Skip to content
Modes: I'm losing m...
 
Notifications
Clear all

Modes: I'm losing my mind and need kind help!

35 Posts
11 Users
0 Likes
6,749 Views
corbind
(@corbind)
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1735
Topic starter  

I've bought maybe 4 books on guitar theory. I've found some very good and others just way over my head. I'm a fairly smart person (give or take) but I just can't seem to "get it." Our lead guitar player and I are just baffled by it. And, by the way, I'm a rhythm guitar player but I delve into other things just to learn.

Nevertheless, I HAVE to figure this out. It's been bugging me for months. I've read many posts in the forums and these lessons on GN:

https://www.guitarnoise.com/lessons/modal-thinking/

https://www.guitarnoise.com/lessons/scales-within-scales/

I read in a book that:

I C ionian C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C Cmaj7
II D dorian D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D Dmin7
III E phrygian E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E Emin7
IV F lydian F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F Fmaj7
V G mixolydian G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G G7
VI A aelian A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A Amin7
VII B locrian B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B Bmin7b5 or B half dim

So in the key of C the notes of the scale are C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C in the Ionian/Major. Great. I get that. I get the formula. But (based on that), if you start on the 2nd note of the scale (Dorian mode), you get D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D.

Still, in on of the books I read they started on the same root note (say C) and have altered the pattern and called it X mode. I'm SOOOOOOOOO confused. Frustrated I am I want to light myself on fire for being a dingbat in not understanding it. I fall back to being happy just to play rhythm guitar.

But that's not good enough. I need to understand what the heck is up with modes. Background: I seldom solo but, when I do, I play the notes from the 6th degree (or 3 frets back from the key with the familiar box). I only play pentatonics. Example: song in the key of G (say G, Em, D, C) I'll solo in Em (notes E, G, A, B, D). Song in the key of A I'll move back 3 frets and solo in the box of F#m.

Can any of you waste some of your time in helping me understand modes? I have put off posting this for at least 3 weeks in trying to seach the books I have and other lessons. I'm at a stand still. :evil:

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."


   
Quote
NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

Ok, Dennis... we'll take D Dorian.

It has the same notes as C major: D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D. But if you think of it as "C major starting from D", it's really hard to work with - because C major is a major scale, and D Dorian is a minor-sounding scale.

So instead, let's compare the notes of D Dorian to D natural minor:

D Dorian: D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D
D Natural minor: D-E-F-G-A-Bb-C-D

There's only one difference - the sixth note is raised in the Dorian.

So if you think "I'm going to play in D minor, but I'll raise all the Bb notes to B natural", you're playing in D Dorian.

Leaving aside the Locrian (which isn't used much), every mode is a major or natural minor scale with just one change:

Lydian = major with #4
Mixolydian = major with b7
Dorian = natural minor with #6
Phrygian = natural minor with b2

Does that help?

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
ReplyQuote
corbind
(@corbind)
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1735
Topic starter  

Hey Tom, thanks for coming out and helping the mindless!

"D Natural minor: D-E-F-G-A-Bb-C-D"

Yea, that would be in the key of F but on the 6th degree, right? Sadly, I'm still not getting it. I understand what makes up a F scale (F G A Bb C D E). God, I want to dig a hole and bury myself. I cannot explain how much grief, in all the book/lessons I've read, how this MODE thing had just passed way over my head. It makes me want to just play (say in the 1 key, play the 6th pent and roll with it).

I'd definitely fail a college theory class.

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."


   
ReplyQuote
Misanthrope
(@misanthrope)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 2261
 

I had decided (with Noteboat & KingPatzer's advice, IIRC) that I was going to forget modes even existed for a long time - that I had plenty of more productive & useful things to learn first and keep me busy. Alas, my ol' muker I play guitar with every week has a new question about modes, amongst other things, every time I see him and I'm trying to get my head around it again, if just to be able to get back to playing instead of trying to teach something I'm not 100% with :roll: :wink:

So, anyway, here's where I am, and anyone who knows better is more than welcome to jump in and correct :)

So, I'm done with thinking of modes as 'the same notes as X scale, but starting at Y degree'. I'm now now thinking of them as 'just another scale' and comparing each to the differences between major and minor, as Noteboat says above. In terms of getting my head around it, I'm thinking of the way we play parallel minor scales over a progression where you'd 'expect' a major scale. Say we have a backing of A, D and E - looking at the notes in the scale, we'd expect to use A Major as all the notes of A major are in that key. Usually/often though, we don't, we use A minor over that progression and there's a certain feel associated with that (bluesey). Looking at the notes when starting out in theory we'd expect it not to work, as it has a flat 3rd, 6th and 7th, so we have 3 notes out of 7 that are 'wrong'... but those 'wrong' notes are what gives it that bluesey feel.

You know all that I'm sure, but now remember that the minor scale is another name for the Aeolien mode (or vice versa). When you use a parallel minor, you're using the Aeolian mode. If you then think of Lydian as 'just another scale' and play it as a parallel scale the same as before, A Lydian over A, D and E, we've got a major scale with one note 'wrong', A major with a sharpened 4th. That'll do exactly the same as the parallel minor did - give a different feel because of the 'wrong' note. It's not a feel we're as familiar with, but it'll be the same principles.

Basically, play any scale you like over any progression, and if it works, great. Some will honk terribly, some will be fantastic, some will be just plain odd, and every single one will have a feel of its own. In amongst all that lot, trivially, some will be named 'modes' :wink:

ChordsAndScales.co.uk - Guitar Chord/Scale Finder/Viewer


   
ReplyQuote
Fretsource
(@fretsource)
Prominent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 973
 

"D Natural minor: D-E-F-G-A-Bb-C-D"

Yea, that would be in the key of F but on the 6th degree, right? Sadly, I'm still not getting it. I understand what makes up a F scale (F G A Bb C D E).

No - Corbind. That's where you're going wrong. As NoteBoat and Misanthrope pointed out, that's not the way to think about it. D natural minor scale belongs to the key of D minor - not F major. Sure, it has the same notes as F major, but not the same key note. That makes all the difference in the world.

As an analogy, take the name ALAN (A-L-A-N). If I start on the second 'degree' L, I'd have LANA. LANA isn't a mode of ALAN. They're not related and have nothing in common except the letters of their name. I could continue this analogy to the next 'mode', but I'd better not for obvious reasons :lol:
Edit: Just wondering - maybe Lana comes from "Alanna", which is related to "Alan", in which case, I need to find a better example :)


   
ReplyQuote
NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

Dennis, you're closer than you think to getting all this :)

Dm and F aren't the same key - but they're the same key signature. So if that's what you're using as your touchstone to find the Dm pentatonic scale, it'll work. Just remember you're in the KEY of D minor, not F - you're RELATIVE (using the same notes) to the key of F.

Now think about the pentatonic in D minor:

10-13
10-13
10-12
10-12
10-12
10-13

The pentatonic scale has the 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 of the natural minor. If you add the two missing notes, you get D natural minor. One note is a stretch, so you can play it two different ways:

10-12-13
10-11-13
10-13
10-12-14
10-12-13
10-12-13

or

10-12-13
10-11-13
9-10-12
10-12
10-12-13
10-12-13

Once you've got the natural minor down, (and make sure you've got it nailed before you tackle the modes!) then all you need to do is change a note - here's the Dorian with the raised 6th*:

10-12-13
10-12*-13
10-12
10-12-14
10-12-14*
10-12-13

or

10-12-13
10-12*-13
9-10-12
10-12
10-12-14*
10-12-13

And here's the Phrygian with the lowered 2nd*:

10-11*-13
10-11-13
10-12
10-12-13*
10-12-13
10-11*-13

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
ReplyQuote
hbriem
(@hbriem)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 646
 

I don't want to confuse you any more as Noteboat and Fretsource have given you good advice, but here's a possibly fruitful way of thinking about modes.

Instead of considering the different modes of C major as is usual, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian and so forth, perhaps it might be useful to consider the modes of a single keynote, let's say C:

That gives you the modes, in order from "brightest" to "darkest":

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
C Lydian C D E F# G A B C
C Ionian (major) C D E F G A B C
C Mixolydian C D E F G A Bb C
C Dorian C D Eb F G A Bb C
C Aeolian (minor) C D Eb F G Ab Bb C
C Phrygian C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C
C Locrian C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C (theoretical only)

Or more generically:
Lydian 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 8
Ionian (major) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Mixolydian 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 8
Dorian 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 8
Aeolian (minor) 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8
Phrygian 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8
Locrian 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 8 (theoretical only)

Does this help?

--
Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com


   
ReplyQuote
Ignar Hillström
(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

Not to steer this one off-course, but isn;t Locrian theoretically *mostly* instead of only. I don't know too much but I think I once wrote a small tuner in Locrian. :?


   
ReplyQuote
hbriem
(@hbriem)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 646
 

As far as I understand, and I may be wrong but I've heard it said many times, Locrian cannot, even in principle be used as a basis for a tune because there is no way to make the tonic sound like a tonic.

The basis for a tonal centre is to make one note sound like "home", to "resolve" to it. Go from more tension to less tension. No note has more tension than the 1 of Locrian, no chord has more tension than the diminished. So how can you resolve to it?

As I say, I may be wrong, but this is my understanding. What does your Locrian tune sound like?

--
Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com


   
ReplyQuote
Ignar Hillström
(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

http://www.box.net/shared/int3cz7knq

Played twice. First time the melody is Locrian but the harmony isn't. Second time both are Locrian for the first half. The second time it sounds much more, well, mournfull, because as you say the homechord is diminished.


   
ReplyQuote
hbriem
(@hbriem)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 646
 

Pretty mournful and yes, definitely minor, but to my ear, the diminished chords sound like dominants, not like home. But I'll defer to wiser heads on this.

Do you have tab for this or sheet music? I read music very slowly, but I'd like to see it written out.

--
Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com


   
ReplyQuote
Ignar Hillström
(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

I might have the sheet music for it someplace, will check it out. Or else I'll use it as an excuse to write a new tune in this mode. :D


   
ReplyQuote
blutic1
(@blutic1)
Reputable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 280
 

After spending a couple years on this forum and hours and hours reading about modes from dozens of sources (including Noteboat's book), the light bulb finally went on. Now that I understand and can actually use modes, IMHO it's not worth fooling with. Sure it's nice to learn all you can about music, but I think the time I spent in pursuit would have been better used learning songs by ear, practicing techniques, doing exercises, and composing; or washing the car. My advice is to master the major and minor scales (which are the Ionian and Aeolian modes), Maj and Min pentatonics, and perhaps explore the harm minor. With that you can jam all night with anyone and compose songs (rock, pop, blues, country, etc.).

If you're really dying to know: I found it much easier to think of modes in relation to the major scale of whatever key instead of thinking - ok now I'm going to play in a mode.

For example: Key of Gmaj is G, A, B, C, D, E, F#. G mixo is that but play F instead of F#. Kind of a cooler scale.

Remember, as Noteboat keeps drilling, chord progs don't make modes.


   
ReplyQuote
321Barf
(@321barf)
Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 133
 

It's all about songs.

Some songs are in a Major or minor key.

Some songs are blues based Blues songs.

Some songs are in modes.

So knowing that, then it seems that learning them is valid.

It's really not a big deal at all. People just make it a way bigger deal than it really is.

As far as I understand, and I may be wrong but I've heard it said many times, Locrian cannot, even in principle be used as a basis for a tune because there is no way to make the tonic sound like a tonic.

The basis for a tonal centre is to make one note sound like "home", to "resolve" to it. Go from more tension to less tension. No note has more tension than the 1 of Locrian, no chord has more tension than the diminished. So how can you resolve to it?
Well for one thing:
Remember, as Noteboat keeps drilling, chord progs don't make modes.

think melodically...

:/


   
ReplyQuote
hbriem
(@hbriem)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 646
 

think melodically...

Even melodically, the 7 is the most difficult note to resolve to.

Classical and jazz theorists have universally declared the Locrian to be unusable for composition. Because the 7 (vii) is the most unstable note and the least supported by other notes (it has no strong support like the 5th or major 3rd) it will always sound like restless, i.e. not like a tonic.

As I've said before, I have yet to hear a melody or chord progression in Locrian.

--
Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com


   
ReplyQuote
Page 1 / 3