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#1
Hey y'all.
I have begun to learn modes, and am already confused. I was playing G mixolydian over a G7 chord, and it did not sound right, however, I played the C mixolydian over the same chord, and got a better sound out of it. What am I missing? If anyone here plays harmonica, that seems like a similar concept to playing in Harmonica second position?
Thanks!
#2
Note-wise, the only difference between the two is the Bb in Cmixo, which is a b3 in G. You probably liked the b3 as it's a very bluesy tone over G7.

Regardless, without audio we can't diagnose any problem. Maybe you're just not playing it properly...
#3
Playing the b3 accidental over a dom7 chord is really usual. That's what all the blues players do.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#4
My gut tells me you have C and G mixolyidan mixed up and were playing one instead of the other.
"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
#5
Quote by bubbaguitarman
Hey y'all.
I have begun to learn modes, and am already confused. I was playing G mixolydian over a G7 chord, and it did not sound right, however, I played the C mixolydian over the same chord, and got a better sound out of it. What am I missing? If anyone here plays harmonica, that seems like a similar concept to playing in Harmonica second position?
Thanks!


Take a step back:

G Mixo: G A B C D E F
C Mixo: C D E F G A Bb
or, since we're playing over a G chord, let's reorder that:
G A Bb C D E F

Which also goes by the name G Dorian (minor with a major sixth).

What's the difference between those two scales?

B vs Bb.

Exploiting the tension between the major and flat third is the heart of blues music, so it's not surprising that you like that sound.

A lot of this becomes clear when you stop thinking about mode names/shapes and start looking at note names. You're not playing C mixolydian here. That you think you were probably suggests that you're thinking in terms of shapes.
#6
Thanks for the responses. In more detail, when I play the F note, it does not sound right to me, even over a G7. This seems extremely odd, because my understanding is that it's the F that makes the chord a G7. Am I correct in this? Can someone possibly link me to a good lesson or explanation concerning the mixolydian?
Thank y'all!
Last edited by bubbaguitarman at Oct 18, 2014,
#7
Quote by bubbaguitarman
Thanks for the responses. In more detail, when I play the F note, it does not sound right to me, even over a G7. This seems extremely odd, because my understanding is that it's the F that makes the chord a G7. Am I correct in this? Can someone possibly link me to a good lesson or explanation concerning the mixolydian?
Thank y'all!


Well, your b7th forms a tritone with your 3rd. Our ears are accustomed to this resolving somewhere - typically a G7 would resolve to C (V-I progression).
#8
In addition to what Map said, there's a reason why, except in specific circumstances, we don't talk about playing mixolydian. We talk about playing major.

eg, let's say you were applying chord-scale theory over a C-Am-F-G7 progression. (Chord-scale theory is one of the legitimate applications of modes, where, over a set of SLOW changes, you solo in a scale for each chord over the changes). Applying CST, G Mixolydian would be the right scale to play over that G7.

(For the record, I recognize that this would be a really silly progression to use CST to solo over - making something simple complicated for no benefit at all).

But the trick is that we in that circumstance, we WANT the tension inherent in a 7th chord. We want that thing that feels "not quite right" to you, because we're trying to imply a fundamentally unstable chord (the G7).

But if you're just vamping over G7, you don't really want that instability so much. It probably makes more sense to think about what you're doing is playing in G major, and just being aware of the accidentals. And in the blues, another place where we might want G7 to feel resolved, well, we're often playing with that Bb anyway.
#9
Quote by HotspurJr
In addition to what Map said, there's a reason why, except in specific circumstances, we don't talk about playing mixolydian. We talk about playing major.

eg, let's say you were applying chord-scale theory over a C-Am-F-G7 progression. (Chord-scale theory is one of the legitimate applications of modes, where, over a set of SLOW changes, you solo in a scale for each chord over the changes). Applying CST, G Mixolydian would be the right scale to play over that G7.

(For the record, I recognize that this would be a really silly progression to use CST to solo over - making something simple complicated for no benefit at all).

But the trick is that we in that circumstance, we WANT the tension inherent in a 7th chord. We want that thing that feels "not quite right" to you, because we're trying to imply a fundamentally unstable chord (the G7).

But if you're just vamping over G7, you don't really want that instability so much. It probably makes more sense to think about what you're doing is playing in G major, and just being aware of the accidentals. And in the blues, another place where we might want G7 to feel resolved, well, we're often playing with that Bb anyway.

Thank you for this! I was not in complete understanding of what I was supposed to be doing with the scale. I was definitely trying to apply it in an "incorrect" way for lack of a better term, but I think this clears it up for me, a little bit anyway. Thanks for all the input y'all!
#10
Quote by HotspurJr
In addition to what Map said, there's a reason why, except in specific circumstances, we don't talk about playing mixolydian. We talk about playing major.

eg, let's say you were applying chord-scale theory over a C-Am-F-G7 progression. (Chord-scale theory is one of the legitimate applications of modes, where, over a set of SLOW changes, you solo in a scale for each chord over the changes). Applying CST, G Mixolydian would be the right scale to play over that G7.

(For the record, I recognize that this would be a really silly progression to use CST to solo over - making something simple complicated for no benefit at all).

But the trick is that we in that circumstance, we WANT the tension inherent in a 7th chord. We want that thing that feels "not quite right" to you, because we're trying to imply a fundamentally unstable chord (the G7).

But if you're just vamping over G7, you don't really want that instability so much. It probably makes more sense to think about what you're doing is playing in G major, and just being aware of the accidentals. And in the blues, another place where we might want G7 to feel resolved, well, we're often playing with that Bb anyway.


For the avoidance of doubt, special circumstances includes using mixolydian in the blues and also where a dominant7 is used to groove over for awhile.

E.g. G7 for 8 bars, F7 for bars, repeat. Here you could play in the keys of G Mixolydian and F Mixolydian.

In the blues, e.g G7 C7 D7 you could play in the keys of G Mix, C Mix and D Mix.

In Mix, 4 of its 7 notes have a tendency to resolve (i.e. the ear is (sort of) aware that the tendency note should be followed by its resolution note). These are

6 -> 5 (6 followed by 5). weakest expectation
2 -> 1
b7 -> 1 above it, second strongest expectation
4 -> 3 strongest expectation.

The need for resolution is strengthened if the tendency tone is emphasised (have a think how this could be achieved), and conversely, weakened if de-emphasised.

cheers, Jerry
#11
^ Not in the "key of" G mixolydian. You would just use the mixolydian scale. Mixolydian is really not a key. There are only two keys that are minor and major.

But yeah, you could use the mixolydian scale over every chord (G mixo over G7, C mixo over C7 and D mixo over D7). That would be a pretty CST-ish way to look at the progression.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#12
What Maggara said. That progression is in G major, it just uses some non-diatonic chords (specifically non-functioning dominants)

Jerry's advice is good but would be more accurately described as "using x scale" instead of "playing in x key"

Tonal music is either going to be major or minor. The scale choices we make when playing don't affect this.
"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
#13
MM, JP ... this is very interesting. You guys deny the existence of keys like G Mixolydian, and only accept the major and minor keys. Clearly, this is for a very good reason. But there is definitely another school of thought that disagrees with this (e.g see William Russo).

Personally, I agree with Russo ... chord progressions can be made to both confirm the tonal centre (e.g. G) and the modality (scale type). Indeed, I have to be careful not to confirm the parent key (C major), nor G major.

In another thread (my 2 cents on modes) I gave an example of using A Lydian Augmented as the key. But what would you guys call it? (I need to dig up the message number) ... hopefully this will do it: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showpost.php?p=33013053&postcount=17

Another problem (for me) just talking about minor, is what sort of minor? You guys obviously know the various of these.

Maybe this is an American versus UK thing?

Interested to hear your replies.

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Oct 19, 2014,
#14
What are you guys on about? If I vamp Dm - Em, I am explicitly playing Dorian, not minor with accidentals. Now obviously if I venture too far from that progression I will eventually default into minor via a need for resolution, but if I don't deviate I am most definately playing Dorian.
#15
Quote by MapOfYourHead
What are you guys on about? If I vamp Dm - Em, I am explicitly playing Dorian, not minor with accidentals. Now obviously if I venture too far from that progression I will eventually default into minor via a need for resolution, but if I don't deviate I am most definately playing Dorian.


+1. Absolutely.
#16
Jerry,

Augmented chords are tricky, because the lack of a perfect fifth can make establishing a tonal center difficult. This is why we see so little music in Locrian; it is very difficult to not make B Locrian sound like E Phrygian, thanks to the location of the P5.

However, I will say this: It is definitely a terminology thing. There are three major and three minor modes, but this only refers to the status of scale degree 3. Hence a major or minor scale formation.

There is also the slightly different usage of major and minor, referring to the major/minor system of tonal harmony we all know and love.

Just as it is inaccurate to say this progression:

C - F - G = is in C Ionian

It would be strange to say this progression

Dm - Em x inifnity = is in D minor. It's actually Dorian.

Dorian is a minor mode, so you technically have not said anything false, just "less than accurate"

I always prefer to be as specific as possible and call things in a non confusing manner. That Dm progression is in D Dorian, not D minor, because there is an implication that D minor means a tonal (not modal) system revolving around a Dm triad.

Aeolian does not equal minor, just as Ionian does not equal major.

As far as the three "different minors" go:

Something isn't "IN" Harmonic or Melodic Minor. Tonal music is in a minor key, and often uses those scale formations for voice leading (HM) and shading (MM) purposes.

I looked at your modal example and yeah, you could make a case that it is modal in A Lydian Aug, but there are some tonal moments hiding in there. The E7alt (V7) to D#m7b5 (#IVm7b5) is basically a V I.

The other problem is melodic minor functions in contemporary music as a harmonic shading device. My ears hear that entire progression is being in A Major/Lydian (its kind of both, like I said, tonal moments) with altered harmonies. I don't really hear it as being in an Augmented mode. Such is the problem with Melodic Minor modes.

But, those are just my ears/insights. Jerry seems to be pretty well organized, I don't claim his way is less valid than mine.
"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
#17
as jet pointed out..while there are modal progressions there are NOT modal keys..if so what would be the key signature...what a mess that would be .. circle of 5ths in modes...OMG...and what would you call a altered chord that is already altered .. you third degree of the MM for example a lydian augmented with a #9 .. what chord would that be..Ebaug#9? .. the term Lydian in that case is useless-G Maj7/Eb would be more accurate .. and so on

no its not an American thing..diatonic harmony is international C-E-G is C major on every piano..

there is more confusion and conflict over the term/use of modes as it is..as JetPenguin has said many times..I appreciate his effort to share harmonic knowledge and the use of harmonic devices such as the melodic & harmonic scales..but even here..there is confusion with some thinking they are "keys" and the chords produced by them are proof of it..

there is a concept called the "Lydian chromatic concept" by George Russell that influenced some jazz players in the 50's - Miles Davis being one..and it is said the Kind of Blue album had some of that concept in some of the tunes..and the album was referred to as modal jazz" by many..but all the tunes were in diatonic keys..modal flavors..yeppers..not modal keys

play well

wolf
#18
Quote by jerrykramskoy
MM, JP ... this is very interesting. You guys deny the existence of keys like G Mixolydian, and only accept the major and minor keys. Clearly, this is for a very good reason. But there is definitely another school of thought that disagrees with this (e.g see William Russo).

Personally, I agree with Russo ... chord progressions can be made to both confirm the tonal centre (e.g. G) and the modality (scale type). Indeed, I have to be careful not to confirm the parent key (C major), nor G major.

In another thread (my 2 cents on modes) I gave an example of using A Lydian Augmented as the key. But what would you guys call it? (I need to dig up the message number) ... hopefully this will do it: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showpost.php?p=33013053&postcount=17

Another problem (for me) just talking about minor, is what sort of minor? You guys obviously know the various of these.

Maybe this is an American versus UK thing?

Interested to hear your replies.

cheers, Jerry

I think you are confusing keys with scales. They are different.

Melodic minor or harmonic minor are not keys. They are scales. You can use them both and natural minor in a minor key. You can also use other notes and still be in a minor key.

I'm not denying the existence of modes. But modes are not keys.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#19
It would be strange to say this progression

Dm - Em x inifnity = is in D minor. It's actually Dorian.


I have used chord sequences like that many times. I have never in my whole life thought about it as playing in D Dorian. I always considered it to be changing back and forth between the tonics of Dm and Em (the keys).

The best way to bring out the sound of D Dorian, is to loop Dm - G, because the Dorian specific sound is highlighed by the G chord (B is the 3 in a G chord and 6 in a D Dorian scale).
#20
Yeah that's a textbook modal vamp, assuming we have no other context. The B is the 5th of Em.

Hearing it as two different tonics is a valid improvisational strategy though.

There is a thing known as "constant structure" where there are multiple tonics like you said, but this isn't one of those cases.

Dm - G x infinity is also a textbook Dorian vamp.
"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
#21
Modes.
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
#22
Quote by Thrasherx00
I have used chord sequences like that many times. I have never in my whole life thought about it as playing in D Dorian. I always considered it to be changing back and forth between the tonics of Dm and Em (the keys).

The best way to bring out the sound of D Dorian, is to loop Dm - G, because the Dorian specific sound is highlighed by the G chord (B is the 3 in a G chord and 6 in a D Dorian scale).

It also depends on how often the chords change. For example the solo section of Light My Fire is Am-Bm and it's two chords per bar. But if the chords don't change often, then I would also maybe think them as separate keys.
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
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Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#23
Thanks JP, MM.

So there is definitely a difference in understanding. I know and use all the common scales, so there's no need to explain them to me (i.e. save you time posting!).

So, what is your definition of "key"? I've given you the one I was taught / use.
What is your definition ogf a "tonal centre"?

(BTW: I didn't say anything about D minor and D Dorian being the same thing)

Thanks again. Jerry
#24
I've just checked Walter Piston's definition (Chapter 5 of "Harmony" by Walter Piston and Mark Devoto). Based on this, we're all wrong!

Here's the start of the chapter "Tonality and Modality"

"Tonality is the organised relationship of tones in music. This relationship ... implies a central tone with all other tones supporting it or tending toward it one way or another.
Modality refers to the choice of tones between which this relationship exists. Tonality is synonymous with key, modality with scale.In addition to the major, minor and chromatic scales, a large number of special scales called modal scales xan be constructed in any given tonality".


"The acknowledged authority of the major and minor modes over a period of some three hundred years has given rise to the expression major-minor system often applied to our music. We are so imbued with this tradition that we tend to interpret music based on other modes as being in either major or minor, usally with somewhat unsatisfactory results. How often is that the ear accepts the impression of C major at the opening of the second movement of Brahm's Fourth Symphony only to find soon afterward that E is the tonal center."

Chapter 6 of William Russo's "Jazz Composition and Orchestration" is well worth a read (includes discussion about key signatures. His explanation makes the most sense to me, where key is both the choice of intervals (scale) and choice of pitch to build those intervals from (tonal centre) @wolflen ... see what you think.

Hindemith's "Elementary training", pg.54, agrees with Russo ...

"Pieces that use the tones of the C major scale are called in C major, or in the key (or tonality) of C major."

So, let's agree with differ. For me, I'll still talk about being in the "key of G Mixolydian" etc., using this as short hand for saying we're using "Mixolydian scale with G as the tonal centre", build chord progressions propping up that tonal centre with appropriate chords from the scale, and disagree about trying to bring everything back to major or minor.

I suspect the word "Key" originally meant "important" ... the centre of attention.

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Oct 20, 2014,
#25
My understanding of key is that the key is defined by the tonic chord. If we are talking about tonal music and your tonic is major, you are in a major key and if your tonic is minor, you are in a minor key. The other notes you use don't really matter. Again, if we are talking about tonal music, ie music that is in a key.

There are only two keys. Major and minor.

Of course in a major key you mostly use the notes of the major scale and in a minor key you mostly use the notes of the minor scale (doesn't matter if it's natural, harmonic or melodic - you are still in a minor key). But it doesn't mean you can't use accidentals too. The most important note in a minor key I would say is the minor third. That's what makes a song sound like it is in a minor key. The only note that separates melodic minor from the major scale is the minor third. But that is enough to make it sound like minor.

What key would you put a song in that uses E-G-A-C progression in it (all major chords)? No one scale fits over it. If you wanted to build a scale with the chord tones, it would be E F# G G# A B C C# D. Looks pretty chromatic to me. But the progression has a tonic, E, and that's a major chord. So I would say the song is in E major. It just borrows G and C major chords from the parallel minor.

This is why keys and scales are a different thing. If they were the same thing, my progression would be in no key, which just isn't true (it is definitely not atonal).

Mixolydian is really not a key. Because key refers to tonal music (ie, music that is in major or minor). But of course I would understand what you were talking about if you said a song is in the key of G mixolydian.

And my definition of "tonal center"... Well, you feel a pull towards that note/chord. That's your home chord. When you play it in the end of a progression, it sounds "complete". If you don't end your progression with the tonic, it kind of leaves the ending "open". Many songs end with a IV or V chord (or some other chord than the tonic).
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 20, 2014,
#26
Quote by MaggaraMarine
My understanding of key is that the key is defined by the tonic chord. If we are talking about tonal music and your tonic is major, you are in a major key and if your tonic is minor, you are in a minor key. The other notes you use don't really matter. Again, if we are talking about tonal music, ie music that is in a key.

There are only two keys. Major and minor.

Of course in a major key you mostly use the notes of the major scale and in a minor key you mostly use the notes of the minor scale (doesn't matter if it's natural, harmonic or melodic - you are still in a minor key). But it doesn't mean you can't use accidentals too. The most important note in a minor key I would say is the minor third. That's what makes a song sound like it is in a minor key. The only note that separates melodic minor from the major scale is the minor third. But that is enough to make it sound like minor.

What key would you put a song in that uses E-G-A-C progression in it (all major chords)? No one scale fits over it. If you wanted to build a scale with the chord tones, it would be E F# G G# A B C C# D. Looks pretty chromatic to me. But the progression has a tonic, E, and that's a major chord. So I would say the song is in E major. It just borrows G and C major chords from the parallel minor.

This is why keys and scales are a different thing. If they were the same thing, my progression would be in no key, which just isn't true (it is definitely not atonal).

Mixolydian is really not a key. Because key refers to tonal music (ie, music that is in major or minor). But of course I would understand what you were talking about if you said a song is in the key of G mixolydian.

And my definition of "tonal center"... Well, you feel a pull towards that note/chord. That's your home chord. When you play it in the end of a progression, it sounds "complete". If you don't end your progression with the tonic, it kind of leaves the ending "open". Many songs end with a IV or V chord (or some other chord than the tonic).


Hmm... Tonal music definitely does not mean major or minor. It means a music system that is based on relationships with a particular pitch to make that pitch the one that the piece of music is supporting (the tonal centre). Hence progressions, tendency tones etc.

Can you point at me at the theory books that state that tonal music is only major or minor, and that there are the only the major and minor keys, please? I'd be interested to see where this is coming from (as someone that has studied harmony for many years).

But I disagree with this view.

E G A C ... I'd say this could be in the tonality of E. I'd not claim it's E major with borrowed chords (this is 50% E major chords, and 50% not, assuming same number of bars per chord. Of course, if you had 6 bars of E, then G A C over next two bars, and repeat, this argues more strongle for E major, or E mixolydian.

I wouldn't improvise over it using E major throughout (at least not at slow speeds).

Tell you what would be fun ... we both write a short example solo over this, say with one chord per bar, repeated 4 times. Mind you, we'd then be into a discussion whether chromatic notes were being added to E major, or something else is happening.

Fascinating topic!

Thanks MB. Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Oct 20, 2014,
#27
^^^ The extracts you posted above all drew a distinction between "modality" and "major/minor tonality". Are you saying that they are actually the same thing?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#28
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Hmm... Tonal music definitely does not mean major or minor. It means a music system that is based on relationships with a particular pitch to make that pitch the one that the piece of music is supporting (the tonal centre). Hence progressions, tendency tones etc.

Can you point at me at the theory books that state that tonal music is only major or minor, and that there are the only the major and minor keys, please? I'd be interested to see where this is coming from (as someone that has studied harmony for many years).

I don't have an example of a book but I can always quote Wikipedia.

Tonality:
...today the term is most often used to refer to major–minor tonality, the system of musical organization of the common practice period. Major-minor tonality is also called harmonic tonality, diatonic tonality, common practice tonality, functional tonality, or just tonality.


Key:
A key may be major or minor; music can be described as being in the Dorian mode, or Phrygian, et cetera, and is thus usually considered to be in a specific mode rather than a key. In languages other than English, other key naming systems may be used.


And about the E-G-A-C thing... Yes, straight major scale will not work really well over it. If only one scale could be used over it, Em pentatonic would work over it. But this progression is not modal and even though mixolydian scale would fit the E major and A major chords well, I wouldn't say it's a mixolydian progression. The progression resolves to E major chord which means it is in the key of E major. That's the way I see it. It's just borrowing chords from the parallel minor which is really common (bVI and bIII are some of the most common borrowed chords).
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 20, 2014,
#29
MM ... agreed that he E-G-A-C isn't modal. Again, from how I learned harmony, this would be called modal-interchange, using E as the tonal centre.

But, I think, terminology aside, we'd both choose the same ways of writing or improvising.

cheers, Jerry
#30
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Hmm... Tonal music definitely does not mean major or minor. It means a music system that is based on relationships with a particular pitch to make that pitch the one that the piece of music is supporting (the tonal centre). Hence progressions, tendency tones etc.

Can you point at me at the theory books that state that tonal music is only major or minor, and that there are the only the major and minor keys, please? I'd be interested to see where this is coming from (as someone that has studied harmony for many years).

But I disagree with this view.

E G A C ... I'd say this could be in the tonality of E. I'd not claim it's E major with borrowed chords (this is 50% E major chords, and 50% not, assuming same number of bars per chord. Of course, if you had 6 bars of E, then G A C over next two bars, and repeat, this argues more strongle for E major, or E mixolydian.

I wouldn't improvise over it using E major throughout (at least not at slow speeds).

Tell you what would be fun ... we both write a short example solo over this, say with one chord per bar, repeated 4 times. Mind you, we'd then be into a discussion whether chromatic notes were being added to E major, or something else is happening.

Fascinating topic!

Thanks MB. Jerry


Ya, that's a weird one. To me, it's like a relative of G Ionian, except centered around vi with a sharp 3rd though, so the VI, I guess.

Idk what the "proper" way would be to name it, but for me, it's just easier to name it "VI mode in E."

I find it is much easier to name all modes by the degree of what the tonic would be in Ionian. So, Ionian is I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-viio, So I call it I mode. Aeolian is vi-viio-I-ii-iii-IV-V, so I call it vi mode. I think this is the first progression I've analyzed that I would consider VI mode. That's interesting to me.

Idk what academia would do, but for me, I would play over it with a G Ionian pattern as my framework, except for that tonic, which would be E major I think, or actually I think I would consider it more of a G relative with a sharp 3rd of the vi chord, i.e. a G# rather than G.

Oh no wait, This is the house of the rising sun progression. For some reason I never did these steps with it before, but I remember identifying that it was odd.
#31
I am somewhat in agreement with jerrykramskoy on this one.

There are ambiguous meanings but essentially tonality is kind of like a system of musical gravity where the various pitches exist in a hierarchical relationship with the tonal centre pushing and pulling toward and away from that centre. That gravitational effect is created by the use and relationships of the pitches to one another in the context of the music. The concepts of key mode scale and tonality are distinct but interrelated.

The key indicates the tonal centre of the piece and usually a mode as well.

A mode is the collection of pitches that make up the tonal character or a piece of music. Major and minor are musical modes.

It's no secret that those two modes have dominated the western musical scene for centuries and that our system of tonal harmonic function was built primarily around them, specifically around the dominant-tonic and leading tone-tonic relationships. Because of this we have a tendency to hear/view things through the lens of the major minor modes.

That doesn't mean that other musical modes are incapable of harmonic variation or functional movement. It's just that the other modes operate under a less familiar relationship structure between the pitches.

The mode is not synonymous with scale. It is also not synonymous with key.

The scale is the primary collection of pitches in a piece of music arranged in ascending or descending order from fundamental to octave.

The key is the key centre and the hierarchical relationship between it and all the other notes (including the accidentals).

The mode is the collection of pitches that determine the tonal character of a piece of music, but is also more than that. It is those pitches in use - the melodic or harmonic tendencies that create the tonal character, the cadences and use of those pitches that sets up the tonal character.

The major mode is characterized by the root major third and perfect fifth. But it is also characterized by the perfect fourth and of course the leading tone. The V7 - I authentic cadence is a prime example of a major mode. It contains ALL of those tonally important notes and exploits them beautifully. The melodies and harmonies of the major mode are built primarily from the pitches of the major scale in a way that creates a tonal character that we call major. It is the most explored and most familiar mode in western music.

The minor mode is the next most common mode. It originated from the Aeolian mode but has diverged somewhat from there. It has incorporated melodic and harmonic tendencies of including the leading tone and perfect fourth tritone from the major mode to the point where these now distinguish somewhat the minor mode from the Aoelian mode. This is a good example of how the mode is not a scale since this mode has more than one scale. The mode here describes all of those scales with a mindfulness of how they are used to create the tonal character we call "minor".

Then you have other modes. Aeolian for example is often simply referred to as minor - which is fine as they are so closely related. The Aeolian mode though more typically uses a bVII-i cadence - specifically a bVI-bVII-i cadence.

A bII-i is characteristic of a Phrygian mode.

One could even describe a Blues mode with it's minor/major third blends, heavy use of pentatonic melodies, and dominant7 harmonies with very specific kinds of chord progressions.

Mixolydian features often in popular music with it's bVII-I distinguishing it from the more familiar major mode. Similarly the Dorian mode also features often in popular music.

But there are no hard lines here. Although there are different musical modes there are no rules and you will find modal mixture occurring rather often. This, in conjunction with the predominance of the major and minor modes results in the tendency to view western music as having only two basic modes based on the tonic triad. But modes are more than the quality of the tonic to which you resolve. Clearly the quality of that tonic chord is an important part of the tonal character of a piece of music and an integral part of the mode - but it's not the whole story.

Now you can rip me to shreds....
Si
#32
jerry.."I've just checked Walter Piston's definition (Chapter 5 of "Harmony" by Walter Piston and Mark Devoto). Based on this, we're all wrong!

Here's the start of the chapter "Tonality and Modality"

"Tonality is the organised relationship of tones in music. This relationship ... implies a central tone with all other tones supporting it or tending toward it one way or another.
Modality refers to the choice of tones between which this relationship exists. Tonality is synonymous with key, modality with scale.In addition to the major, minor and chromatic scales, a large number of special scales called modal scales xan be constructed in any given tonality".

sounds good to me ... I agree with it..this is how diatonic harmony works and the use of modes work...in diatonic harmony you are going from one point to another..there is a GOAL..usually the I chord..in modal playing..you are just using a scale..not a KEY...your harmony may or may NOT exist at all..there is no movement required to get to a goal..you are THERE..harmony used in modal playing may or may not have any relation to the modal scale used..it just may be "backround sound" that the scale is played over..much of "fusion jazz" is structured this way..listen to alan holdsworth..many of his lines often have nothing to do with the chords he is playing over..but it works because he understands modal playing..many people do not...for a more structured example of modal playing early mahavishnu/john McLaughlin stuff is ripe with it..the term "forced harmony" is alive and well in this style of fusion..yet even with the chaos in the harmonic structures their is a key signature for them...see the mahavishnu song books if you can find them..for me this is not theory-this is diatonic/modal use in a real setting..in the song book for example..there is a key signature..a series of chords..a "head" the melody if you will..and a direction of what modes to play within this structure..in other words..the use of modes over the harmonic structure given have nothing to do with the chords..if you were to use the chord structure to build the solos used in these compositions you would be lost..and the ensemble parts using fragments of scales and completing the solo may end on a chord that sounds resolved..but that is like falling from high..tumbling down in chaotic directions only to land..suddenly .. the ground (chord) had nothing to do with your fall..it just all stops at once..as it were..

play well

wolf
#33
Quote by jerrykramskoy


E G A C ... I'd say this could be in the tonality of E. I'd not claim it's E major with borrowed chords (this is 50% E major chords, and 50% not, assuming same number of bars per chord. Of course, if you had 6 bars of E, then G A C over next two bars, and repeat, this argues more strongle for E major, or E mixolydian.

E G A C - the tonality, mode, key or whatever you want to call it of this progression depends entirely on the context with which you use it. Specifically the way that you phrase your musical passages and where they conclude. You could conclude this collection of chords on any of those four options.

The fact that they are all major and not diatonic to any particular key does not mean a heck of a lot. They essentially just become a single line that follows the root. It's much like a powerchord progression where the fifth just reinforces the root. In this example the third moving in parallel motion with the root prevents it from standing out as an independent voice.

It is effectively a partial pentatonic scale where each note is reinforced with the prominent overtones that exist within that chord (octave, fifth, major third).

You could add a D and you have a C major pent or an Am pent. Or you could add a B and have a G major pent or Em pent. But without the D or the B or any leading tones then you can resolve that to any of the four chords depending entirely on how you phrase things.

I play around with these four chords a lot and have often thought about the relationship they have with each other over the years. The above is a summary of some of my conclusions in their regard.
Si
#34
That E - G - A - C progression is an example of mode mixture. The two non diatonic chords are from E Aeolian.

And yes, if the progression is dragged out long enough, you will hear them all as different tonics e.g. (So What, which alternates between D and Eb Dorian)

Everything Maggara and 20T are saying is pretty accurate, but I feel a need to reiterate this:

Tonal music in a major key and the Ionian mode are not the same. The same goes for minor keys/Aeolian.

Modal and Tonal music are not the same. Other than the usage of "modal frameworks" i.e. the usage of sections of modal music locally within a larger context, (see all contemporary usage of modes/Miles Davis and co.) modal and tonal musics tend to be somewhat mutually exclusive.

Tonal music/functional harmony has..well that. Modal music (often) doesn't.

This is a bit of a generalization of course, but I REALLY don't want this thread to go off the deep end.
"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 20, 2014,
#35
Oh boy ... this could go on and on.

Here's the fundamental issue: what do you mean when you talk about "major key" and "minor key". I'm pretty sure there's split opinion here. Some interpret this literally (using major scale off a given tonal centre, or using one of the melodic, harmonic or natural minor scales off a given tonal centre). Others (including on Wikipaedia) use "major" key as shorthand to mean any scale with a major 3rd, built off a given tonal centre, and "minor" key as shorthand to mean any scale with a minor 3rd, built off a given tonal centre.

At this point, I now disagree with any of the above as the all-encompassing definition of key.

A key, as mentioned by last century's leading theorists, is interpreted by them as synonymous with tonality ... i.e music structured to draw attention to a given pitch, the tonal centre. (more formally: a central tone with all other tones supporting it or tending toward it, one way or another). That structure may be a few bars; it may be an entire piece, and anywhere in between.

The critical and deliberate omission in this last paragraph is any mention of what these tonal relationships are.

This is my point.

Where the structure (the relationships) expressed by the chords / melody are predominantly or entirely derived from a given scale type, then it makes sense to clarify by stating both the tonal centre and scale type used to create these relationships.

However where this structure is derived from several modes, then we can no longer sensibly talk about one scale type. At that point, we can hear that the structure supports the tonal centre E, Ab etc, and we can then say we're in the key of E, Ab etc., but can't succinctly say much more.

From the view point of tonality, the chord built off the tonal centre preferably needs to be a stable chord (so it can be "acceptably" used a lot), but doesn't have to be.

For example, the progression | A13b9 C13b9 | Bb13b9 A13b9 | Am7 G13b9 | Am7 A13b9| , played as a groove, clearly has a tonal centre of A, or is in the key of A, and is acceptable (at least to jazzers :-) )

What's the bets the word "Key" originated with the meaning of "important", "the thing to be stressed" etc.?

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Oct 21, 2014,
#36
Quote by Jerry
However where this structure is derived from several modes, then we can no longer sensibly talk about one scale type. At that point, we can hear that the structure supports the tonal centre E, Ab etc, and we can then say we're in the key of E, Ab etc., but can't succinctly say much more.


Why can't you just say something like "it is in the key of E minor, with strong dorian influences through the presence of the IV and ii".

It seems like a simple enough way to express the relationships of certain chords in a key, especially if we are talking about a chord progression that is clearly tonal. I don't see how saying "it's in the key of E dorian" would give more context than the above.
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#37
Quote by AlanHB
Why can't you just say something like "it is in the key of E minor, with strong dorian influences through the presence of the IV and ii".

It seems like a simple enough way to express the relationships of certain chords in a key, especially if we are talking about a chord progression that is clearly tonal. I don't see how saying "it's in the key of E dorian" would give more context than the above.



Well at some point its either dorian or its not. Also, modes can have accidentals, so theres that as well
#38
^^^ That is not the point that Jerry is making. His issue is that stating that a progression is in one key may not capture the relationships of all chords within it.

Let's address that point first, before talking about the difference between modes and keys.
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#39
Quote by AlanHB
Why can't you just say something like "it is in the key of E minor, with strong dorian influences through the presence of the IV and ii".

It seems like a simple enough way to express the relationships of certain chords in a key, especially if we are talking about a chord progression that is clearly tonal. I don't see how saying "it's in the key of E dorian" would give more context than the above.


I agree with this, Alan. Or, for example, "it's in the key of E Dorian, with influences from E melodic minor" and so on.

It's just the shorthand version is questionable (i.e saying a modal mixture is "E dorian" or "E major" etc. This is where the terminology falls down, and the sort of explanation you mention is far preferable.

(Again, bear in mind that "minor" is itself often shorthand for one of natural, melodic or harmonic minor, so similar clarifications could be made ... e.g "it's in the key of E natural minor with influences from E harmonic minor" (or vice-versa depending on the balance between these).

Or equally, the tonal centre is E, and the tonality is established from using natural minor and harmonic minor off that tonal centre. Etc. ( instead of these minors, it could any mode with influences from other modes, or just one mode, and so on, and no argument is going to persuade me that it is incorrect to talk about being in the key of E mixolydian or E Dorian etc, if that is what the tonal relationships are supporting. In that case, I'd only accept "in the key of E minor", if it was clear that "minor" is generic, and includes any form of scale with a b3. But then we're back to a lack of clarity).

I think part of the problem is that there is much more musical freedom now than when this terminology was invented.

As for key versus mode:

So, a mode usually refers to a derivative scale from a parent major, harmonic major, ascending melodic minor, or harmonic minor scale. The (sense of) key denotes the relationship established by building music structures (melody, chord progressions) based on ANY scale that can bring focus to the tonal centre.

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Oct 21, 2014,
#40
^^^ Yeah so from a harmony standpoint you don't draw any distinctiom between modes and keys either. Basically whatever is the prominent scale is substituted as the key in your book.

I understand your viewpoint. It does seem to clash with the major/minor key concept as it would mean that major is the same as ionian and minor the same as aoelian, raising questions as to why they were made at all. Also there are many progressions that would clearly be described as both in a mode and a key, because the harmonic context would be drawn directly from the notes in the scale, rather than the harmony of the song.
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