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the myth of modes

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by HandsFree, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. Eddie Charles

    Eddie Charles

    Oct 25, 2015
    I've always been suspect of modes and how they relate to scales...but when I apply the specific mode to the numbered chord...it works!
    I'm not so much a believer in the myth as I am in Black Magic! I'm going to copy this original post and present it to my teacher and see how he responds. I'll post his response here next week.
  2. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Hi DeaconBlues09,
    Here is my source:
    "The suspension is a tone whose natural progression has been rhythmically delayed." (pg.122), Harmony, by Walter Piston (Fourth Edition)
    Not looking for a BassBrawl - just citing my source.
    Thanks for your time, interest and civility. I appreciate all 3.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2016
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  3. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    "Scales are over blown"??????

    Scales offer two things;
    1/ they of the hand exercise, and exercise for the whole hand so all fingers are used to play them. They offer more as execise for the hands than exercise for the mind.
    2/They offer notes, much in the same way as the Alphabet offers letters, a Dictionary offers words and definition, and a Thesaurus offer you ways to reference, or substitute words, to your own needs.

    So we have 12 notes, set ways to organise those notes in scales, and set notes from those scales to make chords for us to use.
    Scales are important, like the alphabet, reciting it everyday will teach you nothing that you already know.
    DeaconBlues09 likes this.
  4. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Don, I understand your point perfectly.
    In our defense, I would say we were slightly "brainwashed"/indoctrinated by that simplified notion that the sus chord is always about the 4th and always minus the 3rd (b3rd).
    Also, when I see that D sus chord, I would assume it's D G A, but overall, the suspension It's "like a whole other country."

    Walter Piston.
    s1.PNG s2.PNG
    From "Tonal Harmony" by Stefan Kostka

    Also, from "A system of harmony for teacher and pupil, with copious examples ..."
    By John A. Broekhoven
    A System of Harmony for Teacher and Pupil: With Copious Examples, Practical Exercises, Questions and Index
    static0verdrive and Don Kasper like this.
  5. Lanky Tunes

    Lanky Tunes

    Jun 9, 2014
    Absolutely. When it comes to playing them they are exactly the same thing: a palette to draw from to create tension and release, ect.

    I think that this touches on the benefits of scales, which is exposure to sounds you might not naturally combine on your own.

    For the most part though, I think there is a ton of better spent time than learning scales.

    There is much more to be gained from learning licks using an approach similar to the method that Bert Ligon uses in 'Connecting Chords With Linear Harmony'.

    The basic idea was that he and a group of his students transcribed a ton of jazz licks and found that an amazing amount of them fell into the framework of three basic outlines. He demonstrated how hundreds of licks were essentially variations on these three.

    So basically you learn the three outlines in their most basic form to the point where you can play them in every key and applied to different chord sequences. You then start incorporating various rhythmic and melodic embellishments to them.

    This is, in theory, what we are supposed to do with scales, except that he starts with something that actually sounds good even in its most basic form.

    That book is much more geared towards jazz and towards instruments other than bass, but the basic idea is something that can be done within the norms of any genre.

    I think this is a much better approach to learning to play than just telling someone to play from this scale or mode over this chord progression. Learning the theory about why these licks work is important and part of the process, but you start right away playing good parts.

    This is basically his outlines applied to walking bass lines for jazz: http://nationaljazzworkshop.org/freematerials/ligon/Bert_Ligon_Fundamental_Bass_Lines.pdf
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2016
    HaphAsSard and Whousedtoplay like this.
  6. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    This thread is way above my head and therefore my opinion is worthless. I hope you all enjoyed this valuable contribution.
  7. Eddie Charles

    Eddie Charles

    Oct 25, 2015
    Don Kasper said:
    Hi DeaconBlues09,
    Here is my source:
    "The suspension is a tone whose natural progression has been rhythmically delayed." (pg.122), Harmony, by Walter Piston (Fourth Edition)

    I can't help it if I'm rhythmically delayed! But at least my hands come together while clapping 66% of the time.
    DeaconBlues09 likes this.
  8. I think a lot of the problem in these discussions is that people will mention whatever approach they are currently into. Could be scales, modes, hexatonics, whatever...

    Then, someone else will sort of try to make that approach wrong, or a waste of time, whatever - as though working on say, scales or hexatonics is the end of the road and that's all they will ever do... Usually not the case.

    Sure you can use the method Bert L uses, but if you only do that, and have never learned to manipulate the scales (I don't mean just running them up and down an octave) then you will still need to address that knowledge gap at some point. One approach is just as limiting as another if that's all you plan to do.

    I do happen to own and have worked through 'Connecting Chords With Linear Harmony' so I'm familiar with his approach. But there are still more ways to look at it besides his. Ultimately it's all about how many different ways can you see and manipulate the major scale, whether it's linear or via chord qualities.

    My thing is that it's not necessary to get soooo hung up on the approach someone is using at some particular moment in time. That seems to be 90% of the arguments here. Everyone can choose his own path. It's a process with many twists and turns at that... And thankfully! Different approaches possibly leads to individuality.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2016
    MalcolmAmos and John Goldsby like this.
  9. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    These "conflicts" are also a bi-product of the fact that there are limitless ways to map, group and label the same 7 notes
    John Goldsby and Spin Doctor like this.
  10. Exactly... That "my way or the highway" dogma is intense sometimes...
    John Goldsby likes this.
  11. basslyon


    Jun 24, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Non fosters drinking alcoholic.
    So, this whole thing seems to be people over thinking stuff and thinking backwards.
    If you go back to the beginning (OP) we're in G and there's a D7 so we use a D Mixolydian scale. Great. Or maybe we use a D7 because it best suits the D mixolydian. Could also use a D6, D9, D etc
    You could build songs off a mode whether its So What by Miles Davis or Around the world by the Chili Peppers.
    finally soloing - instead of soloing over G7 using a G pentatonic, use an A minor pentatonic, or D min - gets all these random notes that you'll miss otherwise.

    Finally - there's a great saying: learn the theory, then forget it.
  12. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Maybe, you could help me with some theory questions.
    Just recently, Don Kasper - a highly knowledgeable and seriously pro bass player, posted an interesting comment about suspended chords with an added chordal 3rd.
    I don't play jazz but the sound of the sus chord (add3) intrigued me; therefore, I decided to try it in some "Lite" pop music environment.
    It was easy to get some extended sus chord progression, but now I need to know what kind of scales/modes I should use for each of those sus chords in order to make some tune or solo..

    Here are the chords.
    All chords are the SUS chords in the left hand.
    (I don't know if I wrote them correctly. Please show me my mistakes.)

    Intro:C-F-G-Bb-D-F - C9sus4 – Bb/Csus4 (I've used Bb not A#)

    1st bar/2nd bar. D-G-A-C-E-F#-B - D13sus4 (add3) - Cmaj7b5/Dsus4
    D-G-A-C-E-F#-A - D11sus4 (add3) - C6b5/Dsus4

    3rd bar/4th bar. D#-G#-A#-C-D#-G – D#6/11sus4 (add 3) - Cm/D#sus4
    D#-G#-A#-B-D#-F - D#sus4 (add #5)(add 9) - B(b5)/D#sus4

    5th bar/6th bar. C#-F#-G#-A#-C#-F – C#sus4(add 6) (add 3) – Bb/C#sus4
    C#-F#-G#-A-C#-E – C#sus4(add b6) (add b3) – A/C#sus4

    7th bar. D-G-A-C-E-F#-A - D11sus4 (add3) - C6b5/Dsus4

    8th bar. C-F-G-Bb-D - C9sus4 – Bb/Csus4

    As you can see, all the chords are the sus chords.
    Here is the sheet with those chords:
    (Could you fix it if you see any mistakes? It took me less time to concoct the chord progression than to write it down on the sheet.)

    Could you please help me to find the proper notes and/or modes for my chord progression?

    Here is a sound bite from that progression that I've tried to play on the keyboard.
    (Sorry for my lame keyboarding.)
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016
    basslyon likes this.
  13. basslyon


    Jun 24, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Non fosters drinking alcoholic.
    Yowza Slash Chords!! - this looks fun.

    So i guess, what is the easiest way for you to think about them? There's a bunch of different ways of writing the same chord.
    I don't know if I'd count them as suspended chords. To me a sus chords doesn't have a 3rd.
    For example: D11sus4 (add3) is just an inversion of a D11​
    Since you've got the whole things as slash chords (i assume to specify the inversions) you'd probably leave it, but in other contexts you can simplify.

    So if you take that mentality, You could probably write some things a little simpler too (at least i find this simpler). so one chord as opposed to two on top of each other.
    For example
    A#/Csus4 - (C-F-G-Bb-D-F)
    1st bar/2nd bar.
    D-G-A-C-E-F#-B - D13sus4 (add3) - Cmaj7b5/Dsus4
    D-G-A-C-E-F#-A - D11sus4 (add3) - C6b5/Dsus4
    3rd bar/4th bar.
    D#-G#-A#-C-D#-F## – D#6/11sus4 (add 3) - Cm/D#sus4
    D#-G#-A#-B-D#-F - D#sus4 (add #5)(add 9) - B(b5)/D#sus4
    5th bar/6th bar.
    C#-F#-G#-A#-C#-F – C#sus4(add 6) (add 3) – Bb/C#sus4
    C#6 (add11) or F#Maj9/C#
    C#-F#-G#-A-C#-E – C#sus4(add b6) (add b3) – A/C#sus4
    C#min6 (add11)
    7th bar.
    D-G-A-C-E-F#-A - D11sus4 (add3) - C6b5/Dsus4
    8th bar.
    C-F-G-Bb-D - C9sus4 – Bb/Csus4

    If it's easier for you to think as slash chords, then the only thing i'd change is in the Intro and last bar I don't think you need to denote A#/E# in the treble as it's just an inversion and the bass note is somewhere else entirely but the chord hasn't changed.

    As I said, it's what ever works for you in your mind. Theory is just a way for you to understand the structure and turn it into music.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  14. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Thanks for your answer.

    My main goal of using those "slash chords" was to emphasize the SUS nature of the chords.

    As "mambo4" said,
    Yes, you can easily re-write D13sus4(add 3) as just D13 (or as...) but that SUS part of the chord is not accentuated and tends to disappear, and that's NOT what I wanted to do; therefore, I've purposely written chords in the left hand as the sus chords.

    It's my VISION, it's my interpretation which could be completely different from yours.

    My question.
    What is my tonic center for that chord progression?
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2016
  15. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    The whole composition does not have a single key center
    you can tell by how often the accidentals and key signature changes

    If I wanted to understand harmonically something like this
    the very first thing I d do is arrange the tones in thirds from the root up, to clarify the harmony

    D F# A C E G B

    which gives me a D7 / Em slash chord or a D13
    also these are the notes of G major
    these two things point to D mixolydian for that chord
    actually, that's all the notes of D mixolydian

    come to think of it if your chords contain 7 notes your scale/mode is clearly spelled out!

    7 note chords are not very common...
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  16. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    If I order and arrange these horizontal scale pitches, vertically, I would name it : D7sus,9,13, add3.
    "D13" does not account for the G natural, in my way of analyzing/naming harmony. "D13" implies the major triad D-F#-A.
    Also - it will sound better if it is voiced this way - D (in the bass), then...G,A,C, E, F#, B - eliminating the minor 9th (interval!) between the (original tertial stacking of "F#-x-x-x-G" = a minor 9th.) This reordering changes the minor 9th to a major 7th interval, which sounds better to me, and is a more conventional voicing of that chord type.
    Try it at a piano and see/hear.
    Just my $0.02.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  17. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Thank you, mambo4, for your response.

    In measure1 , it sounds like the D13sus4(add 3) chord is functioning as the dominant chord with implied (only) G maj (and never seen) as the tonic, but...
    In measure2, the D13sus4(add 3) chord sounds more like some "tonic center"; therefore, I used two sharps in the key signature.

    The whole premise of my chord progression is NOT to rearrange/inverse any notes.
    It's that sonority that attracted me. I purposely insisted on those SUS4 chords in the left hand, plus I clearly wrote a monotonously simple bass-line that strongly emphasizes the roots of those sus4 chords.

    In other words, as an originator of that chord progression, I have the right to arranger the notes the way I like it
    (And that's the way I LIKE IT),
    on the other hand, millions of educated musicians have the same right to tell me that I'm so wrong and totally uneducated, etc...

    To my (and only my) ears, it's a totally different aural chord/sonority.
    I want to hear that solidly-specific sus chord in the left hand not Em.
    Again, it's only me and my amateur ears, as John Goldsby said, "You need to train your ears".

    It's an interesting statement.
    For the first two bars D13/11sus4( add3), I would use the A Dorian mode.
    I would start my phrase with the E note and end with the A note, something simple like the following:
    Or a slight variation:
    Here is an explanation why I called it the A Dorian mode:
    (Taken from an excellent book recommended by Don Kasper - "Jazz composer's companion" by Gil Goldstein.

  18. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    That's exactly my point!
  19. basslyon


    Jun 24, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Non fosters drinking alcoholic.
    Absolutely agree, I kinda said that in there somewhere,
    "you've got the whole things as slash chords (i assume to specify the inversions)"​

    Chord charts don't normally specify inversions - especially not in jazz and that's why people have so much fun improvising in jazz. So when mambo4 said he arranges the chord in 3rds, thats the "correct" way to think about it... remembering of course that there's no correct in music :smug:. the 4th in these chords can also be referred to as the 11th which is implied within the 13th chord. That's where my thinking comes from but again it's what works for you. No one is saying you rearrange what is being played, simply how it is written. The chart, regardless of chord names listed, has the voicings you specified on the clefs. Although the piano player may well appreciate the slash chords.

    The reason i think of the chords i wrote is that they out line where you would go to solo/write melodies. being that there are some messy voicing and outside chords you're going to want to play the changes, not focus on a key centre.
    Intro to bar 4 you can use a G min Pentatonic but after that you're pretty much on your own.

    For most players soloing over a chart, something like "Cmaj7b5/Dsus4" can be a little confronting especially when its moving to the next chord very quickly where as d13 is pretty straight forward - use a D mixolydian.

    As for a Key centre, you don't have one - you're changing Key every second bar. which is cool and challenging. Lay down some recordings of it and lets hear it
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  20. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Your right I meant D11 (which of course does not account for the B)

    My purpose in arranging the chord tones in 3rds was for analysis
    and not to suggest that they be played that way
    play them how you want it wont change the modes implied by the tones present

    And the notes of D mixolydian = A dorian and we go back to previous pages of this thread.

    again play them how you want it wont change the modes implied by the tones present

    That said, the points made about what sounds good of course trump all
    Whousedtoplay likes this.

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