#1
I have been taking advantage of all this free time that I have now that its summer and i've been studying music theory alot. I have my major scales down pretty well, and now I'm learning modes. I'm confused about how to apply modes. What is the difference between playing in C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, ... if they all contain the same notes? How do you differentiate between playing these different notes?

Also I'm lost about how i should practice modes on the guitar. I was thinking of doing it like: A Aoelian would be played starting at the 6th string, 5th fret, and it would be played like a 3 octave A minor scale. C Ionian would be played like a Major Scale starting at the 6th string, 8th fret. But something about that just doesn't seem right.
#3
Once you understand how to create harmonies for the major and minor scales, modes will come easily. But if you really wanna get into them now, there's great lesson that helped me, it's here on UG.

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/the_basics/modes_ii.html
#4
this can be very confusing to players who are new to modes. Modes are not determined by the fingerings, but by the tonal center and progression. If you want to play something in Lydian then the progression must revolve and hopefully resolve to Lydian. Say you are in the key of C major and you are jamming to a chord vamp or C---F---G---C. that progression is C ionian. it does not matter if you are playing the dorian fingering, the sound is ionian because of the chord outline it. you can be playing an A aeolian fingering over a Dm7---G7---- progression and because its a dorian progression it will sound dorian. get what im saying?
the most important thing t be able to do is to hear and distinguish the sounds of the modes from each other.
hope that can help clarify a little of your problem
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I go to college with mattrsg1; for what it's worth he is the best guitarist I have heard in person, and in particular stands out from others in my age group. You will not be disappointed, honestly.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJpCZpysf94
#5
Quote by VIRUSDETECTED
Don't worry about modes right now. Focus on learning the major scale, diatonic chord progressions, and keys first. Then work on modes.

I guess i was kinda vague. I understand the major and minor scale, their key signatures, and how to build them, as well. I also understand how to build chords and which are major/minor/diminished.
#6
Quote by greekorican5
I guess i was kinda vague. I understand the major and minor scale, their key signatures, and how to build them, as well. I also understand how to build chords and which are major/minor/diminished.



The thing is, not every progression is modal. Which is why they should come second. You can just as easily make something key-based as you can modal. Besides, I hear that modal chord progressions are very harmonically unstable and can be ruined easily.
#7
Quote by VIRUSDETECTED
The thing is, not every progression is modal. Which is why they should come second. You can just as easily make something key-based as you can modal. Besides, I hear that modal chord progressions are very harmonically unstable and can be ruined easily.



very true as you add chords to a "modal" progression the progression itself seems to want to resolve itself to the enharmonic major or minor scale/key whatever you want to call it.
#9
Quote by greekorican5
I have been taking advantage of all this free time that I have now that its summer and i've been studying music theory alot. I have my major scales down pretty well, and now I'm learning modes. I'm confused about how to apply modes. What is the difference between playing in C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, ... if they all contain the same notes? How do you differentiate between playing these different notes.
The tonal centers make them different. And the tonal center is decided by the harmonic content (riffs, rhthymic arpeggios, chords, so on) underneath.

First of, there are many ways of viewing modes. Some I disagree with, some I agree with. Make up your own decision on what you believe and dont believe
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What mattsg1 is talking about is modal progressions, where the progression will specifically point to a specific mode. This is achieved by outlining that specific mode (usually dorian as it's the easiest).

But how do you outline a mode?
Each mode has a special note that only that mode has, in dorian it is its natural sixth, aeolian is an exception to this. BTW you should know the formula's of the modes before using them, not just their fingerings. Alot of guys call this special note the modal note.

So all we do is find chord that contain this special note. In D dorian these chords are G7, Bm7b5 and Em. But, we cant just throw these chords together, we have to make sure we dont resolve to the I chord of the parent scale, or else all modal feeling will be lost. So that means we cant use Bm7b5, as it only really moves to C well. I personally wouldnt use Em, as it doesnt really move well (in my opinion) to either Dm or G7. So this leaves us with G7, which still contains the modal note and still moves well to Dm.

So our progression is: Dm7 - G7.

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The other way I'm fairly proficient at is what corwinoid calls "modal interchange." It's basically a way jazzers play the "chord changes." After bop died down, alot of jazzers realised that each different chord would make the same note sound completely different. So many of them tried to improvise with different scales and modes over different chords. This way of thinking is for the improviser (whilst modal progressions is for the composer)

Say you look at this common progression: Cmajor7- G7 - Fmajor7. Most rock musicians will look at that and would improvise with a C major pentatonic over the whole thing, which is fine but is fairly limited. But a jazzer would look at that and try to tailor what they play over each chord to reflect what they want it to sound like.

So they might play either C lydian or C ionian over the first chord. Dominant chords normally only have mixolydian played over them, sometimes a lydian dominant mode (which is the same as the lydian mode except with a b7). And over that F major7 either ionian or lydian can be played over it.

You can look at modal interchange as if its a scale change. You can look at it like it's either C major (C ionian) or G major (C lydian) over the first chord. And C major (F lydian) or F major (F ionian) over the next chord.

It's important to remember, when thinking like this, that the chord underneath decides the mode, NOT what fingering you choose. If your chord is C, you must play a C mode or scale. Even if you play the fingering's of another mode with a different root note (but the same notes), over C major, the mode will still function as C ionian. This is what confuses alot of people.

As a rule of thumb: Ionian or lydian over Maj7 chords, Mixolydian* over dominant chords, and Aeolian or Dorian or Phrygian (sort of rare) over minor chords.

OTHER THINGS TO PLAY OVER DOMINANT CHORDS
*lydian dominant (fourth mode of the melodic minor scale), Superlocrian (seventh mode of melodic minor scale) and Phrygian Dominant (fifth mode of the harmonic minor scale) also work in special occasions.

Lydian dominant is just your usual lydian mode, except with a flat seventh. This is prefered by some musicians as they believe it's more consonant. They get this belief from the fact that the two tritones made by this mode is the third with the seventh (which is essential for that dominant feel) and the #4, which is actually a good tritone as it moves well to the perfect fifth. Whether it is or isnt is up to you.

Phrygian dominant only works if the chord after or before the dominant chord is minor and seven semitones (perfect fifth) below it or 5 semitones above it (perfect fourth). This is sort of more common in carribean style jazz (you know, the kind with calypso style rhthyms). Phrygian dominant sort of sounds eastern, sort of spicy and sort of dark. This is due to minor sixth (spicy-ness) and the minor second (darkness).

Superlocrian sort of works too. As that b4 of the superlocrian mode is enharmonic with the M3 of the dominant chord. This mode can give a dominant chord (which is naturally bright) a darker, more bluesier feel. The minor thirds over dominant chords generally sounds very bluesy and so does the flat fifth. I'd recomend you avoided the minor second (too dark) and used a perfect fifth (even if the mode's formula doesnt include it).

IMPORTANT: AS IN READ THIS
Dont attempt trying this until your fairly good at improvising over chords. Otherwise your phrasing will go out the window, and most musicians will agree that phrasing is the most important element of improvising. Before you try all these tricky things with modes (but after your phrasing is developed ofcourse) try some simple pentatonic changes. Play Minor pentatonics over minor chords and major pentatonics over major chords, just to get the hang of playing the changes.
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^Probably filled with careless errors (hey I'm on holidays) so any mt'ers suggestions are welcome.
Last edited by demonofthenight at Jul 1, 2008,