Latin music and Dorian mode?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Danonearth, May 15, 2017.

  1. Danonearth


    Sep 6, 2014
    I’ve been experimenting with Oye Como Va (the original Tito Puente version, but the Santana one is fine too…) and I just had a couple questions about the progression and use of the II (second) in Latin music

    I find it sounds best when I think of the II (so the A, as it is in the key of G) as the ‘tonic’ of sorts (which it seems to be in the song) and solo from there… I guess that would mean I might actually be playing in Dorian mode, so I guess my question could be - is it common to play in Dorian mode in Latin music? Especially since it uses the II (second) so heavily…

  2. The Oye Como Va that I pulled up does sound up beat to me. Thus major.
    Latin music can be major or minor, but, this one I hear major. Therefore I'd pick a major mode.

    So Mixolydian would be my first choice. Santana will use Lydian dominant #4 and b7 some of the time, that may be the other way you were referring to.

    Major sounds up beat and happy.

    Minor sounds ----- I never have come up with a sound name I like beyond minor -- some say sad, I don't hear sad, but, minor is not usually up beat..... Oye Como Va was up beat to me... Not giving up on minor just yet. I prefer Dorian over Aeolian. And Phrygian is Middle Eastern so that's out and Locrian is dark and tense.... So back to Dorian, which is said to have an attractive minor sound. But I do not hear an attractive minor sound for this song.... I hear an up beat major sound.

    Sorry I'd go with Mixolydian or Lydian dominant R-2-3-#4-5-6-b7.

    But I'm a gringo from East Texas ........ so what do I know about Latin music.
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
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  3. Danonearth


    Sep 6, 2014
    Thanks, Malcom

    Ironically, I have never thought of modes as being 'major' or 'minor'... I like that concept - will keep it in mind when choosing one :)

    Also, don't knock Texas! I used to play in a lot of Mexican wedding bands around the border - gotta love Tejano ;)

  4. Just a little mode stuff.... Parallel modes where the key stays the same and the notes change. I like Parallel much more than Relative modes where the key changes and the notes stay the same. Both get you to the same place, your choice.

    The Major Modes -- natural 3's
    R-2-3-4-5-6-7 Ionian home base for major modes. AKA the Major Scale.
    R-2-3-#4-5-6-7 Lydian change one note.
    R-2-3-4-5-6-b7 Mixolydian change one note.

    The minor modes -- b3-b6-b7
    R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 Aeolian home bass for the minor modes. AKA Natural minor scale.
    R-2-b3-4-5-6-b7 Dorian yes sharp the b6 back to a natural 6. Change one note.
    R-b2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 Phrygian and here add the b2. Change one note.
    R-b2-b3-4-b5-b6-b7 Locrian and here add a b2 and a b5. Well here change two.

    • Ionian - happy, and up beat. IMO If the guys are not laying down a vamp you might as well stay tonal and use the major scale.
    • Lydian - about the same as Ionian and I seldom use it for that reason. Now add a b7 with that #4 making it Lydian Dominant and it comes alive. Kinda half way between Ionian and Mixolydian.
    • Mixolydian - Latin and of course used over the dominant seven chord quite a lot. I do not agree with changing modes over each chord. Why? Each mode has a mood if you change moods three times in a song you just confuse the issue. Pick a mood and use the mode that gives that mood.
    • Aeolian - home base for the minor modes. I hear minor. Seldom use it as Dorian speaks to me more so than Aeolian. The guys will normally be laying down a progression not a vamp, so just use the Natural Minor scale and staying tonal works out best most of the time.
    • Dorian - an attractive minor jazz sound. If I go minor Dorian is my mode of choice.
    • Phrygian - Middle Eastern. Gyspy.
    • Locrian - dark and tense. Best used over a one chord vamp (m7b5 chord).
    Now all that said; as a bassists modes are for when you want to make your solo or bass line melodic. Pounding out notes of the chord, walking to the next chord, and maintaining the groove is our first job. The guitar guys get off on modes, let them do the modes until they start giving you some lead breaks. That's the time to reach in for your modal stuff. IMO.

    That is how I see it. And that will get you just about ankle deep into this mode stuff. Modal harmony will take you to your knees. ;) Modal Harmony

    Good luck.
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
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  5. Danonearth


    Sep 6, 2014
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    First of all, it's interesting to note that the melody of "Oye Como Va" uses predominantly the minor pentatonic scale (avoiding the 2nd and 6th).

    Secondly, it is very common in jazz/funk/latin music, when you have a tonic minor ("i chord"), to use a natural 6 instead of a flat 6. Furthermore, a flatted 6th would not fit the IV chord (it would clash with the major 3rd).

    That's just one way to analyze the tune. Other perfectly valid concepts are to think of it as "Dorian mode" or as "a repeating ii-V vamp."
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  7. Did you look at the chord chart? It goes from Amin to D7, for the entire song. Just a ii-V in G
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  8. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    ...Or, arguably, in A minor. ;)
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  9. Yeah, it's actually in A minor, but the OP seemed to relate it to the key of G. Hence the reason Dorian seemed to fit.
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