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My modal insight made the "light come on"

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by CrewsControl, Jul 24, 2012.

  1. It occurred to me this weekend that arranging the diatonic modes with Dorian in the middle, because its sequence of intervals is symmetrical, makes a lot of sense. If you play a Dorian scale, it's the only mode that forces you to choose to shift your hand up or down a fret reach all the notes. The other modes can all be played with the hand at the same position. That's because Dorian is "balanced" in that it has an equal number of major and minor intervals on either side of the scale. Being symmetrical, Dorian is its own mirror twin.

    The other six modes have a mirror twin. If you arrange the modes in mirror pairs on either side of Dorian, so that the more the half-tone intervals are shifted up or down the scale, the further away from Dorian they are, you get a diagram like this:

    +3 -T-T-T-s-T-T-s- lydian
    +2 -T-T-s-T-T-T-s- ionian
    +1 -T-T-s-T-T-s-T- mixolydian
    00 -T-s-T-T-T-s-T- dorian
    -1 -T-s-T-T-s-T-T- aeolian
    -2 -s-T-T-T-s-T-T- phrygian
    -3 -s-T-T-s-T-T-T- locrian
    Mixo has one semitone shifted up the scale relative to Dorian, so it's +1. Phrygian has two semitones shifted down the scale, so it's -2 relative to Dorian. Lydian has one semitone shifted up one space, and the other shifted 2 spaces up the scale, so it is +3. And so on. If you arrange them this way, guess what - the tonic of each mode on the white keys is the circle of fifths. Lydian F, Ionian C, Mixo G, Dorian D, Aeolian A, Phryg E, Locrian B.

    I can make the same table with Major, minor, Augmented, diminished, perfect notation:

    -M-M-A-p-M-M- lydian < - all Maj + Aug = "maximum" Major
    -M-M-p-p-M-M- ionian <- all Maj
    -M-M-p-p-M-m- mixo < - mostly Major
    -M-m-p-p-M-m- dorian <- balanced, equal Maj/min
    -M-m-p-p-m-m- ionian < - mostly minor
    -m-m-p-p-m-m- phryg <- all min
    -m-m-p-d-m-m- locrian <- all min + dim = "maximum" minor
    But we think of Dorian as minor rather than neutral because chord 'I' has a minor 3rd. The Major 6 is not "strong" enough to be its equal.
  2. Careful here - the dorian mode is not symmetrical, and neither are any of the other modes of the major scale. Symmetrical scales are those whose sequence of intervals evenly divide the octave, no matter where in the scale you start. A whole-tone scale is symmetrical, because every interval between notes is a whole-tone. Diminished scales are symmetrical, because the interval pattern is always whole step-half step (or vice versa). Even the chromatic scale is technically a symmetrical scale, because every interval is a half-step.

    While it might be tempting to make sense of modes based on their playing postion, you can easily run in to trouble here too - a certain scale is a certain scale, no matter if it's played all on one string or across 4 strings.

    While it looks like you've found an interesting way to visualize the intervals contained in the modes, it almost appears that you're mixing elements of neo-Riemannian theory and set theory.

    What sort of insight were you seeking?
  3. What It All Means, of course. The Big Picture. The Whole Enchilada.

    I wasn't seeing "the system" when modes were presented in C scale order. Now it's all clear!
  4. I didn't crack open a music theory book, so my apologies if I stepped on terms of art already used for something else.

    The symmetry of Dorian that I'm referring to is apparent in a diagram of the steps: -T-s-T-T-T-s-T-
  5. MontzterMash

    MontzterMash Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2010
  6. Love the mirrored twin idea - ionian/phrygian & locrian/lydian.

    I'm not sure what real world applications this could have, but the fact that these patterns exist is aesthetically very pleasing. :D
  7. LayDownABoogie


    Jan 3, 2012
    Yeah I was about to ask what practical value this has
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Hey, it's keeping his interest up ;)
  9. lsabina


    Sep 3, 2008
    Perhaps the word you are looking for is "palindromic."
  10. Otso


    Mar 6, 2006
    Or in music theory terms: the inversion of a dorian scale is the same as the original.
  11. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Interesting. When playing, though, I don't think too much about modes. I do understand them, however. Maybe I give just a tiny thought now and then, but not that much. I deal with them moreso in conversation when discussing theory.
  12. I agree. Mainly because modes are best served with a modal vamp playing under them. Most of what I'm involved with has a chord progression playing under the melody notes. Modes and chord progressions do not go together, because the tonal center of the progression cuts through and the modal mood (sound) does not have time to develop. You are doing all this great modal "stuff", but, it's not being heard because the tonal center of the progression blocks it out. Modes need a droning effect from the chords so the modal sound can develop.

    Droning effect; There should not be a V-I cadence with modes. There is a V-I cadence with everything our band plays.

  13. Well, coming from a musical background where I was a member of brass band, or a choir, I was used to having my part written out for me, and reading it as written. I didn't need to know any theory, the composer knows all that stuff and writes down exactly what I should play, every last note. Just play the notes, man!

    Inventing bass lines from a chart that just shows the chords is a totally different experience, and was daunting. Root/fifth of course is easy and hard to go wrong with, but clearly, I should want to play more than that, right?

    I don't consider myself a very creative person. My brain is drawn to systematizing everything. That's how I learn best, not by rote, but by understanding the underlying rules that govern the thing. If it was fashionable when I was a kid, I'd have probably been diagnosed with Asperger's.

    Anyway, before the "light" came on, I was very unsure about the next note I should play, except for the most elementary keys and modes. Now that I have completed my "internal map," scales on the fretboard, or on the piano keyboard, just leap out at me, like they are highlighted or something.

    It's like I just discovered integrals. :)
  14. PaulNYC


    Apr 2, 2009
    New York, NY
    i got paid for a gig once.
  15. Mark Plays Bass

    Mark Plays Bass

    Dec 15, 2008
    Bronx, NY
  16. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
  17. So, when I shared my insight with my teacher, he assigned me four jazz tunes to learn for next lesson: Night in Tunisia, So What, All Blues, and Footprints.
  18. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    One of which is modal in nature....
  19. LayDownABoogie


    Jan 3, 2012
    So what
  20. 'So what' is definitely a turn-on.

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