Hi,

I guess I am stupid cos I dont understand, but it's the first thing that comes to mind everytime I get "modes" explanation

- some say you start from a different note, but then it's the exact same scale => modes appear completely uselless

( MOST OF YOUTUBE VIDEOS explain it that way and nobody explains that simple issue )

- some say you start from the same note usign different intervals, => WELL THEN IT'S CLEARLY NOT THE SAME SCALE

you're not playing C maj anymore but people keep saying it's C maj Dorian ... WTF ???

how could it be compatible with the C maj while the notes are not the same ??????????????? !

( headache is on its way while I am typing )

and to me dorian is just D maj, why even bothering with modes at all ? "MODES" should be called "SCALES"

I just dont get this

thanks
Quote by phil123456789
- some say you start from a different note, but then it's the exact same scale => modes appear completely uselless

( MOST OF YOUTUBE VIDEOS explain it that way and nobody explains that simple issue )

All scales are built up from intervals, as you seem to understand. If we start with C major, but start it on the note D, we're playing the same notes but different intervals in relation to the first note. Thus, we get D Dorian. Starting the C major from the E note gives E phrygian, F gives F lydian etc. This is just a way to derive the modes. If you play D dorian over a song in C major, it's just C major. But deriving modes from a major scale is a handy tool in case you forget what intervals make up different modes. It's not a way to use the modes, just a way to derive them from a major scale.
Quote by phil123456789

- some say you start from the same note usign different intervals, => WELL THEN IT'S CLEARLY NOT THE SAME SCALE

you're not playing C maj anymore but people keep saying it's C maj Dorian ... WTF ???

how could it be compatible with the C maj while the notes are not the same  ??????????????? !

( headache is on its way while I am typing )

Yeah, of course it isn't. Why would it be? You seem to have misread something, as no one ever says "C maj dorian". It's just C dorian, and it obviously isn't the same thing as C major. It's not supposed to be compatible with C major, it's supposed to be compatible with C dorian.
Quote by phil123456789

and to me dorian is just D maj, why even bothering with modes at all ?   "MODES" should be called "SCALES"

I just dont get this

thanks

They are scales. You should equate the term "mode" to the term "key", rather than the term "scale". Both major and minor scales are also modes (ionian and aeolian respectively), but they only work as modes if you write modal music with them. Scale is a just a linear collection of notes.
But how is D dorian Dmaj to you? It's a scale built on a minor third, making it a minor mode.
Quote by phil123456789
modes appear completely uselless

They are.
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so you play a C Dorian, while the other instruments stay in C Scale ?
phil123456789 Most people don't question where the major scale originated ... they just use it.  The best thing that could happen to modes is that their origins get lost in the dim history of music, and modes just get used.  Yes, there are a bunch of modes coming from the major scale, but it really is useless knowledge.  The useful knowledge is how to use a scale, any scale.

Everyone would be much better off knowing that

1/ A scale name is shorthand for a sequence of intervals, somewhere between 5 to 8 in an octave for common scales.  All modes are scales.

2/ The intervals, e.g. (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7),are applied to whatever starting pitch you want (C, D, Eb ....) to then select the bunch of pitches (and their octaves) that will be involved.  Dorian is the shorthand name for this particular series of intervals.  That's only part of the musical equation.

3/ Scales that work well to establish a tonal centre, have intervals 1, (b)3, and 5  as part of the sequence.  This is necessary, but not sufficient (for example, there are 8 note scales, like the half-diminished scale, that satisfy this, but you can't write a piece in say C diminished ... it just wouldn't feel right.

4/ To establish the tonal centre, the tonic  major or minor triad mentioned in 3/ get used a lot, melodically and harmonically, especially at end of tune (section).

5/ The remaining intervals have tendencies of different strengths ... meaning they set up an anticipation in the listener that one of the pitches in the tonic triad willl be following.  That may happen. It may not.

6/ Chord progessions will move around from the tonic (and related triads) to other less stable chords, and back ... those unstable chords themselves exhibiting "en-masse" the tendencies mentioned in 5/

I've omitted a lot of detail, and a great deal of music will chuck in chords and melody that cannot be built from the original scale, to add more colour.

This can hopefully help avoid some of the confusion around having the exact same pitches involved in different scales (like C major and D Dorian) ... that's irrrelevant.  MUSIC IS ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN NOTES (i.e. intervals) ... NOT ABOUT SPECIFIC NOTES.  IT'S ABOUT WHEN THESE RELATIONSHIPS OCCUR IN TIME, AND FOR HOW LONG.  Different time placement against the meter makes huge differences.   It's how you use the intervals in relation to the tonaql centre you want to establish, as mentioned in 3 - 6.  If you play a shed load of C E G pitches, and the bass is hammering away on C for ages, the music will never sound like it;s in D Dorian.   You play a shed load of D F A pitches, and the bass is playing loads of D's, then the music will sound like its minor centred around D.  As you add in other intervals (in Dorian, the 6), it will start to sound like D Dorian.

All this said, the most important thing to get good at first, is applying the above where the scale is major (1,2,3,4,5,6,7).
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Aug 6, 2017,
Do you understand what makes C major and A minor different? If not, forget about modes for now and learn the difference between relative major and minor first. But if you understand what the difference between C major and A minor is, it's basically the same thing with the different modes. It has little to do with what note you start with. It's all about harmony - tension and release.

The difference between C major and A minor is that if you are in C major, the note that feels "at rest" is C, and if you are in A minor, the note that feels "at rest" is A. And the note that feels at rest/sounds like home also affects the way the other notes are heard in relation to it. In the key of A minor, A is the most stable note. But in the key of C major, A is definitely not the most stable note. So, you use the same set of notes (A B C D E F G), but C major songs are centered around C and A minor songs are centered around A, and this also gives the other notes different roles. For example, in the key of C major, G is the fifth, but in the key of A minor, E is the fifth.

But as you may notice, there are seven notes in the diatonic scale, and you can make basically any of them be your tonic (the note that feels "at rest"). This is why the diatonic scale has seven different modes.

BTW, modes are older than major and minor keys. Before the 17th century major and minor keys didn't exist and all music was based on the modes. But in the 17th century people figured out that three of the modes have a major tonic triad and three of the modes have a minor tonic triad, so basically modes were put into two different categories - major and minor. And this pretty much lead to the abandoning of the old mode system. The three major modes evolved into the major key and the three minor modes evolved into the minor key.
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Gear

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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Aug 6, 2017,
ok, thx for the infos
The problem with modes is that there are two fundamental ways of thinking about them.

1] One way of thinking about modes is that they are inversions of a scale assigning the first note as the tonic, the names of the modes just being the names of the inversions. This is the approach that shows modes like this:

A B C D E F G Aeolian
B C D E F G A Locrian
C D E F G A B Ionian
D E F G A B C Dorian
E F G A B C D Phrygian
F G A B C D E Lydian
G A B C D E F Mixolydian

2] The other way is to form the modes as different scales sharing the same tonic, like this:

Aeolian      C D E♭ F G A♭ B♭
Locrian      C D♭ E♭ F G♭ A♭ B♭
Ionian        C D E F G A B
Dorian       C D E♭ F G A B♭
Phrygian   C D♭ E♭ F G A♭ B♭
Lydian       C D E F♯ G A B
Mixolydian C D E F G A B♭

The first approach is the way they are typically presented (because it is easier to see when the "interval structure form" of the mode is suppressed), but the way they are actually used and conceived in composition and performance is much more like the second way (which is more difficult to grasp, but preserves the "interval structure form" of the mode).
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Last edited by PlusPaul at Aug 6, 2017,
Quote by phil123456789
ok, thx for the infos

modes are going to be confusing without understanding why a scale works the way it does..the study of diatonic harmony will show you the chords built from the major scale (3 and 4 note chords) and how they work together (relate to each other--Dmi7-G7-CMA7 stuff like that) and the scales related to them (modes and how to use them over a chord progression )

Plus Paul has two charts in his post above that epitomizes why modes are such a confusing issue..the first chart lists all the modes in the key of C
the bottom chart lists one mode from each key- from SEVEN different keys..so if I had no idea how modes work or how to use them I would be lost

I suggest you forget "modes" for now and get to understand the major scale and how it works .. put some time in .. when you begin to understand one key you can apply that knowledge to the other keys and your understanding of basic theory and harmony will grow immensely - study some songs along with this kind of study to see how this stuff is applied to song structures..
play well

wolf
Last edited by wolflen at Aug 6, 2017,
Quote by wolflen
modes are going to be confusing without understanding why a scale works the way it does..the study of diatonic harmony will show you the chords built from the major scale (3 and 4 note chords) and how they work together (relate to each other--Dmi7-G7-CMA7 stuff like that) and the scales related to them (modes and how to use them over a chord progression )

I know this is the "jazz approach", but I'm not sure if learning the modes as "chord scales" that you use to improvise over a progression is the best way of understanding the basics of them (if you are not a jazz guitarist). Chord scales and modes are a bit different thing. Modes are different tonalities whereas chord scales are basically different ways of adding extensions to chords. Sure, both use the mode names, but they are pretty different applications.

Plus Paul has two charts in his post above that epitomizes why modes are such a confusing issue..the first chart lists all the modes in the key of C
the bottom chart lists one mode from each key- from SEVEN different keys..so if I had no idea how modes work or how to use them I would be lost

I don't think it's confusing at all. It's not any more confusing than the difference between C major and A minor, and the difference between C major and C minor. Sure, when it comes to the modes, you have seven different tonalities versus just two. But the basics are the same.

Modes are confusing because there's so much misinformation about them. Some people talk about fretboard positions. Some people talk about chord scales. Some people talk about medieval/renaissance music.

The most common question people ask about modes is "why are they different scales when they use the same notes", and I think the way PlusPaul presented them is the best way of answering that question. But as I said, it's basically the same question as "why are C major and A minor different".

I also wouldn't call D Dorian and E Phrygian the "same key". I know what you mean by this (you mean that they come from the same parent scale), but the way people usually use the word "key" is to refer to the tonal center of the song. "Let's play it in the key of C" means that the tonic chord is C, not necessarily that the notes you are going to use are going to be C D E F G A B.

But yeah, to understand modes, you need to understand them both ways. You only really hear the differences between them if you use the same tonic for all of the modes. But obviously it also makes sense to understand where they come from (same set of notes, different tonic).

I suggest you forget "modes" for now and get to understand the major scale and how it works .. put some time in .. when you begin to understand one key you can apply that knowledge to the other keys and your understanding of basic theory and harmony will grow immensely - study some songs along with this kind of study to see how this stuff is applied to song structures..

I agree. Major and minor are much more important than modes and I would say learn major and minor keys properly before you try to understand modes.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
MaggaraMarine MM (fistbump) good post !
play well

wolf
Once you get the regular old major scales learned up and down the neck, there's really nothing to "get" about modes. The standard set of modes all derive very simply from the major scale, so it's really essential to understand and actually know - like be able play - all the major scales before trying to elaborate on them.

You can come to a purely theoretical understanding of scales and modes very quickly just by looking at the ideas on the staff, but in terms of applying them to your instrument, this stuff is pretty useless without being thoroughly familiar with the foundational concept.
here's a nice live demo, finaly modes seem relevant to my ears
The most important thing to take away from the study of modes, is that Locrian is god awful.
Quote by jerrykramskoy
jlowe22 To write a tune with, Locrian isn't too clever.  To use iin a blues, etc, it sounds great.  (sorry theogonia!)

You're absolutely right, I was half joking though.
Quote by jerrykramskoy
jlowe22 To write a tune with, Locrian isn't too clever.  To use iin a blues, etc, it sounds great.  (sorry theogonia!)

That's not really the locrian mode though, that's the locrian scale. For it to be a mode, it must be the tonic, and the ii in a blues is not the tonic because it's the ii, not the I. You wouldn't say "im playing the locrian mode over the vii", because by calling it the vii you've just established that it's not the tonic. Locrian is a theoretical mode, I'm yet to hear a piece where a m7b5 actually sounds like the I, and not the vii.
Quote by Fat Lard
post of the year, thank you
Never go to Youtube guitarist to teach you modes, they almost always get it wrong, teach it in an obtuse way, or they just say "here's the dorian shape, here's the phrygian shape etc" and never actually explain fully what's going on.

If a scale is a collection of pitches, then a mode is the hierarchy of those pitches. The C major scale is just a collection of 7 notes, it doesn't mean anything until it's used in context. If we play that scale over a C major progression, then we get C ionian, or commonly known as C major. The mode Ionian tells us what is the tonic (C), what the dominant is, what the sub dominant is etc. and how all the notes relate back to the tonic. In this hierarchy, C is placed firmly at the top as it's by far the most stable, G would be directly under as it's the 2nd most stable, followed by E, and then the other notes would probably be lumped together at the bottom; still important notes, but not nearly as important as the most stable chord tones above them.

If we play that same scale, but our harmonic emphasis is on the note F, with a progression that heavily emphasizes an F tonic, then our hierarchy changes. Now F is at the top of the hierarchy, it's the most important note, the note that feels most at rest and the note that all other notes relate to. Before, A was our 6th in C ionian, but now it's the 3rd in F lydian.

If there's one thing you should take with you, it's this: MODES ARE SOMETHING WE HEAR, NOT SOMETHING WE PLAY. You can't just "play" a mode, you can play the D dorian scale all you want, but if you're playing over a C - F - G7 progression, it'll never sound like D dorian, it will only ever sound like C major. Simply put, the mode is dictated by what the most stable note is, or the note that sounds like home. That's why you've probably never heard a piece written entirely in Locrian, because the b5 makes it lose too much of it's stability, it'll never sound at rest, forever pushing towards another note (most likely ionian directly above it).
Quote by Fat Lard
post of the year, thank you