modal pentatonics!

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# modal pentatonics!

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(@kaspen)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 57

That makes me happy to hear. :)

I'm here for you guys if you need more help!

(@megalomaniac)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 48
Topic starter

so i just reread all of the posts and such and i've got another question,
before you were saying that in the C dorian scale there's the notes C D Eb F G A Bb, but thats in the key of C, i started getting lost when you were talking about looking for where C is the second (Bb maj scale ) and that you could use a C dorian over C Eb and F ( C telling what key/root but then went from the 4th and 5th of Bb, Eb and F )
so can you explain to me why we apply rather the Eb and F to the progression, because i was under the impression that we would use C F G instead as that's what it is in the C dorian scale?
is this because that's just the formula of a dorian applied to the key of C, and that it's actually the second of Bb so we use the 4th 5th and whatever else degree's we choose in our progression from the Bb major scale and resolve it to C?

does this make it so the whole progresion and riff/scale is based off of one mode entirely, so it's more of an applied key rather then a scale, like the whole song is itself is in C dorian?
branching off of this concept wouldnt it be possible to hypothetically play over this C dorian 1 4 5 progression,
Cmaj7 Ebmaj7 # 11 and F7
so i added 7ths to the progression, meaning if it was just major, C dorian would be perfect but now with 7th's you still could use C dorian couldnt you?
but now could you also play C Dorian scale over the C chord, Eb lydian over the Eb and F Mixo. over the F?
so that would mean in the Key/Scale of C dorian, you would play the other modes of the 4th and 5th of C dorian to accommodate those pesky 7th chords. so you're playing a modes inside of a main mode?

that's a correct way of playing them instead of having one dominate an entire Key/main scale, right?
like 2 5 1 in C major, you would play D dorian over Dmin7, G mixolydian over G7 and C ionian over Cmaj7?

and branching further upon that if i wanted to play a C pentatonic major dorian something like a 1 6 2 5 progression then i'd play a 1 which would be C a 6 which is G ( 6th of Bb because we're using a dorian ), here's one part where i'm confused because i want to play a 2 of Bb but that's C and we're using the C already as the first of the progression so i need clarification here, and a 5 which of Bb is an F,
okay so i used the 1 6 2 5 progression because it fits in with the pentatonic maj scale ( 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 )
so now inside of this hypothetical modal pentatonic progression if i added 7th's to the above progression, Cmaj7 Gmin7 Bbmin7/Cmin7 ( the one i need clarification on ) annd Bb7.
now using that second idea i was doing before i would solo over that progression using C pen. maj. dorian ( C D Eb G A ) over the Cmaj7, G pen maj aeolian ( G A Bb D Eb) over the Gm7, this next one is the one i'm unsure of so i'm skipping it until i get a handle on it, and Bb pen maj mixolydian ( Bb C D F G )

okay okay, so sorry about the ramble, but it's really helped me unerstand it even more then i have before it's taken me about an hour to type and analyze all of this but i've learned more tonight typing this up, then i have in the past week or two
any help or clarification on anything that i said would be rad! help steer me on the right track with the knowledge and application of this, were my examples correct? and where or what could i do for those unclear examples or questions that were mixed around in there?
anyhelp would be awesome, thanks again!

(@noteboat)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 4921

The problem with modes is the tonal center - the most important note. That's the only thing that separates "related" modes - since all the notes are the same. Whatever note your melody centers around is the tonal center of that melody.

But chord progressions can also have a tonal center. When we introduce tension/release in a chord progression, the release point feels like home - so it's the tonal center of the harmony.

Kaspen's strategy is a pretty cool one, and one I haven't heard before. But it's really just a "rule of thumb" guideline for using modes... it'll work most of the time, but it's not universally true. What it's trying to do is avoid a cadence - a tension/release cycle in the chords. It does that well for some progressions, but not at all for others, like your I-VI-IV-V example.

From a theory perspective, if you're in a mode - other than Ionian or Aeolian - you want to avoid using the IV or V chords in a progression. That's because V-I (the authentic cadence) and IV-I (the plagal cadence) changes have been used so often to establish a sense of "key" in the harmony. Our ears hear that movement and we know what chord should be home... and you want the melody note to have the same home. If it doesn't, the stronger one will win - but either way, it'll sound like something isn't right... chords should support the melody, not fight with it.

Besides avoiding IV and V, you want to avoid dominant chord types (7ths, 9ths, etc). Even if these chords don't resolve, they'll give your harmony a sense of movement - and the movement MUST match the mode for decent results.

Analyze modal tunes and you'll find they follow these rules, which means their chord "progressions" really end up being just a chord vamp (something repeated over and over, without a sense of movement to the chords): Miles Davis' "So What" is a i-ii vamp. The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby", is a VI-i.

A lot of modal melodies are done over a single chord - like the Beatles' "Dear Prudence" (Mixolydian) or the verses for the Police "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" (Lydian). No chord change = no harmonic center; the chord is essentially a drone. Here you can use the IV or V (or anything else) for the chord... because you won't hear it as a IV or V without context - it's just a single chord!

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