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What modes to use?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by funkalicious101, Aug 27, 2007.


  1. I have realized that I have been putting off learning theory for quite some time (about four years.....) and I have finally come to my senses and realized that I need theory to achieve what I want to do.

    I get basic stuff but one thing that really confuses the hell out of me is knowing what modes to use on what chords (I suppose I dont really know much about chords either).

    It seems like there is no cookie cutter solution to this and I cannot get by purely on technique (as I have been doing thus far).

    Can anyone try to help me out or point me in the direction of some literature worth checking out?

    Thanks,
    Sam
     
  2. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    No easy solution is right.

    Analyze the 4 basic diatonic chords and figure out which modes fit which chords.



    Work through this for starters. Four basic qualities:

    M7 Major Seven

    Dominant 7 or just 7 ie C7

    m7 Minor 7

    m7b5 aka half diminished



    M7 has a major 1,3,5, and 7. Which two of your modes have those qualities?

    Dominant 7 has one alteration- b7. Which one mode fits?

    m7 has flatted 3 and 7. Which 3 modes fit?

    One left. Flatted 3,5,and 7. Favorite of Swedish death metal:D



    Enjoy your homework, and if you post here, I'm sure someone will either come by to fix your mistakes, or give you grossly misleading information.

    Again.
    :D


    Oh yeah. Once you figure out what modes match what chords, try putting the chords in a synth or sequencer, and listen to the differences between the ones with multiple options. Develop a flavor for how a mode feels and "tastes."

    Feel free to PM questions.
     
  3. ok.... hmmm, that actually makes a bit of sense to me. thanks.

    i would ask, but i honestly cant think of any questions......

    thank you again, im sure I'll find something I need help with.
     
  4. mutedeity

    mutedeity

    Aug 27, 2007
    Sydney
    I would advise you get a tutor that can teach you the basics of diatonic theory starting with the major scale and how it is used to analyse all other scales then teach you how the modes are relative to each degree of the major scale. For example that Dorian starts on the second degree of the major scale, Phrygian the third, Lydian the 4th, Mixolydian the 5th, Aeolian the 6th, and Locrian the 7th. From there they should teach you about the relative triads; I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, viio, then the relative 7th chords and so on. A good tutor will also make sure that you are learning these things so that you can understand how each of these modes, triads and 7th chords are formed by the scales rather than just teaching them to you as separate entities out in space. Good luck.
     
  5. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    All the basic info about music theory is available for free online. Mutediety mentions the importance of learning the modes by scale degree relation to the major scale. In actuality, you won't have a firm grasp on the modes til you know them several different ways.

    I hinted at the importance of knowing their alterations to the major scale. Can you name all 7 modes by scale degree alteration, and spell them in all 12 keys? Can you name the chords, with extension, which match up with the 7 modes? Can you spell those chords in all 12? Lots of work to be done here!

    A great starting point for hearing modes in real life is the modal period of Miles Davis, specifically the masterpiece, Kind of Blue,.
     
  6. Tslicebass

    Tslicebass Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2007
    Chicago
    The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine will answer all your questions and more.
     
  7. mutedeity

    mutedeity

    Aug 27, 2007
    Sydney
    If you are talking about being able to spell out modes in terms of thier degrees - {1,2,b3,4,5,6,b7} = dorian, for example, then that is all part of what I am talking about. Key is transposable though and I would say it is more important to understand the relative intervalic permutations of diatonal modes rather than remember every single relative note in every single key. What happens when you want to move away from diatonal modes? There are quite a few scales out there that aren't diatonic and being able to understand relativism is the key to understanding how those "exotic" scales work.
     
  8. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Not only are there alot of scales out there that aren't diatonic modes, there's also two other scales with 7 additional modes each- melodic and harmonic minor. The modes of melodic minor (asc) are especially important to jazz improvisation. For example, lydian dominant, altered dominant, locrian #2, etc, which are respectively the right scale choices in many situations for 7, alt, and half diminished. These are three of the most used chords in jazz, and if you haven't run at least two of the complete mode systems, you're missing out on a world of fun sounds to play around with.

    For everything you learn, it's extremely important to be able to grab any note from the scale anywhere on the neck in a heartbeat. Being able to name those notes is one of the first steps to being able to play, say the b13 of a dominant chord on the downbeat. Which, btw, is way hip.

    Oh yeah regarding key being tranposable, yeah it sure is, but spelling Dom7+5 in Cb will take more than a little head scratching for alot of people until they've done ALOT of homework. Without that knowledge, by the time you get done scratching your head trying to figure out which starting note to play, you might just be three measures (or staves) behind!
     
  9. dvh

    dvh Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2006
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    I feel like I'm in the same boat as the OP but maybe have a bit better grasp on theory foundations.

    Modes continue to confound me as well, however. Here's a question that, if answered affirmatively, will help me along the way:

    Basically, a mode is a scale played over a particular chord that begins on a note within that chord other than the root?

    For example, the Dorian mode played over a C major chord would begin on D and would be D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D?
     
  10. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    dvh-

    close.

    The mode corresponds with the tertian chord built off of the same root.

    So, in relation to C major, Dorian starts on D, (d-e-f-g-a-b-c-d,) and the relating chord is dmin7 (d-f-a-c.) The remaining scale degrees (e-g-b) are called extensions, and are used to construct the chords dmin9, dmin11, and dmin13.

    Good luck!
     
  11. dvh

    dvh Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2006
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    excellent

    just one definition needed: tertian?
     
  12. DocBop

    DocBop

    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    You don't want to think a Dorian mode over a C major scale. There is a use for, but a technique use and would just confuse things to go into it now. So for now no you don't want to think D Dorian over C Major.

    First understand a C Major scale C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.

    Now a harmonized C Major scale CMa7, Dmi7, Emi7, FMa7, G7, Bmi7b5.

    Also the notes of each of those chords. C-E-G-B, D-F-A-C, E-G-B-D, F-A-C-E, G-B-D-F, A-C-E-G, B-D-F-A.

    Modes of C Major C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian, B Locrian

    Okay now learn them as groups of info like in key of C major....

    C 1st degree of major scale, CMaj7 chord, spelled C-E-G-B, C Ionian mode.
    D 2nd degree of major scale, Dmi7 chord, spelled D-F-A-C, D Dorian mode.

    and so on.

    That is your basic use of modes. You want to understand the relationshp between those things so when you are playing you can use them something like this.

    Song in key of C major, chord on the chart is a Dmi7, second degree of C major scale so Dorian mode, chord tones are D-F-A-C, I can use Dorian mode as scale for extra notes. That is the begin stage.

    As you get to where you are doing that as fast as you see the chord, then you start adding more info like color tone/chord extensions are 9, 11, and 13 and they are E, G, B. Other possible scales yada, yada, yada.

    Sounds like a lot of infomation and it is at first, but the more you use it and practice using it your brain becomes like a music computer. That basic info is there like all the code behind the scene in a computer program you use. You look at a chord quicky think or chord tones, default scale, and start playing. If you come to that chord again on the chart you start adding more its functioning as a II chord and it going to a V chord, okay I like to do this in that situation. You come to the chord again repetitive song. Okay I want more outside sound I will use my yada-yada licks.

    It is a process you build up from practice and listening, jamming and listening, and gigging and listening. It doesn't happen over night it takes time and work. In the process you develop your ear and eventually can think of a lick or a sound you want and know instantly what to play to get it. And this applies to bass lines as well as soloing.
     
  13. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    I think we have all the bases (huhuh) covered now. Now that Docbop posted his doctoral dissertation, anybody should be able to figure out the mode system from this thread. :D

    One additional pointer for anyone wanting to better understand modes-
    This stuff makes ALOT more sense on piano. As they say, on piano it's all there in black and white.

    Which brings up a very important point. Any serious student of music should be able to play the basics on piano. The keyboard allows you visualize the theory in a very clear manner, helps you to write music more efficiently, and plus, girls love to sit next to you on the piano bench!
     
  14. dvh

    dvh Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2006
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Thanks for the help guys.

    Chicago: exactly why I bought a cheapo keyboard. Great thing is, the available ryhthm tracks can be used as a metronome!
     
  15. mutedeity

    mutedeity

    Aug 27, 2007
    Sydney
    I think this is where things tend to confuse most learners. The thing that needs to be addressed is how those modes manifest. It is also quite difficult to explain these things without demonstrating them one on one as well I think, but the core idea of modality is this;

    If you start with a scale, then each note of that scale has an interval between it and the next note in the scale. In the Major scale the intervals are; Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone. When you start from the second degree of that scale you modulate the first interval to the last position. Now you get the intervals Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, which is our relative Dorian. When we compare the intervals to the tonic in relation to the Major scale we can see that there are some differences. For example the third note is one semitone lower than where it would be if you were playing the Major scale and the same is true for the 7th note of the scale. Hence we say that we have the degrees {1,2,b3,4,5,6,b7}. We can go through and do this for all remaining tones based of the original scale. From there, as DocBop and chicagodoubler pointed out, we build our tertian triads and extended chords and so on. By the way tertian means built on thirds.

    Now if we apply this to any given scale and its relative intervals we can find all the modal permutations. For example if we take a more "exotic" scale let's say Byzantine, AKA Double Harmonic with the degrees {1,b2,3,4,5,b6,7} we can see the intervals are;
    Semitone, Tone-and-a-half , Semitone, Tone, Semitone, Tone-and-half, Semitone
    our second mode will be;
    Tone-and-a-half, Semitone, Tone, Semitone, Tone-and-a-half, Semitone, Semitone.
    And so on for each remaining degree. The main reason I use this example is to illustrate that the concept of modulation can be applied to any given scale.

    Hope this helps.
     
  16. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Everybody has good points.

    Why not work on the MUSIC that uses this stuff?

    Flea uses Dorian on lots of minor RHCP jams.

    Alot of disco uses Mixolydian.

    So What by Miles uses Dorian in d and eb exclusively.

    Slayer likes Locrian.

    Spanish music uses alot of Phrygian.


    Scales and sounds are like ice cream. Learn the flavor, and order what you really want when you step up to the counter.

    Bad metaphor, but hopefully someone will like it.
     
  17. Chili

    Chili

    Mar 8, 2005
    Newcastle/England
    yeah i agree with this.

    just one thing about modes (i'm new to modes but think i'm starting to understand them) do you start the mode on the same root as the chord/scale, like, if a song is in A minor, i could use the A Ionian mode over that etc.
     
  18. DocBop

    DocBop

    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Mode are major and minor just like keys are. If a song in key of A minor what is the relative major key of A minor??? Right, C major so you would use modes of C major. So on A minor you be using A Aeolian mode from the C Major modes.

    That is the starting point and need to understand the inside plain vanilla use of modes first. Later then you have modal tunes, subsituting modes to get different colors, and so on. But first get a handle on the basics.

    For a minor key use the modes of the relative major key. Sometimes you will hear the term the Parent scale use to mean same thing. One more for song in key of G minor you use its relative major key Bb and its modes.
     
  19. dvh

    dvh Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2006
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
     
  20. mutedeity

    mutedeity

    Aug 27, 2007
    Sydney
    Locrian isn't minor or major though. I personally don't even look at Dorian, for example, as having to be necessarily a mode of the major or minor scale. I would say that it can be its own parent scale. It is enharmonic to the 2nd mode of the Ionian Major scale too, but it is also enharmonic to the 3rd mode of Locrian, and so on. Also, modes go well beyond the diatonic structure. Any scale has modal permutations, with the exception of maybe the wholetone scale which is non-transpositional.
     

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