#1
Hi all. Yes I read the sticky first. I ran across these 2 paragraphs on guitarlessons.com:

An A major scale is spelled 1A 2B 3C# 4D 5E 6F# 7G#. In order to turn this A major scale into an A Mixolydian scale all you have to do is lower the 7th degree of the A major scale one half step. The 7th scale degree of an A major scale is G#. Lower this G# to a G natural. That would leave us with an A Mixolydian scale, spelled 1A 2B 3C# 4D 5E 6F# 7G.

And:
Another way that you can think about the Mixolydian scale is to use the 5th scale degree of any major scale as your starting point. For example lets look at an A major scale. The 5th scale degree of an A major scale is an E note. Play the A major scale starting on that E and you will be playing an E Mixolydian scale. Either way you choose to think about it is fine.

My question is that if you start on the 7th degree and simply play the same notes as A major you aren't flattening the G#. So how does that create the modal sound and are you are still playing A major? Wouldn't flattening the 7th make it Mixolydian no matter what order the notes as long as they are correct which would make flatting the 7th mandatory to be in Mixolydian? Or any other mode for that matter?

Secondly, it seems I read somewhere that playing a mode changes the key. As in if I play B Dorian over A major that changes the key? Am wrong in my understanding?

Just trying to learn about this stuff so bear with me.

Thank you.
#2
I think your first point of confusion is about relative vs parallel modes. Relative modes are the same set of notes, with different ones as the root. ie, C major, D dorian, E phryg, etc. Parallel modes are different sets of notes with the same root. ie A major, A mixolydian, A dorian, etc.

If you start A major on G#, you're still playing A major because you just said you're playing A major. If a bass were playing A, you'd just hear A major. The only way to get G# to sound like the root (or any other scale degree) is to establish it as the key. That's particularly tricky with the 7th scale degree, so I'd choose something like the third (phrygian) to tonicize. Now if the bass is playing C# and you play the notes from A major, it will sound like C# phrygian, provided you play lines that actually resolve to C#.

Second, remember that a mode or scale always corresponds to a chord or key. If the bass is playing nothing but A, then everything scalar thing you play will be heard as Asomething. Changing your mode doesn't change that. The key is what's heard as the key, not something that's arrived at on paper.

--------


Beyond these questions, you should really ask what you're pursuing this concept for. Modal concepts are important to learn, but they emerge from traditional harmony. Modes are a poor starting point if you're just getting into learning all your scales and chords and figuring out how key signatures work.

That basic traditional knowledge is your foundation, and if you don't know it, this modal stuff will either be nonsense or simply won't apply to most of the music you want to play. There isn't a ton of music out there where any note of the scale is equally good at any time.

Knowing your modes will not help you play over non-modal chord changes (most of music) unless you can already apply your arpeggios. But if you can already play arpeggio-based melodies over chord changes, learning the modes will help you add depth to that skill. Learning modes without a real application just turns music theory into abstraction, with no connection to real music.

My advice is to put the modal stuff on the backburner and first get your chords and triads under your fingers, and become familiar with harmonically traditional music.
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 18, 2016,
#3
Quote by cdgraves

My advice is to put the modal stuff on the backburner and first get your chords and triads under your fingers, and become familiar with harmonically traditional music.


Thank you. After your explanation I think that is exactly what I will do.
#4
A mixolydian is the same notes as D major but it's not the same thing. The tonic is A and it will sound closer to A major than D major. Similarly as F# minor is the same notes as A major but it's not the same thing. But I personally prefer treating A mixolydian as A major with a flat 7th because that to me tells a lot about the sound.

But yeah, first get a good grasp of keys and chord functions before learning about modes. Many things that appear to be "in mixolydian" can be explained with major and minor keys. I would suggest learning about modal mixture (ie, mixing notes/chords from parallel major and minor keys) before you start learning about modes.
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 Feb 19, 2016,
#5
Quote by baddarryl
Hi all. Yes I read the sticky first. I ran across these 2 paragraphs on guitarlessons.com:

An A major scale is spelled 1A 2B 3C# 4D 5E 6F# 7G#. In order to turn this A major scale into an A Mixolydian scale all you have to do is lower the 7th degree of the A major scale one half step. The 7th scale degree of an A major scale is G#. Lower this G# to a G natural. That would leave us with an A Mixolydian scale, spelled 1A 2B 3C# 4D 5E 6F# 7G.

And:
Another way that you can think about the Mixolydian scale is to use the 5th scale degree of any major scale as your starting point. For example lets look at an A major scale. The 5th scale degree of an A major scale is an E note. Play the A major scale starting on that E and you will be playing an E Mixolydian scale. Either way you choose to think about it is fine.
All agreed, and seems clear to me.
- except to underline that E mixolydian is "in the key of E" and not "in" A major. (Because that little word "in" implies a tonal centre or keynote, not just a set of pitches. E mixolydian is "relative to" A major, but not "in [the key of] A major".)
I.e, just "starting on" a note is not enough. That's only how we spell the scale, and start off when learning a scale.
For it to be a mode, the root note has to sound like the keynote.
That's why starting from a major scale and lowering the 7th is a better way to go, because you're already focussed on the right keynote, and not distracted by the keynote of another major scale.
So if you want E mixolydian, better to start from E major and lower the 7th (change D# to D).
Quote by baddarryl

My question is that if you start on the 7th degree and simply play the same notes as A major you aren't flattening the G#. So how does that create the modal sound
It doesn't.
Quote by baddarryl

and are you are still playing A major?
Probably, yes.
It really depends on which note sounds like the keynote or tonal centre. That might be already established in the music, either by the root of a chord, or the tonic of a chord sequence.
Even if you're just playing melodic lines on your own, your ending note is more significant than your starting note.
Quote by baddarryl

Wouldn't flattening the 7th make it Mixolydian no matter what order the notes as long as they are correct which would make flatting the 7th mandatory to be in Mixolydian?
Exactly - if you start from a major scale, of course.
Quote by baddarryl

Or any other mode for that matter?
All modes except ionian (major) and lydian have a flattened 7th, so sometimes a flattened 7th does give piece of music a"modal" flavour. But there's a little more to it than that, of course.
Quote by baddarryl

Secondly, it seems I read somewhere that playing a mode changes the key. As in if I play B Dorian over A major that changes the key?
Well, it depends what you mean by "play B Dorian over A major" .
On the face of it "over A major" means the keynote is already A. Either the chord is A, or you're playing on a sequence in the key of A major.
In that case, "playing B dorian" can only mean accenting the 2nd note (of chord or key). That can be a cool effect, but it's not dorian. It's just an accent on the 2nd (or 9th) of A major, or A ionian.
Even if the chord sequence happens to contain a Bm chord, the sound of that is still likely to be "ii in A major", not "i in B dorian" - unless maybe the Bm chord lasts for some time....(long enough to override the overall sense of an A keynote.)

You really need to reverse that phrase: "playing A major (scale) over B minor" is what will give you a B dorian sound.
IOW, B dorian is a "kind of minor key". It sounds like B minor, except the scale has a G# instead of G. "Minor with a raised 6th", IOW.
The set of notes happens to be the same as the A major scale - the "relative major" scale. But you're not "in the key of" A. The keynote is B - established (most easily) by playing a Bm chord (and no others) or a B bass drone.

IOW, it's all about notes within an established harmonic context. The note you "start" on (if playing melodically or improvising) is neither here nor there. Nor (obviously) is the fret position you choose, because all notes are available in all positions.

Modes are not about ways of playing (within existing music). They are (a) ways of composing music (outside of major and minor keys, or maybe mixed in with them); and (b) terms for describing particular sounds (usually outside of major and minor keys).
#6
Quote by baddarryl
Thank you. After your explanation I think that is exactly what I will do.
Some examples of modal sounds might help.
Rock dorian (in fact Cuban originally):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NsJ84YV1oA
= A dorian (not G major!). And that's down to the chords (Am7-D7), not what Carlos himself plays. He just uses the notes given by the chords.

Rock lydian:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SINl5JY7LhI
= C lydian (C major #4), but with other chords that are also lydian:
Ab = Ab major #4
G = G major #4
F = F major #4

Rock mixolydian:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLvBpnaVHE8
= E mixolydian
E mixolydian is a really popular sound in classic rock - maybe because beginners always like E as a key chord, and D is an easier chord than B or B7! (let alone D#dim... . It sounds good, so why not.....

The Beatles (Lennon and Harrison anyway) picked up on a particular exotic drone effect of mixolydian, as an easy way of getting a pseudo-Indian sound:
Tomorrow Never Knows, Within You Without You, She Said She Said, and the main vamp of Norwegian Wood - all mixolydian. (As are riffs like Day Tripper, I Feel Fine, and the verse parts of many of their songs, eg Hard Days Night.)
#7
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Similarly as C# minor is the same notes as A major but it's not the same thing.


Erm.... You mean C# Phrygian though, right?
#8
For me there is far, far too much over-complication when guitar players start trying to explain modes. A 17 paragraph explanation off-the-bat is only ever going to lead to someone feeling even more confused that when they first asked.

If someone is just starting out with modes the best thing to do is pick one that you have heard, can identify and like the sound of. Lydian is generally really good for this as you can find it in lots of great guitar music and it FEELS really "modal" to someone just starting out with modes due to it's "out" raised 4th. For a more minor equivalent, start with Dorian.

Now, to get the sound and feel under your skin (and your fingers) DON'T OVER-COMPLICATE by going off and trying to use all seven notes of the mode straight away... There are some pivotal tones you need to zone in on and so the secret is to start with simple pentatonics.

For Lydian - take a normal major pentatonic scale and ADD THE IMPORTANT NOTE (a raised 4th). In a Pentatonic Major this will actually mean REPLACING the natural 4th with a raised 4th... You'll quickly hear that having both doesn't work in this context.

For Dorian - do the same but with the Minor Pentatonic and ADD THE IMPORTANT NOTE (a raised 6th)

Now, noodle around with these simple versions over some songs that outline this modal sound (the examples given in JohnGTR's post above are great) until you start to FEEL the sound and effect of that mode and how powerful those "extra" notes can be.
Last edited by macatom at Feb 19, 2016,
#9
To go further, once you have an ear for the modal sounds you really want to explore I really recommend the Musician's Institute "Private Lessons" book called Modes for Guitar. It teaches modes in a really musical way whilst never getting too bogged down in the theory.
#10
Quote by macatom
Erm.... You mean C# Phrygian though, right?

Sorry, I obviously meant F#m, not C#m. I had just woken up so my thought process may not have been 100% clear.


Fixed.

Quote by macatom
For me there is far, far too much over-complication when guitar players start trying to explain modes. A 17 paragraph explanation off-the-bat is only ever going to lead to someone feeling even more confused that when they first asked.


When a guitar player starts explaining modes, the post will be full of misinformation and only basically talk about fretboard positions...
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 Feb 19, 2016,
#11
Quote by MaggaraMarine

When a guitar player starts explaining modes, the post will be full of misinformation and only basically talk about fretboard positions...


100% agree with this. I've had so many students who are scared to death of subjects like modes because all they've read until that point is this type of thing.

If you can break it down to the most simple components and get them across to someone then you've got them hooked and from then on you can build SLOWLY on that. It's really easy to forget that it's a journey that we all took and simply brain-dumping your knowledge (even if really sound and informative) onto someone who is just starting to explore something is only going to make then run a mile from the subject.
#12
Remember modes aren't in the key of anything. If you read Jet Penguins sticky it's all in there.

Obviously modal music is tonal in the sense that there is a root (and tertian triad built off it), but modal music does not use functional harmony, at least not in the traditional sense, where chords all play a role on an elaborate journey to the ultimate V-I.


1. Music is incapable of being in a tonal and modal frame at the same time. The presence of functional harmony destroys modality, just as true modality cannot co-exist with diatonic function.

2. It is misleading to use this terminology (X represents pitch name):

"The key of X (modal name)"

If music is tonal, we are going to say, "The key of X (major/minor)

If music is modal, we are going to say, "In X (modal name)"
#13
I hate the way mode are taught. It's such a simple concept.

This is how I think of modes. Superimpose every note in the key of C on the guitar. Start on G. Play 3 notes per string. You have a whole step, whole step pattern on the first string (G-A, A-B), next string you have another whole step, whole step pattern (C-D, D-E), next string you have another whole step, whole step pattern (F-G, G-A). That's 3 W-W in a row, when starting on mixolydian (G in the key of C).

Next string you have a half step, whole step pattern (B-C, C-D), next string you have another half step, whole step pattern (E-F, F-G).

Thats 3 W-W's and 2 H-W's.

Next string you have a whole step, half step interval pattern (A-B, B-C), and the next string you have another whole step, half step pattern (D-E, E-F).

This makes 3 W-W, 2 H-W, and 2 W-H interval patterns, and that's it. It repeats after that. When you tune to EADGBE tuning this pattern disappears when it hits the B string. It makes life ******ed as fuck for the guitarist. But when you tune to EADGCF, this patterns stays true everywhere on the guitar. And thats it. YOu know know how to play every single mode in every single key, just because you memorized the pattern 3 W-W, 2 H-W, & 2 W-H.
#15
Not sure if TS is still here, but I'd like to say that this question is excellent and demonstrates that he is actually listening to what he is playing.

The answer is that modes or scales derived from modes will only sound "modal" when placed in proper context.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#16
Quote by baddarryl
Hi all. Yes I read the sticky first. I ran across these 2 paragraphs on guitarlessons.com:

An A major scale is spelled 1A 2B 3C# 4D 5E 6F# 7G#. In order to turn this A major scale into an A Mixolydian scale all you have to do is lower the 7th degree of the A major scale one half step. The 7th scale degree of an A major scale is G#. Lower this G# to a G natural. That would leave us with an A Mixolydian scale, spelled 1A 2B 3C# 4D 5E 6F# 7G.

And:
Another way that you can think about the Mixolydian scale is to use the 5th scale degree of any major scale as your starting point. For example lets look at an A major scale. The 5th scale degree of an A major scale is an E note. Play the A major scale starting on that E and you will be playing an E Mixolydian scale. Either way you choose to think about it is fine.

My question is that if you start on the 7th degree and simply play the same notes as A major you aren't flattening the G#. So how does that create the modal sound and are you are still playing A major? Wouldn't flattening the 7th make it Mixolydian no matter what order the notes as long as they are correct which would make flatting the 7th mandatory to be in Mixolydian? Or any other mode for that matter?

Secondly, it seems I read somewhere that playing a mode changes the key. As in if I play B Dorian over A major that changes the key? Am wrong in my understanding?

Just trying to learn about this stuff so bear with me.

Thank you.


Check out this page, it will explain what modes are, how they're built and how they relate to the Major scale, what makes them Major, what makes them, Minor what makes them Dominant etc. www.thepickintool.com/scales.
#17
Quote by Killing Hand
Remember modes aren't in the key of anything. If you read Jet Penguins sticky it's all in there.


Despite jargon, modal tunes have tonal centres ... obvious to the ear. Take Miles Davis "So what". Alternates between several bars of E Dorian and then several bars of F Dorian.
#18
I'm think people get lost because usually when we are talking modes on here, we usually define the mode with the lead guitar play and resolve with key with progression. Progression tends to resolve to the relative major or minor scales.

Generally I find it hard to make pure modal music.

The hardest part with guitar is keeping the modal resolve on the rythym side. You can accidentally provide the flow of music with a cadence that forces the ear and mathematics to change keys from your original intention.
song stuck in my head today


#19
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Despite jargon, modal tunes have tonal centres ... obvious to the ear. Take Miles Davis "So what". Alternates between several bars of E Dorian and then several bars of F Dorian.
Right.
There's a slight contention in some circles about the use of the words "key" and "tonality", which traditionally refer to non-modal music (the post-modal "major-minor key system", functional harmony, common practice period, etc).
So modes have "finals", not "tonics".

Of course, that's an archaic sense of "mode", and modern modal music certainly has "tonal centres", and I'm even OK with call it a "keynote". After all, that central note is pretty obvious, whatever we call it. Modes might be "non-tonal", but they're not "atonal".
It doesn't prevent making a distinction between the different harmonic practices in "keys" and "modes".
#20
Quote by lbc_sublime
I'm think people get lost because usually when we are talking modes on here, we usually define the mode with the lead guitar play and resolve with key with progression. Progression tends to resolve to the relative major or minor scales.
Which is a poor use of modal terminology in that case.
Quote by lbc_sublime

Generally I find it hard to make pure modal music.
If you start with a major or minor key, then yes!
Quote by lbc_sublime

The hardest part with guitar is keeping the modal resolve on the rythym side. You can accidentally provide the flow of music with a cadence that forces the ear and mathematics to change keys from your original intention.
Well, it depends on the piece. Obviously if you're composing, or jamming from scratch, you can take it anywhere you like.
If working with an existing piece of music, the harmonic tendencies are generally written into it - either key (functional) or modal (non-functional) - at least if you keep the original chords.
You can't realistically apply modal effects on a functional sequence. You'd need to change the chords (if the melody allows it).
#21
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Despite jargon, modal tunes have tonal centres ... obvious to the ear. Take Miles Davis "So what". Alternates between several bars of E Dorian and then several bars of F Dorian.


They do, and they have a pitch collection but importantly non-functioning harmony. A tonal centre is not the same as something described as having 'tonality'.