#1
Hey, I´m starting to learn the modes of the major scale, but I have a question. Is it necessary to learn them all? I ask this because you only learn scales that you want to use for your style, is this the same with modes? or is this something that is going to be very important for my guitar playing?

Thanks
#2
No.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#3
lol. Check my recent thread and you will have some answers. I would say find a good book on the subject if you are really interested, but definitely get your basics down cold before even bothering...
#5
Why play scales when you can play music?
Join the 7 String Legion!

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#6
Look, all the modes are derived from the major scale, they're just which note you happen to use as the central pitch, as for modes in style, you can play using a particular mode for a particular sound (ie phrygian will sort of sound Spanish, Dorian will sound sort of renaissancey) and to get this effect you also have to learn how to construct chord progressions for those sounds, there is also a use for them in a Jazz context, in which you play major modes over major chords, and minor mode over minor chords, and you can get some cool sounds. As for learning modes in general, if you know someone who understands them, learn them, you can never go too far with music theory, if you don't know anyone who really understands them, and you're just using the internet you will likely end up more confused than anything else
#7
^ Modes predate tonal music by centuries; by virtue of fact, they can't possibly be ''derived from the major scale''.
#9
Quote by Tiimmo19
Hey, I´m starting to learn the modes of the major scale, but I have a question. Is it necessary to learn them all? I ask this because you only learn scales that you want to use for your style, is this the same with modes? or is this something that is going to be very important for my guitar playing?

Thanks


First of all, there is no 'the' major scale. There are 12, i think. Learn your keys.

This could help http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_of_fifths#Diatonic_key_signatures

Second, it's not entirely necessary to learn any modes. Modes are, in Western music, scales with a certain melodic characteristics, ie number of flattened or sharpened notes. There are different meanings for the word modes, like medieval modus or Greek music but i assume youre talking about the conventional ones that the top guitarists often talk about.

It's useful to learn them, because if youre stuck for material they can be a quick go-to. And if you're looking for a particular flavour you can have a basis to start from which you can then change. Alot of people say that scales are useless because if you have a good enough ear then you can manage, but unless youre Mozart and have godly musical talent, who himself learned his scales like most other musicians, as you would do with a formal musical education, youre going to need somewhere to start as far as writing music goes. Or even for soloing, if youre a keen improviser, alot of people start in a certain scale or most likely a pattern that they may have come up with themselves.

Scales are not necessary, but they are useful. In theory, music is very much possible without modes, basic scale or even keys. But these things exist to make it easier for those who want to write or play music, rather than letting everyone start completely by themselves on block one. If it was such a waste of time then nobody would have bothered, would they?
#11
Quote by TommyGunUk
unless youre Mozart and have godly musical talent, who himself learned his scales like most other musicians, as you would do with a formal musical education

This is a stupid assumption based on unquestioned conventional wisdom. The emphasis on scales in formal teaching is a MODERN invention through chord scale theory. Mozart did not "learn his scales". Classical theory is based on voice-led harmony and counterpoint. As far as Mozart or any other classical composer is concerned, the major scale and 3 minors are physical exercises and a backdrop that doesn't need to be given any thought.

Crack open a classical harmony textbook, like the Kostka/Payne's Tonal Harmony. Out of hundreds of pages, there's probably just 1 or 2 mentioning scales.

The English alphabet doesn't need a whole goddamn treatise to explain what it is. Neither do scales.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Apr 1, 2013,
#12
Quote by Xiaoxi
This is a stupid assumption based on unquestioned conventional wisdom. The emphasis on scales in formal teaching is a MODERN invention through chord scale theory.


The most basic scales date back to the 1600s, and though they were few, there is a reason why later scales were explored in music and why they are used today. They have musical validity, otherwise they wouldn't be taught in modern music. They are not necessary, as I've previously stated, but they are useful for soloing and composing if youre stuck for ideas or if you want a particular flavour in a particular piece or even just a small phrase.

Counterpoint involves harmony, and harmony involves melodic intervals. Scales are these sets of notes which have a set pattern of tone or semitone gaps between each degree of the scale, and hence, it involves harmony. Having these different sets of notes already there at your disposal is quite useful, because you have a point of reference, and its more convenient. And it can allow someone who isn't completely thorough in their musical knowledge or who hasn't got a perfect ear, or who simply hasn't much experience in composing to write something decent by basing melodies off a scale, which many rock musicians have done and made alot of money from, and varying it for the song.
#13
Quote by TommyGunUk
Second, it's not entirely necessary to learn any modes. Modes are, in Western music, scales with a certain melodic characteristics, ie number of flattened or sharpened notes. There are different meanings for the word modes, like medieval modus or Greek music, but i assume you're talking about the conventional ones that the top guitarists often talk about.

Actually, modes were and still are completely separate from tonal music concepts like scales and harmony. A mode is limited to 7 notes of the mode (which explains why one of the easiest modern conventions for modal music is to use a modal vamp for your rhythm). You can, of course, switch modes mid-song, but it needs to be well-executed. The main thing about modes is that you're only concerned with melody (much the same way as the medieval modus users were). The majority of top guitarists don't use modes in a truly modal manner.


Some guitarists use modes as scales, which means they use in a tonal manner. (Hence, using modes as a scale is NOT using them modally, but rather tonally.) It's important to understand, that if you are truly doing something "modal", it is separate from tonal music. Tonal music is concerned with harmony. Modal music is not; it is concerned mainly with melody.


Of course, the Jazz guys would probably argue with me, but Jazz guys typically use the modes in a tonal manner, even if they won't admit it. But you cannot be purely modal and try to use modes as scales; that defeats the purpose of being modal.


Edit:
And there's only a few modern composers who ever uses modes in a purely modal manner. One of those composers is the excellent Joe Satriani. 95% of music today is tonal, because there's a lot more freedom to using tonal music.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Apr 2, 2013,
#14
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Actually, modes were and still are completely separate from tonal music concepts like scales and harmony. A mode is limited to 7 notes of the mode (which explains why one of the easiest modern conventions for modal music is to use a modal vamp for your rhythm). You can, of course, switch modes mid-song, but it needs to be well-executed. The main thing about modes is that you're only concerned with melody (much the same way as the medieval modus users were). The majority of top guitarists don't use modes in a truly modal manner.


Some guitarists use modes as scales, which means they use in a tonal manner. (Hence, using modes as a scale is NOT using them modally, but rather tonally.) It's important to understand, that if you are truly doing something "modal", it is separate from tonal music. Tonal music is concerned with harmony. Modal music is not; it is concerned mainly with melody.


Of course, the Jazz guys would probably argue with me, but Jazz guys typically use the modes in a tonal manner, even if they won't admit it. But you cannot be purely modal and try to use modes as scales; that defeats the purpose of being modal.


Edit:
And there's only a few modern composers who ever uses modes in a purely modal manner. One of those composers is the excellent Joe Satriani. 95% of music today is tonal, because there's a lot more freedom to using tonal music.



When i said modes are, i essentially meant modes usually refer to, but i essentially agree with you
#15
Quote by TommyGunUk
The most basic scales date back to the 1600s, and though they were few, there is a reason why later scales were explored in music and why they are used today.
This is like saying the alphabet came around hundreds of years after English has been developed.
They have musical validity, otherwise they wouldn't be taught in modern music.
They're a shorthand way of fitting notes on a vertical perspective of harmony. But the thing is this isn't even useful for its original intention, jazz. But approaching music in this way ("which scale goes with these chords") is handicapped and extremely rigid.

Counterpoint involves harmony, and harmony involves melodic intervals. Scales are these sets of notes which have a set pattern of tone or semitone gaps between each degree of the scale, and hence, it involves harmony.
What a convoluted way to say that a scale is a series of adjacent pitches organized in a contained register. It's just a way of outlining the projection of harmony.

Having these different sets of notes already there at your disposal is quite useful, because you have a point of reference
I agree. But the difference is that this reference should be treated exactly as such: a simple point of reference, like a ruler. This ruler can be understood in a few sentences at most (as I just did). You don't make the ruler into an entire subject, as countless people tend to do with the concept of scales. So when I hear "learn your scales" as if they contain varying degrees of conceptual complexity, you can imagine how obtuse that advice sounds to me.

many rock musicians have done and made alot of money from, and varying it for the song.
Hence why rock is still stuck mostly in diatonic land. Also, many of these proverbial musicians don't formally know theory and couldn't care less about scales. But whether it's that they do rely on it or that they're completely oblivious to it, the end result is that they don't have a binding, overarching understanding of tonal harmony, which is reflected in the very limited harmonic palette of most rock songs.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#16
Quote by TommyGunUk
When i said modes are, i essentially meant modes usually refer to, but i essentially agree with you




It's important that early theory learners are told what I said though, because things such as chord construction, harmony, good composition, etc. are much more important skills than modes, frankly. We guitarists all start out and see modes as some odd "Holy Grail". Interestingly enough, when I took a college theory course, we spent all of 15 minutes discussing modes and scales. There simply are more important things to learn.
#17
Quote by Xiaoxi
This is like saying the alphabet came around hundreds of years after English has been developed.
They're a shorthand way of fitting notes on a vertical perspective of harmony. But the thing is this isn't even useful for its original intention, jazz. But approaching music in this way ("which scale goes with these chords") is handicapped and extremely rigid.

What a convoluted way to say that a scale is a series of adjacent pitches organized in a contained register. It's just a way of outlining the projection of harmony.

I agree. But the difference is that this reference should be treated exactly as such: a simple point of reference, like a ruler. This ruler can be understood in a few sentences at most (as I just did). You don't make the ruler into an entire subject, as countless people tend to do with the concept of scales. So when I hear "learn your scales" as if they contain varying degrees of conceptual complexity, you can imagine how obtuse that advice sounds to me.

Hence why rock is still stuck mostly in diatonic land. Also, many of these proverbial musicians don't formally know theory and couldn't care less about scales.


I don't see how it's like saying the alphabet was developed hundreds of years after the English language.

And yes, it is, but i was just sort of dumbing it down.

I disagree with the concept of 'this scale with this chord' because as you said, its very limiting. In my musical education, we were shown different scales and chords, and some examples of what chords go with what scales in general, but we were told to experiment and use them only as a guide, hence my viewpoint
#18
this was solely around composing, btw, this wasnt all i learned in 2 years of music XD
#19
Quote by Xiaoxi
Hence why rock is still stuck mostly in diatonic land. Also, many of these proverbial musicians don't formally know theory and couldn't care less about scales. But whether it's that they do rely on it or that they're completely oblivious to it, the end result is that they don't have a binding, overarching understanding of tonal harmony, which is reflected in the very limited harmonic palette of most rock songs.

To be fair, if we lined up the various genres of music and valued genres based on the average understanding of theory that the musicians in that genre knew, rock music (excluding Prog Rock of the '70s) would be the red-headed step child.

Edit: And I like rock as much as the next guy, though I admit I've been moving more towards Prog Rock (both the modern variety and that from the '70s) lately, because many of those bands simply write better composed songs.

Quote by TommyGunUk
I disagree with the concept of 'this scale with this chord' because as you said, its very limiting. In my musical education, we were shown different scales and chords, and some examples of what chords go with what scales in general, but we were told to experiment and use them only as a guide, hence my viewpoint

The problem with that method of teaching is that many people either get locked into the whole "drill your scales" or "learn your box shapes" or only think they can play X scales over X chords. It's a system of teaching that can cause people to limit themselves. By contrast, looking at all the musical ideas of classical theory, we have a wide and varied amount of musical tools that are taught and implemented.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Apr 2, 2013,
#20
Quote by TommyGunUk
I don't see how it's like saying the alphabet was developed hundreds of years after the English language.
Because the scales inherently existed as soon as the musical language was established. The bastardization of them as self contained units that must be categorically studied is a very recent thing.

I disagree with the concept of 'this scale with this chord' because as you said, its very limiting.
But that's what happens 99% of the time.

In my musical education, we were shown different scales and chords, and some examples of what chords go with what scales in general, but we were told to experiment and use them only as a guide, hence my viewpoint

This is a empty handed gesture. If you are experimenting, there's no need for a scale because all 12 tones are available at your disposal, waiting for you to decide whether each one makes sense in context.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#21
Quote by Xiaoxi
Because the scales inherently existed as soon as the musical language was established. The bastardization of them as self contained units is a very recent thing.


Them being 'bastardised' doesn't change the usefulness of the scale, only how they are presented and in some cases, understood. What you're saying is true, in terms of scales existing when musical language came to be, and with that understanding, one could say that they are a fundamental part of learning and understanding music. It may be modern invention, and it may not seem like it has any validity, but in saying that they already were there, only now they have been put into units, its like saying the knowledge in the books of a library were already there, only seperated into units and categorised. Doesn't change their usefulness. Some could say it makes them more useful, as its much more convenient

Quote by Xiaoxi
This is a empty handed gesture. If you are experimenting, there's no need for a scale because all 12 tones are available at your disposal, waiting for you to decide whether each one makes sense in context.


Well, yes, but this was a class of 15 year old boys, most of which had never written a song in their lives, and suddenly asked for a classical-style piece with a set structure and clear theme etc
#22
Quote by TommyGunUk
Them being 'bastardised' doesn't change the usefulness of the scale
Yes it does. It went from a simple reference (like you said), to becoming a convoluted and counterproductive mess. Ask any monkey who's been "formally trained" in chord scale theory how to approach a chart with 30 chords and he will give you 30 scales. Pathetic.

it may not seem like it has any validity
I'm not saying it doesn't have validity; the validity is just massively overblown.

its like saying the knowledge in the books of a library were already there, only seperated into units and categorised.
I'll handle the analogies around here. And that is a terrible analogy.

Well, yes, but this was a class of 15 year old boys, most of which had never written a song in their lives, and suddenly asked for a classical-style piece with a set structure and clear theme etc
That's exactly the kind of idiotic musical education that goes on today.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#23
Quote by Xiaoxi
Yes it does. It went from a simple reference (like you said), to becoming a convoluted and counterproductive mess. Ask any monkey who's been "formally trained" in chord scale theory how to approach a chart with 30 chords and he will give you 30 scales. Pathetic.

I'm not saying it doesn't have validity; the validity is just massively overblown.

I'll handle the analogies around here. And that is a terrible analogy.

That's exactly the kind of idiotic musical education that goes on today.


It wasn't, and i worked hard on that anology T.T

And that was an IGCSE music class, in which theory was an integral part. Most of the theory revolved around keys, the scales was only shown for composing, the songs themselves were to be sent to Cambridge and marked. The scales weren't a massive thing in the class, only for composing. I use it myself for composing and soloing, with variation to make it sound more my own, and because it just sounds like copy/paste mess if I leave it.
#25
Quote by Xiaoxi
Because the scales inherently existed as soon as the musical language was established. The bastardization of them as self contained units that must be categorically studied is a very recent thing.

Not to stray too far off topic here, but this isn't entirely true. Aristoxenus wrote of the eight Greek species in his Elementa Harmonica in the 4th century. The Byzantine Church's octoechoes predated and possibly contributed to the formation of the eight mode system used in the Western Church that is found in chant theory after Charlemagne's reformation.

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Last edited by Don't Panic Ok? at Apr 2, 2013,
#26
^Someone's always gotta bring up the beginning of the time...

I'm talking within the confines of tonal harmony which applies today as it did 400 years ago. The same unifying harmony addresses the needs ranging from baroque to jazz to rock.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#27
Quote by Xiaoxi
^Someone's always gotta bring up the beginning of the time...

I'm talking within the confines of tonal harmony which applies today as it did 400 years ago. The same unifying harmony addresses the needs ranging from baroque to jazz to rock.

By definition the confines of tonality do not extend to modality or atonality. Even then by the same token your suggestion of learning through voice-leading, while in no means a bad suggestion, when judged by the same metric is a much more recent bastardization of older improvisational performance practice than a taught compositional tool like learning scales/modes were. However, that is by no means a reason not to learn it. There is a rationale for these techniques being taught and that's so they can be tools for use by a composer. Chord-scale theory is as valid of a tool as all the species of counterpoint in Johann Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum. Yet they're different tools and typically cover different areas. There is nothing wrong with acquiring more tools. Whether or not they're well implemented or even recommended for the task at hand is obviously dependent upon the composer and their situation.

I wouldn't disagree with there being an overproliferation of people who tell others to learn scales/modes or suggest them as a priority over other subjects. This populous existing does not however detract from the usefulness of scales/modes as tools for composing, arranging, and improvising.

DON'T PANIC! DON'T PANIC!
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#28
has this guy (crazysam23_Atax) ever actually helped anyone? or does he just put other people down to make himself look better?
#29
very limited harmonic palette of most rock songs.


Thats about where I stopped reading and just got offended... pffft. I sad now... Igor go corner
Last edited by evolucian at Apr 3, 2013,
#30
Quote by SteveJB1989
has this guy (crazysam23_Atax) ever actually helped anyone? or does he just put other people down to make himself look better?


No he's actually pretty onto it, and very frank about it.
#31
These threads are starting to make me think that perhaps we should just approach modes as an alternate outdated way of analysing songs.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#32
I srsly think mode threads should be banned

guys, whos with me?
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#33
Quote by AlanHB
These threads are starting to make me think that perhaps we should just approach modes as an alternate outdated way of analysing songs.


NO MODES ARE REAL AND I USE THEM EVERY DAY I H8 U I KNOW MUSIC

Quote by British_Steal
I srsly think mode threads should be banned

guys, whos with me?


I think people who try to use them etc should be banned. In real life. They can have their own island. With furries and bronys to save costs and stuff.

I'm with you.
#34
Quote by AlanHB
These threads are starting to make me think that perhaps we should just approach modes as an alternate outdated way of analysing songs.


These threads are starting to make me think death is the only escape.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
#35
If anything these threads have demonstrated to me that many of those who argue against chord-scale theory as a tool seem to have a very limited understanding of it or are otherwise purposely oversimplifying it in order to make their point. An example from this very thread being:
Quote by Xiaoxi
Ask any monkey who's been "formally trained" in chord scale theory how to approach a chart with 30 chords and he will give you 30 scales. Pathetic.

DON'T PANIC! DON'T PANIC!
THEY DON'T LIKE IT UP 'EM!
#36
Ah well. Death it is.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat