Page 1 of 3
#1
This is my first post, and it's a big one. But it's so hard to find good info on this, so here goes:

Understanding Modes:

Playing in Modes is a great way to add flavor to your guitar vocabulary. The problem is that most people don’t understand what modes are or how to use them. Including myself sometimes. But I've found a good way to use them. Internet searches often produce little to no useful information when attempting to explain what a mode is or how to use it. In this post I am going to explain LOGICALLY, what a mode is and how I use it.

Before you can play in modes you need to know how to play the 5 major scale patterns on the entire fretboard. Many scale books illustrate modes as completely different patterns, leading the aspiring learner to believe they must learn many different patterns to play modes. This is NOT true. All you need to know is each of the 5 patterns of the major scale on the guitar fretboard. Using these patterns you can play in any mode. If you know these patterns, read on. If not familiarize yourself with the 5 patterns and comeback to this. It is also very helpful if you understand how to use Nashville Numbers. A quick internet search will provide you with good explanations of both of these. For the rest of this explanation, I am going to assume the reader is familiar with both of these concepts.

First of all, what is a mode? A mode is NOT a variation of the Major scale notes. I don’t care what you read, anyone who tells you a mode is a variation of the major scale notes is confusing the crap out you. What a mode IS, is a variation of the Whole Step/Half Step relationship between the major scale INTERVALS.

For example if (R=Root, W= Whole Step, H= Half-Step):

The major scale formula is: R, W, W, H, W, W, W, H

This is commonly represented with Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do

If we take the C major scale we get: CDEFGABC

Now here is where people start getting all kinds of confused when talking about modes. The common misconception is that to play in a mode we change the order of the major scale notes. For example, we’ll use the Dorian mode which is the 2nd of the 7 modes. (Ionian is the first and commonly called the Major Scale). Most modal explanations will tell you to play in Dorain you must start on the second note of the major scale. Then they cite this example:

Ionian (major scale): CDEFGABC
Dorian (from the second scale degree of C major) DEFGABCD

Although it has it's uses, this is not how I use modes. All you’ve done is change the order of C major. Technically, you are now playing in “D” Dorian, because “D” is your root note. In the above example we only see that “D” Dorian is relative to “C” Major. If you’ve gotten this far you’ve probably read this before. The question you should be asking yourself is: How do I play in “C” Dorian? And this is where we refer back to the Whole Step/ Half Step relationship.

When I use modes, I don't really care about a specific Major scale (I see it as just a mode itself). Pick any note to start with. That will be your root note. Now look at your Whole Step/ Half step formula. The formula will shift to the right with each mode you play. Example: Ionian (the major scale): R, W, W, H, W, W, W, H Dorian: R, W H, W, W, W, H, W Phrygian: R, H, W, W, W, H, W, W

And so on.

Now you are forming modal scales. The major scale does not change. The intervals change.

To look at modal playing LOGICALLY, I broke away from the idea of the Major Scale being a “parent” scale to all the modes. In fact, the Major scale is just a MODE that sounds the most familiar and happy to western ears. To explain this, I look at the Minor scale. If you know any theory at all, you’ll be familiar with the concept that every Major scale has a relative Minor Scale. For example, C Major has the same notes as A Minor. We don’t think of C Major being the parent scale, we think of A Minor being it’s own scale but relative to the C Major because it contains the same notes. We can use the C major scale or A minor scale to play around any chords derived from either scale. I see the Minor scale is a MODE as well. It’s interval formula is R, W, H, W, W, H, W W. This is the “Aeolian” mode, the 6th mode in the modal system. If this is true, which it is, each Major scale contains a relative scale in each mode.


The modal system is comprised of 7 modes:

1. Ionian R, W, W, H, W, W ,W, H (The Major Scale)
2. Dorian R, W, H, W, W, W, H, W
3. Phrygian R, H, W, W, W, H, W, W
4. Lydian R, W, W, W, H, W, W, H
5. Mixolydian R, W, W, H, W, W, H, W
6. Aeolian R, W, H, W, W, H, W, W (The Minor Scale)
7. Locrian R, H, W, W, H, W, W, W


Notice how the intervals shift to the right with each mode. The same is true with the chord formula for each mode. Each mode will have 3 major chords and 4 minor chords. For example, the Major scale chord formula is:

1. Major, 2. Minor, 3. Minor, 4. Major, 5. Major, 6. Minor, 7. Minor

This is what people mean when that say a #1 Major or a #6 minor chord. Nashville Number players use this to easily transpose songs into other key.

Now, when you shift modes, you also shift the chord formula: Example in Dorian,

1. Minor, 2. Minor, 3. Major, 4. Major, 5. Minor, 6. Minor, 7. Major

Note: The 7th chord is deminished but most people don’t use it so I don’t worry about it much

Notice how the major/minor relationship shifted to the right? The same is true for each mode. Work the formula out for the minor scale and you’ll notice what I mean. (Shift the formula to the right 6 times). Once you understand this you can derive the note interval and chord formula for every mode.

Knowing the above information, here is how you can immediately start using very mode in your guitar playing:

The great thing about the guitar is that whoever invented the fretboard and standard tuning was a mathematical genius. They also did us a BIG favor in the fact that the only patterns we need to memorize for modal playing are the 5 major scale patterns. YES only the 5 patterns! Here is what I mean: Below is the major scale pattern for position 1.

-0000---0-
-R0----0R-
----00-----
-00R0-00-

(sorry for the crappy illustration, I couldn't post a pic)

We know this is the major scale because of where the root note is on the low e string in this pattern. I always refer to this as pattern 1 for every Major scale no matter what key I'm in. If your familiar with the major scale this should be nothing new.

If you want to play in a mode, all you do is shift the Pattern around the root notes! For example, the above example is in a Major scale. If you want to play in Dorian, shift pattern number 2 up to your root note. It will look like this:

----00---
-R0000R-
----------
-00R000-
-0-----00-

(again sorry for the crapy representation)

The root notes are in same location, but the pattern is different. It’s the exact same patterns but instead of the low string root being located within position one, it's now located in position two. All the other patterns shift up as well and as you connect your patterns, you’ll always be playing in the same mode. Presto! Now you’re playing the Dorian scale. The exact same concept applies for each of the 7 modes. I’m not going to illustrate each one for you, but if you can grasp this concept it should’t be a problem to figure them out. Look at a scale book and you can figure out the position for the other scales.

If this sounds too simple, look it up for yourself. Take any scale book and look at the patterns. They are all the same 5 patterns for the 7 different modes. Forget about what specific Key signature each scale is presented in. Focus only on the root notes and the patterns. The only thing that changes is where the root notes are located within the patterns. The root notes on the guitar never change, just the location of the patterns! Now you can take any mode and play it in any key. If you’re having a problem understanding this look at the minor scale pattern and compare it to the major scale pattern. You’ll notice it is exactly the same except where the root notes are located.

If you know how to use Nashville numbers you can start to build chord progressions using the chord formulas from each of the modes. Figure out where your root notes are on the low E and A strings. Use this to build bar chords (or any chord you want). Try to match the chords to include the altered notes in from the major scale in the same mode. The chord patterns stay the same as well! You don’t have to modify how you place your fingers for any of the chords. By shifting patterns, the fret board has done to work for you. Solo over them using the correct pattern positions and you’ll notice immediately how they feel and sound slightly different than what you’re used to.

By doing this you will create a tonal center and be able to use each mode to create your own music. It will also help you solidify where each note is placed on the guitar since you’ll not only focus on the pattern but where the root notes lie on the fretboard

If you want, you can identify each relative mode for whatever scale you’re playing in and insert that into your phrases.

That’s how you can use modal scales to play contemporary music.
(After lots of debate, I changed the above sentence to match a more accepted opinion. According to many, this is not actually playing "Modal" If you want to learn how to play purely modal it will sound more like renaissance chant music.. or something.)

Once you begin to get comfortable with the modes, you’ll notice how some have a more Major or Minor feel. You’ll also notice how you can get creative by switching between modes and keys all in the same song. You’ll also notice how you can use multiple modes over the same chord or chords. For now this should get you off to a good start.
Last edited by LordYeti at Oct 12, 2014,
#2
Fair warning, because it Yeti's first post.

Before the unavoidable flame war:

Guys, this thread is about how to DERIVE the various modes. It does NOT appear to be a thread on modal music, or the applications of modes beyond adding various "colorations" to a major minor system by using the altered patterns derived from said modes.

Let's talk about that, instead of what the thread is NOT about.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Last edited by Jet Penguin at Oct 10, 2014,
#3
^^^ Keeping these comments in mind:

TS you have done a good job of explaining what the notes and intervals in each of the modes.

However the section where you derive chords from each of the modes (you call them chord formulas) needs some work, as most of the time using those combinations of chords will simply result in a song in the major or minor key, not in a mode. If you don't mind that's fine, but it's presence in your lesson will only seek to confuse the reader.

Perhaps more time could also be spent on applying modes in the context of a song. This is the main area where people get confused.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#4
Quote by LordYeti

Once you begin to get comfortable with the modes, you’ll notice how some have a more Major or Minor feel. You’ll also notice how you can get creative by switching between modes and keys all in the same song. You’ll also notice how you can use multiple modes over the same chord or chords. For now this should get you off to a good start.


You spent 2 pages on the boring stuff and squeezed the most important bit into a single paragraph.

Why does nobody ever write about the fun bit
#5
Quote by AlanHB
^^^ Keeping these comments in mind:

TS you have done a good job of explaining what the notes and intervals in each of the modes.

However the section where you derive chords from each of the modes (you call them chord formulas) needs some work, as most of the time using those combinations of chords will simply result in a song in the major or minor key, not in a mode. If you don't mind that's fine, but it's presence in your lesson will only seek to confuse the reader.

Perhaps more time could also be spent on applying modes in the context of a song. This is the main area where people get confused.


Please explain what you mean. thanks!
#6
I agree with MapOfYourHead, TL;DR.

I have written this in many threads about modes:

I don't think you should think about modes as being the major scale that starts with a different note. Yes, that's basically what they are. But that doesn't tell about the sound.

I would suggest learning what makes modes with the same root sound different.

So for example compare C major to C dorian to C phrygian to C lydian to C mixolydian to C minor to C locrian. You may notice how C dorian and C phrygian are just one note away from C minor, and C mixolydian and C lydian are just one note away from C major. Locrian is something that is not used that much because it is hard to resolve to a diminished chord (that is the "tonic" of locrian). You could write a really simple locrian melody, though. But I would say it doesn't really exist outside of CST.

Here is how to build the modal scales:
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

And I see that you did actually explain this stuff in your post. But it was just a bit too long. I tried explaining modes as simple as possible.

And yeah, I don't really agree with the chord bit. Yes, every mode has 7 possible chords but you are not necessarily in that mode if you use them. Because those 7 chords also belong to the relative major and also the relative minor (which also have a "stronger" sound - I mean, if you write a chord progression with lots of chords, it easily sounds like it is in major or minor, not in a mode).

And I'm not trying to start a flame war or anything.
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 Oct 10, 2014,
#7
Just curious, does MT believe that in 21st century music modes are essentially keys? As in, major is a type of key. Minor is a type of key. Dorian is a type of key. All with their own chord formulas, tendency tones, etc
#8
Quote by LordYeti
Please explain what you mean. thanks!


No worries.

So I'm sure you know that keys can have any chord you want in them. They can have any chord, and it won't stop it being a key, it won't change into a mode, it just stays as a key. That's one of the super great things about keys - they're super flexible and can pretty much take anything.

You should also note that there are only two keys. The major key and the minor key. These are not modes, they are keys.

Keys have been the dominant harmonic context for over 200 years. For this reason you should look at a chord progression and first ask "is this in a key?". If you cannot explain it as being in a key, then considering whether it is not in a key is the next step. This is why you shouldn't first ask "what mode is this in" - a modal interpretation should not be your "default" position.

Another thing to note is that a song cannot be in both a key and a mode, and if you can find an example of one, it's better off being explained as being in a key. It could be in a key and have some modal features, but it would still be in a key. On the flipside if a progression claimed to be modal and it bared a pretty obvious functional movement such as a V - i cadence, it would be in a key, not a mode.

Does this mean that AlanHB hates modes, modal use and naming things modes? Hells no. I'm saying that the majority of the time a song will be in a key, and the majority of the time when someone says "I'm playing a mode" they are simply playing the notes of a mode, rather than a song "in a mode".

FYI that's why people say modes are alterations of the major scale in some circumstances - when you play a scale derived from a mode in a major key, that's exactly what it is.

So when we consider your chord formula:

Quote by LordYeti
Now, when you shift modes, you also shift the chord formula: Example in Dorian,

1. Minor, 2. Minor, 3. Major, 4. Major, 5. Minor, 6. Minor, 7. Major


Ok so I'm going to make a chord progression in D dorian that uses your chord formula.

It goes like this: 1 minor 3 major 4 major 1 minor

Dm F G Dm

So with this chord progression I "could" say it's in D dorian because it's derived from the notes of the D dorian scale. The issue however is that the chords are also diatonic to the D minor scale, and there's nothing in them that suggests that the major 6 note, which is the defining feature of the dorian mode, forms part of the harmonic context.

It's actually more correct to say it's in D minor.

Let's make one where it's not all chords diatonic to D minor:

1 minor 4 major 7 major 1 minor

Dm G C Dm

Analysing this progression it can be hard to say which way it goes. We do have the G chord in there, which is handy for establishing the major 6, but we have a number of issues still?

Well it could be considered a straight up ii V I progression in C major, extremely common in jazz.

You could also interpret it as in Dm, here you would say that the G is derived from the parallel major (D major).

We could also have long discussions about whether it is in a mode or not in MT, which I won't go into here.

But you get the point - we've created two progressions from your chord formula, and neither could definitively be said to be in a mode.

I won't make this specific post any longer. I'll stop to let you ask any questions and the MT crew to add their own parts.

I hope you do hang around for this discussion - modes are often the source of much debate here and sometimes ideas are put forward that may not coincide with your own views. That said if you stick it out, explain why you think certain things and listen to the answers you might learn something.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#9
First of all, who is MT?

Second (about the chords) If you build all the chords using the same modal scale, how is that not playing within the mode?

Of course you can use multiple modal scales over the same chord, but why does the idea have to be so abstract? Please explain!
Last edited by LordYeti at Oct 10, 2014,
#11
Quote by bassalloverthe
You if you have an opinion


Haha - I think he may be in the middle of writing a lengthy answer

But yes, it includes you. MT = Musicians Talk = this forum that you are currently positing in.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#12
If the song has certain characteristics of classical chord resolution/voice leading etc....then the purists wont consider it to be a "mode." For instance, lets say Santana is playing over a i-IV-v chord progression. He is playing a minor scale with a raised 6th. It sounds "Dorian." The purists wont call it a Dorian mode though because the bass line and chord progression is still a tried and true product of "tonal" music.

In that case it would probably be more accurate to say it has a "Dorian FLAVOR" OR "Dorian SOUND" rather than Dorian mode.

On the other hand this would be a Dorian MODE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt0rcLctrbI

its not a "progression" that is using classical voice leading/resolution etc. It is more of a "vamp" that is just a couple of chords back and forth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/So_What_%28Miles_Davis_composition%29
#13
Quote by LordYeti
First of all, who is MT?


I've answered above - this forum, Musician's Talk.

Quote by LordYeti
Second (about the chords) If you build all the chords using the same modal scale, how is that not playing within the mode?


As I've explained above, not all of the the chord progressions that are resulting from your formulas are not in modes - they're more likely to be in keys because they contain functional movements. John Prophet posted a nice example above contrasting the two.

Quote by LordYeti
Of course you can use multiple modal scales over the same chord, but why does the idea have to be so abstract? Please explain!


It doesn't have to be abstract, you can play multiple modal scales over ANYTHING. It just won't make the song "in a mode".
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#14
Quote by AlanHB
No worries.

So I'm sure you know that keys can have any chord you want in them. They can have any chord, and it won't stop it being a key, it won't change into a mode, it just stays as a key. That's one of the super great things about keys - they're super flexible and can pretty much take anything.

You should also note that there are only two keys. The major key and the minor key. These are not modes, they are keys.

Keys have been the dominant harmonic context for over 200 years. For this reason you should look at a chord progression and first ask "is this in a key?". If you cannot explain it as being in a key, then considering whether it is not in a key is the next step. This is why you shouldn't first ask "what mode is this in" - a modal interpretation should not be your "default" position.

Another thing to note is that a song cannot be in both a key and a mode, and if you can find an example of one, it's better off being explained as being in a key. It could be in a key and have some modal features, but it would still be in a key. On the flipside if a progression claimed to be modal and it bared a pretty obvious functional movement such as a V - i cadence, it would be in a key, not a mode.

Does this mean that AlanHB hates modes, modal use and naming things modes? Hells no. I'm saying that the majority of the time a song will be in a key, and the majority of the time when someone says "I'm playing a mode" they are simply playing the notes of a mode, rather than a song "in a mode".

FYI that's why people say modes are alterations of the major scale in some circumstances - when you play a scale derived from a mode in a major key, that's exactly what it is.

So when we consider your chord formula:


Ok so I'm going to make a chord progression in D dorian that uses your chord formula.

It goes like this: 1 minor 3 major 4 major 1 minor

Dm F G Dm

So with this chord progression I "could" say it's in D dorian because it's derived from the notes of the D dorian scale. The issue however is that the chords are also diatonic to the D minor scale, and there's nothing in them that suggests that the major 6 note, which is the defining feature of the dorian mode, forms part of the harmonic context.

It's actually more correct to say it's in D minor.

Let's make one where it's not all chords diatonic to D minor:

1 minor 4 major 7 major 1 minor

Dm G C Dm

Analysing this progression it can be hard to say which way it goes. We do have the G chord in there, which is handy for establishing the major 6, but we have a number of issues still?

Well it could be considered a straight up ii V I progression in C major, extremely common in jazz.

You could also interpret it as in Dm, here you would say that the G is derived from the parallel major (D major).

We could also have long discussions about whether it is in a mode or not in MT, which I won't go into here.

But you get the point - we've created two progressions from your chord formula, and neither could definitively be said to be in a mode.

I won't make this specific post any longer. I'll stop to let you ask any questions and the MT crew to add their own parts.

I hope you do hang around for this discussion - modes are often the source of much debate here and sometimes ideas are put forward that may not coincide with your own views. That said if you stick it out, explain why you think certain things and listen to the answers you might learn something.


Thanks for that, I see your point and it's a good one. I'll contemplate that and try to add it to my bank of ideas. I think everyone learns music differently and my brain prefers associating patterns with main ideas. Modes make more sense to me as individual entities with brothers and sisters who can help each other out. Thanks for taking the time to respond!
#15
Quote by LordYeti
Thanks for that, I see your point and it's a good one. I'll contemplate that and try to add it to my bank of ideas. I think everyone learns music differently and my brain prefers associating patterns with main ideas. Modes make more sense to me as individual entities with brothers and sisters who can help each other out. Thanks for taking the time to respond!


Thanks for reading.

Have a quick read of my blog on modes here:
http://profile.ultimate-guitar.com/AlanHB/blog/100719/

It might provide guidance on how modes can be used in a variety of situations.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that you're covering application of modes in your article - most people just give the notes and formula and say "go for it" which is not very helpful.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#16
So, after reading your post AlanHB, I went back and played with some chord patterns using the Dorian scale and sticking to the Dorian Major/Minor relationship. I see your point with simple major and minor patterns. However, if you throw in minor 7th chord patterns you include your flat 3rd. To clarify, you need to use "specific" chord patterns to include your modal notes. What I love though is that the chord patterns still remain unchanged and thats what sticks in my mind and makes me happy.
#17
That's cool that you're making some breakthroughs. I think you really should think about whether:

(a) You are talking about traditional modal progressions; or
(b) You are talking about progressions that are in keys that also have modal influences.

The latter is far more common.

Either way you can see how simply harmonising the scale and making the chord progressions will not necessarily end up with anything modal.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#18
BTW, AlanHB, I really like your statement about how to use modes where they don't pull to any concrete resolution. That's nice.
#19
Quote by AlanHB
That's cool that you're making some breakthroughs. I think you really should think about whether:

(a) You are talking about traditional modal progressions; or
(b) You are talking about progressions that are in keys that also have modal influences.

The latter is far more common.

Either way you can see how simply harmonising the scale and making the chord progressions will not necessarily end up with anything modal.


I feel both ideas are presented in my approach. However, I'm going to play around with your idea of modes not exactly resolving to a specific chord. I think I'll like that approach.
#20
^^^ I like your ambitions. Revise the application area, repost it here and we can discuss further.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#21
Cool, so I just jammed to a C lydian bass track I found on youtube. Nothing complex, just a simple bass line and a drum beat. I used a Amin7, and Amin6 to jam with. From time to time I threw in a C9 since it had the flat 5th for extra flavor. Then I used a C lydian scale to solo. I see what you mean about giving the mode an ambiguous feel. It works well. Tends to pull a bit to the Major scale feel but not nearly as strong as if I were to use a major chord in the rhythm.

I really like the ambiguous approach and I'll be using it much more now.

I still feel very confident about my previous post and there are many uses for the way I choose to apply modes. However, your blogs on posts are spot on. I think modes should be consider as a whole based on the 3 approaches you mentioned.

Learn something new every day!
#22
Yeah don't trust everything you hear on youtube. It's possible that the track was in C lydian, but we'd really need to know the chords before passing a judgement on whether it is actually in C lydian.

The plain truth is that many of the tracks on youtube have used approaches like those presented in your lesson, and come up with a progression that is not modal, but they call it modal. I'm not saying the specific one you jammed with followed this route, just to be aware that it may have.

Otherwise your lesson is still ambiguous for the reasons I mentioned. If you use your formula the resulting progression will rarely be in a mode, making it incorrect.

If you do not change it, please do not post it on the main UG lesson site.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#23
(stepping baaaack from this topic...slowly..quietly)

Ok that didn't work.

Yeti, these guys gave you some good advice. You clearly are trying to help and I admire that, but hopefully you are also getting benefit from the wisdom of other's comments. There's just a lot more to it, than you have at the present time!

Best,

Sean
#24
Ok guys, you're obviously not seeing what I'm seeing. Point is, what I'm doing works for me exactly like I described it. I'm not a studio guitarist but my approach allows me to jam with anything and sound good.

Thanks for your input.
#25
Quote by LordYeti
Ok guys, you're obviously not seeing what I'm seeing. Point is, what I'm doing works for me exactly like I described it. I'm not a studio guitarist but my approach allows me to jam with anything and sound good.

Thanks for your input.


yes, IMO you will find most of the arguments and confusion about "modes" is to do with the naming conventions. IMO the naming conventions are way less important than the SOUND that you produce with your music.

Look at it from the listeners point of view. If you are able to produce a strong and interesting Mixolydian or Dorian or Lydian SOUND, the listener will be affected accordingly. If 99% of musicians either dont understand or cant agree upon modal terminology, whats the % of LISTENERS who would care if your harmony is "functional" or not?
#26
Yeti, if it works for you and sounds good, then that's good, and feel free to continue whatever method you have.

That being said, modes and misinformation go hand in hand for a guitar player (I have NEVER had a modal discussion like the ones here with pianists or horn players), and there is a ton of bad/blatantly false stuff out there.

There is ALSO a generally agreed upon analysis/theory/application for modal frameworks in both a classical and a jazz setting that has remained (mostly) unchanged for that last 60 years.

No one is telling you that your approach is an un-working or non-valid one, but I think I speak for most of us when I tell you that there is a "right" way to do this, and we'd rather get to the bottom of that than debate the intricacies of an (sorry in advance) inefficient system that has some serious holes.

Like I said, it works now, but what happens when harder music comes along? Your building is gonna fall right over in a storm without a good foundation.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#28
Quote by JohnProphet
yes, IMO you will find most of the arguments and confusion about "modes" is to do with the naming conventions. IMO the naming conventions are way less important than the SOUND that you produce with your music.


Do you disagree with the information put forward in in this thread John? What about you Jet?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#29
The part where OP discusses the derivation of modes and the chords in each mode from a Major Scale? Not really no.

The part that talks about applications of said modes and the infamous "I played a Dorian pattern we are now in Dorian?" (I'm paraphrasing)

Yeah. A bit. Yeti's post is actually not that bad, there's just a red flag or two here and there, IMO.

The fact that the Roman Numerals change around doesn't have to do with whether or not we are in a modal system. Just because there is a D minor and a G major chord in the same progression doesn't mean we are in D Dorian.


The "C Lydian" backing track/jam I am extremely skeptical about, but that isn't due to OP.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Last edited by Jet Penguin at Oct 11, 2014,
#30
Quote by AlanHB
Do you disagree with the information put forward in in this thread John? What about you Jet?


I was just speaking in general based on what I learned in the long threads I was involved in on modes. The disagreements are never really about the music itself or the particular sound of it...the arguments are always about names of things and being "correct"

I personally feel there is a point to be reached where one simply makes music without feeling the need to be so conscious about the methods he is using. I guess it is like comparing a 7th grader to a successful architect. All the 7th grader wants to do is argue to show how much algebra he knows, whereas the architect is trying to do something constructive.

It is also not hard to see that much great music is made by people who are blissfully unaware of deeper aspects of music theory. Id love to know if either Lennon or Mccartney ever used the word "mode" in any interview.

I also sort of reflect upon the greats of early jazz. The Parkers and Coltranes etc. Sure they knew scales etc and they were pushing boundaries all the time and exploring things. But when you hear all the stories of the drinking and womanizing and heroin addictions etc you sort of wonder when they found time to peruse the college textbooks
#31
Quote by JohnProphet
I was just speaking in general based on what I learned in the long threads I was involved in on modes. The disagreements are never really about the music itself or the particular sound of it...the arguments are always about names of things and being "correct"

I personally feel there is a point to be reached where one simply makes music without feeling the need to be so conscious about the methods he is using. I guess it is like comparing a 7th grader to a successful architect. All the 7th grader wants to do is argue to show how much algebra he knows, whereas the architect is trying to do something constructive.

It is also not hard to see that much great music is made by people who are blissfully unaware of deeper aspects of music theory. Id love to know if either Lennon or Mccartney ever used the word "mode" in any interview.

I also sort of reflect upon the greats of early jazz. The Parkers and Coltranes etc. Sure they knew scales etc and they were pushing boundaries all the time and exploring things. But when you hear all the stories of the drinking and womanizing and heroin addictions etc you sort of wonder when they found time to peruse the college textbooks


Yea basically this. I mean, modal music as we know it is at least 1000 years old at this point. You cant put it all in one box. Basically, no matter what anyone says about modes, I can argue that its wrong simply by using definitions from a type of music 500 years removed from the question at hand.

Thats why its important to know not just modes, but their many many many uses as well. I mean, we are not going to sit around and be dicks and suggest that there are a total of 4 modes plus their hypo/hyper forms
Last edited by bassalloverthe at Oct 11, 2014,
#33
John and Bassallover,

I totally get where you're coming from. The real point is "who cares what it's called, what it sounds like is the most important thing".

If this is the case, why even label it a mode? That word is already taken.

It's like a guy wants to make potato juice. He shows me an orange and goes "this is a potato". Well I could go "well actually it doesn't matter what it's called, it's all about what you think is good". The guy then goes to "juice" his potato and makes potato juice. He sells his potato juice and people are like "umm isn't this orange juice" and he's like "duh that's just a naming convention, just enjoy the potato juice".

Now the guy is perfectly happy and the resulting juice is still tasty, it's just that calling it potato juice isn't exactly right, because it doesn't involve a potato.

Now this bloke could have avoided the situation by saying "I'm going to make juice, don't care what type", but the thing is, he didn't.

Same goes for modes. If you want to call something modal, it should be modal. It could be that you are pumping out the greatest songs ever, and everyone loves them. But insisting that they are modal will not make them so. It's just like the potato juice.

The issue is not "naming conventions" and other people - it's the writer of the song insisting that it's in a mode to begin with.

If you are so insistent to make a modal song, learn how to make one. If you don't care, just call it a song and not modal. You can't have it both ways however.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#34
Quote by AlanHB
John and Bassallover,

I totally get where you're coming from. The real point is "who cares what it's called, what it sounds like is the most important thing".

If this is the case, why even label it a mode? That word is already taken.

It's like a guy wants to make potato juice. He shows me an orange and goes "this is a potato". Well I could go "well actually it doesn't matter what it's called, it's all about what you think is good". The guy then goes to "juice" his potato and makes potato juice. He sells his potato juice and people are like "umm isn't this orange juice" and he's like "duh that's just a naming convention, just enjoy the potato juice".

Now the guy is perfectly happy and the resulting juice is still tasty, it's just that calling it potato juice isn't exactly right, because it doesn't involve a potato.

Now this bloke could have avoided the situation by saying "I'm going to make juice, don't care what type", but the thing is, he didn't.

Same goes for modes. If you want to call something modal, it should be modal. It could be that you are pumping out the greatest songs ever, and everyone loves them. But insisting that they are modal will not make them so. It's just like the potato juice.

The issue is not "naming conventions" and other people - it's the writer of the song insisting that it's in a mode to begin with.

If you are so insistent to make a modal song, learn how to make one. If you don't care, just call it a song and not modal. You can't have it both ways however.


Well, I mean, I agree. Its not like it was a great OP. "Nobody hardly ever uses the viidim." I mean, wtf am I actually reading? I just always have to interject that there is...well, a lot to be obtained from actually studying modes. Its such a broad topic that it can lead you to almost any conclusion, but you have to have some sort of mastery of the topic to be able to pull that off. Kind of like a "Your so good you can bullshit whatever you want and actually back it up" scenario.

In retrospect, I do wish I hadnt agreed so strongly with John before actually reading the comment. I believe craftsmanship is important, and part of our craftsmanship is understanding what to call things so we can communicate them intellectually with other musicians.
#35
^^^ Ahh cool, I think we're on the same page.

I don't know if it's me, but sometimes it seems like people are really insistent that their song is in a mode/modal because keys are beneath them or too simple. Like if their song was in a key they would be a failure of a musician.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#38
my point is more along the lines of making the juice and enjoying the juice and not CALLING it anything.

drink the juice

people argue over what to call stuff and the guy who actually wrote it may be long dead.

If I remember correctly from several months ago, one of Harmosis' best points was that the tonal/modal distinction is more along the lines of a continuum as opposed to a strict black and white "either/or" sort of thing.

Lastly, one can be hung up on calling everything a mode, but one can also be hung up on calling everything a "key." Either way they are hung up.
#39
^^^ It's hard to tell whether you agree, disagree or don't care about any of the theory discussion in this thread so I don't really know how to answer sorry.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#40
Quote by AlanHB
^^^ Fair enough. It's hard to tell whether you agree, disagree or don't care about any of the theory discussion in this thread so I don't really know how to answer sorry.


I am just trying to keep it all in proper perspective. If you microscope the bark too much you lose sight of the trees and the forest.

Here is a song I wrote about a month ago. Not even once did the thought "tonal" or "modal" have to enter my head to write it.

http://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-23823.php

So IMO the theory is simply massively less important than the creation itself. Now that the song is written, folks can endlessly argue over it to classify it etc. Meanwhile most people will just listen to it and enjoy it.

the song itself is obviously purely tonal, or as you might call it "key based" up to the 2:21 mark. After that it might get a little murky as far as classification goes.

The song up to 2:21ish was in the key of Emajor with a Dmaj7th chord thrown in.

The rest of the song, from 2:21 to 3:56 is just these chords repeated D9add6 to C#m7 (4x) then Cmaj7th to Bminbb5 (2x)

here are the voicings:

D9add6=x54500
C#m7=x42400
Cmaj7=32400
Bminbb5=x20400

So the ending, is it tonal or modal?? As I said the thought never entered my mind one way or the other. I do think that it is beautiful and hypnotic. It just floats along, never really resolving and even the ending leaves you sort of hanging.

Those chords with chromatic descending bass line...is that functional or non functional harmony?? Dunno, it never entered my mind. In the creation of the song it wasnt at all about "gee, how can I make this modal so I can impress folks" or "gee, I want to prove how clever I am by writing a tonal song with an ambiguous modal ending." It was more like "ok, these first 2 chords sound really cool and moody together, now where can I go to keep that mood going while going away from these two chords so I can come back to them" or if I remember even more clearly it was probably the ol' basic idea of "ok I am here with this fingering, where can I go that wont twist my fingers into knots?" lol

Even the chord names are an afterthought. Of course I realized that the middle 2 chords were C#min7 and cmaj7th but I had to do a little thinking/research to name the first chord and the last chord. OMG, how is that possible????? You mean that one can write cool music without the left side of the brain having it all fully categorized beforehand? Evidently so.


So I guess my contribution is just suggesting that theory is nice but should be kept in some sort of perspective. One can use theory as a jumping off point to try new things etc such as "Im going to sit down and write something Dorian." I think that is a decent way to approach it.

I realized quickly that if I spent 2 hours after work arguing in forums that I had just spent my available after work time and that I wouldnt be playing guitar that night since I spent my time on pretty pointless arguing.

To each his own I guess
Last edited by JohnProphet at Oct 12, 2014,
Page 1 of 3