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Bassy Bill's Beginners' Basic guide to scales and modes

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BassyBill, Feb 21, 2010.

  1. the_hook


    Apr 9, 2008
    Looking at the modes as tones and semi-tones is one way to look at it. This is how I got it:

    I (Ionian, Major, uses the major scale steps (or tones))
    ii (Dorian, minor, flat 3, 7)
    iii (Phrygian, minor, flat 2, 3, 6, 7)
    IV (Lydian, major, sharp 4)
    V (Mixolydian, dominant, flat 7)
    vi (Aeolian, minor, flat 3, 6, 7)
    VII (Locrian, half diminished, flat 2, 3, 5, 6, 7)
  2. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    ^^^ That's fine, as long as people have the requisite knowledge of intervals. And that's what we'll come onto with the posts I promised about chords. Coming soon!
  3. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    I have no idea what a diminished or a dominant might be :confused:

    Bill, I have a question... you refer to sharps and flats... would it present big problems for me if I referred to them all as the relevant sharp?
    Eg, my brain takes a while to work out what a Gb is, but I know instantly what F# is

    Sorry for all of my apparently dumb questions :( I've never been good with this stuff.

    But thanks to you, I think I might finally be getting somewhere! Albeit slowly...
  4. gumtown


    May 7, 2007
    New Zealand
    Cool thread !! i'm sub'd too.
    Another one with 30 yrs playing, and gave up on the theory early on because the books started off basic on the first page, then i got lost in the circle of 5ths.
    Now recently it's like the 'penny suddenly dropped' all the fragmented pieces are fitting together, and it's finally making sense.
    4 thumbs up !!!
  5. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    If you don't what a diminished or dominant is, don't worry - one thing at a time. That kind of supports my very last comment.

    As for sharps and flats - yes, it could cause confusion in the longer term if you don't know when to use each correctly. There are times when it's best to say F# and times when Gb is more appropriate. I strongly advise you to get familiar with both when naming the notes on your fretboard.

    There's a bit of a clue why this is so in this quote (highlighted section), but don't worry too much about it for now. If you understand F# and Gb sound the same and are played in the same place on your bass, that's sufficient at this stage (I'm basing this on your own assessment of your understanding and on the questions you've asked so far).

    Anyway, just as an example and to give a little more of a clue, look at this:

    A Lydian – A, B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A

    Notice the following:
    We've used all the letters A to G, and added sharp signs in 4 places to get the intervals between the notes to correctly fit the Lydian pattern (T,T,T,S,T,T,S).
    The notes we need to sharpen by a semitone are C, D, F and G, to make C#, D#, F# and G#.
    If we subbed F# for Gb. as you say (like this - A, B, C#, D#, E, Gb, G#, A), we'd have a letter missing, and we'd also be saying that the note G needs to be flattened at one point in the scale and sharpened later. What a mess! Does this begin to answer your question? This is why you need to know both names for sharps and flats.


    It's amazing how far and how fast you can go just taking one small step at a time - but that still doesn't mean you can take giant steps (no pun intended for the jazz fans here).
  6. in a key like Db major,Gb would be appropriate and F# would not.....i'm not sure that any satisfactory short cuts to learn this exist....countless pages have been written on the importance of theory/reading,and probably just as many by folks who feel they do fine without.....if you decide that theory is important to your development i suggest a good teacher/method,and a lot of hard work.....
  7. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Jim's advice is excellent, in several ways. But there's no harm in trying to start answering these questions here. It just takes a bit of careful explanation, in small chunks.

    That said, the purpose of this thread does seem to have shifted a little. It was originally just to satisfy curiosity about scales and modes by explaining how these work in an easily understandable way. Now it does seem to be veering towards answering questions and some more general aspects of theory. That's fine! My view is that if people are encouraged by actually learning some of this stuff in here, and then realising they have the capacity to understand it, that will increase their incentive to find out more in a way that just exhorting them to "Go learn it!" might not.

    I should perhaps add a reminder that this thread is (at least at the moment) for people with very little theory at all. Hey, that's fine - we've all been there! But more experienced players may wish to just skip it and look at the other excellent stuff here in GI and also in the DB Music Theory forum. :)
  8. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    I think I understand.

    But how would it work for, say, the Mixolydian in Db? I can't see a way around that one without either using a letter twice or missing one out.

    It's like sudoku hehe
  9. it was not to my purpose in any way to negatively refer to what you are doing ....i was speaking in the most general of terms.....carry on with the good work bill.
  10. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    Ah... that's quite probably my doing, I apologise for that!

    I'll just read and keep my queries to a minimum lol (I'm sure they'll all be answered as the thread goes onwards anway!)
  11. every major key has a mixolydian mode built from the fifth step of the scale,but to gain this information in context it is better to start at the beginning and learn it as it comes up....
  12. every major key has a mixolydian mode built from the fifth step of the scale,but to gain this information in context it is better to start at the beginning and learn it as it comes up....in the key of Db major the mixolydian mode would be Ab,Bb,C,Db,Eb,F,Gb,and the chord,Ab7 (dominant),but Db7 would be related to a different key.....
  13. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    oh dear gawd :help: lol

    I don't even know what you just said let alone understand it
  14. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I understood that Jim - thanks! :D

    Do you mean "play the Db major scale, only starting on the fifth note (Ab) to get its Mixolydian mode" or play the Mixolydian pattern of tone and semitone steps, starting on Db". There's a difference. Anyway, to do the second of these, you'd play the following:

    Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db. ;)

    See what I did there?

    You're still not understanding the key point, and that's my fault. Okay.

    1) Mixolydian MEANS this sequence: T,T,S,T,T,S,T

    2) That pattern is derived from the major or Ionian scale, by playing from fifth note to fifth note an octave up. For example you can get a mixolydian pattern from this F major scale...
    ... by starting on C...

    3) That pattern, derived from F major, is C Mixolydian.

    4) You could also play the pattern T,T,S,T,T,S,T starting on any note.

    If you stop referring to "the Mixolydian in Db" and instead call it "Db mixolydian" you may find this becomes clearer. "Db Mixolydian" means "start on Db and play T,T,S,T,T,S,T". No more, no less.

    Slight edit - The fact that Db Mixolydian can be derived from the Gb major scale is not really that important in this context, unless you know your Gb major scale much better than you know your T,T,S,T,T,S,T Mixolydian pattern. In other words, there's at least two ways to learn to play Db Mixolydian. Either start on Db and play T,T,S,T,T,S,T, or play your Gb major scale starting and finishing on the 5th. Both will produce the same notes; it's just a question of which way you find easiest to remember. In fact, there's a 3rd way too, and I personally find it easiest, as do lots of other folks. Mixolydian = major scale with the seventh note flattened ("the minor seventh"). To use this convenient way, you need to be confident with intervals. We're getiing there, steadily. ;)
  15. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    Yeah I see what you did.... maaaaaaan what's that Cb doing in there?

    My head just fell off
  16. therefore Db mixolydian relates to the key that has six flats Gb major, or more likely Eb minor
  17. the dominant 7 chord has a flat 7 note,or one whole step down from the root..... note how the chords relate to the major scale.....at this stage of the game it might be confusing,but it all makes sense.....take it from jump street and all will be revealed.....starting in the middle is much harder..
  18. Just subscribed!!!
  19. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    We needed to make the C a semitone flat to use all the letters and get the pattern of notes we wanted. It really is that simple.

    We need to play that particular pitch to get our pattern right. We can't call it "B" because we've already said B gets flattened to Bb in that scale. So we call it Cb - we can do this, because we don't want to play a C natural. It wouldn't fit our pattern.

    You're asking questions without stopping to try and understand. Slow right down - A LOT - and think it through! We can explain this for you, but we can't understand it for you. Only you can do that, and that means effort, rather than just skimming it and then immediately responding by saying your head fell off! You responded to my last post before I could even edit it to clarify. You need to be spending at least as long on these posts as I am! Not just a few seconds for each one and then hitting "reply" like a tennis player returning a serve. Sheesh, no wonder you don't get it! First thing you need to do is learn how to learn. :)

    Women... :eek:

    I have a challenge/some advice for you. Each time you read a post, go through it several times, one bit at a time and then think about it for at least 20 minutes before asking a question. It will help a lot. SLOW THE **** DOWN! Get me? :D

    Jim - I don't think you're getting through here! :D Maybe let me tackle this one a bit at a time, eh?
  20. i will defer to your greater expertise here...i see that it is far easier for me to add confusion than light...carry on

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