Jump to content

I don't "get" modes


Recommended Posts

  • Moderators
as a rock player, I don't find the major/ionian scale particularly friendly as a shape or pattern. The shape that falls under my fingers most comfortably and not surprisingly is the good old minor or major pentatonic scale.



Of course the logic of this statement falls apart when we consider that every fingering pattern is the major / ionian mode (and every other mode at the same time.) I always thought it a bit of a shame that so many guitarists chose to play things certain ways dependent on ease of fingering. If we only practice the easy fingerings we'll never develop our hands. A more beneficial approach is to learn to play every line / chord in every position, some positions will of course be more technically challenging but by over-coming these challenges our technical chops improve in the process.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 62
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Moderators
So lets say you've got a D-A-G-C triad chord progresson. If you played your regular D major scale over the whole progression. For the D chord you'd have D ionian, over the A chord you'd have A Mixolydian, and over the G chord you'd have G lydian. But what if you played it over the C chord what mode would you have?



You would not play the D major scale over the Cmaj7 in this progression. One common guideline for borrowed chords is to use the chord scale this is closest (in terms of sharps and flats) to the original key. Most people would choose C Lydian (one sharp) over the Cmaj7 in this progression. A slightly less common but equally usable chord scale would be C Mixolydian (no sharps).

In all cases it's best to let the ear lead your playing and only worry about the theory after the fact as a way to remember how you developed a line.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So lets say you've got a D-A-G-C triad chord progresson. If you played your regular D major scale over the whole progression. For the D chord you'd have D ionian, over the A chord you'd have A Mixolydian, and over the G chord you'd have G lydian. But what if you played it over the C chord what mode would you have?


Also how would you approach soloing over this progression and what scales and stuff would you use? For me I'd probably just do the D major scale over the DAG then for the C chord maybe A pentatonic or A Aeolian. Also would you just use a D maj scale over the whole progression or would you throw some other scales in in between the chord changes? Like going from I-V or V-IV would you do anything special for that stuff?




The problem with that chord progression is that it really isn't modal. The first three chords are just in the key of D major. If you want to look at it as three separate modes, I guess you could, but it's still D major.

A modal progression is one where a chord other than the I chord of a major key is the tonic. For example, if we stick with the same scale (D major) and use the following chord progression:

| A7 | G |

That would be modal. I tend to hear that one with A7 being the tonic, so A mixolydian would the mode for that progression. Notice that D doesn't even show up in that progression (not that that's a requirement, but it's common for the I chord not to be necessary).

A second situation where modes are useful is where the progression is entirely or mostly chromatic and most or none of the chords fit into a single key and necessitate a scale change for each or almost every chord. The following progression would need a modal approach:

| Dmaj7 | Am7 | Abmaj7 | A7#5 |

No one scale fits more than one chord in that, so each chord would need it's own scale. My first instinct would be to use D major, A dorian, Ab lydian, and A altered (Bb melodic minor). I chose those because starting with D, there are the fewest number of note changes from chord to chord while still satisfying the chord symbol. D major to A dorian only has one note change (C# -> C natural), Ab lydian has 4 (A, B, E, F# -> Ab, Bb, Eb, F), and A7#5 is outside enough of a chord that almost any change will work.

Back to the original progression:

| D | A | G | C |

The first three are all in D major, though you would break them each up into a mode of D, but that would be a lot more mental work for something that isn't really modal in the first place. For the C chord, if you just change the minimal amount of notes from D to make a C chord fit, you'll end up changing C# to C natural, and ending up with C lydian. Whether you want to think of it as a new scale, or as a D scale with one note temporarily being changed is up to you.

Pentatonics are also always a choice, as they're just a subset of the scale. There are three pentatonic scales contained within every major scale, so there are always a number to choose from.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Poparod: nice explanation. About fingering patterns modes. Also how underlying harmony is required for a true modal feel.

 

FWIW I tend to most strongly associate each mode with one other chord relative to the tonic:

 

mixolydian: b7 chord when in a major key

 

dorian: what sounds like a major IV chord (instead of minor iv) when in a minor key (even if it turns out it's actually a ii - V progression in disguise)

 

phrygian: bII when in a minor key

 

lydian: II (major, not minor) when in a major key ... Tom Sawyer, Sara (F. Mac), There Goes My Girl (Petty), Flying in a blue dream etc, all of them are or have sections which sound lydian to my ear (along with probably everyone else's here, ha) because of the shift between a major chord and another one two steps up, no matter whether its a true I - II feel (e.g. Tom Sawyer, E - F#, song is in key of E) or its actually a IV - V in disguise (e.g. There Goes My Girl, verse is A - B (OK, A - B/A) but when chorus kicks in and its apparent song is in key of E, you realize OK that wasn't a I - II that was a IV - V...

 

hmm, and thinking, stream of consciousness, sorry... but now it occurs to me Tom Sawyer sounds like key of Em, not E major... OTOH thinking about it some more, the outro (the part that sounds lydian to me), it's harder to tell whether it's truly E minor or not because it's an E power chord, so no third.

 

So who knows, maybe you could say the outro to Tom Sawyer actually sounds more like E major then minor.

 

I digress, back to the lonely mode, the one that never gets any respect:

 

locrian: ????

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Ugh. Rereading my post this morning I see its only about halfway coherent. I blame it on the Iron Maiden show I attended earlier in the evening.

 

All I was saying was that some chord progressions seem to my ear to require modal playing. IOW it's not "optional" like it may be at other times, when soloing over other chord progressions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

For a "scale" you have your classifcations of bright/dark, major/minor, etc...but once you start digging deep that stuff flies out the window quickly.

 

Here's a piece that's nothing but E Lydian, Lydian is the "brightest" modes so some say, here's it's darker than any of the modes: http://test.mikedodge.com/mvdmusic/MikeD1/elydian.mp3

 

Here's a video of some real dark dissonance created using a humble E Major scale:

(also notice how the A or 11 sounds nice over the Emaj7 chord!)

_16GNaUCoOM

 

Just remember there's a ton of music, expression, etc...that can't be taught by dots on a fretboard diagram.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Modes are mostly helpful to help you understand the relationship between single notes and chords in a progression, the interconnectiveness of it all. Knowing the modes doesn't mean you think modally when you play or write, necessarily. You are still playing the major scale one way or another, with tonics at different places. Learning modes for most guitarists is just a way to get familiar with playing the major scale in different ways besides "Do Ray Me Fa So La Te Do".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

http://www.sendspace.com/file/p24oyk


of course all modal...


.

 

 

Love it, thanks. I listen to quite a bit of Shiv Kumar Sharma and Sultan Khan. Right up the same alley, beautiful stuff. I think Kabra has done some recording with Zakir Hussain too, Zakir is another favorite (actually that might be Zakir playing on the track you posted).

 

Thanks for posting this, I'll check my music service and see if they have any Kabra material.

 

Some of the sounds in this track resembles some of the sounds in my improve video. I may have to try some of it with a slide as opposed to the fretted sliding. I've often thought about a fretless guitar. Guys like Ed Degenaro and Paul Shigihara are doing some cool sliding with fretless and ebows...which brings a little bowed voilin sound to it too, kind of like Sultan Khan does with whatever that instrument he plays is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members
Modes are mostly helpful to help you understand the relationship between single notes and chords in a progression, the interconnectiveness of it all. Knowing the modes doesn't mean you think modally when you play or write, necessarily. You are still playing the major scale one way or another, with tonics at different places. Learning modes for most guitarists is just a way to get familiar with playing the major scale in different ways besides "Do Ray Me Fa So La Te Do".



You're right. Much of what it taught as "Modes" to guitarists is actually explaining Diatonic Theories more than anything, and Chord Scales too.

Great information.

But, it would also be worth the players time to realize what they are actually being taught and also realize there is a great style of music out there that REALLY applies Modal playing to the music.

I believe understanding the differences (or should I say attributes) of Diatonic Theories and Modal Music is the best ways to "get Modes". After the "difference" is realized it's much easier to know when to even use the word "Modes", let alone applying them to music.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members
Love it, thanks. I listen to quite a bit of Shiv Kumar Sharma and Sultan Khan. Right up the same alley, beautiful stuff. I think Kabra has done some recording with Zakir Hussain too, Zakir is another favorite (actually that might be Zakir playing on the track you posted).


Thanks for posting this, I'll check my music service and see if they have any Kabra material.


Some of the sounds in this track resembles some of the sounds in my improve video. I may have to try some of it with a slide as opposed to the fretted sliding. I've often thought about a fretless guitar. Guys like Ed Degenaro and Paul Shigihara are doing some cool sliding with fretless and ebows...which brings a little bowed voilin sound to it too, kind of like Sultan Khan does with whatever that instrument he plays is.




Kabra plays a Gibson Super 400 always and no resonance strings at all. Other classical hindustani guitarist added resonance strings later, but Kabra was the first guitarist in the classical music history of India playing raga. The recording is from 1979, His Master Voice (HMV India). The tabla player is Zakir Hussein.

Sultan Khan plays Sarangi

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share




×
×
  • Create New...