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Modes in Minor Keys.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Ben_P, Jul 24, 2002.


  1. Ben_P

    Ben_P

    Oct 2, 2001
    Alberta, Canada
    If I'm playing A minor for example. Would the modes remain the same, just as if I was in C major?
    What I mean by that is a G chord would still be Mixo, a F chord would still be Lydian and so forth.
     
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    No because minor keys are usually built on the Harmonic Minor scale. The short answer why is so there can still be a Dominant V chord. (in aolean, the V would be phrygian - not a very strong resolution)
     
  3. TJC

    TJC

    Jun 28, 2002
    Los Angeles
    So in a C minor scale, what would be the voicing for the ionian mode?
     
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    C Ionian is C major.

    Minor keys are built off of different scales, and the modes have different names. C harmonic minor would be C D Eb F G Ab B C.
     
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    OK, the harmonic minor is a the same as natural, but with a major 7th (the 3rd of the V7 chord). So all the modes are different right?

    Is it the done thing to alter all the other chords in the key that use that major 7th, rather than the natural minor 7th?
     
  6. TJC

    TJC

    Jun 28, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Let me back it up a second...


    I know the Major Modes.

    I am aware that there are Harmonic Major Modes.

    By that logic, are there then also both Minor Modes and Harmonic Minor Modes as well?
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Have you checked out this Links thread from DB Miscellaneous? There are three discussions of scales/modes/minor key harmony which might give you part of the answer you're looking for. Follow this link and then check out the titles for "Minor" and "Modes" about halfway down the theory links part:

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=43479
     
  8. TJC

    TJC

    Jun 28, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Thanks for the links Chris -

    Truly a wealth of information!

    And I'm sorry that I wasn't more articulate with my last post - the terminology is still somewhat new to me. What I meant to ask was if the modes of minor keys are based on the harmonic or melodic minor scale in the way that the modes of the major keys are based on the major scale? But I'm sure my answer is in there somewhere!

    Thanks again for all the work you put into some of those threads!:)
     
  9. TJC

    TJC

    Jun 28, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I looked through the misc. links, and along with the other things I have been reading, things are slowly making more sense to me. But I didn't see anything in the links that laid out the logic of the modes of minor keys. I still have a question.

    If the key is D harmonic minor (would simply saying D minor be normally presumed to be a D harmonic minor?) are there modes that relate to this key in the same way as with modes of major keys?

    So that:

    D E F G A bB C# D = ionian
    E F G A bB C# D E = dorian
    F G A B C# D E F = phrygian

    ...etc...


    I remember Pacman saying that the modes for minors are based differently and that they have different names but I couldn't find any more about this. This suspense is killing me...
     
  10. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    No, you've kinda tied yourself up in knots here. You have to get past the idea that modes are so tightly bound to specific degrees of the scale. Here, for example, you're operating on the assumption that the ionian mode is the one that starts on the first degree of the scale, but you've ended up with something that does not resemble the ionian mode at all.

    All a mode is is a sequence of intervals from one point to another (that's why many of us say a mode is a scale and a scale is a mode). The particular sequence of intervals it what gives a mode/scale its character, and its name. An ionian mode *always* goes whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half. That's what makes it an ionian! Therefore, D ionian must *always* be D E F# G A B C# D; it can never be the sequence you cited, regardless of the key signature.

    IMO modes are best thought of primarily as their own harmonic entities that have their own musical flavors, not simply as artifacts of one scale degree or another. It's true that modes are encountered associated with different chords within keys (or tonalities), but to me that's not what they fundamentally *are*. I mean, you can find wild strawberries in my back yard, but wild straberries are not fundamentally a garden plant.
     
  11. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Here's what I've got for the modes of Melodic Minor:

    Melodic Minor
    Minor 7 b2
    Lydian Augmented
    Lydian Dominant
    Dominant 7 b6 (hindu scale)
    Locrian II or Super Locrian
    Dminished Whole Tone or Altered Scale
     
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    And this is the problem I have with worrying about modes of melodic minor, or modes of any minor scale, for that matter - the modes don't match up with the chords that are usually associated with them. For instance, in C minor, a ii-V7-i usually goes something like:

    D-7b5....G7alt....Cmi (7,6, miMa7, take your pick)
    ..ii..........V7.........i............

    And yet we are often taught to play Locrian (or Locrian #2) over the ii chord, Diminished Whole Tone over the alt chord, and melodic minor over the i chord (assuming the piano player doesn't play a b7 in his voicing).

    And where are these "modes" of the minor scale?

    Let's see: Locrian #2 is the 6th mode of Melodic Minor, so play the 6th mode built on the 2nd scale degree over the ii chord....right. Then, Dim/Whole tone is the 7th mode of Mel. minor, so remember to play the 7th mode built on the 5th scale degree over the V7 chord....then....

    Anybody else confused? I know I am. This is why I usually don't worry about the whole "modes of minor" issue too much. I take from it whatever "scales" are useful and then discard the rest.


    TJC,

    Minor is more complex than Major because of the whole LEADING TONE issue that Pacman brought up. I don't completely agree with his post that "minor keys are usually built on the Harmonic Minor scale", but I think he was trying to summarize without opening up a whole can of worms. In minor keys - both in legit and jazz theory - both types of 6ths (b6 or 6) and 7ths (b7 or 7) can be used to create harmony. Typically, the most common chords found in minor keys draw from both 6ths and 7ths.

    For instance, the V chord almost always uses the leading tone (as Pac stated), but the III chord most often does not, as the leading tone would produce an augmented chord, and you'll see many more III Major chords than III augmented chords. Likewise, the i (tonic) chord can be either a mi7 or miMa7, depending on which type of 7th is used. Not only that, but the chord built on the 7th scale degree can be built on either the b7 (which produces a bVII chord) or the natural 7 (which produces a vii diminished harmony). So i wouldn't worry too much about naming each of the modes, because the "modes" would be different depending on which "version" of minor you are using as your source material.

    If you still want me to go into more detail on this subject, I'll be happy to....on the other hand, if you're getting a severe migraine and don't want to think about the subject any more, I understand completely. :D
     
  13. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    See? I told you Chris could answer better than I. :)

    Chris, you also illustrate perfectly why learning modes as ways to play through chord progressions is risky, and why you should learn to use corresponding scales over chord types or functions. You'd never use a phrygian mode (well, almost never) to play over the iii chord in a iii-vi-ii-V7 change, yet I've seen this mentality more than I'd care to. With minor, this is brought to the forefront - and again you find that you have to learn music and there is no shortcut.
     
  14. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    *THANKS* for the information. I was talking with my teacher recently about the difference between the Aeolian mode and Harmonic Minor, so this was great. Pacman's explanation was identical. Chris, your information is awesome, but I'm still soaking this in.

    Ok, so we've established that forming chords from the modes (esp. in a harmonic minor key) is sketchy. So how the heck DO you know what the chords of the change should be? Are you reliant on charts to help you? If so, is the method used to arrive at the chord noted in the chart just based on experience and creative choice?
     
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    If you're talking about chord charts in pop & jazz, a good performer always interprets the changes in both a stylistic and personal ways. Those with good control of large harmonic vocabularies are able to paint sound pictures of great depth even when the subject they are "painting" is very simple or austere. To a beginner, a chord symbol denotes a single sound. To a master, a chord symbol denotes a hundred possible shades of the same basic color.
     
  16. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Hmmm. I'm still not understanding the modes of the whole tone scale.
     
  17. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Smartass!;)

    Actually, those are easy, compared to the modes of the chromatic scale.
     
  18. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    There's just a lot of those, but the modes of the diminished scale - those are tough!
     
  19. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    So you'd do best to learn modes independantly, like you would scales, and learn applications?

    ..rather than to learn that "plopian" is the Nth mode of the Martyr scale etc...
     
  20. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Awww c'mon - I've been using that joke for more than six years and now you just took away my chance to use it here! :( :p