Question about modes?

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Question about modes?

Post by nousername » March 28th, 2015, 11:39 pm

I fail to see the difference between for example, D dorian and C major, except starting former on D note.

I will take "So What" by Miles Davis as an example. I took a look on bass line of the song and it doesn't start on D note, but rather ends on it. After this part, a Em7-Dm7 vamp is played. Can someone please explain me how does this make this song D dorian?

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Re: Question about modes?

Post by Alan Green » March 29th, 2015, 1:35 am

Start by listening to the sound of each. The order of tone and semitone steps is different so the two scales sound very different.


D Dorian - TSTTTST

Modes are determined by the Final - your melody might not start on D but it will finish on it.

However, in the vamp, you do have a D - in the Em7, so that part of your tune does begin and end with the Final. You could play a single note of D over both chords, and the dissonant D against the E in the Em7 would then resolve against the D in the Dm7.

Don't overthink it when it comes to Modes.
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Re: Question about modes?

Post by NoteBoat » March 29th, 2015, 4:17 am

Most melodies don't begin on the tonic, or key note - sing "Happy Birthday" in the key of C and you're starting on a G. But most melodies will end on the tonic, because that's the tone that will make the melody sound complete - so you'll find Happy Birthday does end on a C.

It's the relationship of the other sounds to that tonic that create the scale. If you want to understand the difference between C major and D Dorian, don't compare the two directly, because they have different tonic notes. Instead, compare D Dorian to D major:


or compare C major to C Dorian:


Now you can see that even though C major and D Dorian both have the same notes, the relationships are different. The major scale includes a tone a major third above the tonic, and another tone a minor second below the tonic (the 3rd and 7th notes of the scale). The Dorian doesn't have either of those tones in relation to the tonic - instead, it has one a minor third above the tonic (the b3 of the major scale with the same key note) and another a major 2nd below the tonic (the b7 of the major scale).

See the difference?
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Re: Question about modes?

Post by notes_norton » March 29th, 2015, 7:25 am

To further illustrate what Note Boat said:

A minor is the Aeolian mode to C Major (Ionian mode) - and they don't sound the same either.

So the better comparison is from C Ionian to C Aeolian

C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C = C Major/Ionian
C-D-Eb-F-G-Ab-Bb-C = C Minor/Aeolian
C-D-Eb-F-G-A-Bb-C = C Dorian (and you can see why Dorian sounds dark like Aeolian/Minor)

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Re: Question about modes?

Post by nousername » March 29th, 2015, 12:35 pm

I think i can understand it now. Thanks a lot guys.

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