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  • Modes vs Scales

    Can I learn to play in a mode by playing the same scale over and over? What mode is the pentatonic scale?

    Upon hearing this, the master was enlightened

  • #2

    This is a big topic, and I'm no expert so hopefully I don't confuse things...

    In practice, I tend to look at modes as different scales sharing a common ancestry.  Dorian is just a major scale with a flatted 3rd and flatted 7th.  Lydian is a major scale with #4.  That's a much more practical way to view them, because it's those notes that define the sound of the mode.  I never think about "okay, I'm in key X, so I want to start a major scale on the second degree to get to dorian..." All I think is "b3, b7 sounds dorian" or "#4 sounds lydian."  It's also a lot easier to remember.

    ...

    That said, scales are simply linear sequences of notes within an octave that don't repeat.  They can be defined by a series of intervals between those notes.  For example, the major scale can be thought of as

    W W H W W W H (whole step, whole step, half step, whole, whole, whole, half)

    Regardless of key (C major, D major, Eb major, etc) - this series of whole and half steps never changes.  It's what makes the major scale the major scale.  C major is:

    C D E F G A B C - notice the intervals between each note.  The distance between C and D is one whole step.  D and E is one whole step.  E and F is one half step, and so on.

    The G major scale - G A B C D E F# G - has the exact same pattern of W W H W W W H intervals.

     

    Each scale has its own modes, and what they share is the same order of intervals.

    W W H W W W H and W H W W W H W  are the same series of intervals, just start on a different one.  You could look at it like:

    C D E F G A B C - C major scale (W W H W W W H).  Also called ionian mode.

    D E F G A B C D - D dorian (W H W W W H W).  Same series of intervals, just starting in a different place, so this is a mode of the major scale.

    E F G A B C D E - E locrian (H W W W H W W).  Same series of intervals, just starting in a diffrentt place, so this is a mode of the major scale. 

    ...

    The minor pentatonic scale is:

    m3 W W m3 W (minor 3rd, whole, whole, minor 3rd, whole) - caveat: i'm probably not using the right terminology for m3 - it's just 3 half steps.

    The C minor pentatonic scales is C, Eb, F, G, Bb.  The interval between C and Eb is a minor 3rd (3 half steps), between Eb and F is one whole step, and so on.

    Notice that the series of steps or intervals between each note is NOT the same as the major scale.  Therefore the pentatonic scale is not a mode of the major scale because the sequence of steps is different.  It's its own thing.  I don't know what they're called, but the pentatonic scale has its own modes, as does every other unique scale. The harmonic minor scale has frequently used modes (Yngwie is all over phrygian dominant, which is a mode of hte harmonic minor).

    ...

    As I said before, I never think aboutit like this when playing.  It's more of an intellectual curiosity, imho, although it is nice to where the modes come from.  In most cases you're much better off thinking about the sound of each mode of a scale, because you can apply that.  Dorian has a sound. Phrigian Dominant has a sound.  Mixolydian has a sound, etc.  That's a lot more useful, and what makes that sound is the notes of the scale relative to the chords underneath.

     

    Multiple award winning blues/rock/country at http://www.zeyerband.com or http://www.reverbnation.com/zeyer.Check my solo (instrumental rock) projects at: http://www.reverbnation.com/vincedickinson"Music is like the English language - it's just full of rules that need to be broken or you aren't hip.""It doesn't take talent to upgrade your playing. It takes patience" - Kenny Werner

    Comment


    • #3

      kolapsar wrote:

      Can I learn to play in a mode by playing the same scale over and over?

      No.

      What mode is the pentatonic scale?

      It isn't.

       


       

      ...

      Comment


      • 1001gear
        1001gear commented
        Editing a comment

        What just happened?


      • 1001gear
        1001gear commented
        Editing a comment

        JonR wrote:

        kolapsar wrote:

        Can I learn to play in a mode by playing the same scale over and over?

        No.

        What mode is the pentatonic scale?

        It isn't.

         


         


        This. Three words. You still aren't here.


    • #4

      kolapsar wrote:

      Can I learn to play in a mode by playing the same scale over and over? What mode is the pentatonic scale?


      It's impossible to explain modes in a post of any reasonable length. BydoEmpire has made a brave attempt, and here's my $0.02...

       

      Firstly, a comparative chart of "parallel" modes - all on the same root - listed from "brightest" (at the top) to "darkest":

             HALF STEPS:    |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
      MAJOR MODES
             LYDIAN         1  .  2  .  3  . #4  5  .  6  .  7  1
             IONIAN (Major) 1  .  2  .  3  4  .  5  .  6  .  7  1
             MIXOLYDIAN     1  .  2  .  3  4  .  5  .  6 b7  .  1
      MINOR MODES
             DORIAN         1  .  2 b3  .  4  .  5  .  6 b7  .  1
         AEOLIAN(Nat.minor) 1  .  2 b3  .  4  .  5 b6  . b7  .  1
             PHRYGIAN       1 b2  . b3  .  4  .  5 b6  . b7  .  1
      HALF-DIMINISHED MODE
             LOCRIAN        1 b2  . b3  .  4 b5  . b6  . b7  .  1


       


      Important thing 1:

      The major and (natural) minor scales are two modes in their own right.  They just happen to be the modes that have ruled western music for around 4 centuries, under a system known as "tonality", or the "major-minor key system".  This is the system which employs "chords" of the common kind (built in stacked 3rds) that all guitarists know, in sequences or progressions.

      The other modes are not "within" the major scale.  We can derive them by simply spelling the major scale from a different step, but they are separate entities.  A piece of music "in D dorian mode" is not "in the C major key".  It can't be in both at the same time, any more than it can be in two keys at the same time.

      Important thing 2:

      Modes (therefore) are not ways of improvising on music that is written in a major or minor key.  Modes are not things you "apply" to existing music. They are ways of composing music in the first place, same as keys are; but they work in different ways from keys, and usually sound distinctly different.  Typically they use differently constructed chords (often in 4ths), or one chord for a long time, or no chords at all, or a few different chord/modes unrelated to one another.

      Modal music tends to sound "cooler" than key music: much fewer changes, looser chord harmonies, more meditative, commonly like static grooves, open ended, not going anywhere.

      Some modern music is written in a mode (or modes) rather than in a key (or keys).  Some classic 1960s jazz is pure modal. More recent music commonly combines key practices with modal practices. 

      Most rock music is in a key, usually major, but often with effects that could be described as "modal".  But you don't really need to know that! (The people that made the music didn't know it.)

      Important thing 3:

      You cannot change the mood of a piece of music by applying another mode.  You will just introduce wrong notes.  (There are lots of other ways of changing the mood of a piece.)

      Important thing 4:

      Mode terms and concepts can sometimes be useful for analysing or understanding a piece of music, theoretically.  They are of little if any use in actually playing the music.

      Important thing 5:

      There is a lot of BS talked on the web about modes.  They are far less important or useful than is often made out.  What is far MORE important is to understand how KEYS work (major and minor), and to simply play as much music as you can and look at how it's constructed.

      ...

      Comment


      • tlp123
        tlp123 commented
        Editing a comment

        JonR wrote:

        kolapsar wrote:

        Can I learn to play in a mode by playing the same scale over and over? What mode is the pentatonic scale?


        It's impossible to explain modes in a post of any reasonable length. BydoEmpire has made a brave attempt, and here's my $0.02...

         

        Firstly, a comparative chart of "parallel" modes - all on the same root - listed from "brightest" (at the top) to "darkest":

               HALF STEPS:    |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
        MAJOR MODES
               LYDIAN         1  .  2  .  3  . #4  5  .  6  .  7  1
               IONIAN (Major) 1  .  2  .  3  4  .  5  .  6  .  7  1
               MIXOLYDIAN     1  .  2  .  3  4  .  5  .  6 b7  .  1
        MINOR MODES
               DORIAN         1  .  2 b3  .  4  .  5  .  6 b7  .  1
           AEOLIAN(Nat.minor) 1  .  2 b3  .  4  .  5 b6  . b7  .  1
               PHRYGIAN       1 b2  . b3  .  4  .  5 b6  . b7  .  1
        HALF-DIMINISHED MODE
               LOCRIAN        1 b2  . b3  .  4 b5  . b6  . b7  .  1

         

        Important thing 1:

        The major and (natural) minor scales are two modes in their own right.  They just happen to be the modes that have ruled western music for around 4 centuries, under a system known as "tonality", or the "major-minor key system".  This is the system which employs "chords" of the common kind (built in stacked 3rds) that all guitarists know, in sequences or progressions.

        The other modes are not "within" the major scale.  We can derive them by simply spelling the major scale from a different step, but they are separate entities.  A piece of music "in D dorian mode" is not "in the C major key".  It can't be in both at the same time, any more than it can be in two keys at the same time.

        Important thing 2:

        Modes (therefore) are not ways of improvising on music that is written in a major or minor key.  Modes are not things you "apply" to existing music. They are ways of composing music in the first place, same as keys are; but they work in different ways from keys, and usually sound distinctly different.  Typically they use differently constructed chords (often in 4ths), or one chord for a long time, or no chords at all, or a few different chord/modes unrelated to one another.

        Modal music tends to sound "cooler" than key music: much fewer changes, looser chord harmonies, more meditative, commonly like static grooves, open ended, not going anywhere.

        Some modern music is written in a mode (or modes) rather than in a key (or keys).  Some classic 1960s jazz is pure modal. More recent music commonly combines key practices with modal practices. 

        Most rock music is in a key, usually major, but often with effects that could be described as "modal".  But you don't really need to know that! (The people that made the music didn't know it.)

        Important thing 3:

        You cannot change the mood of a piece of music by applying another mode.  You will just introduce wrong notes.  (There are lots of other ways of changing the mood of a piece.)

        Important thing 4:

        Mode terms and concepts can sometimes be useful for analysing or understanding a piece of music, theoretically.  They are of little if any use in actually playing the music.

        Important thing 5:

        There is a lot of BS talked on the web about modes.  They are far less important or useful than is often made out.  What is far MORE important is to understand how KEYS work (major and minor), and to simply play as much music as you can and look at how it's constructed.


        Thanks JonR for reaffirming my very basic understanding of this subject.

        Especially #5, I much agree.

        From a hobbyist/enthusiast/self-taught view, it was always more important for me to get the very basics down first. 

        Which for me, was learning the notes on the fret board and triads and all possible useful inversions. I fumbled around for years just strictly playing by ear, before stumbling on to these uber basic things. It opened up so much for me on the guitar. 

        Forgive me for being anecdotally basic, but just understanding where the half steps are in a major & natural minor scale, knowing how to construct major, minor, augmented, diminshed triads & inversions thereof, refreshing the mind daily with these ideas by incorporating it into something daily the sounds "musical" has taken my learning into a refreshing direction. Working on this just a little every day makes being able to play and understand what I hear so much easier. 

        Perhaps it's wrong to a multitude, but I don't conciously practice scales or modes (I once did). I practice picking out a melody, and then perhaps ideas for harmony. Picking out the notes of basic and altered chords as a "skeleton" if you will for solo ideas. 

        To me it is more important to know the sound of mode or scale first, then confirm where the half and whole steps are to confirm why those tensions sound the way the do. 

        I can visualize these things as a life long type of learning, but much more fun.

        I love Tomo's approach on triads.


      • wholenewissue
        wholenewissue commented
        Editing a comment

        JonR wrote:

        kolapsar wrote:

        Can I learn to play in a mode by playing the same scale over and over? What mode is the pentatonic scale?


        It's impossible to explain modes in a post of any reasonable length. BydoEmpire has made a brave attempt, and here's my $0.02...

         

        Firstly, a comparative chart of "parallel" modes - all on the same root - listed from "brightest" (at the top) to "darkest":

               HALF STEPS:    |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
        MAJOR MODES
               LYDIAN         1  .  2  .  3  . #4  5  .  6  .  7  1
               IONIAN (Major) 1  .  2  .  3  4  .  5  .  6  .  7  1
               MIXOLYDIAN     1  .  2  .  3  4  .  5  .  6 b7  .  1
        MINOR MODES
               DORIAN         1  .  2 b3  .  4  .  5  .  6 b7  .  1
           AEOLIAN(Nat.minor) 1  .  2 b3  .  4  .  5 b6  . b7  .  1
               PHRYGIAN       1 b2  . b3  .  4  .  5 b6  . b7  .  1
        HALF-DIMINISHED MODE
               LOCRIAN        1 b2  . b3  .  4 b5  . b6  . b7  .  1

         

        Important thing 1:

        The major and (natural) minor scales are two modes in their own right.  They just happen to be the modes that have ruled western music for around 4 centuries, under a system known as "tonality", or the "major-minor key system".  This is the system which employs "chords" of the common kind (built in stacked 3rds) that all guitarists know, in sequences or progressions.

        The other modes are not "within" the major scale.  We can derive them by simply spelling the major scale from a different step, but they are separate entities.  A piece of music "in D dorian mode" is not "in the C major key".  It can't be in both at the same time, any more than it can be in two keys at the same time.

        Important thing 2:

        Modes (therefore) are not ways of improvising on music that is written in a major or minor key.  Modes are not things you "apply" to existing music. They are ways of composing music in the first place, same as keys are; but they work in different ways from keys, and usually sound distinctly different.  Typically they use differently constructed chords (often in 4ths), or one chord for a long time, or no chords at all, or a few different chord/modes unrelated to one another.

        Modal music tends to sound "cooler" than key music: much fewer changes, looser chord harmonies, more meditative, commonly like static grooves, open ended, not going anywhere.

        Some modern music is written in a mode (or modes) rather than in a key (or keys).  Some classic 1960s jazz is pure modal. More recent music commonly combines key practices with modal practices. 

        Most rock music is in a key, usually major, but often with effects that could be described as "modal".  But you don't really need to know that! (The people that made the music didn't know it.)

        Important thing 3:

        You cannot change the mood of a piece of music by applying another mode.  You will just introduce wrong notes.  (There are lots of other ways of changing the mood of a piece.)

        Important thing 4:

        Mode terms and concepts can sometimes be useful for analysing or understanding a piece of music, theoretically.  They are of little if any use in actually playing the music.

        Important thing 5:

        There is a lot of BS talked on the web about modes.  They are far less important or useful than is often made out.  What is far MORE important is to understand how KEYS work (major and minor), and to simply play as much music as you can and look at how it's constructed.


        thank you.


    • #5
       
       

      kolapsar wrote:

      Can I learn to play in a mode by playing the same scale over and over? What mode is the pentatonic scale?


      Forget about all the mode crap.  It's waste of time.  Purge your memory of everything about modes.

      Find a song you really like and learn it.  Then learn another song you really like.  Repeat.

      Learn it by transcribing, tabs, notation, youtube, black magic, whatever. 

       

       

       

       
      _____________________________________________
      Serious about playing but not much else.

      Comment


      • Virgman
        Virgman commented
        Editing a comment

        Hey, just because I made that post doesn't mean you all have to stop posting.:smiley-anyone:


      • wholenewissue
        wholenewissue commented
        Editing a comment

        Virgman wrote:
         
         

        kolapsar wrote:

        Can I learn to play in a mode by playing the same scale over and over? What mode is the pentatonic scale?


        Forget about all the mode crap.  It's waste of time.  Purge your memory of everything about modes.

        Find a song you really like and learn it.  Then learn another song you really like.  Repeat.

        Learn it by transcribing, tabs, notation, youtube, black magic, whatever. 

         

         

         

         

        good advice









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