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#1
I know what modes are, at least in a superficial sense, but I'm wondering how folks visualise them and why. I'm a fingerpicking folkie, and I tend to think of modes as the way in which a diatonic major scale resolves. For example, D dorian has the notes a C major scale and resolves to D; the basic chords associated with it are those of the C major scale. OTOH, it is often discussed as a D major scale but with a b3 and b7, which doesn't seem anywhere near as helpful to me.

Can someone explains the possible strengths and weaknesses of these to viewpoints please?
#2
it is often discussed as a D major scale but with a b3 and b7

I would say D minor with a major 6th would be a better way of seeing it (since it has a minor tonic triad which is why it makes a lot more sense to compare it to the minor scale).

But yeah, the obvious strength with this viewpoint is that D Dorian sounds way closer to D minor than C major. I guess the strength of seeing it as "C major with a different tonic" is that it's faster to learn to play that way - you don't need to learn a new scale, you can just use the notes of C major. But this tells less about the sound of the scale. Also, D Dorian doesn't really have much to do with C major, so thinking about C major every time you play in D Dorian is really not beneficial in the long run. Also, most people that get confused about the modes have learned them this way, and for many of them it's hard to grasp why the same set of notes has so many different names.

To me, when figuring out stuff by ear, thinking about scale degrees is pretty essential. And when I hear a D Dorian tune, I always think everything in relation to the tonic that is D, not C. In D Dorian, A is the fifth scale degree - the dominant - and that's what it will sound like. B is the major 6th that will make it sound different from the typical D minor scale. And again, it will sound like the major 6th, and not like the leading tone that is its function in C major. My point is, the notes have way different roles, so thinking about C major would be pretty confusing to me.

But yeah, use whatever works for you. Treating all of the modes as just "major scale starting from a different note" is an easier way in the beginning, but in the long run I would suggest learning them as variations of the major and the minor scale (because that's how they will sound like). Seeing them both ways is obviously the best way. It's kind of the same thing as understanding both relative (C major, A minor) and parallel keys (C major, C minor).

BTW, most Dorian tunes mostly use the notes in the minor scale. I mean, Dorian is just one note different from the parallel minor scale. If we take "Scarborough Fair" (E Dorian) as an example, it only uses C# once in the melody. The rest of the song sounds like typical E minor stuff. If we for example only take the first phrase of the melody, you couldn't tell that it actually uses the Dorian mode, and it would just sound like E minor. The Dorian sound comes from the second phrase, but the rest of the phrases sound like E minor.
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 Aug 7, 2017,
#3
Quote by MaggaraMarine
If we take "Scarborough Fair" (E Dorian) as an example, it only uses C# once in the melody. The rest of the song sounds like typical E minor stuff. If we for example only take the first phrase of the melody, you couldn't tell that it actually uses the Dorian mode, and it would just sound like E minor. The Dorian sound comes from the second phrase, but the rest of the phrases sound like E minor.


tfw your piper friends tries to play it in A (tuned to 480) with a b7 because "that's all the notes he has" smdh
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#5
Quote by cdgraves
I would get the major scales down first, because that's the scale the modes come from. 


modes come from no scale; their sole place of origin is a level of hell so horrible Dante chose to omit it
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#6
Quote by theogonia777
modes come from no scale;  their sole place of origin is a level of hell so horrible Dante chose to omit it

The 9th circle represents the modes of the wholetone scale.
#7
MaggaraMarine 

The reference to "Scarborough Fair" very apt, it is the only piece I think about specifically as modal, and the reason I chose Dorian as the example. I play it as a slide or lap steel piece tuned to, say, open E, but playing off the 2nd fret as F# Dorian - so it is works for me to think of it as a variant of the E major scale and chords. - My view of chords and melody tends to be in terms of how I can use the open strings.

FWIW, it can be found in my Sounclick sig link. as "Scarborough Fur".
#8
I visualize modes as their own collection of notes separate from the major scale. I'm kind of past the point (as most others here surely are as well) where I have to mentally visualize the scale in relation to the parent scale before playing it. If I sometimes have to take that route, I think of lydian and mixolydian as modifications to the major scale, and dorian and phrygian as modifications to the minor scale. I don't think about locrian.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#9
Tony Done  I think of them as follows:

Mixolydian = major with b7
Lydian = major with #4

Dorian = minor with major 6
Phrygian = minor with b2

Locrian = I don't think about this one at all

IOW, pretty much same as Kevatuhri
Last edited by jonriley64 at Aug 8, 2017,
#11
jerrykramskoy and jonriley64, I think you are talking about a bit different things.

jonriley64 seems to be talking about Locrian as its own tonality whereas jerrykramskoy seems to be referring to chord scales. And those are two different things. Locrian doesn't really exist as its own tonality in actual music. There may be some examples of it, but generally speaking it isn't used at all. And because of this, basically ignoring it makes sense.

But if we are talking about jazz and chord scales, sure, it shouldn't be ignored.
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 Aug 8, 2017,
#13
Quote by jerrykramskoy
jonriley64 You're missing out, avoiding Locrian!  Both it and Locrian natural 9 have some great sounds lurking in them.

And in general, the modes of ascending melodic minor (Jazz minor) have some great sounds and applications.

Well, I wasn't being entirely serious.  I don't dislike locrian sounds, I just don't find much (indeed any) use for them.

I also don't subscribe to the jazz theory of melodic minor harmony.  I know all about it (read the books, done the classes), I just don't regard it as of much use - except on tonic minor chords.  
Connecting the other modes of melodic minor to certain functional chords is pure coincidence, it has no musical relevance.  
IOW, the altered scale, lydian dominant, locrian natural 9 - those scales all work for reasons unconnected to their coincidental resemblance to modes of melodic minor.  
And I don't think of a m7b5 chord as "locrian", because it isn't - no more than a ii chord in a major key is dorian.
#14
Quote by MaggaraMarine
jerrykramskoy and jonriley64, I think you are talking about a bit different things.

jonriley64 seems to be talking about Locrian as its own tonality whereas jerrykramskoy seems to be referring to chord scales. And those are two different things. Locrian doesn't really exist as its own tonality in actual music. There may be some examples of it, but generally speaking it isn't used at all. And because of this, basically ignoring it makes sense.

But if we are talking about jazz and chord scales, sure, it shouldn't be ignored.

Oh yes it should!     

You're right I was talking about locrian in the same sense as the other modes - as "tonalities" in their own right.  Because that's how they all work, musically. (Locrian works that way too, in theory, but I agree it doesn't really exist in practice - or hardly does.)

Using modal terms for chord-scales IS sometimes useful, but seems to cause way more problems than it solves (especially for guitarists...).
#15
Quote by jerrykramskoy
MaggaraMarine Yes, I wasn't referring to tonality.

Hurrr modes are not keys and they can't have tonality durrr.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#17
jonriley64 
Quote by jonriley64
Well, I wasn't being entirely serious.  I don't dislike locrian sounds, I just don't find much (indeed any) use for them.

I also don't subscribe to the jazz theory of melodic minor harmony.  I know all about it (read the books, done the classes), I just don't regard it as of much use - except on tonic minor chords.  
Connecting the other modes of melodic minor to certain functional chords is pure coincidence, it has no musical relevance.  
IOW, the altered scale, lydian dominant, locrian natural 9 - those scales all work for reasons unconnected to their coincidental resemblance to modes of melodic minor.  
And I don't think of a m7b5 chord as "locrian", because it isn't - no more than a ii chord in a major key is dorian.

Out of interest, where do you think altered scale etc come from, if not modes of melodic minor?  I've never heard that before, and that sure as hell is not what's taught in UK (if you study jazz at music school).

I don't really get your reply at all, I'm afraid.  Altered scale works wonderfully over functional altered dom7 chords.  Just adds more tension.

As does locrian nat9 over a functional m7b5 ... it's just adding more colour.

Have you  experimented and applied the above (or say HM5 over functional 7)?

I use all the above mentioned a LOT in those contexts.  And also when the harmony underneath is static, just to lead back to that static chord (with appropriate scale choices to suit arriving back at that static chord).
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Aug 9, 2017,
#18
Quote by jerrykramskoy
I'm not going down this road again!!  We'll have to agree to differ.  There are two schools of thought on this.

I'm just joking around  
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#19
Quote by jerrykramskoy
jonriley64 You're missing out, avoiding Locrian!  Both it and Locrian natural 9 have some great sounds lurking in them.


Untrue. Notice, if you will, that Locrian is the only mode named after an insect that is considered a biblical plague. Surely no good can come of such a thing.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#22
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Kevätuhri


You of all people, Kev!  I'm mortally offended now.  Just for that I am going to compose a piece of tone-row music in C.

Real musicians use frequency values instead of arbitrary letters like C.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#24
Quote by Kevätuhri
Hurrr modes are not keys and they can't have tonality durrr.

Well, I'm going to give this mixolydian mode here some tonality, just try and stop me!!  Mwahahahaaaa!
#25
Quote by Kevätuhri
Real musicians use frequency values instead of arbitrary letters like C.

I think you're confusing "musician" with "mathematician"
#26
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Like I said, I'll create a tone-row in C. Maybe C3.

Not again.  We have rows about tone all the time here.
#28
Quote by jerrykramskoy
jonriley64 :-)   Brilliant pun.  Can't thinkof a more appropriate usage than in the context of tone rows as mostly being a horrid row.

Well yes, there's the row they (arguably) make when played, and there's the row you might have when discussing them.
"They sound great!"
"No they sound shit!"
Then you just need John Cage to tape the conversation and make a conceptual piece out of it. "Musicians arguing about music, op.1"
#29
Trying to understand modes as "C major from different start" it's ok at first, but I'll recommend you to try to identify modes by ear and find the special notes that makes each mode different. For example

Dorian -> M6th
Phrygian -> b2nd
Lydian -> #4th
Mixolydian -> b7th
Aeolian -> b6th
Locrian -> dim 5th

And each of this notes form parts of a characteristic chord and they make characteristic chord progressions and also chords you will need to avoid in order to keep "in mode"

so with these basic info, I try to mix the little I know from ear and the little I know from theory to try to indetify different modes.
#31
So in conclusion, the best way to visualize modes is the same way to visualize walking in on your parents: do your best to forget about it ever happening.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#32
Quote by jonriley64
Well yes, there's the row they (arguably) make when played, and there's the row you might have when discussing them.
"They sound great!"
"No they sound shit!"
Then you just need John Cage to tape the conversation and make a conceptual piece out of it. "Musicians arguing about music, op.1"


or my take on it...Musicians Without Music..125 pages of blank paper in the key of G (yes it has already been done!)
play well

wolf
Last edited by wolflen at Aug 12, 2017,
#33
Tony Done I tend to visualize them as a pentatonic major or minor scale with different places for the semitones.  Not sure if that makes sense but closer to the D major with a flat 7 kind of view.
Si
#34
20Tigers 

That's similar to how I see scales in general - notes added to pents.

So here's a question for the scale experts.

Suppose we have something in D Dorian. I see that as a shift from C, so do the C/Am pents works easily with it? I'll just note that I'm not a scalar player, but it is handy to have a fallback positions for simple lead breaks.
#35
Quote by Tony Done
20Tigers 

That's similar to how I see scales in general - notes added to pents.

So here's a question for the scale experts.

Suppose we have something in D Dorian. I see that as a shift from C, so do the C/Am pents works easily with it? I'll just note that I'm not a scalar player, but it is handy to have a fallback positions for simple lead breaks.

Dm pentatonic would be the most obvious choice. But sure, C major pentatonic would work too - they are actually just one note different. C major pentatonic has an E, D minor pentatonic has an F.

But I think this is what 20T was talking about:

Lydian: major pentatonic + #4 and maj7
Major: major pentatonic + 4 and maj7
Mixolydian: major pentatonic + 4 and b7
Dorian: minor pentatonic + 2 and 6
Minor: minor pentatonic + 2 and b6
Phrygian: minor pentatonic + b2 and b6
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
#36
Quote by Tony Done
20Tigers

That's similar to how I see scales in general - notes added to pents.

So here's a question for the scale experts.

Suppose we have something in D Dorian. I see that as a shift from C, so do the C/Am pents works easily with it?

Sure.  C/Am pent replaces the F in Dm pent with E, so you get a kind of "D9sus4" sound from that pent (D E G A C)
#37
I group them together kinda, like Aeolian/ Dorian.  They clearly have different sound, but also similarities.  And its always one note that makes all the difference.  I'm not the world's foremost expert at terminology, but I believe its the minor 6th/major 6th, and it REALLY stands out when that minor 6th is thrown in there.  Or for mixolydian/Ionian, its the maj/min 7th.  That major 7th is unmistakable.  Those 4 modes are the main ones I utilize(other than pentatonics and blues scales), and I group them in pairs just like that.  I can hear Lydian easily also, but I'm not as experienced with using it in my own playing.  Same for Phrygian.  And Locrian I stay far away from if possible.

I do visualize relative modes being one and the same, except the notes serve a different sonic purpose.  Like E minor scale in G major resolves on G, and thats incredibly useful for maneuvering around the fretboard.  

Lately I've been studying more Jazz and chromatic scales, harmonic minors, and other odd scales.   Those I can hear clear difference, but I'm not yet adept enough to immediately recognize them when they are used.  I start out by immediately knowing the sound isn't one of the usual modes, and I dissect it from there.  I have noticed "sexy pop" music like cristina aguilera and brittney spears uses a lot of harmonic minor, and its helped me with identifying the scale rather quickly.

But by far the most profound thing I've discovered that helped my improv tremendously, is studying how the different modes can be used simultaneously.  So many great sounding licks use both major and minor notes at the same time, and its something that probably isn't immediately apparent for a lot of people.  At least I know it wasn't for me.  If improperly used it can lead to disaster though.
#38
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Dm pentatonic would be the most obvious choice. But sure, C major pentatonic would work too - they are actually just one note different. C major pentatonic has an E, D minor pentatonic has an F.  But I think this is what 20T was talking about:  Lydian: major pentatonic + #4 and maj7 Major: major pentatonic + 4 and maj7 Mixolydian: major pentatonic + 4 and b7 Dorian: minor pentatonic + 2 and 6 Minor: minor pentatonic + 2 and b6 Phrygian: minor pentatonic + b2 and b6  Yip exactly how I visualize modes.


@Tony Done  

The relative major or minor pentatonic will not necessarily work as well as the parallel major or minor pentatonic.

What I mean by this is that the relative major or minor is the major or minor scale that uses the same notes.  So the relative major scale to D Dorian is C major scale.  The relative minor scale is Am.

The parallel major/minor is the scale that uses the same root note.  The parallel major scale to D Dorian is D major.  The parallel minor scale to D Dorian is D minor.

So that's just a little explanation of terminology.  Relative = same notes different root.  Parallel = different notes same root.

Anyway, in the Dorian mode the Dorian flavour is achieved by the collection of notes and the relationship between them.  Specifically that distinctive Dorian flavour is achieved by the major sixth in the otherwise minor setting.  So using the D Pentatonic is safe in that the notes are not going to cause any big clashes.  D F G A C D.  There is no major sixth to provide the Dorian flavour but it is safe.

If instead we used the shape of the C major pentatonic then we end up using C D E G A C. D would still sound like the tonic so we would actually have D E G A C D.  There is not only no minor sixth in this scale but there is also no third. Both of these are quite important notes in the Dorian mode so although you wouldn't be using notes out of key you would be missing important character notes that you would want to bring out.

With that said the safest pentatonic is the parallel pentatonic.  It's a skeleton that provides the stable structure upon which the colour notes of the mode hang.  Which is why I visualize them the way I do.   So Dm pentatonic would be the way to go as opposed to C major pent or Am Pent.  

Hope that make sense.  Cheers.
Si
#39
20Tigers 

I think that is a terrific explanation, thanks. As I mentioned before in this thread, I'm not a scalar player, so my knowledge is pretty rudimentary. Before reading this I was wondering about the Phrygian and Locrain modes, whose roots to not occur in the relative (your definition) pentatonics. So what would you do about, say, E Phrygian? Em pent? I don't suppose CM or Am pent are going to work very well.
#40
Quote by Tony Done
20Tigers 

I think that is a terrific explanation, thanks. As I mentioned before in this thread, I'm not a scalar player, so my knowledge is pretty rudimentary. Before reading this I was wondering about the Phrygian and Locrain modes, whose roots to not occur in the relative (your definition) pentatonics. So what would you do about, say, E Phrygian? Em pent? I don't suppose CM or Am pent are going to work very well.

Exactly. Minor mode (minor, Dorian, Phrygian) = (parallel) minor pentatonic, major mode (major, Lydian, Mixolydian) = (parallel) major pentatonic.

So for C minor, C Dorian and C Phrygian you would use C minor pentatonic, and for C major, C Lydian and C Mixolydian you would use C major pentatonic.

You will really not find songs in Locrian, so don't worry about it.
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 Aug 15, 2017,
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