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In the Mode

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by iPlay15151515, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. Ok,

    I read many of the posts about modes and finally have a technical understanding of what they are and how to identify/derive them.

    So, in the bluegrass genre, how do I use them? Please start with something very basic/simple.

  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Play the melody of 'This Old Man' -- yes, the children's song -- which is in the Ionian mode. Now start putting it in different modes.

    The melody, for reference:
    5 3 5, 5 3 5, 6 5 4 3 2 3 4, 3 4 5 1 1 1 1 2 3 4 5, 5 2 2 4 3 2 1
  3. Good suggestion Ray.

    I've attached a MIDI file of the results starting with the C scale Ionian Mode and going through all of the modes and ending with C-ionian an octave higher.

    The mixolydian mode (#5) sounds like the ionian mode at a higher pitch because there is no 7 note in the song to flat.

    How would I apply this to a bass line in bluegrass?

    Edit: Post #79 has additional midi files using parallel modes.


    Attached Files:

  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Well, most of your bluegrass bass lines are just a 2/4 feel, playing roots and fifths, so not a lot of room for application there. You do have pickups and endings for sections, and also walk-ups and walk-downs to different changes, where you have the oppurtunity to introduce little melodic ideas. These would be places where you can do things.

    Modes give you the root-scale for the different chords in a set of changes within a key. For instance, a song that's in the key of C will likely use C-Ionian for melody lines over the I chord -- and in bluegrass where there is a lot of major pentatonic used, all of the notes in the major pentatonic are in that Ionian mode. The V chord will come from the Mixolydian mode, and again the C Major Pentatonic will still fit over this chord. You also have the notes B and F to fiddle with (pun intended) to create melody lines around that will resolve to C and E, repectively.

    You're going to get a lot more application for melodic ideas in this sort of music when you are soloing. If you get too busy with your bass lines with a bluegrass group you'll soon find yourself in the audience rather than on the bandstand.
  5. I'm beginning to understand the application of modes a little better.

    I've attached 3 versions of a bluegrass midi version of the song Will The Circle Be Unbroken.

    The versions are Ionian, Dorian and Aeolian.

    The Dorian and Aeolian version were constructed by diatonicaly transposing the Ionian version up 2 and 9 semi-tones respectively. The Ionian version is in the key of Gmaj.

    The sound difference is "ear opening". :)

    Thanks for getting me started on this.

    The attached midi files are for instructional and educational use only. The original sequencer was the late Dr. Gary Allen.

    Attached Files:

  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You have learned your modes as degrees of the major scale, I hope? Your description by 'semi-tones' concerns me a bit.
  7. This is very new to me (1 day ago) so I'll try to explain how I learned modes.

    First I think of modes as more scales.

    1. Modes are based on major scales.
    2. The notes in a mode scale are also the notes in the major scale it is based on.
    3. The mode determines or is determined by the first note of the mode.

    If a mode is used without naming a starting note, it is assumed to be the Cmaj scale.

    A mode name like A Mixolydian would indicate that the mode begins with the note A, and it's the 5th degree of the underlying major scale. A is the 5th degree of the D Maj scale.

    G Dorian would be based on the 2nd degree of the Fmaj scale .

    The second way I learned modes was based on memorizing alteration patterns.

    It involves making certain alterations to the major scale defined by the first note of the mode.

    Example: C Lydian. Use the Cmaj scale and sharp the 4th.
    This would then make the Cmaj scale a Gmaj scale. Lydian is mode 4 and C is the 4 degree of the Gmaj scale.

    G Dorian. Use the Gmaj scale and flat the 3rd and 7th. Doing this would make the Gmaj scale a Fmaj. Dorian is mode 2 and G is the 2nd degree of Fmaj.

    To me, the first method is easier to remember.

    I hope I have this correct?????
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The first method is good and the second nearly useless. I've never met anyone that learned the second method that had a firm and useful grasp on applicable theory -- or be able to put tunes that they know into any key instantly.

    It looks like you're on the right path.
  9. nothinggod

    nothinggod Banned

    Jan 3, 2005
    This is another area of tonal theory where there is a lot of confusion, most of which is due to the fact that we cling to baroque tonal theory as though it is the law of all things sonic. Here is my interpretation of what a scale and a mode is though, for what it is worth. Some of you might not agree but just consider that this synopsis is the result of careful consideration on the topic, not just some verbatum theoretical concept. Also let me say that I reguard the term 'diatonic' as an archaic and innacurate nomenclature that professes to give hierarchy to a particular scale because some religious zealots thought it sounded holy.
    A scale is a group of notes that are intervalically related to each other. A scale can be any group of notes that have such a function. A scale can modulate from one register to another (like a raga for example) and any mode of any scale can be enharmonic to a scale autonomous to itself.
    A mode is the way that each degree of a scale interprets the hierarchy of the intervalic relationships of that scale.
    Let's take an example at this point. Consider the group of intervals that we associate with the term 'Lydian'. Is this a scale, or a mode? Most people would argue that it is a mode of the major scale. I, personally, would disagree. Apart from the fact that the term 'Lydian' is only a name we give to a group of intervals that ascend in order as tone, tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, semitone, it also makes the assumption that this group of intervals has no autonomy unless it is as a function of the major scale. While this is true to some extent it is no more so than it is for the other remaining modulations of that group of intervals. That is to say that what we call the 'Lydian mode' is no more a mode of the Major scale than it is a mode of the Dorian scale.
    So in having said that I would say that Lydian is a name for a scale that is enharmonic to a mode of the Major scale. That is if we were to use the major scale as a point of reference. That mode would best be described as that 4th degree of the Ionian or Major scale's intervalic interpretation of its parent scale. Why is all this important you might ask? In my opinion making these distinctions is paramount in going beyond the limitations that are constantly imposed by 'diatonic' tonal theory. How can you use this knowledge in bluegrass? The same way you use it in any other music, I guess, try to understand it and use it when practical.
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Jesus! PC Harmony.

    The reason that you learn your modes as degrees of the major scale is so that you have instant access to them both under your fingers and in your ears.

    What you do with them is your own business.

    edit: Plus -- isn't what 'Modal' jazz of the 60's was all about was taking modes and making them the diatonic key-center?
  11. Abjimajik


    Sep 26, 2004
    Luton, England
    I'm with Ray.
    The modes are like seven different 'moods' you can get out of a major scale.
    There are tons of other scales too, think of them in a way that makes sense to you, and play the ones you like.

  12. In Ed Roseman's book 'Music Theory for Practical People', he advocates using the first method. I would have to agree with Ray as far as effectively using modes.

    Think: What do I need to do to an Emajor scale to make it E-Dorian? Flat the 3rd and 5th.

    Edit: Flat the 3rd and 7th.

    After looking at the alteration patterns, they're really not too hard to memorize.

    Do the minor scales have modes?
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You mean the 3rd and the 7th?

    ...for example. :)
  14. nothinggod

    nothinggod Banned

    Jan 3, 2005
    In my opinion the only reason that you learn the Major scale and its modes is so that you have a basic unit of comparison and a basic example of how modes and parent scales work. As for how important the diatonic scale system is, I challenge anyone to explain to me how it is objectively more important than any other scale.
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Well, KEYS are based on the diatonic scale system. That's a little heavy, ain't it?

    Why not fill out your profile so that we know a bit about you?
  16. Just checking to see if you were awake. :)

    I was thinking one thing while typing another.
  17. I feel that the diatonic scale system has evolved into its level of importance.
  18. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Which gives us what -- 400-500 years (or more?) and still counting? ;)
  19. Sod opinions, the major scale (followed by the minor - a mode or altered mode itself) and its internal relationships are the basis for most western music, both harmony and melody.

    Since your profile is blank I supose you could be a gamelan student in which case you wouldn't care about any of this. However, both the db and the bg were developed to play western music. :D

    I challenge you to say this isn't so :eek: .
  20. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Get used to playing Dorian and Lydian...