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Modes, Please Help

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PsYcHoNIK
(@psychonik)
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i beleive this thred has just become about music psychology... you establighed the melody first, thus imprinting the idea that it is D dorian in everyone's mind... and the harmonic changes seem irrelevant because the melody is the same melody you established... i dont know it may be irrelevant.. but i dont think anything was proved aside from you can write a cool melody :D

im lost, so take opinion with a grain of salt, and might as well dissolve both in water... you both seem to be more educated than me but it seems that theory buffs tend to nitpick way too much...


   
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321Barf
(@321barf)
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Sorry Tom,

I responded to an earlier post and a later post and totally missed your huge post inbetween with all the sound clips.

aye aye aye...

I'm so confused though. :cry:

So I can make any melody with any mode and the melody is going to sound like that mode because it's in that mode.

What I don't get is the hearmony part.

I thought they had to match.Now I'm thoroughly confused.

If the harmony can be anything then how do you know if it'll sound good? And by that I don't mean for some smarty pants to tell me "because it'll sound good" but what I mean is how do you know what to look for so you aren't searching for a needle in a haystack? :?

I want to know how to harmonize a melody so that it sounds good without having to try every chord and progression under the sun in every key and end up 92 years old before I find what sounds good.


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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Psychonik, I came up with the melody first and left it unchanged through every example. I agree there's a memory aspect to music, so listening to them in sequence will imprint the mode first, and give a stronger modal impression. That doesn't have anything to do with it being a cool melody, just that you heard it first.

If you wait a day and listen to just the last one alone, though, it won't sound like D major. It'll sound like it's in D, but it'll sound 'off'. The D sound comes from both the chord progression and the tonal center of the melody... the 'off' feeling from the modal variation. I mean, we're just changing a note or two for most modes, so it's a subtle thing, and there's no question a harmony can help establish the mode. I never said it couldn't help or detract from the mode, I said it couldn't change the mode.

Derp, that's exactly what I'm saying - modes are melodic; nothing matters except melody in establishing or identifying a mode.

Harmony is a big subject - a lot bigger than modes, believe it or not :)

Here's some (very) general rules of thumb to shorten your chord search:

1. On a strong beat (one in 3/4, one and three in 4/4), the chord should contain the melody note. This will tie the melody to the chords.
2. If you decide to break rule one, either the melody must move to a chord tone, or the chord must shift to the melody on the next note (this is really the role of things like suspended chords in harmony)
3. End on a chord that's got the tonal center for the root.
4. The last two chord roots should be a second, fourth, or fifth apart. That's to give you either a cadence or a motion by scale movement. Cadences are stronger, but either will give you a sense of motion to the end.
5. If you decide to leave the key with a chord, it should either substitute a different chord type on the expected root (using a D major instead of D minor, for example), or it should seque to a chord of identical type that does fit (as in a series of secondary dominants, where 7th leads to 7th). If you change both the type and the root at the same time, the effect is jarring.
6. The biggest rule of all - the one they spend a couple years drilling into your head in college - is that every voice (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) should form a melody. Composers don't write chord progressions - chord progressions happen because of the simultaneous melodies of a piece. Because guitar voicings use so much doubling, that's tough to follow verbatim... but you can make sure the bass notes and 'top' notes of the chords form melodies instead of just jumping around.

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321Barf
(@321barf)
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Cool,thanks for that.

Your article "Untangling Chord Progressions" is also very helpful.

Do you plan on writing any more articles on chord progressions in the future?

8)


   
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NoteBoat
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Yep... I've got plans to do one on chord substitutions pretty soon.

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321Barf
(@321barf)
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Sweet! Can't wait...

:D 8)


   
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sirN
 sirN
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You two guys were the first one's I read at this forum and the reason I stuck around.

Keep it up. 8)

check out my website for good recording/playing info


   
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Kyle
 Kyle
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Noteboat, despite what you may think, not all rock/metal players are complete idiots. Quite a few people are theory geniuses, don't play jazz, and could own many a jazzer in terms of modal application. It's dissapointing to see that this type of stereotype still exists becuase it's twice as hard for people who play extreme styles of music to get recognized by a legitimate community of musicians, even though they might have the same credentials as any person who plays jazz, classical, or blues. I said this elsewhere I believe. I find it interesting that many people I know tell me to expand my horizons and learn things from other styles, when they themselves flat out refuse to even consider a musical style that "hurts their ears". You know what? Sometimes classical hurts my ears. Sometimes jazz does too, but I tough it out and get to the good stuff and apply it to my playing. I find the exact opposite with jazz and classical players. There are plenty of metal musicians who incorporate other styles that are seemingly unrelated into their playing, but I have yet to see a jazz player even consider applying metal and rock concepts to jazz. Strangely enough, I find alot more people who know what they are talking about who started out by playing rock and metal and moved on to playing everything than jazzers. This is in my experience, but I think it's a valid observation. So next time you consider telling some seemingly misinformed individual that they need to expand their influences or they will never improve, consider YOUR situation. It's your choice if you listen to metal or jazz or both or whatever; to each his own. But there is a fine line between musical taste and flat out stereotyping people who aren't like you. I am sincerely sorry for the rant here, but I really feel that to better connect with people here, there is going to have to be a bridging of these two groups so that we can learn from each other, and hopefully I've taken the first step.

If anyone here decides to take my advice, these are some metal/rock players that might be of interest to you. The credentials speak for themselves, so it might peak your interest to know that many rock players are educated classically and move on.

John Petrucci-Berklee Graduate
Michael Romeo
Jordan Rudess-Juliard Graduate
James Malone
Steven Wilson
Michael Amott

The meaning of life? I've never heard a simpler question! Music.


   
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PsYcHoNIK
(@psychonik)
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sorry for jumping to conclusions noteboat, i now see what you were saying.. for the most part. lol. And yes harmony is MUCH more complex than modes, but less widely misunderstood.
I agree with kyle. MANY great theorists are metal oriented.I cant name any off my heart.. but ive seen some of the most complex musical concepts used in death metal and similar music... although it CAN hurt my head sometimes too, but thats becasue of the utter complexity of connosant dissonance (using the tems in the literary sense not musical)


   
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DaveC
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Yes there's a lot of good death metal theorists.. Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel, Erik Rutan (ex-morbid angel, hate eternal), Mauser from Vader and Vogg from Decapitated would be just a few of them.

They even get very amelodic in their usage of it. I guess that's an aquired taste :lol:

"And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on earth." - Eric Idle, The Galaxy Song.


   
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NoteBoat
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Kyle, I didn't say that only jazzers use modes... I said that 99% of guitarists who think they use modes don't, and that the other 1% have studied theory and play jazz. I have yet to hear a guitarist who actually used modes (in any genre) who didn't study jazz.

From Petrucci's bio on his website: "attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he learned jazz composition and harmony"

Jordan Rudess - toured with Jan Hammer, and performs with the Paul Winter Consort... he must know a thing or two about jazz.

James Malone... his teacher was fusion guitarist Scott Mishoe... think maybe he got a lesson or two in jazz?

Steven Wilson - from Porcupine Tree? The one who started his career working with the acid jazz group Karma?

I don't know enough about Romeo's or Amott's background, but I would be very surprised if they hadn't done their homework in a jazz format.

As a teacher, I have to go with what works. Jazz WORKS in learning how to use modes. Other approaches that I've seen don't. Yes, I play jazz... but I also play rock, folk, bluegrass, country, standards, blues... I honestly don't think I have musical blinders on here.

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Kyle
 Kyle
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It wasn't just about you, the general statement was to try to prove to others that rock players are very good musicians too. Of course all of those guys have studied jazz/classical, that was the point. What I was trying to prove is that most of those guys started by playing rock then relized the benifits of branching out, but I have yet to see someone who started on classical/jazz and incorporated a metal technique into their primary genre. Challenge yourself on this. "Have I ever atleast tried to incorporate a metal technique into a jazz or classical composition?". If the answer is yes then that is super awsome, you are one of the few. But I'm pretty sure the answer for alot of people would be no, which is too bad, becuase the genre has alot to offer.

The meaning of life? I've never heard a simpler question! Music.


   
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alfonso
(@alfonso)
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O, here ya go!!

http://www.jrsmoots.com/guitarlessons/lesson17.htm


   
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kingpatzer
(@kingpatzer)
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Noteboat:

You state that ". . . modes are melodic; nothing matters except melody in establishing or identifying a mode. "

I have 3 theory and composition texts that have chapters on "Modal Harmony."

Now, I haven't NOT yet studied these texts to see what they're saying, but superficially I'm wondering if your statement is an objective truism or a point of view?

But I'm reading things like this:

"The most important factor in establishing modal orientation is the frequent use of the modal tonic in the bass. This is essential because the tritone is always lurking and threatening to pull you into the relative major mode (Ionic mode). As long as the modal tone is used persistently in the bass voice, all or the diatonic voicings are in fourths from the mode can be used above it in virtually any order to provide harmonic fluidity. The use of other notes in the mode in the bass will suggest non-tonic chords that can be used in cadencing to a modal tonic chord."

That's from a Berklee Press book on Jazz composing. Can you explain how to reconcile that paragraph to what you are saying?

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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NoteBoat
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Sure. My view is that modes, when harmonized, produce the exact same chords as the major scale does (because modes consist of the same notes). Therefore modes can't introduce new harmonic elements by themselves. The defining sound of a mode is created by the relationships of the notes to the tonic, not by any chords applied to harmonize those notes.

The Dorian, Phrygian, and Aeolian modes will have a minor sound, because of the minor third in their scales. Each produces a minor chord on the tonic when harmonized. The Ionian, Lydian, and Mixolydian each produces a major chord on the tonic when harmonized. So if you have a Dm chord over a D tonic, it's impossible from that alone to determine if you're in D Dorian, D Phrygian, or D Aeolian... and even adding other chords to the mix won't help - it's the same chords derived from any of those scales.

Because of the prevalence of major/minor tonality in Western music, our ears interpret Dorian and Phrygian (and even Aeolian, since the most common minor scale is the harmonic) as minor scales with altered notes - the same is true of the lydian and mixolydian - we hear a major scale with a #4 or b7. We'll hear that difference whether it's supported by harmony or not; we won't hear a difference with the harmony itself.

On to modal harmony....

Beginning with some of the music of Beethoven, Chopin, and others we see melodies coupled with harmonies that lack a strong V-I or IV-I cadence. The leading tone is typically avoided in the melody, weakening movement to the tonic, and the lack of cadence contributes to this effect.

The melodies this harmonization was applied to weren't modes in the sense of church modes. They were folk melodies incorporated into classical works by the composers, and because the underlying scales weren't major/minor (they were often pentatonic), the composers sought to stress the melody differences by displacing the usual dominant-tonic resolutions.

Later theorists explained this by comparing the melodies to church modes. They weren't modes, of course - for one thing, they tended to be short at least one note from the requisite seven - but the name stuck.

Piston addresses modal harmony at some length, always in quotes, as "modal harmony". Many others have written about the same topic, dispensing with the quotes; the term has been used in theory for about 100 years, and widely accepted for at least 30 or more.

So you CAN create a 'modal harmony' without using a mode. Am-Em-C accompanying a C major melody would be one example of a modal harmony. However, it doesn't turn C into some other mode, and it isn't rooted in church modes - it's rooted in a theoretical explanation of melodies that weren't modes to begin with.

I've gotten into some arguments with other folks deep into theory on this topic - it seems they always like to bring up Schenkerian analysis at this point - Schenker's foreground/midground/background view of music is brought up, that the three 'layers' can be thought of as independent, and therefore the harmonic layer is modal all by itself. Frankly, I find it kind of funny that Schenker is used as the main ammunition - he felt modes were inferior to major/minor tonality. But I digress.

In the end, it's not a truism - there's a lot of different views on "modal harmony"; this is my view. Modal harmony exists as a concept, absolutely. It's an alternative to classical harmony, just as quartal harmony or other methods.

I stress modes as purely melodic elements for three reasons:

1. Understanding elements of theory, harmony, form, etc., is best done in a historic perspective. Modes were used only in unharmonized plainsong for the first 1000 years of their existence.

2. Because modes can be conceptually related to the notes of a major scale, they are devilishly easy to talk about without understanding them. "The C scale from D to D" describes D Dorian, but it isn't D Dorian - D Dorian is a scale with the pattern W-H-W-W-W-H-W. As soon as you start thinking in terms of a C scale, you lose the essence of the mode.

3. Although harmony can enhance modes, and modal harmony is one way to approach that enhancement, modal harmony did not develop from modes. Modes are confusing enough without bringing a similarly named concept into the picture.

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