Questions about modes

Questions about modes

Postby confusions_prince » Mon Aug 11, 2008 10:54 am

For those of you who don't know, Wikipedia reading is a good way to replace lower-division college courses. So that's where I've turned for music theory. I'm getting the significance of scales and chord theory if not the details yet. But I can't wrap my head around the idea of a mode! What is it? Apparently few bands today even use them, which I found strange after so much talk on these boards seems to revolve around them!

Also, can someone who knows more about modes cite a source about the Dead? It would be a shame to have them deleted from this article when they actually know a thing or two about theory.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_mode#Use
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Postby mttourpro » Mon Aug 11, 2008 11:50 am

Modes are really nothing more than where you start playing in any major scale.

For example, here's the C major scale:

C D E F G A B C

So,, like it says in your Wiki article, if you"re playing in C and you start a scale or a lick/run on
C and play through to C you would be playing using the Ionian mode (what people would just say is a major scale--just like above, it would be

C D E F G A B and C

Now if you start on the D and play a lick which, say goes from D to D, you'd be using the Dorian mode---useful in playing through minor chords. That would look like

D E F G A B C D

if you play from E to E you'd be in the Phrygian
mode and be going

E F G A B C D E

F to F would be the Lydian mode

F G A B C D E F

G to G would be the
Mixolydian mode

G A B C D E F G

A to A is the Aeolian mode

A B C D E F G A

and B to B is the Locrian mode

B C D E F G A B

When actually using the modes and say playing a solo, it's not like you're gonna stick strictly to the notes in order--of course, you'd be likely to use phrases/licks that used some of the notes in the mode but maybe not others. Sounds kinda canned and mechanical to simply play a mode straight through---also, as you play around with them, you'll see how you can throw some color or grace notes in your solo to "bluesify" the mode or whatever you like. You can also build chords or intervalic melodies "thinking" within the mode.


Different modes sound good over different chords.
Play the Locrian mode and listen to how dissonant it is...rarely used by most people/tunes.

Check out the beloved mixolydian mode over dominant 7 chords.
Check out, for example, playing around with an E major scale while you jam over fire on the mountain in B. I'm not actually sure what that would be called--E mixo??


If you take the same C major scale and build chords based on it (like the Wiki piece shows you)

you would have

C major 7
D minor 7
E minor 7
F major 7
G Dominant 7
A minor 7 and
B diminished 7

this would also be commonly referred to as

major 1 chord
minor 2 chord
minor 3
major 4
dominant 5
minor 6
diminished 7 chords

doesn't matter what major scale you use---it always comes out this way.

BTW, any major scale is made going
2 whole steps, 1 half step, 3 whole steps, one half step. I'm assuming you know what whole and half steps are. Very helpful to know all your major scales because not only is all this modal stuff based on them, so are every other scale known to man.
For example to make a normal minor scale you just take your major scale, whatever it may be, and flat your 3rd, 6th and 7th. To make any harmonic minor scale you take your major scale and flat the 3rd and 6th but not the 7th.

therefore, if you learn all your major scales (preferably in what's called the cycle of fifths, you'll see that starting on C you have no sharps or flats---go up a fifth to G and build a major scale on G---you'll see you have one sharp (F#)in the scale...go up another fifth to D and you'll see you now have 2 sharps (F# and C#)---go to A and you'll have 3 sharps (F#,C# and G#)---notice that with the addition of each sharp, the "new" sharp is a fifth higher than the last one---pretty cool huh.

Works the same way in reverse if you use the "Cycle of fourths---jazzers often think more like this, while classical people use the cycle of 5ths.

Hope that helps....MT
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Postby tigerstrat » Mon Aug 11, 2008 2:05 pm

Nice post.

mttourpro wrote:Check out, for example, playing around with an E major scale while you jam over fire on the mountain in B. I'm not actually sure what that would be called--E mixo??


Using an E major scale against a B root would be B mixo. :smile:
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Postby mttourpro » Mon Aug 11, 2008 2:50 pm

OK, I get it now. Thanks TS.

See, I was taught in Harmony Theory that a B Mixo would be playing from F# to F# using the B Major scale.

But, I think I get it that the way modes are talked about here (and perhaps elsewhere) is that since B is the fifth degree of the E scale which you're using to jam on, it would be called B mixo.
I've always been a little confused on that when I read posts here and it's still hard for me to "transpose" that notion in my mind. :? :D :?
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Postby confusions_prince » Tue Aug 12, 2008 12:03 pm

Wow, that's a heavy post to whip out that fast! Thanks, MT. You cleared it up somewhat, but other things are over my head as a newbie. I'll keep re-reading this as my playing improves and soon I should have a sharper question than, what the hell's going on?. :-)
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Postby Crazy 9.5 Fingers » Tue Aug 12, 2008 12:19 pm

Once you have the major scales and theory behind the major scale worked out you can move onto the Melodic Minor scale and all that encompasses. Basically, an acid trip in itself but you will find gems such as the Lydian Dominant scale. Yummmm!

Just to give a glimpse of that, take your Lydian scale (4th degree of the major scale) and take the major 7th in there and flatten it. Voila, you now sound like Coltrane.
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Postby mttourpro » Tue Aug 12, 2008 12:49 pm

confusions_prince wrote:Wow, that's a heavy post to whip out that fast! Thanks, MT. You cleared it up somewhat, but other things are over my head as a newbie. I'll keep re-reading this as my playing improves and soon I should have a sharper question than, what the hell's going on?. :-)


On a related note, one thing to keep in mind, is that when you're learning about scales and modes and theory, it's a lot easier to understand and "see" these things on a piano since it's laid out linearly. A guitar is more difficult (I think that's fair to say) because although the strings/frets are linear, you're using 6 of them when playing scales and it complicates things somewhat.

You may want to consider buying a cheap keyboard/piano and taking a couple basic piano lessons...might make your endeavors into the world of Harmony-Theory a lot easier and more useful in the long run.

FWIW, when someone (like myself) takes a few years of piano lessons and learns all these scales and whatnot and THEN goes to a Harmony-Theory class, it's like finding out that you knew all this stuff that you didn't know you already knew. Comes real easy that way.

:smile:
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Postby confusions_prince » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:42 pm

mttourpro wrote:On a related note, one thing to keep in mind, is that when you're learning about scales and modes and theory, it's a lot easier to understand and "see" these things on a piano since it's laid out linearly. A guitar is more difficult (I think that's fair to say) because although the strings/frets are linear, you're using 6 of them when playing scales and it complicates things somewhat.

You may want to consider buying a cheap keyboard/piano and taking a couple basic piano lessons...


I've been thinking about it. Looks like now I will.
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Postby sack the wack » Wed Aug 13, 2008 5:57 pm

Can anybody mention some other tunes that rely heavily on the modes particularly mixo or maybe even Aeolian? I always seem to slip back into minor pent. and it loses depth. I'm guessing that Sugaree would be C mixo?
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Postby Crazy 9.5 Fingers » Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:07 pm

Well if you consider that minor pentatonic is the same as the major pentatonic of the note a minor third above. For example G# minor pent is the same as B major pent. And for the record, B major pentatonic will give you hours of licks for Sugaree. We can take that thinking and apply it to some theory.

As song like Sugaree is actually a pretty good selection to work on theory. First off, the key of the song is E major so it would actually be B Mixolydian and not C mixo.

Of course if you don't want to read the theory below, find a few of your favorite E Ionian or B mixolydian scale positions (the two scales are same things) and throw on the Sugaree from 5/22/77 and rip. Repeat and rip.

For the theory...

All the chords in the song are all part of the harmonized set of chords that make up the Key of E. Not sure how far along you are with the theory but since my wife is mad at me right now, I'd be glad to take a few minutes to explain it a little for those who could benefit from a little theory lesson in terms of Sugaree which I think is a fantastic example of a song to work on your theory.

Let's start with why this song is in the key of E major.

The first section of the song is B to E. As you get further along with music theory and song structure, you'll start to think of hearing chords in terms of the key of the song. B to E makes me think V chord to I chord. A very common progression in all forms of music. The reason why is that there is a natural tension and resolution to these two chords respectively together. That's why the tension bars of a blues progression is when it goes to the V chord and it resolves on the I chord. Now that we have decided the B is the V chord, and the E is the I chord we can examine the harmonized chords of the E major scale.

As we know the major scale's notes are based on a precise set of intervals between the notes.

Starting with the root note, the intervals of the major scale are a whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, half step.

E - root
F# - whole step up from E
G# - whole step up from F#
A - half step up from G#
B - whole step up from A
C# - whole step up from A
D# - whole step up from C#
E - half step up from D#

The notes on the left are the notes of the E major scale. When you see a song in the key of E major, there will be 4 sharps in the key signature derived from the sharps in that sequence.

Now to harmonize a major scale in chords you need to understand the chord that applies to each degree of the scale. These are the chords for the E major scale. THe intervals and respective chord tones are the same for every major scale so knowing this formula is key.

I = major
II = minor
III =minor
IV = major
V = dominant (for now we can also call it major)
VI = minor
VII = half diminished

For E major that's

E
F#m
G#m
A
B
C#m
D#o

The chords in bold are all of the chords that are in Sugaree. Essentially you can play the E major scale throughout the entire song. That is one way to look at it. The other way is to look at each chord as a different degree of the E major scale, and each degree is a different mode. Same notes, just a different title.

E = I = Ionian (major)
F# = II = Dorian
G# = III = Phrygian
A = IV = Lydian
B = V = Mixolydian
C# = VI = Aeolian
D#o = VII = Locrian

That is to say that E Ionian consists of the same notes as F# Dorian, G# Phrygian, and so on.

So to sum it up if you take all the chords in Sugaree and look at in terms of playing over each chord you would be playing E Ionian, F# Dorian, A Lydian, B mixolydian, and C# Aeolian. In the end, I like to think of it as E major or E Ionian.

Now that's not saying go play E major pentatonic over the song. The corresponding major pentatonic scale that works best would be B major pent. But that's another story for another time.
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Postby sack the wack » Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:00 am

Thanx CF. Great post and that clears a few things. I mentioned C mixo to start because the guy I usually play with starts off with Cmaj-Fmaj because of his vocal range so it's a half step up. Don't know what you did to piss off the ol' lady but appreciate the time for the lesson. Could you mention a couple of other tunes using modes?
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Re: Questions about modes

Postby mgbills » Tue Jun 29, 2010 6:26 pm

That...was truly marvelous. And it came along just at the right time. I've been playing about 5 years. DVD instruction. Tab. Music lessons. My teacher hand wrote this page which I was reviewing last night for arpeggios. Maj 7 ~ 1-3-5-7, min7 ~ 1-b3-5-b7, etc....And I'm thinking to myself...I got the arpeggio things, but what is it's link to I (Maj7), II min7, III min7, etc

You saved me. Hard to just looks some of this up on Google.
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Re: Questions about modes

Postby ugly rumor » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:02 am

Why did I think that the Lydian is the same as the major, with a sharp 4th? I think I need to get back to basics a little.
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Re: Questions about modes

Postby waldo041 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:30 am

ugly rumor wrote:Why did I think that the Lydian is the same as the major, with a sharp 4th? I think I need to get back to basics a little.


because it is!

here is an old kenny archive info i have gotten a ton of mileage out of.

peace,
waldo


Pattern #1
e------------------------------------------------3--5--------
b-------------------------------------3-5-6------------------
g--------------------------2-4-5-----------------------------
d-----------------2-3-5--------------------------------------
a---------2-3-5----------------------------------------------
e--3--5------------------------------------------------------
Pattern #2
e----------------------------------------------------5-7-8---
b------------------------------------------5--6--8-----------
g-------------------------------4--5--7----------------------
d------------------------5--7--------------------------------
a-------------5--7--8----------------------------------------
e--5--7--8---------------------------------------------------
Pattern #3
e----------------------------------------------------7-8-10--
b---------------------------------------------8--10----------
g-----------------------------------7--9--10-----------------
d-----------------------7--9--10-----------------------------
a-----------7--8--10-----------------------------------------
e-7--8--10---------------------------------------------------
Pattern #4
e---------------------------------------------------10-12-13-
b------------------------------------------10-12-13----------
g--------------------------------9-10-12---------------------
d--------------------9-10-12---------------------------------
a-----------10-12--------------------------------------------
e-10-12-13---------------------------------------------------
Pattern #5
e---------------------------------------------------12-13-15-
b-----------------------------------------12-13-15-----------
g---------------------------------12-14----------------------
d----------------------12-14-15------------------------------
a-----------12-14-15-----------------------------------------
e-12-13-15---------------------------------------------------

This is just a Key for the next chart
Ionian - ion
Dorian - dor
Phyrgian - phy
Lydian - lyd
Mixolydian - mix
Aeolian - aeo
Locrian - loc

Pattern #1
g------------------------------------------aeo-loc-ion------
d---------------------------phy-lyd-mix---------------------
a-----------loc-ion-dor-------------------------------------
e-mix-aeo---------------------------------------------------

Pattern #1 continued
e----------------mix-aeo------------------------------------
b-dor-phy-lyd-----------------------------------------------

Pattern #2
g-----------------------------------------loc-ion-dor-------
d-------------------------------mix-aeo---------------------
a----------------dor-phy-lyd--------------------------------
e-aeo-loc-ion-----------------------------------------------
Pattern #2 continued
b----------------aeo-loc-ion--------------------------------
e-phy-lyd-mix-----------------------------------------------

Pattern #3
g---------------------------------------------dor-phy-lyd---
d------------------------------aeo-loc-ion------------------
a---------------phy-lyd-mix---------------------------------
e-loc-ion-dor-----------------------------------------------

Pattern #3 continued
e------------loc-ion-dor------------------------------------
b-mix-aeo---------------------------------------------------

Pattern #4
g---------------------------------------phy-lyd-mix---------
d-------------------------loc-ion-dor-----------------------
a---------------mix-aeo-------------------------------------
e-dor-phy-lyd-----------------------------------------------

Pattern #4 continued
e-----------------dor-phy-lyd-------------------------------
b-aeo-loc-ion-----------------------------------------------

Pattern #5
g-------------------------------------------mix-aeo---------
d-----------------------------dor-phy-lyd-------------------
a--------------aeo-loc-ion----------------------------------
e-phy-lyd-mix-----------------------------------------------

Pattern #5 continued
e---------------phy-lyd-mix---------------------------------
b-loc-ion-dor-----------------------------------------------


Ionian = Major Scale
Lydian is Ionian with a sharp 4th
Mixolydian is Ionian with a flat 7th
C D E F G A B - C Ionian
C D E F# G A B - C Lydian
C D E F G A Bb -C Mixolydian

Aeolian = Minor Scale
Dorian is Aeolian with a sharp 6th.
Phyrgian is Aeolian with a flat 2nd
A B C D E F G - A Aeolian
A B C D E F# G - A Dorian
A Bb C D E F G - A Phrygian

Ionian 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7
Dorian 1 - 2 - flat3rd - 4 - 5 - 6 - flat7th
Phyrgian 1 - flat2nd - flat3rd - 4 - 5 - flat6th - flat7th
Lydian 1 - 2 - 3 - sharp4th - 5 - 6 - 7
Mixolydian 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - flat7th
Aeolian 1 - 2 - flat3rd - 4 - 5 - flat6th - flat7th
Locrian 1 - flat2nd - flat3rd - 4 - flat5th - flat6th - flat7th
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Re: Questions about modes

Postby tcsned » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:32 am

ugly rumor wrote:Why did I think that the Lydian is the same as the major, with a sharp 4th? I think I need to get back to basics a little.

It is essentially a major scale with a #4. There are a lot of ways to think about and look at modes. So one way to look at Lydian is to view it as a major scale with a #4 just as a Mixolydian scale is essentially a major scale with a b7. It just isn't contextualized with the key and the rest of the modes in that key. For example, F Lydian (F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F) doesn't have the Bb that would make it a major or Ionian scale and as you say is a major scale with a #4. Another way to look at it is as a C-major scale starting on the 4th scale degree (F) and so on. That provides some context as to why it has a #4 and why it works with songs starting on an F major and also containing a G major chord or an E minor chord - if that makes sense.

The modes seem to be a big point of confusion and contention with us guitar pickers but to me they are pretty simple if you think about them in context of the key. Though I don't think you can really understand the modes with out understanding the major scale, keys, and intervals - that is the place to start.
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