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Modal Chord progression


(@dan_c)
New Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 3
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Hey,

I'm just starting out experimenting with modes and although I understand the basics, I'm still a little unsure as to when to apply a mode to a chord progression (it was always so easy with the minor pent :p)...

So say I have a nice chord sequence such as AMinor, GMajor, FMajor, EMajor, FMajor, AMinor, AbMajor, AMinor. I'm sure if you play through this you will get the sense it has a Spanish/Latin feel (as a separate note I don't really understand how these chords fit together as they can't all come from one scale given the number of majors...). So given I want to stick with the Spanish sound, I would assume I would need to solo with the A Phygian over the AMinor chords, but then I'm lost. Given the rest of the chords are Majors and the Phygian is a Minor scale, how to I pick a mode while maintaining the 'Spanish' feel?

Thanks :D
Dan


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(@fretsource)
Prominent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 974
 

If you keep in mind that minor scales have 3 forms (harmonic, melodic and natural) then everything in that progression belongs to the key of A minor, with the exception of Ab (which is really G# because you're using it to lead chromatically back up to A minor). And even your G# chord contains only one note (D#) that is out of key. The other 2 notes are G# and B#. G# belongs to A harmonic minor. B# doesn't but is enharmonic to C, which does belong.

So the A minor scales are the closest you've got to the chord tones in your progression. A phrygian would give you the note Bb instead of B. There's no Bb note anywhere in your chord tones so there's no real justification for using A phrygian.

I think that you're thinking of phrygian because of its association with flamenco, right? But in those flamenco progressions using the same chords as yours, they usually consider (and emphasise) E major, not A minor, as the home chord. That allows them to use the E Spanish phrygian scale (aka phrygian dominant), which has the same notes as A harmonic minor but starting on E (E F G# A B C D E).
You can use it too and also use plain E phrygian (E F G A B C D E) over any chords that contain a G natural, to avoid any G/G# clash between chord and scale. But if you're emphasing A minor as your home chord, rather than E, then you might as well just think of the scales as A minor scales. Same notes - different scale names.
For the G# chord - just be careful of the potential D/D# clash that can occur between scale and chord.


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(@dan_c)
New Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 3
Topic starter  

Thanks thats helped a lot :D


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