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Modes in gospel music

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by josh2slk, May 14, 2012.

  1. josh2slk


    May 6, 2012
    Are there any popular modes in gospel music ? What exactly do modes do and how are they applied ?
  2. funkybass


    Oct 19, 2006
    I'd worry about chord tones, passing tones, and especially chromatics in gospel before I would worry about modes. A common gospel run is to go root-6-b7-root. If you don't know what that or chord tones are you aren't even close to being ready for modes or scales.
  3. josh2slk


    May 6, 2012
    What exactly are chord tones ? Can you give me an example ?
  4. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Chord tones are the notes that make up a chord. So, in a C minor 7 chord, the chord tones would be C, E flat, G and B flat.
  5. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    R, 3, 5
    if a C major chord C, E, G
  6. josh2slk


    May 6, 2012
    Yerp I am familiar with chord tones I just never knew the name for them. What exactly am I to do with them ?
    I am a self learning bassist and my theory is okay ( I think)
    I just dot really understand now to apply chord tones to my playing ?

    So I thought I'd venture into modes and understand the nodes again and mode patterns but same problem
  7. josh2slk


    May 6, 2012
    @malcomnamos thank you very much. To the other guys as well thanks a bunch ?
  8. josh2slk


    May 6, 2012
    Ignore the question mark guys
  9. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
  10. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    The chord tones are the target notes for your line. They are NOT the only notes you can use, but they're the notes that you want to hit to define the harmony.

    Here's the deal- The bassist's two-fold job is to define the harmony and connect the rhythm part with the melodic/harmonic part. So to define the harmony you gotta understand the harmony.

    That means we need to tell everyone what the current chord is, how it relates to the previous chord and to the next chord, and telegraph what the next chord will be. So, knowing the harmony means knowing not only that it's going V vi ii V I, but that we know exactly what those chords are.

    So, in C, that part of the song is G7 Am7 Dm7 G7 C. That's a start. But to really define the harmony we also have to know that the notes in those chords (going out the 7th) are G B D F, then A C E G, then D F A C, then G B D F, then C E G B.

    Then you can use this to develop a bass line. Start with targeting the root on the 1 of each measure. The other key note for a bass line is the fifth of each chord- the R and 5 tell us that it's a G chord or a C chord. The third tells us whether it's major or minor, and the 7th tells us what flavor of major or minor (or dominant) chord it is.

    Now you can use other notes for the in between, and the ear is very forgiving if you nail the root and 5 on strong beats. So that covers the part of telling everyone what the current chord is. Leading to the next chord can be done by a couple of common methods. Lead into the the root of the next chord by playing a note that's a half-step above or below your target. That Dmin7 to G7 change for example- On the last beat of the Dmin7 measure play an F# or an Ab. The ear will hear that and when you play the G on the first beat of the G7 measure it will go "ah, that's where I though we were going". Another move is to play the fifth of the next chord on beat four of the previous chord- that movement of a fourth (e.g D to G) is also common to the ear.

    This is why I think the common methods of teaching modes are a detriment to learning to play functional bass. First, the common concept of telling people that "D Dorian is C major from D to D" while giving you the right notes, doesn't give you the SOUND of Dorian mode at all. Second, the common concept of teaching Dorian/Mixolydian for a ii V progression alters one's thinking to see those two chords as separate entities. The point of defining the harmony is to connect them, not switch gears with them. So instead of thinking D Dorian for the Dmin7 and G Mixolydian for the G7, I find it much more direct and logical to think D F A C and then G B D F with the C major scale (the scale that the ii V defines) as the source for passing tones.

    So, look at the chords, and work out how they go together. Then use the chord tones as targets and work ways to connect them together.

  11. josh2slk


    May 6, 2012
    Thanks alot John
  12. Lorisco

    Lorisco Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2010
    Most gospel players use chord tones and the major and minor pentonic scales with small changes.

    Here are two examples:
    Anointed Pace Sisters - If I be lifted up:

    Most all the riffs and runs are a pentonic scale with an added 4th or maj 7th. Sharay Reed loves to use maj 7ths in the pentonic scale as it adds more tension a little like jazz phrasing (Melodic Minor, a minor with major 6th and 7th, or Aeolian mode with a sharp 6th and 7th). Listen to him, Justin Raines, and Thadeous Tribette and you can hear what they are doing.

  13. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    I took some keyboard lessons in gospel and 'they' emphasized mixolydian and treating any sort of ii V progression as one chord

    it sounds like you'd be better off following the pentatonic advice given already
  14. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass What the .............. Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    This Adam Nitti video on YT helped me to understand modes better .. Think of modes as scales within scales playing in the original key but starting from a different note of the scale but think of it more in terms of the sound rather than a given fingering or pattern. Here is another thread here @ TB on the subject that helped me.. As for Gospel bass... check this site out .. Learn Gospel Music. It is a pretty good community with some great folks there.
  15. phillybass101

    phillybass101 Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    +1 Explained really well too. I try to to tell younger players to learn chord theory. Scales and modes are important but the understanding of chords really facilitates one being a good bassist. As you say harmony is our thing.
  16. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    I preferr the Bb Pentacostal.
  17. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    now having read the JTE post I have to say that's one of the clearest most concise explanations I've come across yet.

  18. Lorisco

    Lorisco Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2010

    Yes, except for the root - fifth explanation. Actually, the fifth's in a diatonic sequence are all perfect fifths or the same interval from the root, which means they tell you nothing about each chord (except for the diminished chord [flat fifth]).

    But playing the fifths are cool, but for the opposite reason given above. It's because they don't say anything about the chord that makes them useful (and the fact that they are easy to locate and play being all the same distance from the root).

    So you can play fifth's all day and never need to worry about getting in the way of other harmony or the melody. This is the same reason pentatonic scale works so well,; because it sounds chord neutral.
  19. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    There are no modes in Gospel.

    Notice that is a big period. OK, why? Gospel will use a chord progression (is tonal), thus chord tones work best. The solo or lead break is done by the vocalist singing the tune, or the solo instrument playing the tune. Yes both can improvise their impression of the tune, but the major scale will handel this very well.

    There is no need to bring modes into Gospel. If you do you then need to drop the chord progression and play a modal vamp under the modal melody notes for the modal sound to sustain. Good luck with that happening, while you are doing your modal solo everyone else will continue playing the cord progression and the V-I cadence will not let the modal sound develop.
  20. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Well I would summarize it like this:

    Gospel is a mix between Blues harmony and diatonic harmony,so,

    Major Blues scale is very useful and bringing that dominant sound over I and IV is very strong too. Also the diatonic harmony( which means MODES !!!) is also a big factor in the creation of useful and supportive basslines.

    Please do yourself a favor and make sure you understand that Modes from the major scale (for a start) are the base of diatonic chords progressions found in about every piece of music you will encounter and knowing which proper's one to use over each chord is the actual role of a good bass player.