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Modes, Please Help

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Nanne
(@nanne)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5
 

Cool!! I've been falling over this for quite a while, but now things are clear again! :mrgreen:

Lots of thanks to you, NoteBoat, for explaining over and over in all those threads and never giving up :) I've read all the threads on modes I could find and your posts have always been very helpfull :)


   
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alfonso
(@alfonso)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 8
 

NoteBoat,
I got a question for you, let's take a jazz standard in the key of C, the song is "Tenderley", I do the melody line first pickup notes are G A C B, then it goes on with the song, I start to improvise with the C major scale or Ionian, there are parts of the song where I leave the C tonal center of course, but my question mostly relates to the C tonal area, I squeeze in a C minor pentatonic in there, works ok, C aoelian. Now here's the big deal which leads to my question, at times when the rhythm player is on his Cmajor7th chord I shove in a phyrigian arpeggio, it's a G phyrigian arpeggio. It sounds fine to me, is there anything theoritically wrong with it??? I ask cause me and the bass player don't agree on playing it. And that brings me to this other question, my choice way to play things would be to have everything sound excellent and not only sound good but, I like to know exactly what I'm playing most of the time and I'd like to know that in theory it's also correct and useable. I mean I usually go with the attitude that if it sounds good and right then use it, so my question is this, I hope this doesn't sound too retarded but, what good is theory other than teaching you the basic ryhme and reasoning of music itself? In other words music theory, in a nutshell is the structure of music", the building blocks, how scales are made etc., is this correct or am I missing alot? thanx :? 8) 8)


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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If it sounds good, do it.

That's really the only rule of music. If it sounds good, there's some aspect of theory that tries to explain why it sounds good, but the music came first - the theory grows up later to explain (and categorize) what just happened. You can't make music that's 'theoretically wrong'; theory deals with analysis, not judgement - although theory has conventions for things like spelling (C major is C-E-G, not B#-Fb-Abb, even though they sound the same)

The value of theory? Well, since what sounds good is a subjective thing, any sound can be made to work at any time - Thelonius Monk once said "if a note ain't right when I start with it, it's right when I'm done with it". The only problem is that what works as a single dissonant note, or a phrase that leaves the key, won't work in context unless it's resolved.

Theory categorizes sounds. You know F# is going to work in the key of B because it's in the B major scale. You know Db is ok against a Bbm chord because it's a chord tone. Memorizing the scales and chord formulas is a lot easier than trying to hunt through the 40-odd tones you can get on a fretboard looking for the right one.

Theory serves to limit possibilities, making them manageable. If the tune is in Dm, you can choose to play it in D Dorian (raising the B note), and have a coherent structure - you could raise/lower random notes, but having a framework to alter the same note each time around allows the solo to make more sense to the ears.

Theory can also expand possibilities. If the chart says C7, and you know you can extend on that chord, maybe you'll think C7#9 instead - and knowing that the #9 = b3, maybe you'll run in the parallel minor key for a stretch, landing on a Bb note (common to both the C7 chord that the band is doing and the C natural minor scale) to segue back into key.

Most good musicians, especially in jazz, are pretty well versed in theory. That's not because theory is required to play well, or because you can't play well without it - it's because theory takes your existing ability to play something well and shows you what else you might do with it, where else it might work, and what else probably goes with it.

Theory won't write music for you, or tell you the 'right' change to use in a progression - if you use it in a predictive sense, your music will sound like it's done to formula.

So I'd say theory has two uses:
1. It helps you learn and understand music by giving names to things, and
2. It lets you take your creative ideas and marry them to the structure your ears are already used to hearing.

It can also help you avoid some pitfalls... things like modes can be very confusing, and are often 'explained' by folks even more confused - knowing the theory can aid in sorting good advice from bad :)

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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alfonso
(@alfonso)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 8
 

Noteboat,
You're the man, you've made alot of things clear to me, I've thought alot of the items you we're speaking of but, I just couldn't ever verbalize them the way you did... right on! :lol: :lol: :lol:

Your book is a must read... thanks much...


   
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garytalley
(@garytalley)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 54
 

But really... if you're not into theory, what are you doing with modes? 99% of the guitarists who claim to use them have no clue what they're doing. The other 1% study theory (and play jazz).

THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!!! I have never seen so much time and effort wasted on anything in my entire 40 years of professional guitar playing and teaching. Whenever I see someone recommend "learning your modes" to a beginning guitarist, I want to strangle them.

A lot of the great jazz players never think in terms of modes when they're soloing, either.

creator of #1 video"Guitar Playing for Songwriters"


   
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Kyle
 Kyle
(@kyle)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 186
 

I know this is an old post, but I have a question. NOteboat, I think you said that harmonizing a mode will not give you any different chords, which is correct. But you can certainly suggest modes within chords by including mode characteritic tones( That's what I call them, it's what makes that mode have it's own "identity". a sharp fourth is characteristic to lydian, and it makes it unique, becuase no other "major" mode includes a sharped 4th). So I think modes can certainly be outlined by chords, but they don't yield new triads of any sort.

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


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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Hmm... I guess the answer is yes and no, Kyle.

Since the difference between C major and C Lydian is in the sharped fourth, the F# note, you can hint at Lydian mode by using alterations that include F#. You might try Cmaj7b5, for instance, to shore up that #4 sound.

On the other hand, if you use the Lydian scale to build the harmony, you lose the authentic cadence. The V7-I progression becomes V-I or VM7-I, which doesn't have the tension/release.

"Modal harmony" as such, uses two features: first, no V7-I cadences. Second, chords that normally aren't in the key - altered or not.

A good example for Lydian would be the use of the II chord. C Lydian is related to G Ionian... and the dominant in G would be D. Beat folks over the head with a C tonic, avoid a G7, throw in a few D-C changes (II-I, or the V of V - I), and you'll create a feeling of modal harmony - because that D chord contains F#, you have created a Lydian mood.

Please note that you can have modal harmony without writing the melody in a mode... and you can have a modal melody without using modal harmony.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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kingpatzer
(@kingpatzer)
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Please note that you can have modal harmony without writing the melody in a mode... and you can have a modal melody without using modal harmony.

One of the things I've noticed is that it's almost impossible to do BOTH. As noted, C Lydian is the relative mode of G Ionian (G Major).

If you try to write the melody in C Lydian, and then toss on modal harmony, you will almost always end up with a song in G Ionian.

The ear just will want to resolve to that tonic center.

"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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jessegoobz
(@jessegoobz)
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what you have to realize is that each mode is based around a particular note in the major scale.
ex...C major - if you start playing a major scale but start on D instead of C, it will be a dorian scale - now the question is, when do i use it? dorian is always considered a MINOR application so if you are playing in D minor, you could play a C major scale and be playing modally in D dorian because D is the 2nd note in the key of C - again, that 2nd note is always the dorian mode.

now, you can do that in any key...ex. playing in A minor you would use G major scale to play A dorian because A is the 2nd note in the key of G.

you can now do that with any of the modes keeping in mind which chords and keys to use them with:
Ionian mode - always major
Dorian mode 2nd note - always minor
Phrygian mode 3rd note - major/minor, but usually minor
Lydian mode 4th note - major
Mixolydian mode 5th note - major
Aeolian mode 6th note - minor
Locrian 7th note - minor

so, if you were playing in the key of G, you could use a C scale and get the G mixolydian mode because why??? G is the 5th note in the key of C

hope this helps...let me know if you have other questions


   
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shadychar
(@shadychar)
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what you have to realize is that each mode is based around a particular note in the major scale.
ex...C major - if you start playing a major scale but start on D instead of C, it will be a dorian Actually, I don't think that's true. Technically it is, but I think Noteboat would agree when I say D Dorian has the same notes as C Major, but it isn't C Major started on D, it's D Dorian.


   
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Anonymous
(@anonymous)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

I don't know what are modes or scales.It seems confusing :shock:


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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Modes are scales.

There were originally four modes, each of which came in two 'flavors' depending on how melodies resolved: the dorian, phrygian, lydian, and mixolydian. They were used for Gregorian chant. (The extra flavors were hypo- as in hypodorian, hypolydian, etc. - kind of meaningless now, unless you're a music historian)

That was religious music, the only kind that got written down. There was also a secular music, sung by minstrels and troubadors, and that developed into major/minor tonality.

Then came a theorist, named Glareanus. He noticed that the 'new' scales, the major and minor, had similarities to the 'old' scales, so he gave them Greek names: Ionian and Aeolian.

He noted that there was a relation between them - C Ionian (CDEFGABC) has the same notes as D Dorian (DEFGABCD), etc.... he even posulated the Locrian, but rejected it as useless.

Modes are easy to comprehend as a 'shift' of the major scale, but it's a very difficult approach to use in practice. They're scales in their own right - D Dorian is not "the C major scale from D to D", but the D major scale with a lowered third and seventh (or a D natural minor with a raised sixth). If you approach them as altered scales, they are immediately useful... if you approach them as shifts of the tonal center, you'll likely end up playing in some other mode than you actually intended.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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321Barf
(@321barf)
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D Dorian has the same notes as C Major, but it isn't C Major started on D, it's D Dorian.

Yes,D Dorian has the same notes as C Major and you could therefore play the C Major scale starting on D and play through until you reach D again an octave higher and that one octave of the C Major scale from D to D gives you the proper notes and intervals for D Dorian.But musically it's better to think of D Dorian as being D minor with the 6th raised.It's just a simple ateration to the natural minor scale.

While D Dorian shares the same notes as C Major it has completely different intervals than C Major and the most glaring difference is that D Dorian is some type of D minor scale and not some kind of C Major scale.They have different root notes and different scale construction meaning they have a different pattern of half and whole steps, so the distances between each note in each of the scales is different.

Major scale = W W H W W W H

Dorian = W H W W W H W

C Major = C D E F G A B C

C Dorian = C D Eb F G A Bb C

^ Dorian = W H W W W H W , so just transpose the pattern up to D to get:

D Dorian = D E F G A B C D

^compare that to D minor and D Major:

D minor = D E F G A Bb C D <-sharp the 6th(or in other words raise it from Bb to B)and you get D Dorian

D Major = D E F# G A B C# D <-flat the 3rd(F# down to F),and flat the 7th(C# down to a C),and you get D Dorian.

So as you can see D Major,D minor and D Dorian are all D scales but the spacing between the notes is different for each scale.Which is why they all have some notes that are different.


   
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CrackerJim
(@crackerjim)
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Posts: 31
 

Well, after reading through this thread for the second time, I'm starting to get some of it. I understand the idea of looking at the D dorian as a seperate scale than just an altered C as that tonal center just gives it a totally different feel.

I'm still fuzzy on the harmonizing part. Would I harmonize the D dorian by building the appropriate chords on the D dorian scale?

I thought I saw in the thread that in modes, you only use the first chord (i in this case) but that doesn't make sense to me. I'm looking at it as a scale in it's own right so want to use the various chords built on that scale. Even though they're the same chord structure as in the C maj, they wouldn't be used the same (the 5 chord in D dor is the 6 in C etc).

Am I on the right track here? (or still out in left field? :lol: )

Thanks for any help!

Jim


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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If you're using D Dorian as an altered D minor scale, you're really trying to exploit the difference in the B note - D Dorian has B natural; D minor has Bb.

The best way to do that is to use D Dorian over a D minor progression, like Dm-Gm-A7-Dm. When you get to the Gm chord, you'll get the tension between the Bs (Gm = G-Bb-D), and let the listener know you're doing something different.

Some sites do say to use modes only over the I/i chord. I think that comes from a misunderstanding of the history... modes aren't harmonized, typically, because you get the same chords as the major scale. If you try to apply the harmony from a major scale to the mode, the V7-I ends up in the wrong place - in D Dorian you'd get IV7-vii, which doesn't reinforce the tonic.

The original use of modes was in plainsong, which wasn't harmonized at all. So while you certainly CAN stick to just the I/i chord, doing so really doesn't give you either the historic or modern sense of modes.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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