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Quick Mode Question.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by fsf347, May 4, 2010.

  1. fsf347


    Mar 28, 2008
    Alright, i understand the gist of modes, but i think i just confused myself.

    Lets say youre playing a I-VI-V progression in C major, with NO modulations.

    For the G chord, you decide to use the G Mixolydian scale.

    Now, as far as my understanding goes, G Mixolydian contains the notes: G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G.

    Im aware that the key of G has an F#, but as there are no modulations, how would this be considered be "modal" playing, as this Mixolydian scale uses the same notes as C Major (which is the point)?

    I mean, it would make sense if you decided to use a mode starting on the I/i chord, but in this case, i dont see a difference?

    Hopefully someone will understand what I mean?
  2. funkybass


    Oct 19, 2006
    I don't know why you are comparing the key of g to g mixolydian, they aren't related. And all modes of c contain the same notes, they just start on different degrees. D Dorian is defgabcd e phyrigan is efgabcde etc.
  3. When you play something in C you are using the notes CDEFGAB. In your example when you play G mixolydian it is simply a reordering of the notes of the key of C. I'm pretty sure this isn't considered modal music. You need to remember that you are simply in a certain key and play (although there are exceptions) the 7 notes of that key no matter what mode (or reorder of those notes) you use.
  4. Chris K

    Chris K

    May 3, 2009
    Gorinchem,The Netherlands
    Partner: Otentic Guitars
    There are many threads on this subject here on TB. Check out posts by JTE and Richard Lindsey on this subject.These come down to two seperate (but not necessarily conflicting) views on the use of modes.

    1. In western classical and popular music and in many jazz tunes, you are fine with just the major scale and the three minor scales (natural, melodic, harmonic) PLUS some chromatic notes when needed. this material wil serve all your needs for accompaniment as well as solo work

    2. Some music styles try to break away from tradition by using different principles of both melody and harmony. Modes are used to create new musical atmospheres. If a certain chord stays on for some time, appropriate modes can be used to solo over it.

    Generally speaking, the use of a mode is only useful if a substantial part of a composition is based on it, and not to solo over just one chord in a traditional piece of music.In that case, it's a better plan to let the existing harmonies and melodic elements inspire you.
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    you're playing over a G using the notes of the C scale. you're not playing over a C. therefore you're considered to be using a mode based on the C scale.
  6. IMHO, Only reason to use a mode is over a modal vamp. Stuff I play is over chord progressions, I see no need for modes over chord progressions. Now why would I say that?

    1. Only reason to use a mode instead of the Major or one of the three minor scales is to get the mood that specific mode - gives - and this mood only happens when the chords played under that mode sustain that modal mood. Vamps sustain the mood, chord progressions tend to be tonal and draw you to the tonal center of the progression - which probably has nothing to do with the mood you are looking for.

    2. A song does not change it's mood with each chord change - why would we play a different mode over each chord change? Pick one mode's mood and play that. I can see one mood change perhaps in the chorus, but, not three or four times in a song.

    Go back and read Chris' post paying attention to the items I took the liberty to highlight. He hits it on the head... IMO, modes have little use in what I run into with my bass.
  7. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    No need to even think in modes when you're talking I IV V. If one really understands what "I IV V" means, one knows that those chords are all built only of notes from the diatonic major scale of the tonic. That means ALL the notes of the chords are in the same key. And more importantly, the bassists' job is to define the harmony which means you need to not only tell everyone what chord is happening now, but how they go together. Otherwise all you're doing is filling space instead of tell the listener how the chords relate.

    Unless you're playing specific modal music, start with the chord tones as your primary targets (the notes you're going to aim to hit on the strong beats). Other notes (passing notes) most likely will come from the scale of the root, but that doesn't mean you can't play other notes. Dig through the threads here, learn real harmony and real basic music theory. Then it becomes clear that scales and modes for most bass playing situations are less important than the chords.

    This in no way says that you don't need that stuff. But it's not nearly as important as being able to understand the WHY of all this. The flippant easy answer to "use G mixolydian under a G7" doesn't tell you anything really useful. WHY is G Mixolydian appropriate? Because the notes in a G7 chord are G B D F (and I think it's important that bass players understand the WHY of that as well, instead of trying to memorize this crap) and only a diatonic majors scale in C will give you those four notes. That's it.

    Will a G scale? Nope, it's got that F#. Therefore no other "sharp" key will either because they ALL have F#. Will an F scale give you G7? Nope, because it's got a Bb, and all the other "flat" keys will have Bb too.

    The IV chord- in C it's FACE, and you're only going to find that in F or C. Why not use the F scale (or its modes)? Because it's got the Bb in it that doesn't work with the G7, nor will it work with the I chord (Cmaj7 or C E G B). So, while the inane mantra of "C Ionian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian" gives you the right notes, it utterly obliterates the connections between the chords and obscures the fact that they're ALL IN THE SAME KEY!

    For further rants, discussions, and clarification, spend time searching the TB "General Instruction" forum for modes. There's a ton of discussion here that clarifies this already.

  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    btw, i totally agree with the forget modes folks, but since you didn't ask my opinion on modes ;) i just answered your question. but yeah, study modes and know how to apply them, but forget them on the bandstand and just use chords and play chromatically. modes make for boring playing imho.
  9. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    If you are using G (C's 5th) as the root, since it has all the same notes as CMaj, it has become mixolydian (as does any 5th played as root over the major it came from)-so you are just playing in the same pasture as CMaj.

    If C is your root-well, stay maj and you're just Ioanian.

    I also agree with others to not bend your brain your brain to be a MODE MASTER and shut yourself off from creativity by over-theorizing your playing.
  10. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    Modes make for CONFUSING playing, really. It's far easier and more musically informed/relavent to be thinking in terms of a single overarching key rather than individual, removed scales for every individual chord. Chord/scale theory in education has confused a lot of people, and modes are explained in an astonishingly primitive and misinformed manner.
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    that's exactly right. i think modes are primitive by nature, though. there's 12 notes and modal playing limits you to 7 at a time. the chords tell you everything you need to know.
  12. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I think the thing about modes that confuses a lot of beginners is they think that if they figure out which mode to use in some section of a tune, then any of the notes in that mode will work pretty much equally well at any place in that section. That is definitely NOT true!

    As I've made clear elsewhere - use some theory and your ears to choose notes that make your music sound the way you want it to sound, rather than trying to use theory to choose your notes for you. I think this is very important.
  13. I also believe the OP is talking about a I7 - IV7 - V7 progression or a blues progression, in which case, if it is a C blues... playing C major over C7 will sound funkay

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