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Memorize modes or just visual fingering patterns?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by btrag, Aug 23, 2007.


  1. btrag

    btrag

    Mar 7, 2005
    Chicago
    I was watching Jimmy Bruno's no nonsense jazz guitar DVD (hoping for information on jazz theory). Anyways, the instructor has a teaching philosophy that seems to make sense: He claims that modes are purposeful, but it is not necessary to memorize the mode patterns. He provides six fingering patterns that he claims are all one needs to know. Three of them start on the low E, the other three start on the A string.

    So, instead of thinking, "this is how to play a D Dorian scale, Mixoloydian, etc." you should be thinking "if I want to play in D mixo., I play my D scale like I usually would, but I'm going to start on the fifth interval."

    He claims that this is a shortcut of sorts, but practically speaking, it's all one needs to know as far as modes are concerned. I hope this is true, because I'm finding it very difficult to memorize these mode patterns. What do you all think about this?
     
  2. El-Bob

    El-Bob Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    Hamilton, ON
    that's basically all that i've ever done, and most people think i actually know what i'm doing, so i'd say he may be right
     
  3. DocBop

    DocBop

    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    There are lots of tricks and approaches people have used to learn/use modes. Many use the trick of thinking of the parent scale of the mode and just use that as their fingering. Trouble with tricks is that is all they are is tricks and shortcuts. You need to understand where the modes came from and the harmonized scale they relate to, that gives you the chord families they relate to. Knowing the chord a mode relates to you know which are chord tones and which are the color tones. You want to understand why mode sounds the way it does, which notes make the mode sound the way it does. Which comes back to where everything does you have play the mode to get the sound in your ear, to hear it against the chord it relates to. Then take the other modes of the same chord family and see how they differ againist the same chord. For example play A Dorian, A Phyrigian, and A Aeolian all against a Ami7 chord so you know which you want to use when. Then once you have the mode under your fingers then jam/experiment with it and make music.

    So you can use tricks and such to learn fingerings, but that is all you have learned is a fingering. That is when you see posts like... I learned the modes and I don't get it they suck, pentatonics rule!

    There are no shortcuts in music you have to play and listen, and listen and play. As one of my old teacher would say "See It, Feel It, Make It Your Own."
     
  4. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    Depends on whether or not you want to learn other instruments.

    But chances are, if you do, you'll already know what the modes sound like, so knowing "whole step, half step, etc." won't be too useful.
     
  5. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    It's extremely important to know the function and sound of all the modes, as mentioned above.

    Learn the alterations to each mode-
    Lydian has #4, works with M7#11
    Mixo has b7, works with dominant 7.

    etc...

    While Bruno's simplification might work for him, a more comprehensive understanding will never hurt!
     
  6. I agree first of all with comprehensive learning. Know why you are doing things.

    Everybody has a different way of learning things. For example, I was teaching a student a few days ago how to transpose on the spot. His band leader would always say "play up a fifth" and he would just get lost. I introduced a few different methods to him and his mind clicked when I told him to try thinking of the chords in relationship with each other. I, IV, V, vi, etc. Intervalic transposition blows his mind yet using chord relationships he can immedeately transpose almost any song now in just one day.

    My whole point to that is to tell you to find the way you can understand how music works. It could be visually based (fingering patterns and such) or it could be number based (intervals with whole steps and half steps) or any number of different ways. What important is that you get to the final goal using methods that work for you without taking shortcuts that limit your understanding of the subject. If his system works, use it.
     

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