Practicing the modes of changes

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by jamisonsalamand, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. jamisonsalamand


    Aug 15, 2008
    I only have one way of practicing over changes, and I don't see why it wouldn't work, but I wasn't sure if anyone had any ideas for other ways to practice through the changes of a solo section. Or any section really.

    What I do is I set up the changes in iRealB, and play eighth notes through the mode of each chord, practicing in one position for a certain amount of time then switching positions. For example, I'll have two bars of a Cmaj7 then two bars of Fmaj7. I'll play, in one position, up and down in eighth notes all natural notes for the Cmaj7 chord. Then right when it switches to Fmaj7, I stop hitting B when going up and down the notes and play Bb in its place. Do that for maybe 20 repeats and then move up to the next position.

    This is the only idea I have for practicing changes in keys and stuff, does anyone have advice for anything else to try? Or just ideas and whatnot?
  2. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Practicing modes over changes doesn't really tell you much except "here are some safe choices." I think it's way more fun and experimental to drop the modes and scales, and just play what you feel, record it, and listen to it for note analysis.
  3. Groove Master

    Groove Master Commercial User

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    I like to look if the modes are related to the same major scale and I use only the mother scale to improvise. It makes improvisation more melodic that way and forces you to be aware of the good notes and makes you play more freely then just patterns. That way you are more aware of your phrasing and rhythmic choices also.
  4. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    I realize that you are setting up an exercise, but when I see CMaj7 followed by FMaj7, I do not change the B natural to a B flat - I see the FMaj7 as the IV chord of CMaj and the B natural remains over the FMaj making it FMaj7(#11), or a lydian functionality.

    If you want to practice true key changes, you might be better served choosing some chords that truly are in different keys. With the two chords you cite in your example, there are two primary ways to play them:

    1. Both CMaj7 and FMaj7 in the key of C Major; or

    2. CMaj7 in the key of C Major and FMaj7 in the key of F Major.

    In my experience, option #1 is the more musical and the more oft-seen way of doing it. Of course, if you selected two different chords that are not Maj7's a 4th apart, the application of the two options might more strongly favor option #2, which is what I think you are trying to accomplish.
  5. I see what you are saying about using the Bb under the Fmaj7. I don't think this way. Being a box person - and not getting into modes - I just move the box from root C to root F and play as much of R-3-5-7 as I think is needed, i.e. just move the box up a string and the box takes care of the individual notes for me. Same thing with G7 just move the box to the G note and use a b7. Got the Cmaj7 and Fmaj7 at the 8th fret with a natural 7 and the G7 at 10th with a b7. Or forget about the seventh note on the F chord and do all of this at the 3rd fret.

    My point; I'm an interval # or scale degree person - identify the chord, which tells me what spelling I will need (3/b3, 7/b7) then place the box and play as many of the chord's tones as needed.
    Major Scale Box. 
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string

    Now if I wanted to get modes involved I'd go with parallel modes Modes Part III - Viewing Modes As Parallel Scales Major mode use the major scale (Ionian) R-2-3-4-5-6-7. Want Lydian sharp the 4 - R 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, 7. Want Mixolydian flat the 7 - R, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7. Minor mode use Aeolian (Major scale with a flatted 3, 6 & 7) - R, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7. Want Dorian use Aeolian and sharp the b6 back to a natural 6 - R, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7. Want Phrygian use Aeolian and flat the 2 - R, b2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7. And then for Locrian use Aeolian and flat the 2 and 5 - R, b2, b3, 4, b5, b6, b7. At any rate......

    If what you are doing works for you keep doing it.

    In that link go deep enough to see this:

    Hit the sound to really see and hear each mode.
  6. jamisonsalamand


    Aug 15, 2008
    I can't think of anything I feel like limits me more than "scale shapes/boxes," and I absolutely hate whenever I have to use them in a tight spot. That's why I posted this

    And maybe what I meant was more along the lines of playing in C major, then F major.
  7. BobaFret


    Jan 22, 2008

    This piggybacks on something I've been thinking about recently.

    How much thinking do really accomplished bass players put into a line BEFORE they actually play it?

    Specifically, was any thought given to "I'll put a flat 5 there" or is it just something the player did and when analyzed makes sense.
  8. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I agree with JimmyM as well.

    come up with music you like first. Figure out what modes/chords/theory it fits second.
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    For written lines, maybe there's some thought about it, for improv, much less so.
  10. Jeffrey Wash

    Jeffrey Wash Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2011
    Santa Cruz
    FretlessMainly is pointing you in the right direction. This improvising over changes thing is context dependent. For a tune like Maiden Voyage, well then, yeah, thinking modally makes a lot of sense because the harmony AND the melody were composed in that context.

    But take a song like My Romance - the MELODY is all diatonic in one KEY. There are a lot of chords underneath, but to approach soloing on that song by thinking of different modes for each chord would be a fairly soulless, pedantic endeavor (IMHO). Because it's not just about the individual chords. That's not the way the songwriter was thinking when writing the tune, not the way a singer thinks when performing the tune and a good soloist isn't going to be looking at a dang real book, proceeding chord by chord with a pattern based approach, "for this chord I put my fingers here and for this chord I put my fingers there and so on... That's a very 'boxed in' and one dimensional way to play music - again, IMHO. The aural equivalent of "Paint By Numbers".

    I think Jimmy M makes a good point insofar as the importance of relying on your ears.

    An early step for most of us is learning how to navigate through the scales in all twelve keys and the associated modes, minor key variations and other scales. But then at some point the training wheels come off and you really start to hear the types of scales/modes that best fit with the underlying harmonies. If one works at it long enough then one starts to play actual melodies instead of digital patterns.

    I think that internalizing the MELODY of a given song and being able to appreciate the way that melody sounds - feels - over the chord changes is really important.
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