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Soloing Using Modal Intervals?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bryan R. Tyler, Jun 14, 2003.

  1. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Ok, let me start out by saying I know far less about theory than I'd like to, and I'm just trying to get the whole concept of modes down right now, so please forgive any mistakes I may say. So I'm wondering about the usage of modes when soloing. Using the key of C major as an example (as everybody does), is it correct in assuming that all the modal intervals are useful when soloing over a key? Jazzbo has written out that he views modes in this manner:

    Ionian: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    Dorian: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 8
    Phrygian: 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8
    Lydian: 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 8
    Mixolydian: 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 8
    Aeolian: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8
    Locrian: 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 8

    This way they are seen as individual scales that can be used apart from their parent scales. This seems to make more sense to me than just using the modes specific to the parent scale, because when you're using a key of C major, you'd basically just be making the same major scale pattern but with a different key center, which doesn't sound too interesting.

    So would using any these patterns for soloing over a key fit, or are there specific ones that work better? Or is it that you need to work with the chords being played rather than just the key because the modal intervals are really chord specific? Again, sorry for my ignorance, and if anything's not clear, I'll post again to specify what I meant. Thanks!
  2. the modes are either chord and key or chord dependant.

    for example if you are playing a I-IV-V progression in a major key you could play


    But you can also base your soloing exclusively on the chord being played and just check if all intervalls used in the chord are present in the mode you plan to use
  3. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Hmmm...okay, I understand how that works, but that's not exactly what I meant. For example, if I was playing in C major and followed the I-IV-V progression you mentioned and played Ionian-Lydian-Mixolydian, I'd still be playing the same notes that were in the C major scale (CDEFGABC), just using the modes to figure out what to flatten and sharp.

    What I mean is, if I'm playing in the key of C major, can I use the modal intervals using the same key center in solos? Like using Aeolian but keeping C as the key center, so while the rest of the music is playing CDEFGABC, I'd be playing C,D,D#,F,G,G#,B,C? I'm thinking of typical jazz solos in particular, where the soloist is playing notes that are outside of the key the rest of the music is in, and wondering if they're using modal interval patterns to do this.
  4. Hmm, I wouldn't use Aeolian (natural minor!) mode over something in the key of C-major ;)

    also, it must be C,D,Eb,F,G,Ab,Bb,C NOT C,D,D#,F,G,G#,B,C

    But to tell you the truth if you chose a mode and keep it you are doing exactly what I was saying.
    Furthermore you can of course also base your progressions on a mode other than Ionian (major) and Aeolian (minor)

    For example a I-IV-V progression in C-Phrygian (my favorite) would be

    C-minor F-minor G-diminished
  5. theydolph

    theydolph Guest

    Oct 26, 2002
    I'm not sure whether this is going to answer your question but ill post it anyway. To me the chord scale relationship comes down to two versions of the same thing for instance a D minor 7 chord and the D Dorian Mode are really the same thing( not withstanding possible alterations to the chord) so choosing modes comes down to choosing a sound which best fits the chord. A D minor chord has a minor 3rd, perfect 5th, minor 7th, so choosing a scale/mode with a major 3rd, Augmented 5th and a major 7th probabbly wouldnt work over a minor 7 th chord. So the modes are more about emphasis on specific intervals as opposed to completely seperate from their parent scale. I hope that made sense.
  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Bryan, you need The Jazz Theory Book :D
  7. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I need ANY book. Besides the Gary Willis one, I haven't gotten a music book in seven years. Any one to recommend?
  8. Van Halen does what you say a lot of the time. It's not the 'right' way to do things per se, but it works. I like to think of it as pivoting around the tonality, i.e. C Major key, but going into the modes starting on C to add flavour. In your example, over the I-IV-V progression instead of going C Ionian-E Lydian-G Mixolydian solo wise, you'd play C Ionian-C Lydian-C Mixolydian. This works because all you are doing is flatting or raising notes, but not changing the root of the scale you're soloing in. If you understand me.

    Instead of
    C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C -- E,F#,G#,A#,B,C#,D#,E -- G,A,B,C,D,E,F,G
    You play
    C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C -- C,D,E,F#,G,A,B,C -- C,D,E,F,G,A,Bb,C

    Where the only difference is an augmented fourth on the IV chord and a flatted 7th on the V chord. If you want to spell out the harmony you might need to include these specific notes to tell the listener what you're doing.
  9. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    Any basic,generic music theory book.You have to stop "guessing" or taking little bit's of advice(some of it really bad) here and there.Go to the library and check out a basic,generic music theory book and read up on scales and harmony,this is crucial...it's the only way,really.:)
  10. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Advice so good it should be posted twice. Nice post, ConU!
  11. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Another thing - if you practice the modes enough, you'll be able to hear when they are being used. Each one has its own distinctive sound.

    This is the sort of thing that a teacher could really help you with. Once you know how to play the modes, the REAL challenge is in learning how to use them.

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