#1
Hi!

I´ve been playing guitar for a long time but I´ve never understood the "thing" about modes.

I know about the general theory about modes, and I am also familliar with "Pitch Axis" but I still dont know how to apply It.

Which book, according to you, is the best to learn the concept of the modes, how to apply it and how to finally "get it"?

thank you
#2
Well... I don't know about books.

Also, many times if you ask about modes, it will start a war here.

But yeah, the way I would look at modes is not how D dorian is related to C major. I would look at parallel modes. How C major, C dorian, C phrygian, C lydian, C mixolydian and C minor (forget about C locrian - it isn't really used that much) differ from each other. Listen to the sounds. As you may notice, C dorian and C phrygian are really close to C minor. They are just one note different. C dorian is the same as C minor with a major 6th (A instead of Ab) and C phrygian is the same as C minor with a minor 2nd (Db instead of D).

C lydian and C mixolydian on the other hand are close to C major, again both are just one note different. C lydian is C major with an augmented 4th (F# instead of F) and C mixolydian is C major with a minor 7th (Bb instead of B).

Here are the formulas:

Major: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Dorian: 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7
Phrygian: 1, b2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7
Lydian: 1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, 7
Mixolydian: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7
Minor: 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7
(Locrian: 1, b2, b3, 4, b5, b6, b7)

How to use modes? Well, you need the right chords. Playing G mixolydian over C-F-G-C progression will not sound different than playing C major over the same progression.

But if you have a progression like G-F/G and play the same notes, it doesn't sound like C major any more. That's because your progression resolves to G. It's all about the tonic.

What's the difference between A minor and C major? It's the same as the difference between G mixolydian and C major. A minor resolves to A, C major resolves to C and G mixolydian resolves to G. They all have different tonics. Tonic is your home chord and you should be able to hear it.

For example you can hear that Am-Dm-E-Am is in A minor and definitely not in C major. You can also hear that Am-F-C-G is in A minor. But C-G-Am-F is in C major. The same goes with all modes (though it's debatable whether something is really modal or if it's actually in a minor/major key but just uses notes in a modal scale). Also, you aren't just limited to the seven notes of the scale. You are still in C major if you have a progression like C-Eb-F-Ab. Eb and Ab are just borrowed chords from the parallel minor key.

Hope this helped.
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#3
Quote by MaggaraMarine
But yeah, the way I would look at modes is not how D dorian is related to C major. I would look at parallel modes. How C major, C dorian, C phrygian, C lydian, C mixolydian and C minor (forget about C locrian - it isn't really used that much) differ from each other. Listen to the sounds. As you may notice, C dorian and C phrygian are really close to C minor. They are just one note different. C dorian is the same as C minor with a major 6th (A instead of Ab) and C phrygian is the same as C minor with a minor 2nd (Db instead of D).

C lydian and C mixolydian on the other hand are close to C major, again both are just one note different. C lydian is C major with an augmented 4th (F# instead of F) and C mixolydian is C major with a minor 7th (Bb instead of B).

Here are the formulas:

Major: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Dorian: 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7
Phrygian: 1, b2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7
Lydian: 1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, 7
Mixolydian: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7
Minor: 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7
(Locrian: 1, b2, b3, 4, b5, b6, b7)

How to use modes? Well, you need the right chords. Playing G mixolydian over C-F-G-C progression will not sound different than playing C major over the same progression.

But if you have a progression like G-F/G and play the same notes, it doesn't sound like C major any more. That's because your progression resolves to G. It's all about the tonic.

What's the difference between A minor and C major? It's the same as the difference between G mixolydian and C major. A minor resolves to A, C major resolves to C and G mixolydian resolves to G. They all have different tonics. Tonic is your home chord and you should be able to hear it.

For example you can hear that Am-Dm-E-Am is in A minor and definitely not in C major. You can also hear that Am-F-C-G is in A minor. But C-G-Am-F is in C major. The same goes with all modes (though it's debatable whether something is really modal or if it's actually in a minor/major key but just uses notes in a modal scale). Also, you aren't just limited to the seven notes of the scale. You are still in C major if you have a progression like C-Eb-F-Ab. Eb and Ab are just borrowed chords from the parallel minor key.


This is probably the most complete answer in the shortest amount of space. I would only argue that the Locrian mode is still an equal piece of the puzzle. Locrian may sound useless in most cases, but that is just an opinion. The major scale has seven modes because it has seven notes from seven intervals.

For the constant stream of new threads about this topic (and all the flaming...), is there any way this post could get moved or linked to that modes sticky? It even addresses the "modal" song structure debate.
#4
How long have I been coming here and saying that I hate all books and DVD's on the subject and couldn't recommend a single book or DVD anywhere in almost 29 years of playing and that I hoped one day that I'd find one that I could reccomend?

Well, my friends, that day has come! I know! I'm shocked also!

I've known about this guy for a while, but I'd never checked him out, and it was something I finally got around to. A lot of my former students have gone on to Berklee and studied under him, or have taken his summer program and come back raving about how good he was.

First of all he's on TrueFire, which is also surprising, because one of my favorite mental exercises is to shake my head and sigh at the so call "teaching" that organization does...

Second of all he's from Berklee, the land of CST! I know, that in itself amazed me.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Jon Finn, and his Modal Rock Soloing. I know, for such a terrible name....I know...

Now he doesn't teach exactly how it all came together, but his examples and reasoning and understanding of maintaining tonal center are spot on. I was pleasantly surprised that he taught it this way. I'm now going to add it in my list of supplemental materials for our students that are presently enrolled in this section of the course.

Honorable Mention goes to Modes - No More Mystery by Frank Gambale, in which he goes over tonal centre integrity as well.

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at May 31, 2014,
#5
I prefer video lessons to books on the subject. I learn more visually and this guy does a decent overview:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOf0bdf4gyI
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#6
Just Google treatise on modes. There should be stuff published by colleges from the 1600s to present on how modes are used. There is a Cornell study that's really good, I'll post the link if you like

Beyond that, you will find traditional modal use in early music like chant or 4 voice masses. In the modern era, look to Bulgarian and Romanian composers
#7
Quote by Cajundaddy
I prefer video lessons to books on the subject. I learn more visually and this guy does a decent overview:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOf0bdf4gyI



So this guy runs an A drone and plays the deriviative D major scale and says that this is applying the idea of modes correctly? It does work, but his example, Im not hearing that its resolving to A, even those that drone is there (its rather weak, by the way) He even plays the example like it want's to END on D. You have to have a STRONG total centre, and if you listen to when he goes to the D it's the only time it SOUNDS resolved.

Check it yourself, at 7;10.

Oops..

I wouldn't call it "blind leading the blind" but its definitely made of smoke and mirrors, and only the ignorant will buy what he's selling. The bottom line, is you can't shorthand and dumb down modal knowledge. You just can't.

I suppose if I wanted to play upon and exploit that ignorance I could pay my house off with the proceeds, but I won't do it that way. I'd prefer understanding to gimmicks.

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Jun 2, 2014,
#8
Modes are a pretty broad concept and can apply in a lot of different ways. Ye Olde Church music to Miles Davis to Phish, all use modes, all sound very different.

Most of the raw information you need was already posted, but it's really not going to make much sense if you don't have the complete idea of harmony in which modes fit. Learn your basic diatonic harmony first and then modes will be pretty easy.
Last edited by cdgraves at Jun 2, 2014,