i just need a bit of help with modes. A friend explained to me briefly about them and how they've saved his life but i didn't quite catch how to use them.

I would love any answers to the following questions; "what's their chord diagram?", "How do you know what chord progression to follow?" and quite frankly; "what's the use of them and what effect do they have?"

All replies are welcome, many thanks
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Well, modes are scales on their own. So learn them as individual scales, with their individual scale formulas and what not. Once you've managed to do all of that, then move on to learning how to relate them to one scale.
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Okay, a mode of the major scale contains the same notes as the major scale, but the root is a different note. This is just explaining where modes come from, but I don't think of them like this when actually using them.
D Ionian (major) is D E F# G A B C#
E Dorian (second mode) is E F# G A B C# D
A mixolydian (fifth mode) is A B C# D E F# G
They contain the same notes but start on different root notes.

So, they contain the same notes but they are definately different scales. I think of modes as alterations to the major scale.
Ionian (Major) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Dorian 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
Phrygian 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
Lydian 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
Mixolydian 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7
Aeolian (Natural Minor) 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
Locrian 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7

So, for F Phrygian you start with the F major scale, F G A Bb C D E
Then flatten the 2 3 6 and 7 to get 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
And you end up with the notes F Gb Ab Bb C Db Eb.

Now, when playing modes over chords, look at the intervals making up the chord and the intervals making up the mode. If they match up, they will sound good together.
Say a Cm chord comes up, thats 1 b3 5. Look at the modes and you see that Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian all contain those intervals.
So you could play C Dorian, C Phrygian or C Aeolian, which one you chose will give a different feel.
Now if an Amaj7 comes along, thats 1 3 5 7. Compare that to the modes and you see that you can play A Ionian or A Lydian, againg giving different feels.
What about a Bbm7b5? You see that the only mode with 1 b3 b5 b7 is Locrian, so you can play Bb Locrian
With an E7 (1 3 5 b7) you find that only Mixolydian fits, so you can play E mixolydian

JohnlJones Jazz-Theory Bit:
With that E7 you could play E Phrygian, with the b3 funtioning as a #2, to outline an altered dominant chord.
E7 - 1 3 4 b7
E Phrygian 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
This gives the intervals 1 b2 #2 3 4 5 b6 b7 which is a _11b9#9b13 chord.

Remember none of this is law, it's just a guide so don't be afraid to experiment.
Hope this helps

The way to use modes and get their different sounds is to think of the intervals it is made up of. Phrygian has a b2, a dark, dissononant interval. Lydian has a #4, which sounds... I dunno how to describe it but it sounds cool. Mixolydian is like the major scale but has a b7, making it bluesy and dominant.

Just drone the low E string, keep it ringing (clean setting works best). Then on the remaining five stings, play E Phrygian, E lydian, E Aeloian, E Ionian etc. and emphasise the unique intervals in each. Really listen to each scales' characteristics. Try making a melody from each mode while droning the E string.

Once you have done this, watch this video:

Yeah, I was lazy, but this is an awesome post.
as useful as all the standard modes responses are... i think the question was more about how to use modes in progressions, something i struggle with personally.

i know about all of the modes, but if you are going to use a mode to write a progression, do you use your new scale degrees to create progressions... like would you do a v-i in dorian using the new degrees to get a new sound? or do different progs work better.

surely all the notes still want to resolve to the same places, which suggests you cant use the new degrees in the same fashion.

Oi! You didn't ask!

Nah I dont care, saves me copying and pasting it again.

Threadstarter, almost any question on modes can be answered in the Music Theory FAQ. RTFS

branny, you can use the chords in that mode to make a chord progression. You know that a major key has the chords I ii iii IV V vi viio, so a dorian key (I'm still not sure if there is such a thing, but it seems to make sense) would be i ii bIII IV v vio bVII.

What you need to do is make sure the chord progression you choose resolves to the i. This can be difficult because, if using G dorian, the chords will try to resolve to F or Dm (the I of the relative major/minor).

It helps a lot if you always have a V instead of a v.
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thanks dude that was a really helpful post, i think i've got it. i'm just gonna have a quick look through the music theory FAQ