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Musical Theory Abound!!!
 #92262  by Octal
 Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:15 pm
In my attempt to get more familiar with modal improvisation, what types of chord progressions/types of chords would be good to try soloing in different modes? Dorian, Mixolydian, Locrian, etc. And is there anything in specific that I should know that is so different than soloing in an Ionian (major) mode?

Thanks in advance for reading/responding.
 #92294  by javalina
 Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:55 am
Modal harmony, if that's the proper term for it, is a complicated thing for me. It seems like the term "progression" would imply progress toward or away from something, which would be the tonic. So I'm going out on a limb to guess that the chords still function the same ( like five, four, one would still be a closing cadence ) even if the chords themselves were changed from major to minor or vice versa.

The one, anyway would still function as a one whether it was major or minor. In ionian, lydian or mixolydian the one is major; in dorian, aeolian and whatever you call that one based on the third note, the one is minor. So each mode has it's own diatonic chords (chords that only use notes found in that mode). It helps me keep them straight if I group them by key signature. So, C major, D dorian, F lydian, G mixolydian etc all have the same notes ( being relative modes ) therefore they would all have the same chords. D minor chord, for instance would be the minor ii in C, it would be the minor i in D dorian, it would be the minor vi in F lydian, and the minor v in G mixolydian.

I am finding out what works for me by trial and error. Some rules of thumb that I have found are: in mixolydian you get to use a major chord based on the flat 7th ( F major in the mode of G mixolydian ), and in lydian you get to use a major chord based on the 2nd ( D major in the mode of C lydian).
 #93327  by Rusty the Scoob
 Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:20 pm
There's no "dumbassness" involved... most of us learn theory by being taught one way or another, a very lucky few like McCartney/Lennon have such good ears and brains that they absorb it just by listening but most of us have to study.

Javalina's post above is good and informative, although it's very tough to read or teach theory by words alone.

Start with the Major scale and learn all the diatonic chords and how they interact harmonically. Reading about the Circle of 5ths will help a lot. Once you grasp that, expanding your thinking to the other modes will become a lot easier.
 #93331  by Pete B.
 Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:33 pm
If you're looking for song specific examples with different modes, off the top of my head, Estimated comes to mind.
I always get this wrong when I post without a guitar in hand, but again, off the top of my head... The solo in the middle is G-Mixolydian, and the solo at the the end is F#m-Dorian.
 #93338  by tcsned
 Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:54 pm
tiffcheese wrote:I'm a half step away from looking up Music Theory For Dumbasses
:lol: As I always say, "the right note is only a half-step away!"

I think people get too wound up about the modes in general. To me, from a performing standpoint, it's more about finding the right key signature - the modes and their positions on the guitar are more about being able to play in that key all over the fretboard. Composition is a whole other animal. The modes are very important and much more specifically important in the writing process than the playing process IMHO. Writing a song in a mixolydian scale, though it is basically a major scale, gives a very different feel than writing a song in an Ionian or major scale.

Take a song like I Know You Rider - the basic chords are D-C-G (leaving out the F part for the time being). The key signature of this song is one sharp or G major. The mode, since D is more the tonal center, would be D mixolydian. When I play the song, I am mindful that the tonal center is D and not G. However, I don't stick to just playing a D mixolydian box or position if that makes sense. You can play a G major scale and it is the exact same notes as D mixolydian as is playing in F# locrian. It's just a matter of which notes you play within that scale or mode.
 #93341  by Octal
 Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:18 pm
I was thinking more along the lines of playing something in D Dorian, and then within a solo I play a major 6 (B) as opposed to a minor 6 (Bb) over a D-minor. Adding chromatic tones (I don't know if these should actually be called chromatic) relative to the mode you are soloing in.
 #93344  by tiffcheese
 Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:08 pm
Rusty the Scoob wrote:There's no "dumbassness" involved... most of us learn theory by being taught one way or another, a very lucky few like McCartney/Lennon have such good ears and brains that they absorb it just by listening but most of us have to study.

Javalina's post above is good and informative, although it's very tough to read or teach theory by words alone.

Start with the Major scale and learn all the diatonic chords and how they interact harmonically. Reading about the Circle of 5ths will help a lot. Once you grasp that, expanding your thinking to the other modes will become a lot easier.
Right on, thanks!