#1
Maybe I got this wrong, but I was hoping for some clarification. Modal music and tonal music are entirely two different concepts, I get that, since they result in modal and tonal harmonies. When guitarists talk about modality, in technical terms, are they trying to use modal characteristics in a melody as chromaticism over a chord progression?

So if you establish tonality in the key of C, you are free to use whatever notes you like, but to retain a sense of sounding C major, you mainly stick to CDEFGAB. Let's say you have the chord progression you are soloing over a simple chord progression derived from the C scale as C-F-G (I-IV-V), you can still just stick to the C major scale and for the F and G, if you wanted to add some notes outside of C, you can tastefully do that over the F and G with the C lydian and C mixolydian, and all you are really doing is placing emphasis on raising the 4th and flattening the 7th in your melody to get that lydian and mixolydian sound. Ultimately, you're always in the key of C though. The modal concepts just give you the words to think of sounds to explore in using notes outside of your major scale.

If that's not the idea, please give me a link to clear up this mess. Thanks.
#2
You're overthinking it. I say this in so many threads, but really you're just overcomplicating it. It sounds like you have a solid understanding of the theory behind most music, you just need to apply it more. Using accidentals isn't "applying modal concepts in soloing," it's just using accidentals. You should know how every interval is going to sound over each chord. You do this by using your ear. Understanding the basic theory of keys and scales is important in order to do this, but it isn't all you need.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#3
You do have it wrong. If you are playing over a IV-V-I progression in any key, you are not playing modally. You cannot play a mode over a tonal progression. It doesn't work that way. You would just be playing other notes. Don't think about a key in terms of scales. They don't work that way.

Quote by sweetdude3000
The modal concepts just give you the words to think of sounds to explore in using notes outside of your major scale.


I have no idea what this even means.
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Quote by AeolianWolf
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#4
You're on the right track. Playing a raised 4th or flat 7th (i.e. F# or Bb in the key of C major) will certainly give you a "lydian" or "mixolydian" sound, respectively. As you say:

The modal concepts just give you the words to think of sounds to explore in using notes outside of your major scale.


It sounds like you may be a bit confused as to when to borrow, in your example, the #4 and b7. They should not necessarily be used only over a particular chord. In the I-IV-V-I context, for example, I might use the C mixolydian over the first two chords (C major and F major) because it tonicizes the IV (F major). Likewise, I may want to avoid the #4 over the V because it tonicizes the G - and can make the transition back to I (C) awkward. Experiment and let your ears guide you. Note that the b7 will give you a more bluesy sound.

I should also note that to really get the sound of the mode, you's have to use the new notes consistently, otherwise these notes would really just constitute "passing tones." Changing mode from chord to chord doesn't really count.
#5
Thanks for the replies... I guess I am kind of confused because the source of my knowledge isn't the greatest.

I suppose the modal thing is a waste of time for most, since to be truly modal you are only limited to soloing over a boring two chord vamp that reflects the underlying harmony of the mode. You can be modally suggestive but it's kind of difficult to work with over a functional harmonic progression in a soloing context - that takes a lot of time to master. And there are better pursuits, unless you can use that idea to create something like Tomorrow Never Knows by the Beatles, but even then I wonder if they knew they were doing something modally.
#6
Quote by sweetdude3000
And there are better pursuits
I think this is the most important part. It's not so much that modes are boring/limiting or really that hard to learn and apply, it's just that they're really not as useful as people make them out to be. You're much better off having a solid understanding of harmony, specifically understanding how chord tones and non-chord tones function in relation to each other.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#7
Not really. modes are not a way to think of chromatism, they are a way to write non tonal music (a modal feel generally has a drone), and a mental shortcut to come up with seven good notes (or, if you'd rather a fully extended thirteen chord spaced in seconds rather then thirds) to play over a chord.
To have a modal feel, you generally want a one or two chord vamp, the first chord containing the root, third, seventh and possibly fifth of the mode and the second containing the other three notes. Likewise, you can remove the root from the mode and come up with two three note structures to cover the other three notes. (Mick Goodrick has a whole book on this concept, and applying it to tonal progressions....its actually really interesting and great for getting an open and modern sound on typical progressions).
Using modes as chord scales is a whole other thing I'm not going to bother two explain this book: http://www.amazon.com/Advancing-Guitarist-Mick-Goodrick/dp/0881885894 has a great, practical and concise explanation of the concept. as does this one http://www.amazon.com/Jazz-Theory-Book-Mark-Levine/dp/1883217040 though it is not guitar-specific.

As far using chromatism in your soloing goes, once you get off the ground with chord scale stuff you can start exploring bebop scales. likewise, playing seventh chord on the guitar, and singing the note a half step above and below each note (then playing them), going in order (root, third, fifth, seventh) then not so much (root, fifth, third, seventh etc) is a good thing to do. If your good with standard notation this book has great studies on every type of seventh chord you could imagine to get more chromatic playing under your fingers and in your ears (especially if you practice them in the way it recommends, playing up and down the arpeggio, then playing the chromatic stuff): http://www.amazon.com/Technique-Saxophone-Studies-Woodwind-Method/dp/0793554128/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364528770&sr=1-1&keywords=chord+studies+for+saxophone. Likewise, I've heard good things about (but not used) a book called Forward Motion as well.
all the best.
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Last edited by tehREALcaptain at Mar 28, 2013,
#8
Well, modes don't deal with harmony. All a modal piece is concerned with is melodic stuff. Modes tend to sometimes have a drone feel because of this.

Edit:
Quote by sweetdude3000
So if you establish tonality in the key of C, you are free to use whatever notes you like, but to retain a sense of sounding C major, you mainly stick to CDEFGAB.

No...not at all. You can use whatever notes you want; and as long as the song/riff/passage/whatever resolves to C and emphasizes notes like E (since E is the major third), then it is in C major. The key is whatever it resolves to, whether it's major or minor can be largely dependent upon what notes are emphasized.

For example, let's do a simple and common jazz idea: play I7-IV7-V7 in the key of C. Are the notes that are making those chords 7th chords within the key signature (namely CDEFGAB)? Well, C7 (aka I7 in our example) has a Bb. F7 (aka IV7) uses an Eb. G7 (aka V7) contains no notes outside of the key signature. But clearly, our I7-IV7-V7 pattern still has a major sound. Why? We're playing chords that emphasize notes that imply the major sound, such as I7 using E or IV7 using A or V7 using B. Incidentally, I7, IV7, & V7 happen to contain the major 3rd (E), major 6th (A), & major 7th (B) of our key signature. This all goes back to chord construction and understanding of key signatures, of course. So, if you don't get the above example, then I would go ahead and study some basic chord construction and learn about key signatures.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Mar 29, 2013,
#9
Thanks for the replies, it is starting to make sense. Someone is showing me how to use them, but I think a little knowledge is a dangerous thing! Cost/benefit to proper usage is not worth it for me - there needs to be a disclaimer for these things. Incorrect application could lead to sounding like crap in the majority of cases for the inexperienced. Checking out modal playing through vamps in a modal progression is cool musically but get's old. Probably best to stick to learning new songs, phrasing, and knowing more about chord tones. I'll check out the advancing guitarist book.
#10
Quote by sweetdude3000
I suppose the modal thing is a waste of time for most, since to be truly modal you are only limited to soloing over a boring two chord vamp that reflects the underlying harmony of the mode.


That's not entirely accurate. A two chord vamp is one of the simplest ways to establish a modal sound, but it's not the only way. The key to getting a modal sound is establishing the proper tonal center, and then playing the appropriate intervals above it. If you can establish a note of C as your tonal center, then playing a C Lydian scale above it will sound like C Lydian. A droning C is obviously the easiest way to establish C as the tonal center, but it's not the only way.

I know a lot of people on this forum would prefer to say that playing C Lydian is really just playing in C Major with accidentals, but that sort of ignores the fact that C Lydian has a fairly distinct sound from C Major. I believe this line of thinking comes from the unfortunate practice of attempting to apply common practice period theory to music that doesn't fall within the common practice period.

Quote by sweetdude3000
You can be modally suggestive but it's kind of difficult to work with over a functional harmonic progression in a soloing context - that takes a lot of time to master.


That can be true. Cadential progressions tend to establish a key pretty firmly. If you're set on always building your music firmly around cadences, you might have a hard time breaking out of an Ionian/Aeolian sound, but it has been done before.

Quote by sweetdude3000
And there are better pursuits, unless you can use that idea to create something like Tomorrow Never Knows by the Beatles, but even then I wonder if they knew they were doing something modally.


What do you mean by better? It mainly depends on what you're interested in playing. If your favorite musician is John Coltrane, it might be worthwhile to study modal style playing. If your favorite song is "Within You Without You" by the Beatles, you might want to study modal style playing.

And considering that George Harrison wrote numerous modal style songs while with the Beatles, it's likely they had some understanding of the technique.
#11
Quote by Sloop John D
I know a lot of people on this forum would prefer to say that playing C Lydian is really just playing in C Major with accidentals, but that sort of ignores the fact that C Lydian has a fairly distinct sound from C Major.


Yes disinctive by the differing notes. Whether it is the major scale with accidentals vs functioning as the lydian mode is determined by the harmonic context of a song. In a major key it is the former, in the lydian mode it is the latter. Most people on this forum say it is the former because the vast majority of songs are in a key.
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#12
Quote by AlanHB
Yes disinctive by the differing notes. Whether it is the major scale with accidentals vs functioning as the lydian mode is determined by the harmonic context of a song. In a major key it is the former, in the lydian mode it is the latter. Most people on this forum say it is the former because the vast majority of songs are in a key.

The problem is that, many people think that by playing it in the tonal realm, they're still being modal. What they're really doing, is (as you know) playing it as a type of major scale in a major key, similar to how one might play the gypsy minor scale in a minor key. My point is, starting musicians need to be taught the difference.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Mar 30, 2013,
#14
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Well, modes don't deal with harmony. All a modal piece is concerned with is melodic stuff. Modes tend to sometimes have a drone feel because of this.

Edit:

No...not at all. You can use whatever notes you want; and as long as the song/riff/passage/whatever resolves to C and emphasizes notes like E (since E is the major third), then it is in C major. The key is whatever it resolves to, whether it's major or minor can be largely dependent upon what notes are emphasized.

For example, let's do a simple and common jazz idea: play I7-IV7-V7 in the key of C. Are the notes that are making those chords 7th chords within the key signature (namely CDEFGAB)? Well, C7 (aka I7 in our example) has a Bb. F7 (aka IV7) uses an Eb. G7 (aka V7) contains no notes outside of the key signature. But clearly, our I7-IV7-V7 pattern still has a major sound. Why? We're playing chords that emphasize notes that imply the major sound, such as I7 using E or IV7 using A or V7 using B. Incidentally, I7, IV7, & V7 happen to contain the major 3rd (E), major 6th (A), & major 7th (B) of our key signature. This all goes back to chord construction and understanding of key signatures, of course. So, if you don't get the above example, then I would go ahead and study some basic chord construction and learn about key signatures.


I'm not sure if this was the best example. Blues doesn't sound major to me ... it sounds like blues.
#15
Quote by ouchies
I'm not sure if this was the best example. Blues doesn't sound major to me ... it sounds like blues.


It's kinda a circular argument you're playing at here. The typical blues is in a major key, and there's heavy use of accidentals, particularly the b3 and b7.

So using b3 and b7 accidentals in a major key sounds like the blues.

And the blues sounds like use of b3 and b7 accidentals in a major key.
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#16
Quote by AlanHB
It's kinda a circular argument you're playing at here. The typical blues is in a major key, and there's heavy use of accidentals, particularly the b3 and b7.

So using b3 and b7 accidentals in a major key sounds like the blues.

And the blues sounds like use of b3 and b7 accidentals in a major key.


A b7 in blues might be an accidental but it fits better than a M7.

Im just saying blues should be treated as an isolated case.
#17
^^^ Its just the sound you've trained your ears to. Youve come to expect the minor 7 accidental. Im not ready to consider blues as a separate case, because Id have to make the same exception for the entire ACDC back collection.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#21
Quote by ouchies
You can use any note over a dominant 7th but the only good notes to hold out are the root, third, fifth or seventh.


Again, so? the tonic in the soprano of a Imaj7 chord doesn't always sound satisfactory, it's still in a major key.
#22
Ok. I appreciate the clarifications. I think I am realizing the point of these modal concepts in lead playing (and music in general) is that it is great concept to have in your skill rep, but it is often being by people and for people with a weak grasp of the fundamentals of how music works. Can't build a house without a strong foundation, or insert any other metaphor you want..
#23
Quote by ouchies
Yeah but do you stay on it? You can use any note over a dominant 7th but the only good notes to hold out are the root, third, fifth or seventh.


Yes you like chord tones. That's cool but it has nothing to do with the key. Over time you'll learn to accept*that the major scale sounds fine in a major key, irrespective of genre.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#24
Quote by sweetdude3000
Let's say you have the chord progression you are soloing over a simple chord progression derived from the C scale as C-F-G (I-IV-V), you can still just stick to the C major scale and for the F and G, if you wanted to add some notes outside of C, you can tastefully do that over the F and G with the C lydian and C mixolydian, and all you are really doing is placing emphasis on raising the 4th and flattening the 7th in your melody to get that lydian and mixolydian sound.

Why would you play C Lydian over F, and C mixolydian over G?

That creates a b9 over F and a b3 over G. Why choose those scales?

Ever thought about neighbour tones? So much easier.
#25
Quote by ouchies
Yeah but do you stay on it? You can use any note over a dominant 7th but the only good notes to hold out are the root, third, fifth or seventh.
Wrong. How about a 9th or a 13th?

Sure you don't want to hold both a minor seventh and a major seventh at the same time. This is because it creates a false relation, not because it's a non-chord tone.

Edit: Then again, that false relation might be exactly the sound you want, which wouldn't make it "wrong" at all. Just dissonant.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Mar 31, 2013,
#26
Quote by food1010
Wrong. How about a 9th or a 13th?

Sure you don't want to hold both a minor seventh and a major seventh at the same time. This is because it creates a false relation, not because it's a non-chord tone.

Edit: Then again, that false relation might be exactly the sound you want, which wouldn't make it "wrong" at all. Just dissonant.


Yeah over a dominant chord a 9th or 13th wouldn't sound nearly as dissonant as a M7.

This is true. If its the sound you are going for then fine.

I'm just saying its probably not the best way to show someone a "major sound" by showing them a blues.

Quote by AlanHB
Yes you like chord tones. That's cool but it has nothing to do with the key. Over time you'll learn to accept*that the major scale sounds fine in a major key, irrespective of genre.


I don't think I'll ever accept playing an X Major scale over an X blues.
Last edited by ouchies at Mar 31, 2013,
#27
lol the first thing beginners learn is a blues, cuz it's a roots style. Also, only with triads, so that's the best way to get the major sound in their ears.

The again, the scale used is mostly likely minor pent!
Last edited by mdc at Mar 31, 2013,
#28
Quote by mdc
Why would you play C Lydian over F, and C mixolydian over G?

That creates a b9 over F and a b3 over G. Why choose those scales?

Ever thought about neighbour tones? So much easier.


I was thinking of the modes in terms of scales, but that is confusing concepts. What is also confusing is that some modes can be thought of as scales - russian minor for dorian, etc.

I understand now you can use something like a G7 which is C,E,G, Bb because those notes are contained in C mixolydian.

Well I'll concede that demonstrates my lack of knowledge of the subject. I think this is a good example of how I (or any other beginner) needs to get the proper fundamentals down before venturing into more more advanced music theory concepts.
Last edited by sweetdude3000 at Mar 31, 2013,
#30
@ sweetdude: Yup.
Maybe I'm the only person who differentiates a major sound from a major blues. :P

Dominant blues... no... wait...
Last edited by mdc at Mar 31, 2013,
#32
Quote by ouchies
Sounds dumb but I can go places over a blues that I could never go over a major progression thats in a single key.


Most blues is in a single key, a major one. And yes you have a lot of freedom in keys, can use any note you want.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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