#1
i have been trying to get my head round modes,
but every time i think i have it - i find, when i put it into practice, i am doing something wrong.

followed youtube videos where they drone E string and play various modes against it - sounds great - i can do that.

went to put it into practice - fail.

i have a D minor chord and i want to play a mode against it.
my goal was to sound Spanish so went for phrygian mode.
so should i be playing D phrygian? or relative major (since modes are build from major scale) F Phrygian? none of them are giving me the sound i expected.

help.
#2
You need a Spanish sounding chord progression to sound Spanish. It's more about the chords than the notes you play over the chords. Try this chord progression: Dm-C-Bb-A. It's in D minor, use D minor scale over it (there's an A major chord so over that you want to avoid using the C note or use D harmonic minor scale over it). IMO it sounds pretty Spanish.

I would focus on major and minor scales and understanding the keys.

Also learn to use your ear. Don't just play random notes, play notes that you want to play. Think in sound because music is sound. Learn the intervals and scale degrees. It helps in training your ear.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
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#3
thanks

my chord progression does go Dm Bb A but to simplify my question, i just asked about the Dm.
#4
Listen to some Spanish music and study their phrasing. Sometimes you can be using the correct scale, but if phrasing is not there, then....

D Phrygian is fine, you might like to try raising the 3rd and 7th, which will give you D Double Harmonic.

Cunts on here get pissy with gay scale names, though. But, that's what it's called.
#5
Keep things simple to start with. Pick a key, say C, and practise using each mode one at a time over the corresponding chord - using something like Band in a box or iRealb is ideal but if you don't have these just record yourself playing a simple grove:

Cmaj - Use C Ionian
Dm - Use D Dorian
Em - Use E Phrygian
F - Use F Lydian
G - Use G Mixolydian
Am - Use A Aeolian
Bdim - Use B Locrian (personally I would ignore this one as it's rare and very dissonant).

This will help you get an idea of how each modes sounds and 'works'. Then you can upgrade your chord progressions but still keeping them centred around the chords above. Eg:

C D/C C G/C - Use C Ionian
Dm7 G7/D Dm7 G7 - Use D Dorian
... and so on.

The important things to note are that the chord progression heavily emphasises the chord that corresponds to the mode you're practising, and the other chords you choose to include all come from the same parent key (in this case C).

I hope that helps.
#6
^ I don't think thinking like that helps. I mean, then you need to think about three different scales (that actually are the same) when you play over a simple progression like C-F-G. It's all in C major, use C major scale. And use your ears. Or maybe you meant something different with your post.

But D dorian scale is by its use nearer to D minor than C major. D dorian scale is just D minor with a raised 6th. E phrygian scale is E minor with a flat 2nd. F lydian scale is F major with a raised 4th. G mixolydian scale is G major with a flat 7th.

But TS, look at your chord progression. Find out which key you are in (listen to it and hear where it resolves to). D phrygian scale will work well over progressions that have a bII chord in them. In Dm it would be Eb major. So try D phrygian scale over Dm-Eb progression. I wouldn't use it over Dm-Bb-A because that's just basic D minor progression. Don't just pick a random scale and start soloing and then find out it doesn't work over the chords. Think first: What chords do you have? It's good to know about chord functions. If you don't know about them, learn about them.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#7
there's a lot more than notes to the tone of the music

you're never gonna make a bossa nova without the rhythm, for example

learn more music. don't worry about your scales and modes to get a certain sound. just learn some music. if you want a spanish sound, learn spanish music. otherwise it's like learning ygnwie to try and sound like bach
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#8
The Spanish phrygian sound comes from playing over the dominant (A, in your example).

You'll want to use A7b9 arpeggios and/or D harmonic minor over that chord to get the sound you're looking for.
Last edited by cdgraves at Jul 12, 2013,
#9
Quote by Hail
there's a lot more than notes to the tone of the music

you're never gonna make a bossa nova without the rhythm, for example

learn more music. don't worry about your scales and modes to get a certain sound. just learn some music. if you want a spanish sound, learn spanish music. otherwise it's like learning ygnwie to try and sound like bach

This is pretty much how I see it. Learning a ton of scales and modes might broaden your understanding of music but it won't magically make you understand how to use it. If you learn the style you want, like Hail said, then you get a feel for what makes the music sound like that. A basic understanding of theory will let you break it down.


Knowing what combination of intervals makes a sound will be more useful than learning a lot of modes and hoping you'll run in to one. That's how I see it at least.
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#10
ok - i'll try the Dm and D harmonic minor.

really want to get a better understanding of playing modally. still haven't found an explaination which i totally get. i think i do, but putting it into practice is still letting me down.

i think i need to think about chord changes and how that effects the underlying sound of the piece rather than think I'm in G so i'll play G Lydian to sound Lydian.
#11
Quote by airport tiger


really want to get a better understanding of playing modally.



why?

i mean i get academic interest, but honestly you're better served just learning the fundamentals of musicianship before you worry about arguably obsolete conventions to experiment. crawl before you sprint. once you've got a strong foundation, modes are pretty easy to run with, and honestly aren't much more than a theoretical party trick, just like sweeps, 8-finger tapping and every other cliche the shred genres have inspired.
Quote by Kevätuhri
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You win. I'm done here.
#12
i've been playing for 30 years. Can just about jam along with most stuff. played in bands, write, teach
.
but the theory behind modes has always intrigued and eluded me.
i can teach the - here is an open string to drone and here are modes and they sound great.
but marrying them up with chord progressions - loses me.
#13
focus on accidentals and how they affect the context you're using them over if you're trying to play in a key. the reason modes sound good with a drone or vamp (or with no accompaniment at all) is because that's how they're supposed to be played

otherwise you're just playing variations of the major/minor scale with overcomplicated names. just like any scale, in this scenario, they'll have no meaning if you don't know how to use them.
Quote by Kevätuhri
Hail isn't too edgy for posts, posts are not edgy enough for Hail.


Quote by UseYourThumb
You win. I'm done here.
#14
playing variations on major scale is how i get round it.
lydian - #4
myxolidian - b7
etc.

need to lay down some chord progressions and work some stuff out.
#16
Quote by airport tiger

my goal was to sound Spanish so went for phrygian mode.
so should i be playing D phrygian? or relative major (since modes are build from major scale) F Phrygian? none of them are giving me the sound i expected.


Here's the problem.

There is much, much more to music that selection of scale. Used the way you're talking about using them "oh, I want spanish, so I'll go phrygian" they're no more than cookie cutters. When it works, it's no more than a parlor trick: "Look at me make this sound generically spanish!"

Instead, what you need to do is listen and internalize the genre of music you want to create. Learn a bunch of songs that "sound spanish" to you and rather than worry about what scale they're using, learn the phrases by ear. Learn the melodies.

Repeat that a dozen times and you'll start to find that you can create melodies that sound spanish at will. Your brain has internalized it. Of course, this is a lot more work than just playing the phrygian scale, and it requires you work on your ear first which is even more work.

And you might not want to do that work.

But if you actually want to create something that is both original and evocative of the music that's inspiring you, it is the ONLY way.
#18
Quote by airport tiger
i've been playing for 30 years. Can just about jam along with most stuff. played in bands, write, teach
.
but the theory behind modes has always intrigued and eluded me.
i can teach the - here is an open string to drone and here are modes and they sound great.
but marrying them up with chord progressions - loses me.


I think that might be your problem. Originally, modes couldn't be played with progressions because of a whole bunch of historical/physical/tuning reasons. And they still can't. Do you really think people before the Common Practice Era were thinking to themselves "hm. I wanna write a piece in F# Locrian today. What progression should I use?" ?

Modes predate Progressions

They were intended for a time when the only way to write music was with either Monophony or later, Polyphony. Nowadays, everything is written Homophonically and in keys, so modes might not give you what you want simply because they're two completely different paradigms of music.

The reason why it sounds ok when you play over a drone is because you're imitating a verryyy loose Polyphony (where modes can actually be applied easily).
The reason why it sounds ok over one or two chords is because that creates a vamp, and vamps can be pretty tonally ambiguous.

This is all a very over-simplified and heavy-handed look at the reasons why you might be dissatisfied with modes, and why (unless you change your style of music to a style that will accommodate modes) you probably always will.
"I agree with Matthew about everything" - Everyone
#19
It's tough. Learn the Lydian and you'll sound like Steve Vai, it took him years to figure it out, but once he did, bam, leads opened up
#20
Quote by sweetdude3000
It's tough. Learn the Lydian and you'll sound like Steve Vai, it took him years to figure it out, but once he did, bam, leads opened up

No you won't. You need to learn the playing style of Steve Vai to sound like Steve Vai. And use the whammy bar, that's important. But seriously, not every Vai song uses the lydian scale. And a scale won't make you sound like somebody. You can use the pentatonic scale and sound like Steve Vai. It's all about the phrasing.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jul 12, 2013,
#21
Quote by StuartBahn
Keep things simple to start with. Pick a key, say C, and practise using each mode one at a time over the corresponding chord - using something like Band in a box or iRealb is ideal but if you don't have these just record yourself playing a simple grove:

Cmaj - Use C Ionian
Dm - Use D Dorian
Em - Use E Phrygian
F - Use F Lydian
G - Use G Mixolydian
Am - Use A Aeolian
Bdim - Use B Locrian (personally I would ignore this one as it's rare and very dissonant).

This will help you get an idea of how each modes sounds and 'works'. Then you can upgrade your chord progressions but still keeping them centred around the chords above. Eg:

C D/C C G/C - Use C Ionian
Dm7 G7/D Dm7 G7 - Use D Dorian
... and so on.

The important things to note are that the chord progression heavily emphasises the chord that corresponds to the mode you're practising, and the other chords you choose to include all come from the same parent key (in this case C).

I hope that helps.

NO, NO, NO, NO!

This is NOT the way to think of modes (or even scales, which are separate from modes). Usually, in today's music, modes are played either using 2-chord vamps or using pitch axis theory. (The latter being fairly rare, I admit.) The whole point of modes is melody. We're not interested in harmony*. So, as a result, 2-chord vamps work perfect. Those 2 chords are always chords that contain the notes of the mode (and only the notes of the mode). You are limited to 7 notes when using modes.
Of course, you can switch modes, and then be limited to 7 other notes. However, be aware that you have to switch chords as well.

Because modes are limiting in this way, most players/composers prefer to use NOT modes. Some of the instrumental guitar players do use modes, but they also tend to use very simple backing music behind the melody. (So, essentially, expanded versions of 2-chord vamps. Example: Steve Vai's "For the Love of God" uses an arpeggiated vamp.) You'll notice, however, that 95% of modern composition (and much of classical composition) is tonal.

*Note: Certain Jazz players will try to tell you that you can arrange chords for each of the modes, much in the way that we arrange chords for the major and minor keys using the notes of the key signature. However, this is NOT modal. What occurs when people do this is that they now are in a key with several non-diatonic chords. The reason why is because we've now ventured into "harmony land", and modes are NOT concerned with harmony. Keys are concerned with harmony.
Think of modes are being in the "modal realm" and everything else as being in the "tonal realm". The "modal realm" has an interest solely in melody and has no use for accidentals (or chords that use accidentals). The "tonal realm" has interest in harmony, melody, and tonality and happily accepts any and all accidentals (regardless of whether they sound "good" or not in context of a song/piece of music).


@TS:
Modes really aren't as a big of a deal as people think. How's your knowledge of keys, diatonic chords, chord construction? If your knowledge is weak in any of these areas, I suggest you improve upon it.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Jul 12, 2013,
#23
Palestrina and Josquin: Masters of the high-renaissance style of vamping on the same two chords.
.
#24
Quote by crazysam23_Atax


*Note: Certain Jazz players will try to tell you that you can arrange chords for each of the modes, much in the way that we arrange chords for the major and minor keys using the notes of the key signature. However, this is NOT modal. What occurs when people do this is that they now are in a key with several non-diatonic chords. The reason why is because we've now ventured into "harmony land", and modes are NOT concerned with harmony. Keys are concerned with harmony.
Think of modes are being in the "modal realm" and everything else as being in the "tonal realm". The "modal realm" has an interest solely in melody and has no use for accidentals (or chords that use accidentals). The "tonal realm" has interest in harmony, melody, and tonality and happily accepts any and all accidentals (regardless of whether they sound "good" or not in context of a song/piece of music).


Thing is, those Jazz players know that what they're doing is not modal. It's just an easy way to know what you can play over the changes, especially with extensions and alterations.
#25
Quote by GoldenGuitar
Thing is, those Jazz players know that what they're doing is not modal. It's just an easy way to know what you can play over the changes, especially with extensions and alterations.

I'm fully aware that those players know what they're doing isn't modal. However, I've heard people who are fans of players like that who flat-out insist that it IS modal. I've even heard people on this forum try that schtick.
#26
Quote by MaggaraMarine
You need a Spanish sounding chord progression to sound Spanish. It's more about the chords than the notes you play over the chords. Try this chord progression: Dm-C-Bb-A. It's in D minor, use D minor scale over it (there's an A major chord so over that you want to avoid using the C note or use D harmonic minor scale over it). IMO it sounds pretty Spanish..
Actually it should, "sound pretty Spanish". Why else would they call that the "Andalusian Cadence"?

Mark Knopfler called it, "Sultans of Swing".....

Quote by cdgraves
The Spanish phrygian sound comes from playing over the dominant (A, in your example).
Actually from the b2nd / modal interchange A major > Bb major. Going from major to major chord @ 1/2 step apart.

And you're going to hate me for this, but I'm going to cal that scale, "A Phrygian Dominant". You can of course, maintain in a steadfast manner that it's D harmonic minor, because after all the noodling about at V > VIb, (which I call I >II), D minor resolves it nicely, and everybody wins. (And they say I'm hard to get along with).
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jul 14, 2013,
#28
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
I'm fully aware that those players know what they're doing isn't modal. However, I've heard people who are fans of players like that who flat-out insist that it IS modal. I've even heard people on this forum try that schtick.


I agree. I would also argue that it is the most popular approach to modes there is. Even if it is absolutely incorrect, and has no benefits, pure laziness has lead to the whole "I play E phrygian in the key of C major and now I'm spanish modal" plague.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#29
The Mode Wars

It had looked to be lost but it was not lost. And so, seven years after it had begun, the battle began to surge again. The Modal Army was fragmented. The callow youths of the Aeolian Brotherhood laughed scornfully at the thoughtful reconciliations of the Grand Order of the Mixolydian Mode. Lydian Scholars warned both factions that their diametric opposition threatened the survival of the entire Army, yet they were mistaken. Aloft, above the disharmony was born a new desire.
#30
Quote by Jehannum
The Mode Wars

It had looked to be lost but it was not lost. And so, seven years after it had begun, the battle began to surge again. The Modal Army was fragmented. The callow youths of the Aeolian Brotherhood laughed scornfully at the thoughtful reconciliations of the Grand Order of the Mixolydian Mode. Lydian Scholars warned both factions that their diametric opposition threatened the survival of the entire Army, yet they were mistaken. Aloft, above the disharmony was born a new desire.

Game of Thrones? Whatever!! "The Mode Wars" is where it's at!!
Si
#31
Quote by Jehannum
The Mode Wars

It had looked to be lost but it was not lost. And so, seven years after it had begun, the battle began to surge again. The Modal Army was fragmented. The callow youths of the Aeolian Brotherhood laughed scornfully at the thoughtful reconciliations of the Grand Order of the Mixolydian Mode. Lydian Scholars warned both factions that their diametric opposition threatened the survival of the entire Army, yet they were mistaken. Aloft, above the disharmony was born a new desire.

cool story bro
#32
Modal in jazz is when you use a couple of non-resolving chords to lay out a set of notes. Hence the modal vamp thing, which hear in a very dumbed-down form in every Santana song.

Modes of a scale might make more sense if you think of them as the first, second, third, etc mode instead of the ionian, dorian, mixolydian...

According to Dr. David Baker, if you're playing a ii V I in C, you can think of the ii as referring to the 2nd mode of the tonic - D dorian - and use those notes. You're still in C, but your lines will resolve to D as long as you're on that ii. Same with V and I.
#33
Quote by airport tiger
i have been trying to get my head round modes,
but every time i think i have it - i find, when i put it into practice, i am doing something wrong.

followed youtube videos where they drone E string and play various modes against it - sounds great - i can do that.

went to put it into practice - fail.

i have a D minor chord and i want to play a mode against it.
my goal was to sound Spanish so went for phrygian mode.
so should i be playing D phrygian? or relative major (since modes are build from major scale) F Phrygian? none of them are giving me the sound i expected.

help.


Hi Airport,

If you use D Phrygian, then use D minor. Don't change the chord. I don't know that the Phrygian will give you the "Spanish sound you need, you might try Harmonic Minor. Do Dm and then A7.

That said, there's a LOT to making modes work, and even when you do, you have to know what your doing. A strong background in diatonic and tonal harmony is preferred.

Best,

Sean