Here's an article I wrote about modes (just the first two so far). If anyone could give me a few pointers, perhaps some editing, that would be great.

It's written so that you would have to know some music theory to understand it. I don't know if that's a good or bad idea, so if you could state your opinion on that, that would be great.

Thanks, guys


Modes... If you listen to music at all, you are bound to encounter modes. I'll just start with a quick definition of what they are before I jump into some tasty licks that you can use.

Mode- "any of various arrangements of the diatonic tones of an octave, differing from one another in the order of the whole steps and half steps; scale." ---dictionary.com

So let's start with Ionian, which sounds identical to your basic major scale. Its application is obvious, so I won't elaborate on this one so much. It can be safely used over any chord progression in which the root is a major.

Common Chord Progressions:

I will use C as the root since that is (probably) the most common.

1. Cmaj Fmaj Gmaj Cmaj

2. Cmaj Gmaj Amin Fmaj

3. Cmaj Gmaj Fmaj Cmaj

4. Cmaj Amaj Fmaj Gmaj

Songs to jam along to: Let it Be --- The Beatles (although solo is in C major pentatonic, doesn't matter)

*The chord progression to Let it Be is #2 and #3.

D'yer Maker --- Led Zeppelin

*#4 is the main chord progression to this song, among several other songs.

Here is the Cmajor scale over two octaves.


Improvising with C Major

What you want to do when you improvise over a chord progression is bring out the chord you are currently on. This is best done by examining the notes that are in each chord. Let's take the Cmaj Gmaj Amin Fmaj chord progression and write out the triads.

Cmaj - C E G
Gmaj - G B D
Amin - A C E
Fmaj - F A C

This means that the notes that you want to bring out the most over Cmaj are C,E and G, and when the progression moves to G, you want to be on G,B or D, etc. It's ok to land on passing notes as long as you don't emphasize them. You can even land on a note that's not in a chord when the chord is played (an accented passing note), as long as you don't focus on it. So here's an example of some phrasing you could use in your solos over a Cmaj Gmaj Amin Fmaj progression.

  Cmaj              Gmaj           Amin           Fmaj

-Over the C major chord, I emphasized the E, which is in the triad, and used D, a passing note to get back to C.

-When the G came in, I play D with vibrato, which is the V of G.

-When A minor is played, I use this C-B-A lick, C being the 3rd interval of Amin. I end on an E, which is not only in Amin, but the leading tone of Fmaj, so it will sound smooth.

-Over Fmaj, I have F and a C, both in Fmaj.

This was a very basic use of phrasing which I used simply to show what notes are good to play during each part of a chord progression. You can obviously throw in some tapping, sweeping and such to make it sound fuller and more complex. You can even use notes that are not in the Cmaj scale as passing notes (Eb comes to mind). However, this is not strictly modal.


Dorian mode will be a minor scale with a raised 6th interval. It's used in a lot of minor progressions, and can give a very bluesy sound. The note that will set this apart from anything else is that raised 6th interval. I like to refer to it as the "dorian note" (ok fine I got that from Paul Gilbert but whatever). You want to really bring this one out to make it sound Dorian. For this reason you want a chord progression that has a chord with that note. Let's take D Dorian for example.

The notes are:


It will look exactly like Cmajor, except it will start on D.

***Chords in D Dorian***

Diatonically speaking, a good place to start is the IV chord, Gmajor, since it includes the "dorian note" (B in this case). G7 is also great since the F is the 3rd interval.

Other chords that work well with Dorian are m7, m6, (in this case Dm7, and Dm6 since we'll be working with D). m6 chord is, I think the essence of Dorian mode, since it incorporates the minor chord and the "dorian note".

Songs which use Dorian (partly OR mostly):

Scarborough Fair - Simon and Garfunkel
Eleanor Rigby - The Beatles
She's a Rainbow - The Rolling Stones
Breathe - Pink Floyd
Surfing with the Alien - Joe Satriani

***Jamming in D Dorian***

Let's take the main chords from "Breathe" for starters. Although there is no guitar solo, you can jam in it using Dorian if you like (as I often do ). The chord progression is Em7 - A7, which transposed to the key of D is Dm7 - G7. Here's an example of a phrase you could use in Dorian.

Dm7                                G7  

-Just a standard pentatonic lick over the Dm7. You can start using Dorian right here if you want to, i just didn't.

-I bend from B to C, then hit a B, laying the foundation for D Dorian. I run through the B again up to a G and and finish with an F, bringing out the G7.

Dorian also a couple other neat features. First is the interval of a tritone between the VI(B) and the III(F), which can give a really bluesy sound if used properly. The second is that you can throw in a diminished lick with the VI(B), I(D) and III(F). An example of that would be near the end of Surfing with the Alien as seen below (again transposed to D).


You can use this over a static Dm chord, or any progression that sounds Dorian.

Another cool feature is its ability to blend in with the blues scale. You can combine the two to make a "super" blues scale.


You will see this scale even in metal. (See very last solo in hangar 18 for example).

A great lick using a combination of these two would be:


The first part of that lick is something you'll see guitarists like Jimmy Page use a lot.

Ok, that concludes part one of "modal improvisation".
You seem to be going between explaining modes and how to use them , which are different, but end up not going into enough detail in either subject. I'd rewrite this and go into a lot of detail on their uses, and the uses of more than just two of them, and just assume that anyone reading the article knows the background knowledge.

Don't try explaining modes in your article. If you've ever been in MT, you'll know just how much there is to discuss just to get a solid understanding of modes.
Well, maybe there are thing s to change but its could that you give examples of phrases and songs that use the different modes. I started studying modes 3 weeks ago and examples are important to understand, that way, people who are just beginning can found a base on wgat they learned just reading an article.