The Modal Approach. Part Two: The Paperwork

Tom Colohue's "The Modal Approach". Part 2 of 5. This article covers facts and formula necessary to constructing and using modes.

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Hello there readers. Welcome back to The Modal Approach. As you know, I'm Tom Colohue; your host for this series. It's good to see you again. Last time, we went through the long and exceptionally long-winded back-story to modes. Of course, the information on origins was extremely limited, but it was only there to give you an insight into the heritage of modes. It's not something that's often made note of, but music theory has been around for generations. It's earned the respect of all musicians and composers. This time, we're moving from the back-story on to the paperwork. The last article might have been a lot of talking, but it was only one layer of an incomplete foundation. The information to come is the piece of the puzzle most readily available. This is the stuff that most people make incorrect assumptions from. For example, a scale chart for F# Dorian is both wrong and completely unusable, but people often make them in the attempt to prove that modes and scales are in some way similar. The only thing that you can get from looking at that is a headache, but we already know that modes aren't scales, so you probably worked that out already. What comes next will not be a list of practical applications for modes. I know that that's the end result everybody's craving, but we're not there yet. First, we need to make sure that the foundation is safe to build upon. I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to stay on the slow path for a little while longer. So, shall we get started?

The Modal Approach by Tom Colohue

Part Two: The Paperwork

Mode Names Last time, we considered the past of modes, from Greek to Gregorian. There were a lot of names passed around then, but you'll likely be very glad to hear that we're not going to be messing around with High Mixolydian and Hypophrygian. We're going to be dealing with the seven modern modes; established by the amalgamation of the previous modes. The names of the modes that we will be studying are:
  • Ionian
  • Dorian
  • Phrygian
  • Lydian
  • Mixolydian
  • Aeolian
  • Locrian
  • I'm not going to go into any depth concerning modes of harmonic minor or melodic minor. That's ridiculously confusing and entirely pointless if you don't have the basic groundwork in the seven diatonic modes to begin with, which is why all our focus will be directed towards those seven. Modal Formulae Sadly, I'm going to have to start this one with a disclaimer. Ninety percent of all confusion concerning modes comes from the formulae section. The main reason for this is the intuitive leap' that people insist on making that turns modes into scales and turns intervals into notes. In short, I'm not describing practical applications here, and hopefully nobody will believe that I am. It's just the paperwork here. The major scale is the big building block here. Each of the seven modes can be derived from the relevant major scale once you're aware of the relative formula. While this will tell you the notes of each mode, as well as give you important information on the make-up of each mode, it's not technically usable at this point beyond theoretical use. That's not important though. Right now, the theory is the only part we're looking at. We'll run them down in order, which starts us off with the Ionian mode. First off though, we need to set our standard, which requires us to look at the major scale a little: The major scale is diatonic, meaning that it contains seven notes. Of the twelve notes available in most western music (C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B), the seven notes of the major scale are established through tonal intervals of half a note (one higher) and a whole note (two higher). Where W' means Whole' and H' means Half', the system of intervals is: WWHWWWH For example, C major would be: C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C Where the omitted notes are italicised to show the leap made. Since this is the most standard musical scale, the intervals are named numerically. The first note (C) becomes 1, or the root. The next note (D) becomes 2, or the second and so on. I'm sure you know all of this already, but it's relevant for setting the scene. Knowing this, we can establish quite factually that the formula for the major scale is:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    C D E F G A B C
    Okay? Good. All modal formulae are based on this formula. We'll stick with C as our default tonal centre. Now, to show a change in these notes, you have two possible signs. b' means flat', which tells you that the note in question is half a tone lower. #' means sharp', which tells you that the note in question is half a tone higher. For example, #5' would mean a sharpened fifth. In this case, that would be G#. A number that does not contain either of these symbols is said to be natural'. The Ionian mode contains the same notes as the major scale, but it is simply used in a modal context to distinguish it. Since the tonal centre here would be the same as the major scale, this mode is extremely difficult to distinguish. The formula is, as expected:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    C D E F G A B C
    There is, in fact, a distinguishing note here that separates the Ionian mode from all of the others, which can be taken advantage of in order to strengthen the modal sound. The natural seventh can be used to this end to differentiate between the Ionian mode and the Mixolydian, while the natural fourth separates Ionian from Lydian. The Dorian mode differs from the major scale in two places:
    1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 8
    C D Eb F G A Bb C
    While the flat third keeps the Dorian mode away from the mix Lydian mode, it is the natural sixth that truly characterises this mode. The Aeolian mode, containing the same notes as the natural minor scale, has a much stronger pull for the ears of the listener, and the sixth in Dorian is the difference between them. The Phrygian mode contains two further flats on top of the two added by the Dorian mode:
    1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8
    C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C
    As already mentioned, the Aeolian mode has a very strong pull, and the Phrygian mode contains only one note that separates it. This would be the very distinctive flat second that can be found in only two modes. The other, Locrian, also contains a flat fifth, making the natural fifth very important to the use of the Phrygian mode. The Lydian mode houses the highest pitched intervals:
    1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 8
    C D E F# G A B C
    Since there is no mode higher than this one, there is only one note needed to truly deviate from sharing space with any of the other modes. The Ionian mode contains only one difference in interval, which would be Lydian's sharp fourth. The Mixolydian mode once again contains only one deviation from the Ionian mode:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 8
    C D E F G A Bb C
    Apart from being the reason that the Ionian's natural seventh is so distinctive, the Mixolydian's flat seventh is also the defining note of the mode. On the lower end, the Dorian mode contains a singular difference in interval, that being a flat third, so the natural third is another defining note when it comes to the Mixolydian mode. The Aeolian mode contains all of the same notes as the natural minor scale. However, it is once again required to be played in a modal context in order to separate it from it's peer scale:
     1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8
    C D Eb F G Ab Bb C
    The flat sixth is an important characteristic here. It is this interval that shows the difference between the Aeolian mode and the Dorian mode, which contains a natural sixth. Another interval that displays the character of the Aeolian mode is the natural second, which keeps Aeolian one half tone higher than the Phrygian mode. Finally, the Locrian mode has the lowest collection of intervals compared to the major scale and all of the other modes:
    1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 8
    C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C
    With no modes lower, Locrian is another mode that requires only one defining interval. The tritone, or flat fifth is, by nature, the most dissonant and instable interval available for use in modern music. This is the cause of most difficulties when attempting to use the Locrian mode. This leaves us with the following modal formulae, in descending order.
    1 2  3 #4 5  6  7  8 - Lydian
    1 2  3  4 5  6  7  8 - Ionian
    1 2  3  4 5  6  b7 8 - Mixolydian
    1 2  b3 4 5  6  b7 8 - Dorian
    1 2  b3 4 5  b6 b7 8 - Aeolian
    1 b2 b3 4 5  b6 b7 8 - Phrygian
    1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 8 - Locrian
    There are other methods by which you can work out your modes, without using the formulae. Unfortunately, those particular methods cause more problems than good. Personally, I prefer the formulaic approach. This is music theory after all. Nothing theoretical is all that simple. The Modal Note There is no singular note that defines a mode, but there are some intervals that set each mode apart from the others. When it comes to suggestive play and modal progressions, these particular notes will be not only useful but essential in forming the modal strategy behind your plan. In some cases, multiple notes are defining, but sometimes one is simply definitive. For the Ionian mode, the modal note is the natural seventh. Also important is the natural fourth. For the Dorian mode, the modal note is the natural sixth. Also important is the flat third. For the Phrygian mode, the modal note is the flat second. Also important is the natural fifth. For the Lydian mode, the modal note is the sharp fourth. For the Mixolydian mode, the modal note is the flat seventh. Also important is the natural third. For the Aeolian mode, the modal note is the flat sixth. Also important is the natural second. For the Locrian mode, the modal note is the flat fifth. Major/Minor In Modes One common misconception is that modes can be major or minor. Sadly, this one isn't true, and is just another way that people have attempted to classify something that they don't know into a little box that they're familiar with. It's a lot like people are often classified into stereotypes. Unfortunately, modes don't fit these characteristics. They don't fit the rational tonal structure because they're modal - they're something completely different. The intervals of some modes are higher than the others, and some modes contain the notes of the major and minor scale, but that does not make them major or minor because major and minor is tonal. Playing the notes of C Dorian over C minor does not mean that you're playing in C Dorian. You're just playing the notes of C Dorian over C minor. If you play well and harness the modal notes, you can do suggestive play, which will be covered next week, but you're still tonal. In order to play modally, you have to dedicate the attempt. The Major Scale Vs The Ionian Mode This is an area where a lot of studies into modes becomes unstuck. How does the Ionian mode differ from the major scale when they contain the same notes are they are also constructed around the exact same tonal centre. The answer, once again, comes back to tonal vs. modal. With the Ionian mode in particular, modal play can be difficult to establish, and even more so to maintain. It is not, however, impossible. If you use the strength of notes such as the natural seventh and the natural fourth in your progressions, the existing difference does begin to make itself known. Unfortunately, the ears of the listener will also be drawn towards the major scale, simply because they've heard it much more often. Sometimes, you just have to let it go. Other times, it's really worth the effort. I know that, this time, it's been mostly formulae, specific notes and little focus on actually using the information, but I assure you that all of this is necessary facts needed to bring your knowledge of modes together in preparation for what comes next. Next week, it will be all about suggestive play, note stability and the potential for modes to be used in a tonal capacity. Though difficult, weak and flighty, there are always options available. For this week though, we're all about wrapped up with the paperwork. For homework, it might be worth using the formula that we've learned today to work out the modes of other tonal centres. For example, what are the notes of Gb Lydian, or A# Locrian? What is the modal note of E Aeolian? There is plenty of extra study that you can do to develop your understanding of the facts before you. For me though, I must bid you a fond goodbye. I look forward to seeing you all next week to get into the meat of the subject. Tom Colohue Tom Colohue is a writer from Blackpool, England. Though he specialises in Fiction, he also writes music theory articles, and new media articles based primarily on the internet. On occasion, these also intermingle. He is well recognised by numerous critics and analysts for his integrative descriptive work and his cynical textual mannerisms. For more information, Tom Colohue keeps a Facebook Fan Page, which contains updates from new articles and his personal blog, Mental Streaming. This page can be found via this link.

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      Andrew776
      Brendan1 wrote: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8 C D Eb F G Ab Bb C Wtf? How can A aeolian contain an Eb Ab and Bb? Those notes arent in the key of c major. You are seriously confusing the hell out of me. Ive looked at 100's of articles and videos on modes and your telling me that all of them are completely wrong about what the modes are? How do i know that your right?
      That's not A Aeolian..that is C Aeolian
      ExOblivione
      Bigdave9576 wrote: Yeah it is very informative, and (though I don't know for sure) possibly technically all correct, I'm not sure if it actually worthwhile learning in this way. Like Reagar said! It may be a bad thing to get ahead of yourself, but there are so many adticles/lessons on modes, I can't help but the most useful are the most practical, and this is very abstract - from an educational standpoint separating it out like this then jumping into application is not very legitimate. Also, when you consider theory in this fashion, we are almost considering it like a pianist, and the guitar is a different animal (is that controversial?...). From experience, I find it much easier to consider modes in the most practical way possible, and if that means thinking of them as major and minor, or thinking of them as scales, then if it works for you, f-ing do it! I love guitars.
      The problem is that learning them as practical leads to misconceptions, so people end up playing tonally, and not modally. The way he's explaining it seems great to me, because it lets you learn modes the way they're meant to be. If you want something more practical yet incorrect, then of course those other articles are gonna be better for you, but if you want the whole story, I think this is amazing.
      chuckles_34
      When we begin to think of it in an applied way, it is no longer the same, as reference points change, and also with guitar we have multiple notes the same, and choice becomes important. In the piano there's only one of each note (in octaves of course).
      Wrong.
      chuckles_34
      Sorry to not offer any constructive criticism, I just wanted to be sure that nobody actually believed that the above statement I've quoted was in any way correct.
      TheThunder
      I'm trying my best to understand, I really am. All the statements about modes not being scales and using terms like "tonally" versus "modally" muddies it up for me, I'm afraid. What I gather from this entry in the series is that modes are specifically-defined, and named, ways of adjusting the intervals of the major scale. And if I'm not using the term "major scale" exactly correctly, I'm speaking about the progression of intervals W-W-H-W-W-W-H.
      Brendan1
      1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8 C D Eb F G Ab Bb C
      Wtf? How can A aeolian contain an Eb Ab and Bb? Those notes arent in the key of c major. You are seriously confusing the hell out of me. Ive looked at 100's of articles and videos on modes and your telling me that all of them are completely wrong about what the modes are? How do i know that your right?
      ippystratman
      this seems to have needlessly complicated the whole concept of modes. im sorry but thats how i feel. the best way in my opinion to think about it is take C major for example. modes are simply 'inversions' if you will. C ionian (c major starting on C) D dorian (c major starting on D) and so on for phrygian, lydian, mixolydian, aoelian and locrian. the thing is though, there obviously all going to sound the same since they have the same notes and so each is characterised by the chord (sorry if that doesnt make sense) so for example D dorian starts on a D minor chord which makes it sound minor and thus distinct from C major/ionian. again, same goes for the rest. ive also learnt of people who have composed in modes treating them as scales. for example, a I-IV-V progression in a dorian mode will sound differnt to the same progression in a phrygian mode. this isnt really hwo your supposed to look at it though but it does work if you establish the tonic note as the note that is the name of the mode. thats how ive had it explained to me by every music teacher ive questioned about this and its also how ive seen it explained in many articles. the way described here i have also seen however but as i said its needlessly complicated
      shadowmaster036
      ippystratman you're technically wrong. D Dorian isn't just the C major scale starting on D. that would make it and inversion of the Cmajor scale. you simply start the scale on D like you said. then apply the dorian mode formula to it and there's your mode.
      TheThunder
      I'm going to be a little nitpicky here about the application of the word "formula". Can't help it, I have a technical background. This: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 C D E F G A B C is not a formula. It's an end result. The formula for that is: Starting with C, move by the following interval pattern - WWhWWWh (Ionian). Using a couple of the modes shown in the article: Ionian, expressed as an interval formula: WWhWWWh Dorian Mode, expressed as an interval formula: WhWWWhW Phrygian Mode, expressed as an interval formula: hWWWhWW In all cases, we're keeping the same pattern of intervals, merely sliding around which interval we begin with and wrapping around.
      Ulric von Bek
      Tom, great lesson, and regardless of all other comments, which are very valid on their own, I believe I truly understand your approach and your concern, as from a mathematical point of view, the heart fo the matter is in confusing the essence of a subject with the way it is represented, as in 0 being naught, a natural number, zero, and the useful idea of "not having any" indispensable in arithmetic. That's why 1 is at the same time the root note, the starting point of an intervalistic division, and the start of a mode, but a note is neither an interval nor a mode. For some it may be confusing, but for others is knowing the essence, which in turn reveals the truth, which in turn leads to the use of a powerful tool. Thanks again,
      krypticguitar87
      TheThunder wrote: I'm going to be a little nitpicky here about the application of the word "formula". Can't help it, I have a technical background. This: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 C D E F G A B C is not a formula. It's an end result. The formula for that is: Starting with C, move by the following interval pattern - WWhWWWh (Ionian). Using a couple of the modes shown in the article: Ionian, expressed as an interval formula: WWhWWWh Dorian Mode, expressed as an interval formula: WhWWWhW Phrygian Mode, expressed as an interval formula: hWWWhWW In all cases, we're keeping the same pattern of intervals, merely sliding around which interval we begin with and wrapping around.
      the 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 is merely a reference to the major scale, that way when you see lydian as 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 8, you know the only note that changes from the major scale is the four so C major looks like C D E F G A B C, so C lydian would be C D E F# G A B C...
      krypticguitar87
      Bigdave9576 wrote: Yeah you guys are right about a bunch of what I said, I retract most of it. BUT, I disagree with some points - I didn't say that theory is different on different instruments, or that you can't learn anything from different players... If you take it all in it's most abstract form - pure theory or composition, then its the same, but then we aren't talking instruments at al then, we are talking theoretical paperwork. When we begin to think of it in an applied way, it is no longer the same, as reference points change, and also with guitar we have multiple notes the same, and choice becomes important. In the piano there's only one of each note (in octaves of course). You can learn a ton from different instruments, phrasing, licks, approach, style, technique...of course you can.
      you may not have said that theory is different between insturments directly but you did say
      we are almost considering it like a pianist, and the guitar is a different animal
      which is essentially the same..... since both instruments are essentially the same when it comes to note combinations..... but you still don't explain why this statemnt even makes a difference which is what I am most curious about.....
      jamstation
      I thought the main difference between tonal & modal music was strong tendencies to resolve in tonal music which are not quite there in the non-ionian modal music (where notes are more stable on their own) however, i still don't know what distinguishes the ionian mode from the major scale :O ??
      Niiko
      You know I really want to write and post a vid apply modes to guitar, basically taking this lesson a step further and putting it on the guitar but with a different approach. And also applying this lesson on guitar as well in the form of playing them as demonstrations. It might help other UGers to better understand modes and how to use them. Big thanks for the lesson!!
      Metal_Master_0
      "Hey guys, the article isn't done yet! Let's say how incomplete it is!" How much arbitrary nonsense will be spewed, I do not know.
      Lefty7Stringer
      guitar_jew wrote: "The tritone, or flat fifth is, by nature, the most dissonant and instable interval available for use in modern music." The minor 2nd that features prominently in mathcore and metalcore? I'd argue that the minor 2nd is MUCH more dissonant than the b5.
      Dissonance is not a question of which sounds more "edgy" or "worse" to our ears, but a matter of frequency and ratios. Look it up, quite an interesting read.
      countrychris01
      I havent been following this series, but has Tom taught chordal harmonization and functional analysis yet? If he hasnt, a lot of this wont make sense, as you will have no idea where to use it.
      Dumpster510
      While this info is useful and informative, I have to agree with others that you're overdoing the semantics. Pitch axis theory is wonderful, but I think you do a great disservice to uninformed readers by telling them it is radically different than playing in key. You get a different sound, can create different progressions, etc, but it's not RADICALLY different. You're still playing music, still using the same formulas, etc. I'm sorry, but Lydian for example, is a major mode. If that irritates you, so be it. It doesn't change that it contains a natural third, which gives it a major sound. There is very little difference between it and the major scale (#4 obviously), so I don't see the point of trying to differentiate it sooo much from the major scale. It's a different flavor, but again, not radically different. And I'm more than aware of exotic scales. They still fall into major/minor/altered/whole tone categories. And moreover everything else I've said, you're harping on words too much. If you understand the concept you're talking about (pitch axis and using tonal centers to play modes), it really doesn't matter if or how you classify this or that scale...it's just semantics
      Karmekarten
      Music all really boils down to the same stuff (crazy science party in your head) but I think this is mostly just another way of looking at things (instead of seeing major and minor and looking at modes as scales which I previously did.) But looking at modes as scales really helped me with improve lead guitar (from a "tonal" point of view.) But I'm curious to see if I can benifit from it so I'll keep reading.
      Axler
      Hi Tom, please dont pay attention to some of the comments from some nerds who can't help sticking their ore in because they've heard it from some twat in a music school. I'm an intermediary player and this is really helping me understand the concept of modes. I have read lots of other articles about modes which generally do get confusing but this seems to bring them into context - keep up the good work!
      trenton_dawn
      Bigdave9576 wrote: If you take it all in it's most abstract form - pure theory or composition, then its the same, but then we aren't talking instruments at al then, we are talking theoretical paperwork.
      But...isn't that exactly what this article series claims to do? To look at things theoretically? Modes are, by definition, theoretical. They're concepts. True, if you just want to learn how to play in them, I suppose these articles would disappoint you a lot, and there's something to be said about not getting too abstract, but I feel these lessons are beneficial.
      Reagar
      I can't help but feel that most of this is a question of semantics, to be honest.
      vIsIbleNoIsE
      Reagar wrote: I can't help but feel that most of this is a question of semantics, to be honest.
      i feel the same way.
      cardsfan3
      I can't help but feel that most of this is a question of semantics, to be honest.
      this.
      p_a_morgan
      Informative. Good article man, but I have trouble understanding why someone would begin to study modes without knowing the major scale, seeing as how you basically taught it to the reader here. I suppose it happens as a lot of musicians can get ahead of themselves. Baby steps are the answer!
      Bigdave9576
      Yeah it is very informative, and (though I don't know for sure) possibly technically all correct, I'm not sure if it actually worthwhile learning in this way. Like Reagar said! It may be a bad thing to get ahead of yourself, but there are so many adticles/lessons on modes, I can't help but the most useful are the most practical, and this is very abstract - from an educational standpoint separating it out like this then jumping into application is not very legitimate. Also, when you consider theory in this fashion, we are almost considering it like a pianist, and the guitar is a different animal (is that controversial?...). From experience, I find it much easier to consider modes in the most practical way possible, and if that means thinking of them as major and minor, or thinking of them as scales, then if it works for you, f-ing do it! I love guitars.
      trenton_dawn
      Bigdave9576 wrote: Also, when you consider theory in this fashion, we are almost considering it like a pianist, and the guitar is a different animal (is that controversial?...). From experience, I find it much easier to consider modes in the most practical way possible, and if that means thinking of them as major and minor, or thinking of them as scales, then if it works for you, f-ing do it! I love guitars.
      Why do you think pianists learn this stuff? It will improve your ability as a musician, whatever instrument you play. Now, it may not be absolutely necessary (for guitarists OR pianists), and if you have a way that you think works better, go for it, but there's merit to this approach, too.
      krypticguitar87
      Bigdave9576 wrote: Yeah it is very informative, and (though I don't know for sure) possibly technically all correct, I'm not sure if it actually worthwhile learning in this way. Like Reagar said! It may be a bad thing to get ahead of yourself, but there are so many adticles/lessons on modes, I can't help but the most useful are the most practical, and this is very abstract - from an educational standpoint separating it out like this then jumping into application is not very legitimate. Also, when you consider theory in this fashion, we are almost considering it like a pianist, and the guitar is a different animal (is that controversial?...). From experience, I find it much easier to consider modes in the most practical way possible, and if that means thinking of them as major and minor, or thinking of them as scales, then if it works for you, f-ing do it! I love guitars.
      I think you need to finish all the lessons before you can decide weather or not looking at them as scales even makes sense, I think the reasoning will show up when you can see the difference between ionian and major, and aeolian and minor since they share a tonic cetre..... My old guitar teacher told me that there is a difference between modes and scales, and looking at them as scales tends to lead you into the hole that is major and minor scales..... as to the whole piano is different to guitar.... duh!, but when it comes to learning composition, and music theory of any kind, no it isn't..... the only way it's different is if you are looking at your guitar as a means of showing off technique rather than a tool to play music with..... and if you are only looking into technique, why are even bothering here? of course there is a difference between how the instrument is played, but thats like a sax player saying "hey I can't learn anything from you cuz you play guitar, and music theory on the guitar is way different from the sax man".... music theory is the same no matter what instrument you play, well westurn theory is at least. but I would like to find out why you think this is being taught from a pianists point of view, I see this as from a musicians point of view.....
      aaronq1222
      C Ionian - C D E F G A B C 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 D Dorian - D E F G A B C D 1 2b3 4 5 6b7 8 E Phrygian-E F G A B C D E 1b2b3 4 5b6b7 8 F Lydian - F G A B C D E F 1 2 3#4 5 6 7 8 G Mixoly.- G A B C D E F G 1 2 3 4 5 6b7 8 A Aeolian- A B C D E F G A 1 2b3 4 5b6b7 8 B Locrian- B C D E F G A B 1b2b3 4b5b6b7 8 Modes are all derived from the same scale. It just depends on which note you start on that determines its modal/intervallic qualities, hence which chords to be played. Learn the guitar scale patterns for each of the modes and you're golden
      krypticguitar87
      aaronq1222 wrote: C Ionian - C D E F G A B C 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 D Dorian - D E F G A B C D 1 2b3 4 5 6b7 8 E Phrygian-E F G A B C D E 1b2b3 4 5b6b7 8 F Lydian - F G A B C D E F 1 2 3#4 5 6 7 8 G Mixoly.- G A B C D E F G 1 2 3 4 5 6b7 8 A Aeolian- A B C D E F G A 1 2b3 4 5b6b7 8 B Locrian- B C D E F G A B 1b2b3 4b5b6b7 8 Modes are all derived from the same scale. It just depends on which note you start on that determines its modal/intervallic qualities, hence which chords to be played. Learn the guitar scale patterns for each of the modes and you're golden
      wait.... why did you post this? if you want to write a lesson or a column.... you can
      jamisonsalamand
      Maybe you're getting to it in one of the next lessons, but some things are confusing me. Why aren't modes scales? I thought a scale was a sequence of notes, and that's what modes are. I know that there is no such thing as minor dorian, it is simply dorian. Why is it wrong to say "the dorian scale"? I also don't understand why the Ionian mode is different from the major scale, as they have the same intervals. Also, what is modal and tonal playing? I feel there are numerous things you keep saying are wrong to believe, but then you don't explain clearly WHY they're wrong.
      guitar_jew
      "The tritone, or flat fifth is, by nature, the most dissonant and instable interval available for use in modern music." The minor 2nd that features prominently in mathcore and metalcore? I'd argue that the minor 2nd is MUCH more dissonant than the b5.
      guitar_jew
      Further, I fail to grasp the difference between tonal and modal. All you've said is that they're different, but not WHY they're different.
      Jastul
      "The tritone, or flat fifth is, by nature, the most dissonant and instable interval available for use in modern music." The minor 2nd that features prominently in mathcore and metalcore? I'd argue that the minor 2nd is MUCH more dissonant than the b5. Further, I fail to grasp the difference between tonal and modal. All you've said is that they're different, but not WHY they're different.
      The minor second is not considered highly unstable because it can easily resolve up or down a half step to the next note either as the leading tone going up to tonic or as the sub-dominant going down to the median and can even be used in chromatic passing to another note up or down whereas the tritone/diminished fifth/augmented fourth breaks the safety of a perfect fifth/fourth and creates a great degree of musical tension which needs to be resolved very specifically for said tensions to be fully released Actually he did explain why they're different: it all depends on 1) how they differ from the major/minor scales and 2) how those differences are emphasized, even if you're using the ionian or aeolian modes, which are in essence identical to the major and minor scales
      Bigdave9576
      Yeah you guys are right about a bunch of what I said, I retract most of it. BUT, I disagree with some points - I didn't say that theory is different on different instruments, or that you can't learn anything from different players... If you take it all in it's most abstract form - pure theory or composition, then its the same, but then we aren't talking instruments at al then, we are talking theoretical paperwork. When we begin to think of it in an applied way, it is no longer the same, as reference points change, and also with guitar we have multiple notes the same, and choice becomes important. In the piano there's only one of each note (in octaves of course). You can learn a ton from different instruments, phrasing, licks, approach, style, technique...of course you can. So it's not just a case of pure technique, its a case of application and expression. And when you abstract anything to its purest form, then it not only becomes less useful, but harder to relate to reality. Now I do agree its not fair to judge till I read it all, and for that I apologize, but educationally speaking, and with the concepts of schema theory, cognitive apprenticeship and situated cognition, it is not good educational form to teach complex knowledge in a very abstract way without first teaching easily relatable basic and general information. And since this is a modes 101 article, this is very much applicable. The argument that incorrect knowlege will lead to bad habits may be true, but this is more the case with motor functions, and if we are sitting at the level of theoretical knowledge tat we think we are with this series, schema, or mental structuring will easily be relearned with a solid argument, but one that is authentic and relevant to the anchor - the guitar. ANyway, thats enough crap, I'm ust saying, this isn't how I would want to learn modes, though it is a thorough article. But definitely, an unequivocally, at least from my perspective, and for what its worth I;ve been playing guitar in touring bands for about 15 years, solid links to application and the comparative understanding that things are different on different instruments (even if the abstract and core is the same), are very important to understand. Why choose one medium over another otherwise? I don't half ramble do I. Great chat though dudes, this forum rocks
      Jastul
      What I'm curious about is the difference between the aeolian mode and the natural minor scale, seeing as both are altered versions of the minor scale and emphasizing say the minor third or sixth also emphasizes the differences between major and minor and emphasizing the sixth or seventh marks the difference between the natural, harmonic and melodic minor scales, help?
      Ultima2876
      Good lord, all this 'tonally' not 'modally' bullshit is driving me insane. You're playing a bunch of notes - it's going to sound how it's going to sound regardless of whether you're in the mindset of playing modally or tonally. This semantics bollocks just makes it more complex - it's pretentious, elitist and retarded. It doesn't make a difference to how the music is going to sound, and it dosn't make it easier to visualise or to use, so it's irrelevant.
      CBannerman
      I recently read an article in Total Guitar magazine which was written by Joe Satriani. In it, the modes are separated into 'major' and 'minor', simply based on the type of triad each mode creates. I think that IS a helpful way to think about them. According to this article that's completely wrong. Perhaps someone should phone Satch and tell him he doesn't know what he's talking about?
      Keth
      Ultima2876 wrote: Good lord, all this 'tonally' not 'modally' bullshit is driving me insane. You're playing a bunch of notes - it's going to sound how it's going to sound regardless of whether you're in the mindset of playing modally or tonally. This semantics bollocks just makes it more complex - it's pretentious, elitist and retarded. It doesn't make a difference to how the music is going to sound, and it dosn't make it easier to visualise or to use, so it's irrelevant.
      Well, if you would understand modes, you would understand this 'bullshit', and why it needs to be explained.