Modes?

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JackOnTheRocks
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Modes?

Hello,

I am a singer but I am trying to write my own compositions.

Basically, my question has to do with modes. What notes can a guitar player play over a certain chord. If we are in the key of C major and I play a C major chord, notes from C to B can be played over this chord (In any order but always innitiating the solo by its tonic "C"). Therefore this would sound as I am playing in Iolian mode.

If we are in the key of C major and I play a D minor chord, notes from D to C can be played over this chord (In any order but always innitiating the solo by its tonic "D"). Therefore this would sound as I am playing in Dorian mode.

and so on for the other modes.....

So here's what all the modes look like:

C (Ionian) Major. (C, D, E, F, G, A, B)
D (Dorian) Minor (D, E, F, G, A, B, C)
E (Phrygian) Minor (E, F, G, A, B, C, D)
F (Lydian) Major (F, G, A, B, C, D, E)
G (Mixolydian) Major (G, A, B, C, D, E, G)
A (Aolian) Minor (A, B, C, D, E, F, G)
B (Locrian) Dim (B, C, D, E, F, G, A)

So if a chord progression does A minor G and D minor.... One can solo over these chords by referencing the table above. For example, On the A minor chord one can solo with the notes defined by the Aolian mode. On the G major chord one should solo with the notes defined by the Mixolydian mode. And on the D minor chord one should solo with the notes defined by the Dorian mode.

The question I have is, if I am in A minor key can I still use the table above since A minor is the relative of C major?

So with the same chord progressions (A minor G and D minor) , I could use the same modes as laid out above? right?

Last edited by JackOnTheRocks; Today at 06:27 PM.

Alan Green
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Re: Modes?

Depends.

A Natural minor uses the same notes - A, B,C, D, E, F, G.

However, A Harmonic minor replicates the leading note principal used in Major sales, so your notes are A, B, C, D, E, F, G# - meaning that your dominant chord is E (or E7) rather than Em, and your iii chord should be CAug rather than C.

Singers like A Melodic minor, because they don't have to sing the semitone both ways at the top. It's easier to descend by a full tone at the top, apparently. So, your scale is different going down to what it is going up: A, B, C, D, E, F#, G#, A, G, F, E, D, C, B, A.

Yes, you can still use modal concepts. Just watch out for what doesn't sound so hot every time.
"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger
"I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk

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JackOnTheRocks
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Re: Modes?

Hi Alan,

Thanks for your reply it is very generous of you to help!

So okay, there's one more thing that confuses me. In my
initial table, I laid out the modes for a C major. I I wanted to lay out the modes for a G Major for example, it would be the following:

G Ionian (Major) (G,A,B,C,D,E,F#,G) (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,1)
A Dorian (minor) (A,B,C,D,E,F#,G,A) (2,3,4,5,6,7,1,2)
B Phrygian (minor) (B,C,D,E,F#,G,A,B) (3,4,5,6,7,1,2,3)
C Lydian (Major) (C,D,E,F#,G,A,B,C) (4,5,6,7,1,2,3,4)
D Mixolydian (Major) (D,E,F#,G,A,B,C,D) (5,6,7,1,2,3,4,5)
E Aeolian (minor) (E,F#,G,A,B,C,D,E) (6,7,1,2,3,4,5,6)
F# Locrian (diminished) (F#,G,A,B,C,D,E,F#) (7,1,2,3,4,5,6,7)

right?

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/ ... modes.html

says that the above is not the right way and says that
the modes should really be this way:

G Ionian (Major) (G,A,B,C,D,E,F#,G) (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,1)
G Dorian (minor) (G,A,Bb,C,D,E,F,G) (1,2,b3,4,5,6,b7,1)
G Phrygian (minor) (G,Ab,Bb,C,D,Eb,F,G) (1,b2,b3,4,5,b6,b7,1)
G Lydian (Major) (G,A,B,C#,D,E,F#,G) (1,2,3,#4,5,6,7,1)
G Mixolydian (Major) (G,A,B,C,D,E,F,G) (1,2,3,4,5,6,b7,1)
G Aeolian (minor) (G,A,Bb,C,D,Eb,F,G) (1,2,b3,4,5,b6,b7,1)
G Locrian (diminished) (G,Ab,Bb,C,Db,Eb,F,G) (1,b2,b3,4,b5,b6,b7,1)

which way is it the first way or the second way??

thanks

Alan Green
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Re: Modes?

It's horses for courses, and everybody has their own preferred way of setting things out.

I prefer to talk about modes the way you have laid them out - as the seven modes of a specific major scale.

The Ultimate Guitar article you mention has laid everything out by reference to a specific starting note so that you can see the differences in the notes between the modes; ignoring any concept of key.

The way I do it, I know exactly what key I'm in, and what chords and harmonies I expect to be working with. Tom (Noteboat on these pages) has previously set things out working from a starting note and referring to "major scale with a flat this" or "sharp that". He knows what he expects to hear too.

So, both forms are actually correct, and one will work better for you than the other.

There is a lot of smelly brown stuff written about modes by people who don't understand. If your chord is Dm, you might need to be playing D Dorian (in the key of C), D Aeolian (key of F), or D Phrygian (key of Bb) and so on, so you can't just look at the chord part in isolation. Originally, of course, there would have been no harmony to consider; the modes were scale-like ways of singing plainchant before the development of chord-based harmony.
"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger
"I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk

Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk

JackOnTheRocks
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Re: Modes?

Wow!

So if I am in key of C and I want to play a Dorian scale
over a D minor chord, I can pick any one of the two:

(D,E,F,G,A,B,C,D)

or

(C,D,Eb,F,G,A,Bb,C)

ok
well, thank you !

I wish I could let someone hear some of my experiments to make sure I'm doing this right .... he heh heh! Thanks again!

Alan Green
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Re: Modes?

JackOnTheRocks wrote: or

(C,D,Eb,F,G,A,Bb,C)

ok
Nope, not in the key of C - this is C Dorian, which is in the key of Bb. If you try to play this over a progression in C the Bb will sound as the dissonant dominant 7th of C, and the Eb is from the chord of C minor - it'll sound horrible when you play those two notes.
"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger
"I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk

Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk

JackOnTheRocks
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Re: Modes?

Hi Alan,

Bof!!! That article is mixing me up.....

The article suggests the same thing except in G major key.... here's the quote:

"For the Am chord, you can use any minor mode (this time using the A as your tonic) so you could play A Dorian, A Phrygian, A aeolian or combine the three in various ways over your A minor chord."

So he suggests that in the key of G Major, playing the chord of the 2nd degree (which corresponds to A Minor)
you can play any minor mode ... Dorian inclusively clearly depicted as:

(G,A,Bb,C,D,E,F,G)

So he took the GMajor scale and flattened the 3rd and 7th.

Now I just changed the key from G major to C major and applying the same analogy.

The 2nd degree in the C major scale is D which the D chord needs to be minor hence.... playing a D minor
chord according to the article, I should be able to
play a Dorian scale as shown in the article:

(C,D,Eb,F,G,A,Bb,C)

where I did the same thing the article did being I
flattenned the 3rd and 7th ?????

confused.

Alan Green
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Re: Modes?

It's doing a pretty good job confusing all of us, that article.

Take the G Major scale -> G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G

Flatten the 3rd and the 7th -> G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F, G

And you do indeed get G Dorian. Which is a scale in the key of F (because of the Bb) - it's the mode on the second degree of the F Major scale.

Into the G Major key. The notes are as above - G, A, B, C, D, E, F# G

You want A Dorian, to work with an Am chord so you start on the 2nd degree -> A, B, C, D, E, F,#, G, A

The notes of an A Major scale are A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A

Flatten the 3rd (C#->C) and the 7th ~(G#->G) and you get A, B, C, D, E, F#, G, A - lo and behold, A Dorian, which is what the article says, but doesn't start from the right place.

A Phrygian uses the notes A, Bb, C, D, E, F, G, A - note that flat again, which puts you in the kay of F

A Aeolian uses the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A - putting you firmly in the key of C

So the article is substantially written by someone who doesn't understand. You cannot use A Dorian, A Phrygian and A Aeolian or any mix of them to write/ play a melody over an Am chord; not without it sounding wrong.
"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger
"I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk

Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk

JackOnTheRocks
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Re: Modes?

What a kick in the BUTT I got .... I spent all week
trying to wrap my brain around what he was trying
to tell me and it ends up being the same thing
I knew all along...

That article says to use the A Dorian over A minor chord and I don't even see the A Dorian.... I see an G Dorian but why at the heck !!!! really difficult to follow.

So if I use the G Phrygian mode I am really in the
key of Eb since we do the steps backwards like this

Major steps: T T S T T T S
Stepping: G. F. Eb. D. C. Bb. Ab
Modes: Ion. Dor. Phry. Lyd. Mix. Aol. Loc

So:
G Aolian = key of GMaj
G Dorian = key of FMaj
G Phrygian = key of EbMaj
G Lydian = key of DMaj
G Mixolydian = key of C Maj
G Alolian = key of BbMaj
G Locrian = key of Ab

So basically if my song is in the key of A minor, I can use the D Dorian over a Dmin chord.... the E Phrygian over an Eminor chord etc....

Also nothing stops for to go from C-Aolian to C Dorian if our song changes key from A minor to GMinor (or C Maj to Bb Maj) .... right?

So what happens if I am in A minor key and I want to make a solo with a harmonic minor scale.... do I just take
the A major scale and flatten the 3rd and 6th like this:

AMaj: A, B, C#,D, E, F#, G#, A
becomes: A, B, C,D, E, F, G#, A

and then do my modes as I did with the major modes:
2nd mode (Locrian):
B, C, D, E, F, G#, A, B

3rd mode (Ionian)
C, D, E, F, G#, A, B, C

4th mode (Dorian)
D, E, F, G#, A, B, C, D

5th mode (Mixolidian)
E, F, G#, A, B, C, D, E

6th Mode (Lydian)
F, G#, A, B, C, D, E, F

7th mode(Diminished suuuuuper Locrian)
Wow Go to use this one some day lol
G#, A, B, C, D, E, F, G#

and I suppose the same would go for the melodic minor
except that we raise the 6th and 7th going up and don't raise the the 6th and 7th coming down.

So for A minor melodic it would be:

A, B, C, D, E, F#, G#, A, G, F, E, D, C, B, A

2nd mode (Dorian flat 2nd)
B, C, D, E, F#, G#, A, B, A, G, F, E, D, C, B

etc...

is this correct?

In any case, Alan.... I sincerely thank you for your
help.
Regards

Alan Green
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Re: Modes?

JackOnTheRocks wrote:
So if I use the G Phrygian mode I am really in the
key of Eb
Correct
JackOnTheRocks wrote: So:
G Aolian = key of GMaj
It's the Ionian mode for the major scale. G Ionian is G Major.
JackOnTheRocks wrote: So basically if my song is in the key of A minor, I can use the D Dorian over a Dmin chord.... the E Phrygian over an Eminor chord etc....
Yes, but things get a bit messy in minor keys. Remember, the modes were originally THE scales you used to sing chant. There was no differentiation between major and minor keys, just modes; and they're all modes of a major scale. Harmony (chords), harmonic and melodic minor scales came a long time later. What we try to do now, when talking about minor keys, is force modes to fit something that wasn't designed to cope with them and wasn't around when knowing music theory meant knowing the modes.

At this point, I think you need to stop getting bound up with all this theory stuff and just create some music. Have fun; that's slightly more important than anything else.

Cheers.
"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger
"I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk

Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk

JackOnTheRocks
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Re: Modes?

Ok Alan....

I thank you so much for your help.
You are a fine gentlemen.

Have yourself a nice day .

snuvet75
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Re: Modes?

Alan Green wrote:
August 23rd, 2015, 10:20 am
JackOnTheRocks wrote: So basically if my song is in the key of A minor, I can use the D Dorian over a Dmin chord.... the E Phrygian over an Eminor chord etc....
If he still is talking about A minor song, would Em be a right chord? shouldn't it be E major instead? And back to his original question, is it better to start solo with the matching note when chord changes? For instance, C-Am-G-D progression, C note with C chord, A note with Am, etc.. Or maybe start with any of those 3 diatonic notes within the chord? For example, with G chord, start with either G, B or D. Would it be sounding weird if I start the solo with, say, F? I guess I can use it as a passing tone but I shouldn't linger on the F. Please enlighten me. Thanks guys.

Alan Green
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Re: Modes?

A lot of beginners go through the "changing the position of the scale for each chord" thing, but it's important to remember that G-Em-C-D7 is a sequence in the key of G, as C-Am-F-G7 is in the key of C, so once you have the tonic Scale there is no need to specifically target chord tones at any point, or change scale when the chord changes.
"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger
"I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk

Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk

snuvet75
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Re: Modes?

Alan Green wrote:
May 25th, 2017, 9:58 pm
A lot of beginners go through the "changing the position of the scale for each chord" thing, but it's important to remember that G-Em-C-D7 is a sequence in the key of G, as C-Am-F-G7 is in the key of C, so once you have the tonic Scale there is no need to specifically target chord tones at any point, or change scale when the chord changes.
I thought so. Thank Alan. But what about my Em being off in key of Am question? Thanks Alan.

Alan Green
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Re: Modes?

The out-of-key chord happens a lot. Don't forget that in the descending A melodic minor you use a G natural, not a sharp.
"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger
"I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk

Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk