# Chord/Scale vs. Modes

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by pepito, Jul 6, 2003.

1. ### pepito

Feb 20, 2003
Buggtussle, Illinois
Can somebody explain the difference between the chord/scale approach and the use of modes?

2. ### dabshire

Dec 15, 2002
McKinney, TX
Not sure exactly what you're asking, but for each chord, there is a corresponding mode for the key you're in.

Hopefully some Theory Guru (which I am not) will correct me if I'm wrong

First of all, a mode is simply starting a scale on a specific note in the key. In C Major, if you were playing a Mixolydian mode, the scale would be G-A-B-C-D-F-E-F-G (has a flat 7). The Dorian mode would be D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D, etc....

Its all just the C Major scale, just starting on different notes.

For example if you are in CMaj, then the following modes apply to the chords of the key of CMaj. The numbers following each are the intervals between the notes:

CMaj - Ionian mode (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8)
DMin - Dorian mode (1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 8)
EMin - Phrygian mode (1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8)
FMaj - Lydian Mode (1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 8)
GDom - Mixolydian Mode (1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 8)
AMin - Aeolian Mode (1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8)
BHalf Dim - Locrian Mode (1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 8)

For each type of chord in a Major key, you can play a certain mode over that chord.

Hope this makes some sense.

Also, do a search in this forum, and you will find some threads that are much more thorough than this...

Don

3. ### Richard Lindsey

Mar 25, 2000
SF Bay Area
Conceptually, there's no real difference between a scale and a mode. Both are simply sets of intervals from a starting point. For example, the ionian mode and the major scale contain the same notes.

Modes do not have to start from any point of the major scale, though that's one way you can derive them within a key. You can have a piece that is *in* D dorian, without any need to refer it to any supposed major key.

I second the suggestion to search; this has been discussed a lot. Start out in the sticky thread at the top of this subforum.

4. ### efcleff

Jan 20, 2003
ohio
Pepito,
One good method for learning modes is to study them using TETRACHORDS. There are five (5) tetrachords you should memorize. They are as follows:
Major: W-W-H
Minor: W-H-W
Whole Tone: W-W-W
Phrygian: H-W-W
Harmonic: H-1.5-H

W = Whole Step , H = Half Step ( note the harmonic tetrachord has 1.5 steps, or three frets [ a minor 3d ] between the half steps ). There is a specific order of any two (2) of the above tetrachords, with either a whole or half step between them, which will make up the specific mode.

For example: The Ionian Mode consists of two major tetrachords with a whole step between them.
It would look like this: W-W-H-(W)-W-W-H
Now, if your in say the key of F Major the Ionian mode would be F-G-A-B flat-C-D-E-f, thus if your're playing FMaj. chords the Ionian mode would be a good choice, you could then switch to the Dorian mode W-H-W-(W)-W-H-W for say minor chords, minor7, etc.

To sum it up tetrachords breakdown the modes and make them easier to learn. You should check out WWW.BASSBOULEVARD.COM and click on THEORY. They show you the MODES in pattern form, which you can memorize. Also, make sure you can play the modes up and down the neck. Good Luck and keep it low- Bro !!!

5. ### paintandsk8Pushin' my soul through the wire...

May 12, 2003
West Lafayette, IN
What are the tetra chords, or how do thesetetra chords fit together to create the other major modes? Are there tetrachords for minor modes? If anyone wants to answer these i would be grateful, but if there is a good website that explains them that is equally as good.

6. ### Howard K

Feb 14, 2002
UK
I aint never heard of these tetrachords before either?!

dictionary.com tells me that a tetrachord is "a series of four diatonic tones encompassing the interval of a perfect fourth".

So you post makes sense to me now. I've neverheard anyone on TB prescribe this method for learning chord thoery.

Why do you suiggest this method? Note, not picking, really intersted?!

7. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
Funny - the Navy school of music teaches this method. It adds the term "link" for the one whole step gap. Example: A major scale would be 'major-link-major' when contructed with tetrachords.

I personally hate this method.

8. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
Modes needn't be tied to their parent scale/key in that way. G Mixolydian isn't tied to C Major, it's not just an isotope of C Major, it's a scale in its own right, and stands alone. You can play G Mix without being in C Major.

Same with D Dorian, E Phyrgian... like Richard says, a piece can be in D Dorian, or E Phrygian (or whatever) without being related to C Major.

They're scales in their own right, and are used outside the context of their parent scale.

9. ### Howard K

Feb 14, 2002
UK
it makes sense to me, but seems somewhat confusing - i'm not having too much trouble learning modes anyhow really.

i saw a guitar thoery excercise somewhere describing chords in terms of stacked 3rds, which seems a good way to approach it, so M7=M3+m3+M3, while m7=m3+M3+m3

10. ### j-rajBassist: Educator/Soloist/PerformerSupporting Member

Jan 14, 2003
Indianapolis, IN
Tetra (meaning 4) + Chord = Tetrachords, they are pretty much beginning/ending half of a scale or a portion of the scale, consecutively.

Major: W-W-H
Minor: W-H-W
Whole Tone: W-W-W
Phrygian: H-W-W
Harmonic: H-1.5-H

as being tetra chords, from this they are considered modes... well, within a mode/scale. So, positioning and building scale/mode patterns and formats from Tetrachords can give you the 'mix and match' conseptual use of these 'sub-scales' to build other usable options for voicings, soloing or melody.

For example, (I like this one, and use it a bunch). Over Dom7 chords I like to use a lydian b7 instead of the mixolydian... It is built up of TWO 'interchangable' tetra chords. The First Tetrachord (Whole Tone: W-W-W) is like a lydian and the Second Tetrachord (H-W-H) makes the Mixolydian statement.

Pentatonics (yes, there are more than just the generic 'blues-pent.') have similar relationships with arpeggios, but have five note scales. Where Tetra Chords are used consecutively, Triad Arpeggios are broken chords in stacked 3rds, pents are kind of a mix between the two... There are a bunch of them... (too lazy to list).

11. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
Moley, I spent about 10 minutes last night trying to figure the right way to say this, and here you've done it better than I ever could. It actually bugs me that people say a G mixolydian scale is just a C major scale played G to G. Because it's not - that's just how it's constructed. So... good on you! And thanks.

12. ### moley

Sep 5, 2002
Hampshire, UK
Well you're welcome Pac And thanks!

I spent a little while working out how to say that. I don't know why it's so difficult to put into words, but I've struggled trying to do it in the past.

13. ### efcleff

Jan 20, 2003
ohio
j-raj,
Right-on dude !!!

14. ### j-rajBassist: Educator/Soloist/PerformerSupporting Member

Jan 14, 2003
Indianapolis, IN
really? thx!

I hope that it wasn't too 'long winded' and confusing...

I love many different ways to look at chord/mode/scales/grunts, cause it allows you the persuant freedom to establish your own musical vernacular (i.e. voice/slang). Plus you find hidden nuggets of tonal coolness in stuff that you may been practicing/shedding for 20 years... just by looking at it differently.

There are no wrong notes, really. Just little musical challenges that give you a tonal adventure in resolution...

15. ### ConU

Mar 5, 2003
La Belle Province
For more advanced players,yes.But for beginners,to help with facilitating the least amount of confusion,IMO it should be presented as part of the Cmaj scale.The larger question of Gmix being it's own scale comes later.Otherwise,and you see it lots here,beginners treating the modes as these completely,alien,separate,mysterious,entities.

16. ### Richard Lindsey

Mar 25, 2000
SF Bay Area
I respectfully disagree. I think Pac's right--to present G mix as part of the C maj scale IMO creates more confusion, not less. It creates the mistaken idea--and I've seen this around a lot--that G mix is *necessarily* tied to C maj, which it's not. This is kind of the flip side of the syndrome you describe above, and I think in the long run, and maybe even the short, it can be more of a problem, because it teaches you soemthing you later have to unlearn. I think it's better just to learn the dang modes as they are, then learn how they can fit into maj-min harmony.

17. ### ConU

Mar 5, 2003
La Belle Province
I don't see it as "unlearning" at all,get the construction under your fingers in the simplest way possible,absorb it for a period of time,and natural evolution will tell the student that Gmix can have more than 1 meaning.IME,for all but the small minority of beginners starting off with scale application,when they can't even construct the scale itself,is fruitless.

18. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
Ahh, but that's where the LIMDAPL method comes in. If you learn the modes as they relate to their parallel major scale, rather than their relative major scale, you lear the construction logically.

Lydian - 1 sharp = Raised 4
Ionian - 0 sharps = major scale
Mixolydian - 1 flat = lowered 7th
Dorian - 2 flats = lowered 3rd and 7th
Aolean - 3 flats = lowered 3rd, 6th and 7th
Phrygian - 4 flats = lowered 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th
Locrian - 5 flats = lowered 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th

Simple, logical and doesn't confuse construction with function. Granted, might be a little more information to learn up front, but you end up with a greater understanding of the modes and their application.

Just my 2 cents...

19. ### Richard Lindsey

Mar 25, 2000
SF Bay Area
See, this seems easier, clearer, and more logical to me, even if it does involve a little more work up front. It's also the most direct way I know of for hearing how the modes (and I'm counting major and natural minor as modes) sound different from each other.

And I have to say, the tetrachord thing seems more confusing than this to me.

Also, the LIMDAPL method kind of parallels the standard way of constructing chords--i.e., 1 3 5, 1 b3 5, 1 3 5 b7, etc. So to me it ties together modes and chords better.

I think we all agree on where a learner should eventually get to with this stuff; it's just about what's the most efficient and useful way to get there. YMMV

20. ### ConU

Mar 5, 2003
La Belle Province
It does to me as well,because we're already at the other end.Presenting it to a student who's at the starting line,I don't agree with.It's overwhelming for the majority of beginners,and they don't get it.JMO/Exp. though.