know some harmony and how to build chords and what accidentals are, but again, I don't have much practical understanding on how to use these tools. When I sit down to write something, I either use my ear for what sounds good, and then I end up in the same place as described above, or I try to pick a key, decide on a progression ie ii-V-I and then make melodies over that, but it always sounds a bit too obvious and poppy, for want of better terms. Maybe it's just how I play it, I don't know...

I think I'm mostly stuck when it comes to evolution over time, I can do it with texture and layers, but not with pitch (a defect due to growing up listening to techno). I want my music to progress, but every sort of chord progression feels like too much. I like repetitive stuff!
Last edited by innovine at Mar 26, 2013,
#6
Modes should be very beneficial to you, If you know a minor/major scale then you know all the modes, its just a matter of where you are starting your root and position of the same scale.

every mode will give you a completely different feel, i can spend hours doodling on Lydian in an almost hypnotic state. and thanks to modal scales i can wake up from a guitar playing wet dream and think 'that was awesome, sounded like it was Phrygian around B, and will take minutes to spit out a similar melodic lead.

Modes make life easy for writing and learning as u become very familiar with where youre heading, just like a blues guy without a grasp of pentatonic or blue notes would be a very limited writer/improvisor. but anythings possible, i just think these are wonderful cheat sheets to writing/playing/improv
#7
based on the last post, i'm now marking this so i have easy reference to read the shitstorm that will have formed by the time i read the thread again
#8
every mode will give you a completely different feel, i can spend hours doodling on Lydian in an almost hypnotic state.


Hptnotic doodling is roughly where I am (although usually natural minor rather than lydian) but I want to move further along a path, yet without breaking the hypnotic state. I guess. Would mode changes (and keeping the same root) be something to work on?
#9
Quote by innovine
Hptnotic doodling is roughly where I am (although usually natural minor rather than lydian) but I want to move further along a path, yet without breaking the hypnotic state. I guess. Would mode changes (and keeping the same root) be something to work on?



No. In no way will modes be helpful with what you're trying to achieve. Using modes will simply limit the sounds you can make.

Why not use and vary whatever accidentals sound good to you? That way you can change any note you wish. You can access the same modal sounds but not be limited to them.

Over a root note drone, sharping the fourth of the major scale will give you an identical sound to the Lydian. Sharping the fourth note of the natural minor scale will give a sound not found in any of the seven modes.

You can think of this kind of music in intervals, scales, or sounds. The least appropriate way of thinking about it is modes.
Last edited by Jehannum at Mar 26, 2013,
#11
Yes given my understanding of what you are trying to acheive you may find them quite useful.

It may be an odd thing to say given the level of disagreement and confusion over modes but they are actually a pretty simple concept, undeserved of the fuss made over them (whether it be positive or negative).
Si
#12
Minimalist/hypnotic type of music tends to stick within the major scale modes. Try using the lydian mode, its the brightest sounding, yet the #11 gives it enough edge to stay interesting!
#13
Check out 'satriani on modes' on youtube. sounds like what you're after maybe. pretty cool
#15
Quote by innovine
Hptnotic doodling is roughly where I am (although usually natural minor rather than lydian) but I want to move further along a path, yet without breaking the hypnotic state. I guess. Would mode changes (and keeping the same root) be something to work on?


Lets get back on task mate. Can you identify the key of a song by listening to it?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#16
Quote by AlanHB
Lets get back on task mate. Can you identify the key of a song by listening to it?


Only sometimes. I mean if its got an obvious root chord I'd spot that. I'd probably need a guitar or something to help identify a few tones. If it was all diatonic I'd probably figure it out from that. Just by listening, no, pretty unlikely.
#17
Quote by Jehannum
Why not use and vary whatever accidentals sound good to you? That way you can change any note you wish. You can access the same modal sounds but not be limited to them.


That's sort of how I'm looking at modes at the moment.. still the major scale, just with a few flats and sharps thrown in (obviously not at random). I was assuming I should stick to the modes, since they probably sound somewhat familiar, but yeah, I could just pick random notes from all over the neck until it sounds good. Might take a while though. I also find that what might sound bad and get rejected, actually might sound pretty good given some more listening and some context around it. So I try to stay away from "if it sounds good" as IMHO that usually means "if it sounds familiar", which is pretty restrictive. I'd like to lean on theory to expand my knowledge, until my ears catch up, if that makes sense.
#18
Sure, modes can work on what you want to do, just make sure you make it clear which mode you're using on your melody/bass.

Also if you want to spice things up why not change modes up on your composition? Try doing A Dorian for 8 bars and for example G Dorian for 8 bars!
#19
Quote by innovine
I probably need to understand how to use chord progressions in a way that isn't so obvious, like maybe imply them by choosing a few suitable notes on several instruments, rather than strumming through them. Perhaps inversions in some way? I'm perfectly happy to try out some other areas of theory if it seems more appropriate, my question is if modes are useful, not how to make modes do what I want.

This sounds like it would help you more than modes would. Let's say that you're playing Amaj, do a second inversion chord for D (on the piano, this is known as D6/4; on guitar, as D/A). In this case, the bass note is still A, even though you have changed chords. This makes chord transitions smoother. Learn to use inversions and your playing will become more subtle.

Read the chord inversion section of this wiki for a very basic and brief intro. Then, go find a book or a website and learn more about inversions.


See, the problem with modes is that:
1) they won't fix your current issues. You'll just have the same issue in a slightly different way.
2) they are completely different than anything tonal. I personally think of two "realms" of music, that is the modal realm and the tonal realm. The modal realm is much more limiting. (The fact that you cannot move outside of the 7 notes of a mode and still be modal is enough for someone like me to usually refrain from using modes. I've written a riff that was originally modal and then realized it didn't do what I wanted, lol.)
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Mar 26, 2013,