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what is the real purpose of modes?

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by bassandlax, Feb 4, 2002.


  1. bassandlax

    bassandlax

    Dec 31, 2001
    Raleigh, NC
    Hey mike
    I am currently in the process of learning and exploring the great (and slightly scary) world of modes. I am getting the patterns down. I was just wondering now what each mode is used for. I know ionian goes with major chords... but thats about it. Are there chords that the others are specifically used for. Right now I just use them in solo bass and have not yet applied them to chord progressions. This would help me a greeeeeat bit. Thank you.

    Joe
     
  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Joe,

    Each of the modes goes with a different chord depending on that chords function within the tune. For example: the chord progression D-7 G7 Cmaj7.

    The D-7 is the chord built on the second degree or more commonly called the II chord. Therefore we would play the Dorian mode over that chord. The G7 is the V chord, we would therefore play mixolydian mode on the G.

    Along with playing the modes needs to come an understanding of how each chord functions within the tune.


    more...

    III chord = phrygian
    IV chord = lydian
    VI chord = aeolian or natural minor
    VII chord = locrian

    Mike
     
  3. danqi

    danqi

    May 21, 2001
    Germany
    May I join?;)
    Sticking with your example, is the Dorian mode the only thing we should play over the D-7 chord? Or could I also play the Mixolydian, Phrygian, or any other mode over it if I would play those modes starting on D?
    I am just in the process of understanding my basic theory.
     
  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    You would play a Dorian over a D minor if that D minor functioned as the II chord. Here are two examples where the D minor would funtion as the II chord. D minor in the key of C or a D- to G7 to C (II-V-I progession leading to C) in any key. Sometimes tunes will move away from the key to a new tonal center for a bit. In jazz it can often be found in the guise of the II-V-I progression.

    Mike
     
  5. danqi

    danqi

    May 21, 2001
    Germany
    Sorry, but I don't quite get what you are saying.:( Does that mean yes or no?:confused:
    I understand that certain chords go with certain scales very well in certain situations while others don't fit that good. But is it not right that TECHNICALY any scale (and any mode) played starting on a D should fit over any D-chord?
     
  6. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Not any D mode or scale will function over any D chord. All chords are based on the major scale, in D that would be:
    D,E,F#,G,A,B,C#,D
    If we build a chord, using that scale, on each note of the scale we have the following triads (3 note chords)

    D,F#,A = Dmaj
    E,G,B = E minor
    F#,A,C# = F# minor
    G,B,D = G maj
    A,C#,E = A maj
    B,D,F# = B minor
    C#,E,G = C# diminished

    The 7 modes each relate to one of the chords.

    The scale based on the 1st degree of the scale is a major scale (also called the Ionian mode)
    D,E,F#,G,A,B,C#,D

    The scale based on the 2nd degree of the scale is the dorian mode
    E,F#,G,A,B,C#,D,E

    The scale based on the 3rd degree of the scale is the phrygian mode
    F#,G,A,B,C#,D,E,F#

    The scale based on the 4th degree of the scale is the lydian mode
    G,A,B,C#,D,E,F#,G

    The scale based on the 5th degree of the scale is the mixolydian mode
    A,B,C#,D,E,F#,G,A

    The scale based on the 6th degree of the scale is the aeolian mode. This is also called the natural minor scale
    B,C#,D,E,F#,G,A,B

    Finally, the scale based on the 7th degree of the scale is the locrian mode.
    C#,D,E,F#,G,A,B, C#

    Some of these modes have a minor tonality (2nd, 3rd, 6th), some are major (1st, 4th and 5th) and one, the 7th is diminished.

    If a chord is based on the 2nd degree, you would use the dorian mode, if it is based on the 3rd, you would use the phrygian mode.

    Is this explanation a bit clearer?

    Hope this helps
    Mike
     
  7. danqi

    danqi

    May 21, 2001
    Germany
    Thanks, now I get it.
    I have just always thought that I could play any scale over any chord if they have the same root note.
     
  8. LifeSpitter

    LifeSpitter Guest

    Apr 6, 2002
    Bass Heaven
    I understand modes but have not really felt the need to use them.........or maybe i am using them by accident.

    I figure if i know the key then i know what i can play under each corresponding chord. Is this just a cheap way of using modes without knowing them conciously?

    I feel i can construct lines well by thinking in this manner only,...and when i try to think modally(rarely) i usually come up with the same result. I mean ifyou think about it,...all the same notes are in all the modes in a specific key. THe mode is just a different interval, and it seems almost pointless to me.

    Is there something im missing? If so can you enlighten me........thanks
     
  9. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Perhaps when playing a song that is diatonic (in the key) your premise is true. The problem arises when a song is not diatonic and the key center changes from section to section. Here is an example. The "A" section of the song Mercy, Mercy, Mercy has the following vamp: Bb7 Eb7.

    What key are you in? what mode(s) do you play over the vamp? Remember, there should be only 1 dominant 7th chord in any major scale.

    Another example would be the following changes from How High The Moon

    Gmaj7 / Gmaj7 / Gmin7/ C7/ Fmaj7/ Fmaj7/ Fmin7/ Bb7/ Ebmaj7/ Am7 D7/ Gmin7/ Am7b5 D7b9/ Gmaj7/ Amin7 D7/ Bmin7 Bb7/ Am7 D7//

    Now the question is what key or key centers and which mode or modes do you play over all those minor 7 chords? Consider the fact that there 3 modes (dorian, phrygian and aeolian) that are minor in quality.

    LifeSpitter give it a try and let me know what you come up with. I'll be happy to post some ideas after you give it a try.

    Mike
     
  10. LifeSpitter

    LifeSpitter Guest

    Apr 6, 2002
    Bass Heaven
    God i love this website!!!


    Thanks Mike
     
  11. Steve Cat

    Steve Cat

    Mar 19, 2001
    Boy, now I'm confused, unless we are talking about notation. When you write D-7, do you mean Dm7 or D dominant 7? Because while it is possible to play d dorian over D7 functioning as a II chord it is an unusual (albeit usable) usage. The triad built off the d in the c major scale is minor because of the third. Right? I don't really know, but I sure hope I am because I thought I was beginning to get this stuff.:confused:
     
  12. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Steve Cat,
    Sorry for any confusion
    D minor 7 can be notated as Dm7 or D-7
    D Dominant 7 is notated as D7

    A D7 cannot function as a II chord. A two chord is a minor 7. If you see a D7 going to G7 and finally resolving to C, what you are seeing is:

    C is the tonic
    G7 is the dominant
    D7 is the dominant of the dominant (G7) more often called a "secondary dominant"

    Mike
     
  13. Steve Cat

    Steve Cat

    Mar 19, 2001
    Great then I do understand it.

    OK, then what mode (degree) of the c major scale do I use to improvise over the D7?
     
  14. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    That is a GREAT question.

    You're getting into the whole idea of functional harmony - how a chord or chord progression function within the tune. The scale you wuold play depends on where you are going. Without getting too involved in the functional harmony question (book have been written about it), you have a couple of choices. For the moment you are in the key of G

    D Mixolydian
    D minor pentatonic (uses the b3 blues note)
    D lydian b7 (lydian scale with a flatted 7th or mixolydian with a raised 4th)
    D Dorian (uses the b3 blues note)
    D Blues (similar to D minor pent with b5)

    Your ears need to determine the appropriate scale based on the function and style

    Mike
     
  15. Steve Cat

    Steve Cat

    Mar 19, 2001
    Hey, I've been reading your book! (and also Mark Levines):D What about G Mix because D is the 5 of the g major scale and G mi penatonic or G pentatonic since both can be played on the 5 chord in songs in the key of G ?
     
  16. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Steve Cat,

    Sorry for not replying sooner - gigs, deadlines and sick family members have made this week a bit hectic.

    Actually, the modes or chord scale is based on the root of the chord (as it functions in the tune), therefore all your scales are right as long as they start on D not G, because D is the fifth of G and all these scales work on a chord built on the fifth.

    Mike