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Aren't all the modes just one scale???

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by cire113, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. Who had the time to find the 7 letters that actually formed 7 different words? Is this what they do at Berklee?
  2. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    No modes are not just one scale. A scale is a SOUND. If you play C Ionian root to root, and really listen to it it sounds different than playing C Dorian.

    The first problem is when someone teaches modes all from different roots. Learn the way they're constructed. Ionian is W W H W W W H, Dorian is W H W W W H W, etc. Learn them all starting with C as the root.

    Second is the inanity of recommending modes as a useful way to approach diatonic harmony- that whole garbage about "use Dorian for the ii chord, Mixolydian for the V chord, and Ionian for the I chord. It's silly, pointless, and adds a layer of complexity that's totally unwarranted. Run from any teacher who espouses this.

    And run from any one who says modes are primarily a way to find notes all over the neck. That may be a side benefit, but learn modes to enable you to play modal music

  3. I always find examples to be helpful. I just hope I picked songs that actually are in the uncommon modes (it's easy to find songs in the more common modes).

  4. ACalbass


    Dec 16, 2011
    Something wrong with that statement.
    Music theory doesn't crate music,it merely tries to explain it,it tries to understand it,it tries to help communicating the music,tries to preserve music through time.
    But theory doesn't create music : you can learn music for years and you might still not able to put two bars together of your own.Some people is unable to express themselves with music,but they could have tons of knowledge about it.
    Humans creates music,regardless there is instruments or theory behind or not.

    Of course there are rules,otherwise you could not have so many different cultural understandings about music : to make country music,you follow certain rules,to make chinese music,you follow certain rules,to make arabic music,you follow certain rules; to make rock,you follow rules too.
    You are not exempt of being influenced by the music in your environment,so you are not free of rules.
    But you are free to create music within this rules.

    I assume the original poster is aware now after all the posts that while all the notes in the modes are the same from a single scale,the organization of the intervals of those notes is what make each mode sound unique.
    Is all about the perception of the listener : can you understand major and minor scales also share the same notes,but sound so much different?
    And if you can compose a song following major or minor scales,why cannot compose in those "in between" modes?
    What is keeping you from doing it?
    If we say the minor and major scales are black and white,the other modes are the colors in between.
  5. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    In this case the notes ARE all from the same scale. What you not seeing (or at least telling us) are the chords he's playing the modes over.

    This is because your thinking C major and yes they all share the same notes..

    Play C major. Then play C dorian not D dorian. Now do you hear the difference? You're listening for the difference in relation to the same root note. Play C phrygian. Even more different sounding. Practice the modes like this...run through all the modes on C, then run through them on D, etc.

    One reason to switch from C major to C mixolydian: If your playing under a C7 chord the 7th is flat. If you play a C major scale the the 7th is not flat and may clash with the flat 7th in the chord. In the mixolydian mode, all the notes are the same as the major scale except the flat 7.
  6. This might be the best mode thread yet. Practice does make perfect!
  7. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    LOL. Well if we are prepared to stop and think then we can come up with various ideas about modes.
    For example, we can take seven notes and depending in how and how many we use to arrange them have different sounds, chords of you will.
    Modes are, as far as I'm concerned, are an after thought for any player, they are just an extra tool to have if you want them.
    Never ever have I came across modes being notated or written down in any playing situation I have been in over the last 40 years.
    But I have talked about them and used them as a device to add, as Malcolm says " colour" to a line I have played. I have used them as a collective name to explain the idea of what is involved rather than explain it note for note.
    Again this would be a pro use for it if you knew them as did the person you were discussing it with.
    In the same way I can read his ideas from a sheet without him showing me them, I can change those ideas as a collective by using certain modal ideas.

    Most common use for me as Blues Player is in turnarounds.
    Because I have a basic understanding of modes *( and that is all I have ever had ) I know that for example in a 1-1V- V Blues in C when I go to the 1V (F) I do not need to just play a transposed Ionian, the same when I go to the V.
    No one ever writes such things, but I know I can do more than just move a box shape around whether it be a dom7 in three different positions, or a single modal idea in three different positions.

    All this means is that in the 1-1V-V walking line,when the song moves from the V to the 1V you can stay on the V ( G) and walk down it though the 1V (F) without making the F the root of the 1V chord.

    So it can be on the V of the song at the turnaround
    G B D E F and using that F at the top rather than a root (the 7 of G7) walk back down
    E D B to the C
    Rather than being
    G B D E F A G D to the C it can flow
    G B D E F E D B to the C

    Or rather than going to the V go to the ii and miss out that V to the 1V turnaround completely as a root orientated movement.

    Again at the V of the song rather than going
    G B D E F A G D to the C or
    G B D E F E D B to the C
    You can go to the ii (D) and play
    D E F F# G F E D back to the C

    So a simple Blues structure of 1-1V-V will have elements of modal harmony if you care to look.....or know where to look......if you want to.

    finding seven anagrams was easy.... one search under "seven letter anagrams" took seconds.....again it's about known what your doing rather than wasting time by not.:)
  8. ACalbass


    Dec 16, 2011
    That is correct
    In this point in time ,MODES are simply tools we use to apply to contemporary music.
    Is not really we are making any modal music,after all.
    Is only jazz and rock and roll,but i like it.
    He he
  9. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
  10. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Are all modes the same scale?
    If "same scale" = "same group of pitches" then yes
    If "same scale" = "used in the same context" then no
  11. Until that happens ---- For those wanting popcorn. or most any smiley icon.

    Right click the image. Click Properties. Save the property address. Paste it to a word processor page. Go get it when ever you want it and copy/paste the address between [​IMG]

    Have fun.
  12. fep


    Oct 5, 2011
    San Diego
    I wont mention that they are modes based off the melodic minor scale and the harmonic minor scale and other scales too...

    oops I just mentioned it.
  13. uethanian


    Mar 11, 2007
    an important distinction to keep in mind, thank you.
    modes as they are employed in contemporary western music are more accurately defined as "serial scales" of a parent scale. "mode" in the true sense of the word (as used in arab, turkish, indian, and medieval european music) implies a tonal hierarchy and in some cases specific rules of composition.
  14. bassix67


    Apr 5, 2010
    Concord, CA
    Go to a piano and play a Cmaj 7 in your left hand and play a Locrian scale in your right. If you don't hear a difference then something's wrong.
  15. Here's what Joe Satriani has to say on this (the second and third paragraphs address the OP's specific question):

    Also, a beginner might want to take a look at this thread:


    It provides a link to a free ebook, recommended by Bassybill. I think it really does clear up a lot of stuff about modes.
  16. fep


    Oct 5, 2011
    San Diego
    Two points...,

    1 - I think part of the confusion is that most often modes are explained in this context...

    Take the notes of Cmajor, using those notes start on D and you're playing dorian; start on E and you're playing phrygian etc.

    So they try that and it seems like much ado about nothing.

    But if you explain it this way...,

    Start with C major, that's Ionian.

    Now flat the 7th (the B becomes Bb), play the C scale that way listen to how that Bb changes the character of the C scale. That's mixolydian.

    Now back to C major or Ionian, play that. Now change the F to F#. Play that, listen to the way that F# sounds in this context, listen how that changes the character of the C scale. That's lydian.


    Wouldn't that give a better understanding of what modes are about?

    2nd point... Oh shoot, I forgot my 2nd point.
  17. The above post by Champbassist is how I look at modes. Modes don't mean anything outside of some established harmonic underpinning. It's just a collection of the same notes that start from different points.

    If I, as the bassplayer vamps on some A minor groove, and a guitarist is improvising on the C major scale, it doesn't matter what order he plays those notes. Whether he starts on the E and plays a phrygian pattern or starts on B and plays a locrian pattern, the whole vibe of the improvisation is gonna sound Aeolian, because I'm establishing the harmonic center. Not the guitarist. He's just playing notes that fit over the A minor vamp. And no matter what "mode" he plays, it's still all the same notes.

    The typical way people address the harmonic underpinning problem is to start the mode from a specific note, as mentioned in the above post and that's ok. But if you just play what you want from any modal pattern, the underlying harmony will dictate the actual mode. You won't be able do it by starting on one note or another, unless you are playing strictly by yourself and what fun is that? So I guess the bottom line is that modes are generally about the harmony that supports them.

    Actually, what mode I play during a solo is typically dictated by where on the fretboard I want to play i.e., do I wanna play high up or low down or where I feel like outlining the chords. Then I just play the modal pattern that fits what I want to hear so that it lays easily in my hands. The harmony that goes along with whatever tune I'm playing will dictate the mode that is being played at the time.

    For me, it's no more complicated than that. But obviously, there are many ways to approach the issue of modes.
  18. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Whatever music you play, you still use the same 12 old notes.
    Does it mean to OP that all musics sound the same?
  19. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    When I saw the OP, this was my response. Since virtually all (western) music is based on the same 12 notes, all music must be the same.
  20. I've always thought the way modes are defined: "play C major from D to D, that's Dorian..." as the "backward" way to get to modes. It's merely a definition. The "forward" way to get to modes is what I memorized: Dorian is the major scale with a flatted 7 and 3; Aeolian is major scale with flatted 7, 3, and 6; Mixolydian is major scale with flatted 7. This is easier to me than trying to figure out, when someone says this is F Lydian: ok, so F is the 4th of C, so it's C major from F to F. MUCH easier to just think: ok, it's F major with a sharp 4. Easier and it makes the harmonic use of modes readily apparent because you're thinking of a tonal center in F, not in C and trying to transpose.

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