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staying inside a mode

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almann1979
(@almann1979)
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i am confused.
C ionian, D dorian etc are all the same notes. if i am playing in the key of C and wish to solo using D dorian to get the feel of that mode, how do i make sure i dont play A aeolian, or E phrygian etc. they are the same and build the same neck long pattern and i only know the shape across the whole neck. i learned it as one big pattern rather than box positions - and now using modes gets me stuck?

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


   
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Fretsource
(@fretsource)
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if i am playing in the key of C and wish to solo using D dorian to get the feel of that mode, how do i make sure i dont play A aeolian, or E phrygian etc.
If the key centre is C then you won't get the true 'feel' of the Dorian mode. It will just sound like C major albeit focused around the second note D. That's a far cry from the true feeling of the Dorian mode, which , using the same notes, has D as its tonal (key) centre, not C.
The good news is that it won't feel like the Phrygian or Aeolian either.
If you want to hear the authentic improvised Dorian mode quality, listen to Miles Davis' "So What".


   
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Scrybe
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agreed. if you have recording equipment (however basic) try recording a Dminor chord vamp (or Dm-Am will work). Then play D Dorian over it, improv'ing. Repeat the exercise using the D minor scale (if you don't know the minor scales, which I'm assuming you do from your posting on modes, try, uh, try recording an F major vamp, then play F Lydian - C major scale, and compare that with playing over the vamp using the F major scale). Should help to further illustrate Fretsource's point.

Ra Er Ga.

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almann1979
(@almann1979)
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so what your saying is, it is the chord progression tht determines the mode i am playing, rather than the notes i target in the pattern? So, i do not make a concious decision to play in this mode or that, i just play that pattern that fits?

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


   
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NoteBoat
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No, chord progressions don't determine the mode you're in... the tonal center of the melody does.

There are two reasons you won't be successful in playing a D Dorian mode over a C major progression: first, the progression probably has a cadence (G7->C) which solidly establishes a tonal center for the progression... you're hearing that, so it's likely you won't be able to set a melody with any other key note... your D Dorian quickly turns into C Ionian.

Second, if you should succeed in building a melody with a strong tonal center of D, the listener hears conflict - you're doing something in a different key than the rhythm guitar. It won't sound "bad", because you're both using the same notes... it'll just sound weak, because the chords and melody will be resolving to different notes.

But that doesn't mean a chord progression in C dictates your mode. You could play in C Lydian over it, and it'll work out fine.

We seem to do this topic pretty frequently; you might want to use the search feature and check some of the past threads. A lot of them go into great detail.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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Scrybe
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Noteboat - I may be suggesting something you've already done here, but having noticed how frequently modes come up, might I suggest you give some thought to doing a theory-article for GN on this subject? It'd be good to have all the info in one place, and saves you constantly answering questions on it. Also, most articles on modes I've read spend more time telling you modes are really simple thann they do saying anything useful about them. In the end, I just gave up on it all and try to figure things that worked/didn't work myself, but your comments have been really useful in filling in the gaps, so to speak. Just a thought.

Oh, and to the OP.I suggested the recording thing because there's a good chance that when playing C major scale and then a C Lydian scale over a C major chord vamp, you'll emphasise different notes. You'll start noticing that its the intervals between those notes that's of importance.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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NoteBoat
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I'd be happy to, Scrybe... but I'm in the midst of a huge project right now (I may actually have something to announce about it in a few weeks). But I'll put it on my to-do list, along with continuing the series on reading standard notation.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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Scrybe
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Kewl, I'll be looking forward to it then! I pretty much figured them out by getting into Miles Davis and others and by trying to use them to compose, but first got into them because of people saying 'oh yeah Hendrix uses such and such mode on that solo" or whatever (quite often misleadingly, if not wholly wrongly, lol). Trying to get my head around it was way too confusing, especially like I said, with the paucity of decent articles. It was only when I let go of the theory for a second (having learned the structure of each modal scale first, obv) and tried putting them into practise that I got any tangible results. I feel pretty comfortable with modes now, but you've got a great ability for explaining things, so it'll be worth the read to clarify/consolidate things.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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hbriem
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It may be helpful to think of modes, not as the major scale beginning and ending on different notes as is usual:

Mode Note_names Note_numbers
--------------------------------------------------------------------
C Ionian C_D_EF_G_A_BC 1_2_34_5_6_78
D Dorian D_EF_G_A_BC_D 2_34_5_6_78_2
E Phrygian EF_G_A_BC_D_E 34_5_6_78_2_3
F Lydian F_G_A_BC_D_EF 4_5_6_78_2_34
G Mixolydian G_A_BC_D_EF_G 5_6_78_2_34_5
A Aeolian A_BC_D_EF_G_A 6_78_2_34_5_6
B Locrian BC_D_EF_G_A_B 78_2_34_5_6_7

but as variations on the major scale (Ionian, Lydian, Mixolydian) or the minor scale (Aeolian, Dorian, Phrygian), and arrange them in order from "brightest" (Lydian) to "darkest" (Locrian). Either in note names C:

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

Or in numbers, which may be the clearest:
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

Note that the Lydian is major with a #4, Mixolydian is a major with a b7. Dorian is a natural minor with a raised 6th and Phrygian is a natural minor with a flattened 2. Locrian is theoretical only.

But once you get around to that way of thinking, you'll realise that one can start from the major and minor and add or subtract, raise or flatten other notes (accidentals). Modes are just one way of using notes from outside the key.

The #4/b5, the b7, the b3 are the most common, yes, but your ear will have to determine what notes come out well.

When I write basslines, I usually start in key, but keep an eye (ear) out for accidentals that may spice it up. The accidentals are most commonly used as passing tones between the scale and chord tones. A common example is the blues scale which uses the b5 to go from 4 to 5 and the b3 to move up to the 4.

True modal music tends to work around a 1 or two note drone or 1-2 chord vamp that avoids the major key (V7-I, V-I) and the minor key (V-i, bVII-i) resolutions which are much stronger and tend to dominate.

--
Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com


   
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blutic1
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You stay in D Dorian by keeping your focus on D Dorian. Sounds too simple to be true - but it really is that simple.

Example: The bass and rhythm guitar are playing D and Dm for a section. You want a D Dorian solo. Doesn't matter if you use a C major pattern, D Dorian pattern, G mixo, A minor/Aeolian - or simply play only natural notes. If you focus your mind on the D Dorian mood (not mode), it will sound like D Dorian.


   
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321Barf
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i am confused.
C ionian, D dorian etc are all the same notes. if i am playing in the key of C and wish to solo using D dorian to get the feel of that mode, how do i make sure i dont play A aeolian, or E phrygian etc. they are the same and build the same neck long pattern and i only know the shape across the whole neck. i learned it as one big pattern rather than box positions - and now using modes gets me stuck?

For one thing D Dorian is a type of D scale, it's a kind of D minor mode.

That means that in D Dorian, "D" is the "root" or "1" ...

As opposed to A Aeolian which has "A" as it's "root note" or "1" ...

Or E Phrygian which has "E" as the "root" or "1" ... Etc.

^ those are all three minor modes by the way because their third is a minor third...read on..

What you may want to do is to record or have someone play just a Dm7 chord for a long time (16 bars or more)
and then improvise using the whole neck long pattern and listen and use your ears to how it sounds just against that Dm7 chord. It should sound like it is rooted in D. This is what you want to be hearing so that you understand hearing your whole big pattern, or neck long pattern as being in D Dorian melodically. You need to hear D as your root or tonal center in order to hear and understand the big pattern in that context. I know some here will find a reason to give me guff for saying that but what I say is true for a beginner. Beginners have to start somewhere and this is a good place to start.

D Dorian is spelled D E F G A B C D

That means that all of the D's are root notes or 1's,

all of the E's are 2nd's or 9th's,

all of the F's are minor thirds(or b3rd's ),

all of the G's are perfect fourths(or perfect 11th's),

all of the A's are perfect fifths,

all of the B's are major sixths(or major 13th's)...this would be the mode-specific tension or color tone for D Dorian,

all of the C's are minor sevenths(or b7's),

and then again,all of the D's are octaves of the root.

So melodically you need to know what every note in a mode means melodically in relation to it's root like that.
That's where hbriem's post above should help because he has listed all of this information for you
for each one of the modes. See his modes in order from brightest to darkest list in particular. The one with the numbers specifically.

So just play around with that and if any note jumps out at you or sounds good then hit it again as many times as you feel like. And understand what scale tone it is in the context you are using it in (in relation to the root note).


   
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almann1979
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i hadnt seen it like that before - a well put reply. thanks very much

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


   
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kingpatzer
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I've said it before and I'll say it again.

Forget about modes. Forget you've ever heard the term. Forget everything you know, or think you know about them.

Think in terms of the important scales (major, minor, augmented, diminished, and whole tone) and alterations to those 5 scales.

If you do that, questions like the above simply don't happen.

If you're playing in something in the key of D and you want a minor sound, you can flatten the 3rd, and maybe the 7th to give it a little better resolution by using the dominant 7th rather than the major 7th, and viola -- you're soloing with a minor sound over a D vamp and it sounds great.

Yeah, you're playing in "D Dorian" but you didn't have to know anything about it to get there. All you had to know was how to alter the major scale to get the sound you were after.

"Modes" are simply not an important part of musical theory, nor a part of the daily musical vocabularly for the vast majority of musicians. They don't matter except for those playing certain types of classical music, certain types of jazz, or attending Berklee where they have an odd fetish for them. In all of those cases, the musicians involved have a deep enough knowledge of the involved theory that modes make sense and why modes are the appropriate lingua franca in those situations and not others is understood on a deep level.

Guitar players, for some odd reason, have latched onto modes as if they are the key to all solo'ing woes. I think the reason has a lot to do with guitar players generally having a very weak background in terms of a musical education, and thinking about far too many things in terms of shapes rather than in terms of tones and notes.

"Modes" seem easy to many folks, because you just memorize a shape and play it starting at the appropriate fret. But really, they are unnecessary baggage, and most guitarists would be far better served gaining a better understanding of the 5 most important scales in all keys.

"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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spides
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Guitar players, for some odd reason, have latched onto modes as if they are the key to all solo'ing woes. I think the reason has a lot to do with guitar players generally having a very weak background in terms of a musical education, and thinking about far too many things in terms of shapes rather than in terms of tones and notes.

You're Damn skippy. That is, I think, Every average guitarist's greatest challenge in progressing to a higher level in their playing and their way of thinking about music. Everybody learns god damn patterns!!!!

Music doesn't work in patterns, it's all intervals and harmonic interaction.

My basic theory is this. If you just wanna play 12 bar blues and simple rock licks, don't worry about modes. If you wanna progress into some more intellectual music, learn the fretboard and learn the theory. Guitarists play patterns, musicians play notes.

Don't sweat it dude, just play!


   
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greybeard
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"staying inside a mode"

Don't do it, go out and get some fresh air - it'll do you more good than worrying about modes. :D

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
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