Three Octave Modes

Hello everybody! Here is a great lesson to use to play scales diagonally as opposed to playing vertically all the time. Be sure you review my past lesson on 3 Notes per String as this will help you very much through this. Hope you enjoy!

Three Octave Modes
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Hello everybody! Here is a great lesson to use to play scales diagonally as opposed to playing vertically all the time.

Be sure you review my past lesson onĀ 3 Notes per String as this will help you very much through this. Hope you enjoy!

Before viewing this lesson, be sure to review this one on scales:




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For a free download of this PDF, go here.

Quick Tips:
  • This is intended for a 24 fret guitar but you can use a 22 fret guitar. You just will not be able to play the highest note in E Phrygian.
  • Play slowly and review "3 Notes per Sting" lesson!
  • Try to keep your left hand as parallel to the fretboard as possible.
  • Shifts should not sound like a slide but have a very smooth transition.
  • Memorize for better fretboard knowledge.
  • Apply to every key!



About the Author:
By George Salas. For more free sheet music downloads and other cool guitar stuff, visit http://gsguitarfun.weebly.com.

45 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Chris Zoupa
    DEAR ULTIMATE GUITAR COMMUNITY! Us article writer's do this FOR FREE! We create content in our spare time for you. If you keep up this level of disrespect you're going to lose writer's and content creators... And for the record Alan is awful. Thank you.
    AlanHB
    No need for personal insults dude - I simply think you shouldn't call certain shapes on the fretboard "modes", particularly when they don't deviate from the major or minor scale in any way.You may disagree, that's cool, but no need to insult me.
    AlanHB
    No need for personal insults dude - I simply think you shouldn't call certain shapes on the fretboard "modes", particularly when they don't deviate from the major or minor scale in any way.You may disagree, that's cool, but no need to insult me.
    Maestro_727
    Maybe it's the way you write. People can tell when somebody is constructive and when someone is just being a dick. I've noticed on your profile that we're not the only ones. Like Chris said, write a lesson with substance. Why do you think he didn't act this way towards Magara Marine? Magara Marine and I didn't agree all the time but he wasn't a dick about it.
    AlanHB
    I understand that I can be a bit blunt sometimes, but my critique is aimed squarely at the material in the lesson, not the person writing it. If you're seeking some lessons I've written concerning modes, although it's a couple of years old now, I have written this blog post addressing the use of modes http://profile.ultimate-guitar.com/AlanH... Otherwise I have referred you in the comments above to the definitive threads that concern both traditional and contemporary use of modes, from gregorian chants to CST. There's nothing really more that needs to be said on the topic of modes, the authors did a really great job writing them. I can see you're referring to the comments left on my page. Interestingly every single person who has left a comment on my page also reacted to critiques of their use of modes, and instead of arguing back with reference to music theory, they instead spammed my page. Although I could have deleted them, I left them on because I think they're pretty funny. I was also the moderator of the MT forum, which made me a pretty easy target to leave comments and such without recourse. As for why Chris didn't act this way against Magarra, I made a similar criticism of one of his lessons a while ago so I guess he's zoning in on me, which is a pity. I really like the way he plays guitar.
    AlanHB
    Sorry, finally I respect that you guys are writing articles for free and helping out the UG community. However by writing the lessons/articles, you are putting yourself out as an expert on the topic. This means that if people have criticism or questions, you should have the expertise to be able to address that criticism or question without resorting to personal attacks.
    MaggaraMarine
    I appreciate the fact that you guys do it for free. But this doesn't mean we aren't allowed to give critique. I don't think it was a bad lesson, and I don't think anybody was trying to insult anybody or be an ******* about it. Alan is a good guy. I doubt he was trying to be an ******* about anything.
    MaggaraMarine
    I don't really subscribe to calling scale positions with mode names. Scale positions are not modes. Or technically, when played out of context from the lowest note to the highest note, they are, but in context of a song it doesn't matter what position you are using - that doesn't change the mode of the song. If the song is in C major, it doesn't matter what position you use. You are not playing in E phrygian or F lydian, no matter what position you are using if the song is in the key of C major. Just wanted to point that out.
    Maestro_727
    I'm doing my Master's degree in Music Theory, I am aware of that. However, this simplifies it to guitarists and it builds your ear. I like to think about it melodically then harmonically. I don't mean to sound conceited either I just wanted to say that so that you know I'm not trying to feed you any false theory in any of my lessons
    AlanHB
    So you understand that the theory in the article is wrong but you don't want to teach false theory. If you just removed the references to modes, you'd be fine. Call it "how to play the C major scale all over the fretboard".
    Maestro_727
    You're right, in future lessons, I should mention that. It's just the way I think about it to start training a beginner's ear.
    AlanHB
    The beginners ear, as with all ears, shpuld recognise that all of your patterns are the same - the C major scale.
    Maestro_727
    Not sure I quite understand, but each scale position has a tonality that I try and emphasize so that harmonically we are able to make connections.
    AlanHB
    Not over the same progression they don't. Play any of your patterns in the key of C major, you'll have the C major scale. That's why the modal names are extremely misleading.
    Maestro_727
    Of course when you play a C Major chord those notes will sound as if they are in C Major but I'm speaking about melodically. There is a tonality that you begin to build a beginners ear. You then add harmony and it becomes easier to identify your mode
    Maestro_727
    The way I teach, is keeping in mind my students ear. More often than not, I have an elementary - middle school aged student. If they think scale positions, they will be confused UNLESS they have something to associate it with. When you associate the modal name, melodically speaking, they develop an ear for the root note and FEEL of the mode so that when we reach modal names HARMONICALLY, they make that aural connection. I have found this quite successful teaching this way with all ages as well but it's easier for an older person to understand that these are scale positions which I said you were right about.
    AlanHB
    They won't all sound the same just over a C major chord, they'll sound the same over a song in the key of C major irrespective of the chord that is played. The way your article teaches, is by telling people "the note on the high E string, fret 24 is the highest note in E phrygian". Can you explain to me why this note, an E note, is not the third note in C major, the fifth of A, or the root of E major?
    Maestro_727
    Ok dude, you're right I'm an ******* for creating this lesson. Happy?
    MaggaraMarine
    I think beginners should not be taught modes before they know the major and minor scales and understand major and minor keys. Nothing wrong with your lesson. It's just the fact that using mode names (when they are not needed) can be misleading or confusing to beginners (and not just beginners - they do confuse a lot of people).
    Maestro_727
    Why not? Major and minor are modes so why should we discriminate which modes to first teach? The way to teach modes in a classroom setting can be quite fun. Usually, I will make a song and use the ABC's to help. I understand you think that beginners should not learn about modes but as I've told you twice, the way I'm doing it is working. That is why I have a job teaching in public schools I really appreciate your comments though. I'm far from perfect so any advise helps me do my day job a bit more effectively. Thank you.
    AlanHB
    Major and minor are keys, not modes. They are the best ones to teach first because the vast majority of songs are based in keys, not modes.
    Maestro_727
    Major and minor are modes and keys. They are the most common but believe it or not, there are pieces in modes. It is possible to have a piece in say f mixo-lydian but is quite uncommon. Teaching major and minor tonality is the best idea first.
    AlanHB
    Major and minor aren't modes, they're keys. Major is a key. Ionian is the mode with the same notes a as major. Minor is a key. Aoelian is the mode with the same notes as minor. And you are exactly right in saying that a contemporary song is rarely in a mode. It is quite common to use accidentals, notes outsife the key, but this doesn't make a song formerly in a key now in a mode.
    Maestro_727
    I know you're going to keep arguing because I just can't make my lesson clear... If this lesson helps you, I'm very happy and if not, go check out Jens Larson or Chris Zoupa... maybe they can help you Later!
    Maestro_727
    Actually guys, I reviewed some of my old text books... I am right to say that the scales I have posted are in those modes. Nowadays it's easy to say that it's not because of the harmony but modes were created melodically during medieval times by the church. Harmony did not exist then. These are referred to as the greek modes. So, it is possible to have a lick or scale (without harmony) in G Lydian, C Dorian, etc. It really troubled me to think I was posting invalid information. Hope this helps! I'm OUT
    MaggaraMarine
    @ Maestro: Yes, but all of those shapes can be any of those modes. The shape you call "F lydian" could be used in E phrygian or D dorian or whatever. It's about the way you use it. When you play the melody, you don't need to play the lowest note of the shape. It really tells nothing. It's about the notes you emphasize. You can play in any shape without changing the mode. Those shapes are not JUST the C major scale. They can be any of the modes of the C major scale. They can be the A minor scale. It depends on what you play over. And if you don't play over a backing track, it's about what notes you emphasize. I would first learn the major-minor system, because most music is in a major or a minor key. Modal music is another thing and it's less common. I would learn keys first (and learn to understand them properly) before learning about modes, because they are just more important. And it's also easier to understand modes after you understand keys properly. Otherwise they can be confusing. I mean, think about it. You can't run before you can walk. First learn the most important things. After that it's easier to learn more stuff, because you understand the basics. If you don't know what C major is, it's useless to start learning about more complex things like the modes of the C major scale. Let me give another example: If you don't understand diatonic harmony, it's useless to start learning about secondary dominants and modal mixture. Modes aren't really that complex, but they can be very confusing.
    MaggaraMarine
    Also, when it comes to modes, I think it's easier to learn them as variations of the minor and major scales. Learn parallel modes first. That tells about the sound differences a lot. Compare C major to C mixolydian and C lydian. Compare C minor to C phrygian and C dorian. If you learn the modes as C major starting on different notes, it can also be confusing. Why do the same notes have so many different names? If you play all of the modes of C major one after another, it won't really sound like you are playing different notes, because you have the sound of C major in your head. This is why it makes more sense (at least to me) to retain the same tonic (for example C) and change the modes. D dorian is closer to D minor than it is to C major sound wise. This is why I would rather compare it to D minor than to C major. It's all about the sound.
    Chris Zoupa
    It's also relative if the song is in any other mode. I hate you Alan with all my heart. Please create some interesting content instead of being such an dick all the time.
    MaggaraMarine
    I don't think using mode names for the 3nps positions simplifies things. I think it is actually one of the reasons why modes confuse people so much.
    Maestro_727
    Gotcha bro. Thank you for your input but it does seem to be working for me so far
    magnum1117
    I've learned about modes in both ways, using the shapes (as Maestro showed) and the theory behind them. The key to understand them well (on guitar/bass) is learning both at the same time. What I mean is, you learn how to build them (or the formula or however you wanna call them) with the intervals and in what context to use them; but at the same time, knowing the 7 patterns that are within the Major Scale (in guitar) helps a lot. For example, there is a FMaj7 chord, you know you can play any major mode over it, you could play F Ionian, then staying in the same position just change the shape to F Lydian (which has the notes of C major anyway). It is one of the advantages of guitar, it uses a lot of patterns that you can move around, so indeed you can call the pattern of the C Major Scale that starts in the 3rd fret a G Mixolydian because it is the pattern of the Mixolydian mode, if you compare the exact same shape with G Ionian (that starts in the 3rd fret also) you will notice the only difference is the b7. Hope I'm making myself clear, it's easier when you actually have the guitar in your hands
    crazysam23_Atax
    The problem with this line of thinking is that you assume guitar players need it simplified. There's too many guitar teachers out there who simplify it. We need to stop acting like, "Hurr durr durr...guitar! They think theory is hard!". Man up and use proper theory.
    magnum1117
    Well, there is no need to complicate stuff. I mean, either way you need to know your theory to apply the modes properly; there's no shortcuts in music, you still have to study and practice. Of course, if there is a way to make it easier to understand then go for it.
    Maestro_727
    Some people need it simplified, bro. Tell me all this 4-5 yrs ago and I'd be absolutely lost. When you first learn subjects in school, it is all simplified. Theory is no different and by the way, theory is very hard. It is hard to teach it and trust me, this is baby theory. There is so much more that I want to post but after posting this, I am hesitant because I will have people wanting to argue every word written from me. Hope it goes well for you!