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how do modes work, really?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ILLINOX, Jun 29, 2011.


  1. AndyMania

    AndyMania

    Jan 3, 2010
    Awesome stuff. Now Im beginning to grasp what is meant by context.

    Now I'm still confused about written chord harmony and melody. Stick Player explained something to me about this but am still a little unclear:

    If I have Cmaj7 written above the measure as the indicated harmony, I thought that the only notes that can be used in the melody are C,E,G,B since that is what a Cmaj7 chord is.

    Stick player mentioned that it depends what the key is. But in the key of G major, Cmaj7 still used the notes C,E,G,B.

    My main question is that how come sometimes the notes in the harmony do not match the notes in the melody?? I once saw a piece of music for the bass where it was in the key of C with the first measure stating that the harmony was Cmaj7 and the notes used in the melody were G,F,E,D,. There is no F or D in a Cmaj7 chord........and how come their is not root C in the melody??
     
  2. If the notes matched then you would not have harmony. That's what it is by definition.

    D does exist in Cmaj7 (it's the ii). As for the F in melody under the Cmaj7 chord. Think of it as a passing, dissonant note.

    Theoretically, you could set a different chord for every note of a melody. (And sometimes the odd chart looks that way...eeek)
     
  3. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Tension and release. If every note of the melody were always a chord tone, either the melody would begin to be boring or the chords would be changing so fast that it could be clumsy.

    John
     
  4. What am I saying? F is in Cmaj7 (the IV), so there should be no problem...
     
  5. AndyMania

    AndyMania

    Jan 3, 2010
    How would it not be harmonious if the melody has the chord tones of the harmony?

    Also, if you are given a melody, how do you determine its harmony?
     
  6. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Further on the melody and how it fits to the chords... Let's look at "Autumn Leaves", the jazz standard. It's in Bb (two flats, so the major scale is Bb C D Eb F G A Bb). The first phrase "The falling leaves, drift by my window" are the notes G A Bb Eb F G A D. The chords are Cmin7 to F7 to Bmin7 to E7 (or BbMaj7).

    So, the first three notes are a pickup to the Cmin7 where the melody is the Eb, the 3rd of that chord. Then over the F7 chord the melody is F G A, the root and third with the second as a passing tone in between. That's important. The G is on beat 2, a weak beat and it connects the 1 and the 3 and makes a nice flowing melody even though that notes NOT in the F7 chord. The word "window" is two D's, which is the 3rd of the BbMaj7. For the chord substitutions listed (Bmin7 to E7 instead of the BbMaj7) the D melody functions as the 3rd of the Bmin7 and the b7 of the E7.

    Next phrase is "The autumn leaves.... of red and gold" are the notes Eb F G C... to D E natural to F#. The chords for the Eb F G are EbMaj7, so the melody is again the root, 2, and 3 of the chord going to the sustained C melody over an Amin chord where the C is the third. Chord changes to D7 (D F# A C) and the melody goes D E natural F#. It's a temporary change of key center to G (Amin7 is ii, D7 is V) and the notes of the melody are WHY the harmony changed.

    John
     
  7. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Well, you look at the melody and LISTEN to how it sounds. Then you see where there are common chord elements and where they change. There's no exact science to this part (hence the chord subs I listed for "Autumn Leaves" where the BbMaj7 is replaced by a Bmin7 to E7 under the same melody D note).

    Sometimes it's easy to hear what's good and sometimes it's harder.

    John
     
  8. AndyMania

    AndyMania

    Jan 3, 2010
    JTE,

    Great analysis. This is what I needed. Now, in the last sentence you said:

    It's a temporary change of key center to G (Amin7 is ii, D7 is V) and the notes of the melody are WHY the harmony changed.

    When you temporarily change a tonal center (to G in this case) the new ii is now Amin7 and the new V is D7 right?
     
  9. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    It's in the key, but it is an "avoid tone" because of the clash with the major 3rd of the key. Your original thought of calling it a passing tone was right on.
     
  10. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Autumn Leaves is in a Minor Key. The A-Section begins on the iv[SUP]7[/SUP] chord.

    Generally, it's played in E Minor (one Sharp). But we can keep it in two Flats for this - G Minor.

    Yes, the pick up is G, A, Bb. A-Section first note is Eb - the minor third of the first chord, Cm7.

    The changes are:

    ||: Cm7 | F7 | Bbmaj7 | Ebmaj7 | A[SUP]Ø[/SUP]7 | D7 | Gmin | Gmin :||

    Roman Numeral analysis:

    ||: ivm7 | bVII7 | III7 | VI7 | ii[SUP]Ø[/SUP]7 | V7 | i | i :||

    Natural Minor through to measure 5. Melodic or Harmonic Minor from (maybe) 5 to 6 - (Melody is Melodic Minor). Back to Natural Minor ms. 7 and 8.

    Try keeping the collection of notes, from the E Natural Minor scale, for improvising. The 'D' can work well with the V7 chord, turning it into a V7(b9/#9) sound. Although it is 'technically a C-double-sharp - B, D#, F#, A, C/C##. :eek:

    Even try just E Minor Pentatonic (E, G, A, B, D), depending how Bluesy you want to be (add in A#/Bb).

    I have a Joe Pass transcription where he mixes Natural, Melodic and Harmonic Minor with a little Blues (A#/Bb) subtley added.

    Good ol' diatonic Minor Key changes utilizing the V7 (with the leading-tone D#) - NO v7! Classical Harmony.

    The bVII is the Subtonic and some people label it as "S".
     
  11. Right on.
     
  12. k2aggie07

    k2aggie07

    Jul 6, 2011
    Houston, TX
    A friend of mine is a music major, gui****, but still a cool cat - here's his take on modes:

     
  13. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    :rollno::rollno::rollno::rollno::rollno:

    This is what I have been referring to. This misunderstanding and misuse of what a MODE really is.

    Unfortunately, this IS how Jazz improvisation is taught in most Jazzbo Schools - "play this mode when you see this chord".

    If all you want to be able to do is run a scale up and down over each successive chord, this will get you there.

    By the way, IN the Key of C Major, a series of 'white' notes from G to G is NOT G Mixolydian, as the "cool cat' sez. :rollno:
     
  14. k2aggie07

    k2aggie07

    Jul 6, 2011
    Houston, TX
    You sure about that? I mean, not saying wikipedia is end-all-be-all, but it says:

    And here's the citation:
    Mel Bay's Encyclopedia of Scales, Modes and Melodic Patterns

    Right now I sort of trust him a lot more than you :bag:
     
  15. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Where am I and Mr. Bay disagreeing?

    Carefully read what he is saying. "The G Mixolydian mode (Related to the key of C major - on a piano it is all the white keys from one G to the next. GABCDEFG)". The crucial word is "Related".

    G Mixolydian is related to the Key of C Major. Similarly, A Minor is related to the Key of C Major - I'm sure you've heard the term Relative Minor. The Relative Mixolydian Mode of C Major is G Mixolydian.

    I used the word "IN". "IN the Key of C Major, a series of 'white' notes from G to G is NOT G Mixolydian".
     
  16. k2aggie07

    k2aggie07

    Jul 6, 2011
    Houston, TX
    I confess I have no idea what you're saying. I feel as if you're picking at nits. The quote was from wikipedia; Mel bay's book says:
    So G Mixolydian is indeed a mode formed from the major scale of C...which means to me the key of C. I'm not sure how to differentiate between the two as they share a key signature.

    I mean...a series of white notes from G to G IS G Mixolydian by definition, isn't it? I don't see why saying "you're IN C major" makes that a false statement.

    Or maybe you're just saying that C major the key and C major the scale are not the same thing?
     
  17. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    You ask: "... a series of white notes from G to G IS G Mixolydian by definition, isn't it?"

    Not always. Ask yourself if a series of white notes from G to G could also be a C Major scale starting on G, or an E Phrygian scale starting on G?

    If you can hear/understand the difference of the series of notes - using your example G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G - in the Key of C Major v. G Mixolydian, then you hear what I hear. If not, then you don't.

    In the Key of C Major, no matter how many times you have G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, it's still the Key of C Major, the Final is C, the home tone is C.

    In G Mixolydian, no matter how many times you do not have G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, it's still G Mixolydian, the Final is G, the home tone is G.

    There IS a difference.

    I'll say it again, and agree with Mel Bay, the G Mixolydian mode is related to the key of C major. They have the same key signature. But, the difference is the Final (the home tone).

    If you want to search back a few pages, I posted some examples of several Modes with the same home tone of E. Take a listen, they all sound unique.
     
  18. Billnc

    Billnc

    Aug 6, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    I've agreed with stickplayer on this thread. But Mel Bay is different regarding my training on this one point. G Mixolydian would be written in the key of G since it is a major type scale. All F's if appropriate would be natural. Some charts if the composer desired would have C as the key signature and G Mixolydian written somewhere for clarity. So G mixolydian in a written score might not be writeen in 'C' since G is the tonal center.

    Semantics, I know. I've seen both examples
     
  19. D exists only in a Cmajor scale, in a Cmaj7 chord there is no D. Ever. If you add a D its a different chord Cmaj9.

    Dm is the ii chord in the Key of C.
     
  20. Yes, you're right, these things get mixed up sometimes. The reason is that we use numbers for both scale degrees and the chords built on them, but not always consistently. As you suggest, a single note, by itself, can have no major or minor quality, though a chord can.

    My own bias is that it's often clearer to use Arabic numerals for the scale degrees and upper or lower case Roman numerals for the chords built on them.

    Thus, the note D is the 2nd scale degree of the C major scale. Dm is the chord built on the 2nd scale degree, and because it's minor, it's rendered as ii rather than II.
     

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