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Chord/Mode Note Choice

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Steady Eddie, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. Steady Eddie

    Steady Eddie

    Jul 27, 2009
    Say you are working out a bassline in the key of C. The guitarist plays a Dm chord. To harmonise with this you can play any notes from the Dm chord.

    But do you also have the choice to play any notes from the mode based upon the second note of the C scale, i.e. Dorian with the tonic of D? Or playing over an F chord, the Lydian mode with the tonic F?

    Bit confused about this.
  2. yes, you are on the right track. And your examples are two possible options.
  3. depends on the context of the chord.....Dminor 7 can be the ii,the iii,the vi,in a major key....it could be a minor pentatonic,blues scale......etc.....but the chord tones will be a safe bet......dorian would be right for Dmin7 in C
  4. funkybass


    Oct 19, 2006
    You could play any modes of c major the Dmin in c, I.e. You could play g mixolydian over the Dmin.
  5. You are on the right track. You mentioned you are a little confused, join the club. Modes are really very simple, however, we enjoy making them complicated.

    Why do we use modes? If the reason is the old guys said you should get into modes, fine, but realize what modes do. Modes produce moods. The mode you play should produce the mood you want.

    There are 3 major modes that produce 3 major moods and then there are 3 minor modes and they produce 3 minor moods. Then there is 1 diminished mode and it produces a dark tense mood. How many moods do you want in your song? Good question, normally one perhaps another with the chorus. OK which two......

    If that peaked your intrerest look up the moods of the modes. Here is a start http://blog.fretlight.com/2009/10/14/the-moods-of-the-modes.aspx

    This string talks about what mode/mood is used in other songs.
    Scroll up and start on the first post.

    Have fun.
  6. dogofgod


    Dec 24, 2009
    I am always playing with different modes, as the post before me states, to produce the mood I am feeling or the lyrics are trying to convey.
  7. That site's definition of the specific mood was a little different that what I hear. Here is what I hear:

    Ionian - attractive up beat.
    Lydian - same major sound just a little different, some say dreamy, perhaps.
    Mixolydian - Mexican, where Phrygian is Spanish Mixolydian is more south of the border down Mexico way. Of course with all those dominant 7th Mixolydian fits over the blues very well.

    Aeolian - Sad, yes Aeolian is sad.
    Dorian - I do not hear that much sadness here, attractive jazz sound.
    Phrygian - Exotic, Spanish or Mid-Eastern. I like to mess around in Phrygian it has a lot of moods.
    Locrian - dark and tense

    For whatever that is worth.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I would say that as general rule - if you are playing a bass line - then in 99.9% of cases you have to be outlining the chords and their movement, or it will not sound like a good bass line! :eyebrow:

    If you are playing a bass solo and are trying for effects or moods, as people have said - then modes give you options.

    PS - there may be some rare occasions when the above does not apply - modal Jazz maybe...?
  9. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Well, yeah, you could look at it as Dorian. But why? You've already got all the information you need to find appropriate note choices in your first statement. "... bassline in the key of C." That means your notes IN ANY ORDER that tie things together are C D E F G A B C. And you know (or at least should know) that the Dmin is D F A C. So, do you use the B or the Bb as a passing tone? Most likely B, because you've already established you're in the key of C. But then again, that Bb might just sound perfect, depending on what note comes before it, what comes after it, where the progression goes after the Dmin, and where in the rhythmic structure you put it.

    That's one of the key reason I find the whole matching modes with chords to be a trap fraught with problems. Look to the chord tones for your basic target notes, then the parent scale for most likely passing tones, but always know that ANY note CAN work under any chord- given the right context.

  10. Steady Eddie

    Steady Eddie

    Jul 27, 2009
    Thanks to everyone who replied.

    Feeling less confused now.

  11. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    You've got it.

    It starts getting confusing when you step beyond the major/minor and start adding 7, 9, 11, 13, etc chords.

    For these, you usually want to examine the chord first, and then the key if the chord leaves a lot of possibilities. For example Dm7 is comprised of D-F-A-C, so you'd want to play a D dorian. Then, say the next chord is a C7. Although it's comprised of C major and a flattened 7th (CEGBb), you'd be better off selecting the C mixolydian mode (C-D-E-F-G-A-Bb) than the C ionion because the B would likely clash with the Bb in the chord.

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