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viewing it as relating to F major would be I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, and viiÂ°. So a F Ionian chordal progression (remember we’re in the key of F) would feature the following chords: F, Gm, Am, Bb, C7 or C, Dm, Edim (or Em), F … So if you’re in a song where F is the I chord, and you see/hear these other chords in this relationship to each other: I Major, ii minor, iii minor, IV Major, V7 Dom 7 (or Major), vi minor, vii diminished (or substituted minor) — think F Ionian! … The most reliable indicators of Ionian mode are the Major I, IV & V chords, particularly if the V is a Dominant 7 or V7 chord, and/or ALL, or at least the vast majority of the chords, are diatonic chords built on the major scale of the I chord.
Dorian By playing against our sample progressions, certain ideas immediately pop out … if you hear a i to IV change, the Dorian mode, or the second mode, fits – you can take a natural minor scale based on the i and simply raise the sixth degree of the scale (i.e., play a major 6th instead of the typical minor 6th or b6 normally found in the natural minor scale). The reason this works is that you’re adjusting the scale to accommodate the major third necessary to create the IV chord. (You might also think of this movement as a common ii – V progression for the key on which the Dorian mode is constructed, i.e., you’d play the Dorian mode from the root of the ii chord). Dorian mode also works well over songs that have a i to bVII change – because the minor i chord is treated as the ii chord of the modal key and the bVII chord is treated as the I chord of the modal key. The appearance of a minor v chord, particularly against a Major IV chord, can also be characteristic of this mode. And the minor vi half step up to Major bVII distinguishes it from Aeolian. Dorian mode is frequently used in folk, rock, blues & jazz music. Advanced Theory: In the key of F major starting on the second degree – or G Dorian scale … our chord progression viewing it as relating to F major would be ii, iii, IV, V, vi, viiÂ°, and I (and in chord progressions and songs constructed in all modes except Ionian or Locrian, the diatonic diminished chord is almost always skipped or another chord is substituted in it’s place in the progression*). So a G Dorian chordal progression (remember we’re in the key of F) would feature the following chords: Gm, Am, Bb, C, Dm (or D)**, (Em), F … So if you’re in a song where Gm is the i chord, and you see/hear these other chords in this relationship to each other: i minor, ii minor, bIII Major, IV Major, v minor (or sometimes V or V7 Major)**, vi minor* (or viDim)*, bVII Major — think G Dorian! … The most reliable indicators of Dorian mode are the Major IV and Major bVII chords in a minor i song or progression. (*Note – since a diminished chord is built on a minor 3rd (or b3) and a b5, often you will often find a chord substituted at the spot in the diatonic modal progression where the diminished chord would otherwise appear – this could be a minor (since the diminished features a minor 3rd), or sometimes Major, built on the diminished root, or sometimes even a Major built 1/2 step below the diminished root – as frequently occurs where a bVII Major chord is substituted for the vii(Dim) chord in an Ionian Mode progression. **It is common even in songs built on minor keys or modes for a Major V or V7 to be substituted, although a minor v is reliable indicator that the song or progression is in a minor mode. Please also note that the chords that I’ve included in parenthesis simply refer to common substitutions that occur in progressions otherwise written in this mode, but that these substituted chords don’t purely fit the diatonic chords or notes of the major scale on which the mode is constructed. They are included because it’s helpful to recognize these common substitutions and not let their presence fool you into thinking that the song is not otherwise constructed in this mode. … Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that any time a chord is substituted for any one of the pure diatonic chords of the Major key on which the mode being employed is actually constructed, you can and might actually need to adjust your primary chosen modal scale, or even find and use a different modal scale, to pick up and include those chord tones/notes of the substituted chord which are not in the diatonic major scale on which the primary diatonic modal progression is constructed. If you find this idea confusing, there’s a specific example further clarifying this adjustment process & how to apply it at the very end of this article).
which features a C Major scale against the F to G cycling progression producing F . the fingerings are fairly identical. is uniquely characterized by it’s #4 (or augmented 4th). (Em or E). minor chord built on 7th degree of the underlying tonal/modal major scale). is uniquely characterized by it’s Spanish sound and flavor. bIII Major. which is a very familiar use and a sound we’re all very familiar with.” play the C chord as a Bb/C chord by adding a Bb as a bass note to the C chord to help anchor it to the root note of the mode. C (II) and Am (vii). The Lydian mode is also helpful where there is a 1/2 step change from a major I down to a minor vii chord (i. to-wit: an A Phrygian mode scale. and is thus sometimes also called the Spanish Gypsy scale. iv minor. IV. viiÂ°. I. Lydian The Lydian Mode. if we’re in Bb Lydian (constructed from F major) and the progression is moving from Bb to C and repeating or “cycling.e. a I – II – V (in Bb Lydian. F) progression might also nicely support use of the Lydian mode well. C. Dm. C. the presence of a II Major chord and/or movement from the I Major to II Major in the progression will often be the most identifying characteristic of the Lydian mode and distinguishes it from the Ionian mode or Major scale). vi. Additionally. you could even see substitute Major chords for every chord in the progression. and so on. since we are talking about a half-step (one fret) chord change. So an A Phrygian chordal progression (remember we’re in the key of F) would feature the following chords: Am (or A). For examples of the unique sound of the Lydian mode in the rock context listen to “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. For example. it is similar to the Phrygian mode and other than the root being a half-step different. Particularly where the progression moves from the I chord to the II chord and repeats or cycles. bvii minor (or bVII Major. Bb. In this way. the diatonic diminished chord is almost always skipped or another chord is substituted in it’s place in the progression). V. Gm (or G) … So if you’re in a song where Am is the i chord.Phrygian The Phrygian Mode. or a substituted Major I chord to a bII chord. play G natural minor – but emphasizing the mode root D. F. up to a bII. you could also look at it as an A natural minor scale) over an E to F chord change. It resides in and exists because of the half-step between the 3rd & 4th degrees of the major scale. although even where such Major substitution is done in Phrygian. Just be careful when substituting the 4th’s related natural minor scale in this way to emphasize the proper root note necessary to make the mode Phrygian). or the third mode. If we are in Bb Lydian. but emphasize the Phrygian note – for example. and thus it is helpful to anchor the sound of the mode by using the root note of the mode as a drone/pedal tone or bass note for the other chords in your progression. It is used most often against a halfstep chord change from the minor i chord to the bII chord. even the 4 chord – IV. and you see/hear these other chords in this relationship to each other: i minor (or sometimes I Major). the iv chord is usually always kept minor. … Remember. these chords would be Bb (I). Phrygian mode could be identified and used over an Am to Bb (or A to Bb) chord change. v minor (or vDim. it is usually played against a drone/pedal tone and/or only for sections of a song. bVI Major. Advanced Theory: In the key of F major starting on the third degree – or A Phrygian scale … our chord progression viewing it as relating to F major would be iii (or sometimes III). play A natural minor – but emphasizing the mode root E … for D Phrygian. (In fact. the most reliable indicator of the Phrygian mode will be the presence of a 1/2 step move from the i. Because of the tendency for your ear to want to resolve to another chord when playing in Lydian. 1/2 step up to bII Major. ii (and in chord progressions and songs constructed in all modes except Ionian or Locrian. in Phrygian mode. which is a common substitution) — think A Phrygian! … Also. Lydian mode progressions will tend to sound unresolved because of the #4 in the scale. or I. The Lydian mode is often used where the I chord moves to II chord – and both are major. or fourth mode. … In the key we’re using in this study – F Major. that would be Bb. (So a shorthand way to find & play Phrygian mode for any note or chord that you’re on is to simply find the 4th of the note or chord you’re on & play a natural minor scale. for E Phrygian. or sometimes a V or V7 Major is substituted). An example would be playing an E Phrygian scale constructed starting on the third scale degree of the C Major scale (or.
F. “Possum Kingdom” by the Toadies. Further. Some very recognizable Lydian melodies are the very first few notes of the theme songs from The Simpson’s or The Jetsons cartoon shows. b6. IV (and in chord progressions and songs constructed in all modes except Ionian or Locrian. and you see/hear these other chords in this relationship to each other: I Major (or Augmented). vi minor. “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction. ii minor. where the progression moves from I to bVII to I to bVII and cycles back & forth – you get the idea. Gm (or G substitution – more likely). “Get Down Tonight” by KC & the Sunshine Band. “Dear Prudence” by the Beatles.php ) Mixolydian The Mixolydian Mode. where a Major bVII chord is substituted for the minor vii chord. Advanced Theory: In the key of F major starting on the fifth degree – or C Mixolydian scale … our chord progression viewing it as relating to F major would be V. minor #iv (or #ivDim.Bb. “Jessica” by the Allman Brothers Band. “What I Got” and “Wrong Way” by Sublime. characteristic of the I to bVII movement of this mode. Am … So if you’re in a song where Bb is the I chord. the intro & verse sections of “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles. Am. or a substituted Major IV 1/2 step above the iii – which is more commonly used in this mode). and you see/hear these other chords in this relationship to each other: I Major. coupled with the presence of a Major IV chord. the main riff from “Third Stone From The Sun” by Jimi Hendrix. find it’s sixth degree. like a minor blues or rock progression . I. or even the verse section of “Tequila” by The Champs. … So if you’re in a song where C is the I chord. like. bVII Major — think C Mixolydian! … The most reliable indicator of Mixolydian mode will be the presence of the Major bVII chord a wholestep below the Major I chord. For a good example of the unique sound of the mixolydian mode. vi. It’s also used in folk or country progressions (or rock or blues) where the progression immediately moves from the I chord to the V chord particularly where there is also a IV chord in the progression – this is due to the mode being built on the major key of the V chord and there being a whole-step move down to the IV chord. vii minor — think Bb Lydian! … The most reliable indicators of Lydian mode will be Major I and a Major II chord. “I’m So Glad” by Cream. and almost always. “Louie. since you’re merely flattening the 7th degree of the major scale associated with that chord to accommodate the b7 necessary to the Dom7 chord. for example. viiÂ°. So a Bb Lydian chordal progression (remember we’re in the key of F) would feature the following chords: Bb. Louie” by the Kingsman. Or you can also listen to. “Free” by Phish.I bVII I bVII and is played in E Mixolydian – which you might also view as a V to IV progression in E Major. the jazz standard “On Broadway” by George Benson. Advanced Theory: In the key of F major starting on the fourth degree – or Bb Lydian scale … our chord progression viewing it as relating to F major would be IV. the presence of a minor vii chord 1/2 step below the Major I chord. b7) & you get the Aeolian mode. (Eb or Em). both built on the root 1/2 step below the root of the V chord. the intro & verses of “Here Comes My Girl” by Tom Petty. (Em or E). “Flying in a Blue Dream” by Joe Satriani. “Just Remember I Love You” by Firefall. ii.Lydian mode. vi. viiÂ°. iii minor. F. or the intro & verses of “Freewill” by Rush. Any song which features a i iv v. “1999″ by Prince. (Note – there is also a fairly common & oft-used variation of the Lydian mode which involves not only #4 but also substituting a b7 for the 7 of the scale. will work over any Dominant 7th chord. Dm. II Major. the diatonic diminished chord is almost always skipped or another chord is substituted in it’s place in the progression). 2. 4. or the fifth mode. iii. V Major. v minor or V Major (a Major V is almost always substituted in Mixolydian mode!). C. IV Major. I. “Hey Jealousy” by the Gin Blossoms. “Hog Heaven” by Frank Zappa. Which is used as necessary to accommodate chords requiring this b7 note change. Even “Oceans” by Pearl Jam may be yet another cool example featuring Lydian mode. or even a III Major). mixolydian is often used where the progression moves from a major chord to the major chord a whole step (two frets below it) … for example. “Franklin’s Tower” by the Grateful Dead. “Cinnamon Girl“ by Neil Young. Gm. V. iii minor (or iiiDim. is the exact same thing as the natural minor scale! For any major scale. Other Mixolydian examples include a traditional folk tune “Old Joe Clark. b3. or the song “Maria” from West Side Story. the diatonic diminished chord is almost always skipped or another chord is substituted in it’s place in the progression). “What I Like About You” by the Romantics. or sixth mode.. listen to The Grateful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain” which moves from B to A to B to A -or. “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour. iii (and in chord progressions and songs constructed in all modes except Ionian or Locrian. ii. Dm. So a C Mixolydian chordal progression (remember we’re in the key of F) would feature the following chords: C.” “No Rain” by Blind Melon. 5. and build a natural minor scale over it (1. “Lowrider” by War.com/scales/lydianb7-scale-for-guitar. This common variation is called the Lydian b7 scale: http:// gosk. vi minor. Aeolian The Aeolian Mode.
Bb. v minor (sometimes the V Major or V7 Dominant is substituted). F. listen to the guitar solo in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” or “Achilles Last Stand. IV. viiÂ°. and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit. bvii minor — think E Locrian! … The most reliable indicator of Locrian mode will be a diminished i chord and/or the very noticeable diminished sound of the song or progression. Dm. Gm. Bb. As my friend bassist Kelly Tomlinson. and it usually does. vi. That diminished chord utilizing a flat submediant (b4) built on the major 7th degree of the original key/scale can then become the leading tone into a substitute V7 of the new .” A Locrian scale has everything flattened but the root 1 & the 4th. but the minor i to minor iv change will give it away. Certainly. which uses power chords derived from the Aeolian mode. “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics or Marilyn Manson. “Building A Mystery” by Sara McLachlan. “Black Magic Woman” by Fleetwood Mac or Santana. Consequently. I. or diminished whole tone scale. “Maria. You can also listen to these classic songs: “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan or Jimi Hendrix. will be immediately identified by the presence of a diminished chord at the root or heart of the progression. although in blues songs in this mode you will sometimes see a iiÂ° chord). it is frequently used over altered dominants. I. unless it’s being used as a pivot chord to change keys. Locrian Finally. ii. iv minor. iii. For a good example of songs featuring the Aeolian Mode.” or any variety of minor blues or rock songs using all minor chords for the i iv & v – note sometimes a Major V or V7 is substituted for songs in this mode. bVI. The formula is 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7. Am (or A). the Locrian Mode. or seventh mode. You will hear this mode used over diminished chords & diminished jazz progressions. the Super Locrian mode scale. Am. bIII Major. bV Major. Super Locrian is the “offical” name of the 7th mode of the melodic minor scale. 1/2 step up to bII Major. “Last Resort” by Papa Roach. “ATWA” by System of a Down. it has a very exotic sound. or altered scale. the diatonic diminished chord is almost always skipped or another chord is substituted in it’s place in the progression. … So if you’re in a song where Dm is the i chord. or more often when it is used to emphasize a diminished chord. #9) used with altered dominant chords. You will most likely encounter it for a short passage or progression. goes one more. but there are rare examples. Then it’s a fully diminished chord that utilizes the flat submediant (i. So E Locrian chordal progression (remember we’re in the key of F) would feature the following chords: E(dim). which is one of the rare examples of a whole piece written in mainly Locrian mode. (Em or E). Gm. Advanced Theory: In the key of F major starting on the sixth degree – or D Aeolian scale … our chord progression would be vi. or even a II Major). the main riff to “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica. iv minor. F. ii. This mode is based on the root of the diminished chord. hence it’s shortened name – the Altered scale. ii minor (or iiDim. iii. and you see/hear these other chords in this relationship to each other: i(dim). or a bIII. It is called the altered scale because it contains the most important jazz alterations (b5. The Super Locrian is also called the jazz scale. the vii7 chord is half diminished if it stays in the key. IV. you could listen to the march from Three Fantastic Dances by Dmitri Shostakovich. “First Tube” by Phish. So D Aeolian chordal progression (remember we’re in the key of F) would feature the following chords: Dm. bVII Major — think D Aeolian! … The most reliable indicators of Aeolian mode will be the presence of both a Major bVI and Major bVII below the minor i chord. … So if you’re in a song where E(dim) is the iÂ° chord. “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac. Frankly. V. Jones” by the Counting Crows.using the i iv v. or bVII chord in songs in this mode. biii minor. but if you’re a masochist. #5. and you see/hear these other chords in this relationship to each other: i minor. “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits. However. “Buddy Holly” and “Hash Pipe” by Weezer. any song which moves from the minor i to minor iv is most likely in Aeolian mode & will sound good against the natural minor scale. bVI Major. This mode is not generally used for song construction. “Schism” by Tool. Advanced Theory: In the key of F major starting on the seventh degree – or E Locrian scale … our chord progression would be viiÂ°. can be played in the Aeolian mode.e. bVI Major. A quick look at the way it lines up will give you an idea of why it is also referred to as the diminished whole tone scale. and also flattens the 4th: 1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7. describes: In standard fourpart harmony. “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath. a b4). C. Maria” by Santana. C. who majored in music theory. (Advanced Diminished Theory Note — there is one more 7th degree root mode mode which is commonly used in jazz – the “Super-Locrian Mode. V (and in chord progressions and songs constructed in all modes except Ionian or Locrian. “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne. Some might describe it as a Japanese or even Hindu type flavor. “Thank You” by Dido. “Mr. there just aren’t many songs in Western music written entirely in the Locrian mode. b9. Since it has all those alterations. You might also see a V7. & a particularly tell-tale identifying giveaway will be the presence of a minor iv chord. “Two Step” by the Dave Matthews Band. “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi.
notes from the chords in the song or progression and which best suits the mood of the song or the mood you’re trying to create. or I IV bVII. is that unless you’re dealing with a fairly simple chord progression or one which exclusively uses diatonic chords all built only from the notes of one underlying key. despite being constructed from different parent Major scales. but switching to G Dorian mode (i. whereas one of the three minor modes – Aeolian. the V chord is D Major. like in using both minor and major pentatonic scales together over a blues progression. it’s . and C7 (V). The reason this works is that both of these modal scales. G Dorian will continue to work. or use chromatic notes to walk or slide up or down into any chord or scale tones. which is the root note of both our G Aeolian and G Dorian modal scales that we have found to be very pleasing and better fit the “mood” of our progression. You might first start by remembering that one of the three Major modes – Ionian. The reality. Dorian & Phrygian – will likely work better as a choice to play over an entire minor key progression or song..e. Combining Mixolydian and Dorian modes constructed from the same root note in this way works well over any I bVII IV. However. contain all of the triad notes for all three of those chords. Try it on your blues. as in our example.particularly where both chords are Major. rather than concentrate on the Locrian modal scale. neither the diatonic G Dorian or G Aeolian modes fit since D contains an F# in it’s construction [D F# A]. since both of those modes also contain all of the notes of Dm (D F A) in their scale. which has a tritone as its own tonic and dominant rendering it atonal. it works particularly well to spice up a standard 1 4 5 blues progression which uses all Dom 7 chords – e. since you can use mixolydian mode over any Dom7 chord. however. in this case. so that won’t work particularly well. Bb7 (IV). Consequently. when soloing over diminished chords of all varieties. or arpeggio.e. raising the 6th) over the C (IV) chord to emphasize the Major 3rd of the C chord. sometimes it’s even more pleasing to use the G Aeolian mode over the Gm half of the progression emphasizing the b6 of the G natural minor scale. … If instead.e. or at least the most. If the progression moves to a Dm for the v chord.g. you should always start with the scale or mode which best fits and includes all of. (* Advanced Theory Note on Combining Modes — Let’s take a typical Dorian progression with a minor i chord and a Major IV chord... C Bb F. A Aeolian contains an F or b6. Another example of a very common combination of modes is to mix and match licks from C Mixolydian (built from our F Major scale) with C Dorian (built from a Bb Major scale) over a I bVII IV progression in C. [And here's another helpful hint: as in our example. the 5th degree of the new key/ scale – and resolve nicely to change keys in the middle of the song down a minor third. Lydian & Mixolydian – will likely work better as a choice to play over an entire Major key progression or song. And remember you can always bend up to chord tones. not in a good way! So instead we might try to find a minor sounding mode that also works. or up a minor third if the process is reversed moving from the V7 chord of the original key/scale to a diminished chord built on the 2nd degree of the original key/scale to the I or i of the new key/scale. an A Dorian scale would raise that 6th from minor b6 to Major 6 and catch the F#. like Gm to C.key built on the major 2nd degree of the original key/scale – i. where you may want to combine modal scales. You might simply adjust your modal scale to pick up any outside notes over the outside chord when it appears in your progression or by choosing to play a different mode. While using a G Dorian modal scale will work over both modes. Another way to look at it is that diatonic chords of G Dorian and G Aeolian modes contain a minor v chord (Dm). the point here is that in choosing which modes to use when combining modes. This process of using the diminished chord to change keys up or down a minor third works over both Major or minor keys. We would play F mixolydian over the F7 chord (the fifth mode constructed in Bb Major). F7 (I). it's actually a very common technique to simply move the very same type same modal scale being used over the 4 chord up a whole-step when playing over the 5 chord . you’ll like it! Remember. So we play the mixolydian mode starting on the root note of the chord over each of our Dominant 7 chords to emphasize the b7 note in the chord. but it also contains a b7 (G). progression. moving G Dorian over the IV chord up to play A Dorian over the V chord]. There are many times. to make things even more interesting. which better fits the outside chord when it comes up. i. Finally. then you are going to have to make adjustments as necessary to pick up chord tones which are “outside” the notes/tones of the modal scale you initially choose. we could just use an D Ionian modal scale – D Major scale – over the D chord. but so would G Aeolian. Well. not an F# 6. but that takes our minor sounding progression and temporarily makes it sound Major and.* This article is designed merely to give you a good idea how & where to start. it’s just best to know where to end up next! All the theory in the world won’t save that trainwreck!) Final Thought: Practical Tips on When & How to Combine Modes In deciding which mode to use. Bb mixolydian over the Bb7 chord (the fifth mode constructed in Eb Major). and C mixolydian over the C7 chord (the fifth mode constructed in F Major).
Major modality entirely to support a new key change or new progression intentionally written to create a completely different mood – as sometimes done in a bridge or chorus. or in mixolydian mode. If the fourth (or 11th) of the chord is raised. Locrian is the diminished mode used to emphasize a diminished chord. or where that’s not possible. the available extensions) Ionian — Major triad Maj7 Maj9 Maj11 Maj13 Dorian — minor triad m7 m9 m11 m13 Phrygian — minor triad m7 m7b9 m11b9 m11b9b13 Lydian — Major triad Maj7 Maj9 Maj7#11 Maj13#11 Mixolydian — Major triad 7 9 11 13 Aeolian — minor triad m7 m9 m11 m11b13 Locrian — diminished triad m7b5 m7b5b9 min11b5b9 min11b5b9b13 Notice from this chart that when you are playing over a Major. The modes are often used in this chord specific way to outline an “outside” chord that does not fit the diatonic chords of the key of the song or the key on which the mode primarily being used over the song or progression is based. For example. e. Phrygian is a minor sounding mode used to emphasize a flat 9 (or flat 2) note in a minor chord. … but. so it makes sense to incorporate that significant one fret v. since we’re in F Major. … or purposefully changing the overall minor v. and it becomes necessary to choose a different mode to accommodate an “outside” chord tone/note. so we might use a major mode rooted on the A to outline the unique flavor of that “outside” chord – perhaps A Ionian (i. So if the chord is Major and particularly if its extension contains a major 7 note (as opposed to a b7 note).e.usually best try to pick ones that either both contain all the notes from all the chords in the progression. practice hard. it has a Major 3rd. we would say from the 1/root to the b7. or vice-versa. or a 1/2 step move from the i or I chord to a II chord. you should consider playing either the Ionian or Lydian mode over it. two fret difference when constructing our modal scale on the root of the V chord from the 5 of the major scale a whole step (two frets) down to the 4.. In this event. you should consider playing either the Dorian or Aeolian mode over it. but in most cases. & perform like a pro! Mode — Basic Triad – 7th – 9th – 11th – 13th (i. your primary choice should be the Ionian mode. and there is a major 3 note 1/2 step (one fret) below the 4th degree of the scale which forms the root of the IV chord. or underneath a solo to make it more interesting. that keeps the same overall all minor. and it differs from the I and IV chords. modality of the song or progression.… unless you’re purposefully trying to add a tasteful and pleasant sounding touch of Major over an otherwise minor song or progression. Maj7. Lydian may work better. Maybe it will inspire you to start spicing up your improvisation and soloing by starting to include modal concepts into your playing or help you more quickly identify which modes might work over the chord progressions being thrown at you on stage. the 5th note degree (V) of the standard major scale is always a whole step (two frets) above the 4th note/degree of the scale. where the fifth is flatted (b5). Think about it.e. or even A Mixolydian (constructed in D Major) if the . You see this most often in jazz. Mixolydian mode is an often used variation of a major sounding mode used primarily to emphasize Dominant 7 ( b7) chords. It emphasizes the whole step (two frets) below the root of the chord in the Major scale on which it is constructed. instead of the expected minor 3rd. for a minor m7 m9 m11 chords you also have two primary modes to choose from – Dorian or Aeolian. there is a major 7 note 1/2 step (one fret) below the I of the I chord. If the chord is minor (& the chord or progression does not contain a b9). try to select a mode to play over the “outside” chord which at least creates the same “mood” over the progression being played. Anyway. which is the parent major scale. … purposefully incorporating a blues note or an “outside” note to add pleasing color or to create chromatic or other tension to resolve back into a chord tone or to create/follow the unique melody of the song. or all Major. if an A Major chord is inserted (instead of the diatonic A minor). A major) or A Lydian (constructed in E major). we would pick a mode based on the root of the “outside” chord.g. Maj9 chord – you have two primary modal choices that fit – Ionian and Lydian.) I hope this explanation was fairly easy to understand & helpful.e. since there is only a 1/2 step (one fret) below their roots to the next Major scale note. have fun. On the minor side. i.
G5. the unique sound of each mode is created by the interaction of its parent major scale (i. against the root note of the chord. 7 diminished – all built in order on the notes of the major scale. if we were looking for a more exotic flavor emphasizing the flat 9 (Eb note) which occurs in that particular mode. Now. you get Ionian. The root. if you play it over an F chord. That certainly helps narrow down your choices on which mode to use! And chances are once you get it down to just the three minor modes or the three major modes. Edim. Phrygian & Aeolian modes are minor sounding modes. then it’s mostly likely going to be one of the three minor modes – Dorian. A5. but yet maintains the overall mood of the song or progression. with me so far? Good. D. you’re playing over. Or perhaps D Dorian mode. Bb. we’ll talk about the much more confusing and complicated scenario of when to use a mode over a longer progression or sequence of chords.e. of each diatonic chord will consist ONLY of notes from its major scale. since all three of those major modes contain a C# (the major 3rd of our A chord). even though they are all constructed from and relate to completely different major scales. Choosing one of the three major modes of the root to play over any Major chord would nicely emphasize the Major 3rd of that chord. you do not need to start & stop on the root note of the mode. if we play G Dorian mode of the F Major scale over a Gm chord. Or even D Phrygian. D Dorian. Phrygian or Aeolian. we might want to consider the natural minor mode constructed from the relative Major of the root of the minor chord. You can even skip notes or play licks using only some of the notes of the modal scale. the other minor sounding mode (constructed in Bb Major). or even an entire song in a minor key. if it’s a minor chord. (F) . (The Locrian mode obviously sounds diminished!). A. as a practical matter only one or two of the remaining three choices is going to best work over the song progression anyway! (Note – there are some excellent charts demonstrating this major & minor mode grouping concept at this website ) Finally.progression lends itself to the sound of a Dominant). or even the entire song or progression. Similarly. C5. G. or a Major key song. some modes are major and some modes are minor. Remember. It’s not where you start or stop that produces a mode. In the next article of this series. The Ionian. However. just play the top 3 (big strings) of each chord – i. Notice that all three of these minor mode scales – D Aeolian. if you’re just playing with a bass player. When the modes are used in this chord specific way. turn them all into power chords – F5. These are the “diatonic” chords in the key of F major. and D Phrygian – all have the minor 3rd or b3 of our Dm chord (F) in them. So if you’re trying to decide which mode fits the chord. That is … F. 5 Major. and you play from G to G trying to make it Dorian. or even over an entire song. C. since D is the 2nd degree of the C major scale and Dorian is also a minor sounding mode. The Dorian. Bb5. and 5. if you play G Dorian mode of the F Major scale over an F chord. and then an E dim chord only using top 3 big strings (0120XX or since this time our chord is rooted on the 12th fret of the big E string 12 13 14 12 X X). Am. For example. we might look at D Aeolian mode constructed in the key F Major. 1 Major. unless we are purposefully trying to create tension to be resolved later in the progression. Lydian. Bb. Mixolydian modes are Major sounding modes. In other words. Basic music theory says the diatonic chord progression built from notes of its parent major scale is I ii iii IV V (or V7) vi & the vii chord is diminished … or. Simply playing from the second degree of F Major (G) to its octave will not produce Dorian mode unless you’re doing so over a Gm chord or a progression which emphasizes the sound of and/or resolves to the Gm Chord. 2 minor. So play those chords in key of F major … F. Ok. Now we start with the fact that the major scale is played over the I chord. we generally should strive to pick a mode which picks up any chord tones “outside” the main key of the song. E. you can start on any note of the scale over that Gm chord and resolve to any note of the scale & still get Dorian. 6 minor. Lydian. 3. D5. then most likely it’s going to be one of the three Major modes – Ionian.e. but the interaction of scale against chord! Or. it will instead produce an Ionian sound and be in Ionian mode. C. 3 minor. the major scale from which it is constructed) against the chord or chords that it is being played over! It does not matter where you start or stop the scale. where the “outside” chord is a minor chord. Gm. for example. If it’s a Major chord. All that matters is the application of the modal scale over its parent diatonic chord or a progression or song which sounds as if it revolves around that diatonic chord. 4 Major. or Mixolydian. Dm. in this case F. if the “outside” chord was a Dm.
e. let’s build a seven-note scale from the sixth string root to the fourth string root (i. we already covered the Ionian Mode of the F Major scale above). A. we get the G Dorian scale. F.” they each have their own unique flavor and sound. D) (notice this scale differs from D major by substituting a b3. to make it even easier since we’re on the three lowest strings. And. G) (notice this scale differs from G major by substituting a b3 & b7) DORIAN SCALE PATTERNS TO PRACTICE 3rd scale degree root – Phrygian (A. let’s repeat this process for each diatonic chord up the scale – using only one or two fret moves (half or whole steps). D. F major): As to the Gm (or G5) chord. F. C. you only need to use power chords (root. E) . D. The combination of playing such a modal scale over a progression which is centered around the diatonic chord on which it is built is what gives each “mode” it’s unique sound & flavor! The result of working through this process are the creation of modes! A CLOSER EXAMINATION OF CONSTRUCTION OF MODAL SCALES While each mode is built on the notes of the exact same major scale and its diatonic chords. F. so you’ll have to make that one minor adjustment – hint: it’s the 6th string root diminished chord form we discussed earlier in this article! Once you master this concept. the D string) – in other words. E. you can then try to work out the same idea for the adjacent smaller sets of three strings each in order. Bb. Bb) (notice this scale differs from Bb major by substituting a #4) LYDIAN SCALE PATTERNS TO PRACTICE 5th scale degree root – Mixolydian (C. sounding in and utilizing the G Dorian Mode (the Second Mode of F Major)! Now. because each mode has a different scale degree as its starting and ending point. often called their “tonal center. A. E. fifth. G. creating the easiest path from the sixth string root note to the fourth string root. C.. or second mode of the F major scale. Bb. and will make it easier to construct any modal scale on the fly by simply remembering what key the song is in (or the major scale on which the mode you’re working in is constructed) & the diatonic chords based in that key (in this case. F.) What you’ll notice is that you’ll necessarily have to adjust the major scale normally associated with each root note you’re working with to accommodate the notes in the diatonic chords above & below the one you’re focusing on … which “alters” their normal major scale to fit into the F major scale & corresponding diatonic chords from the F major scale. Here’s a good simple way to look at it. C) (notice this scale differs from C major by substituting a b7) MIXOLYDIAN SCALE PATTERNS TO PRACTICE 6th scale degree root – Aeolian (D. A. D. G.e. C.The major scale is the first mode – the Ionian Mode! Your first mode! (Since I don’t have the ability in this program to include diagrams of the fretboard or tab to give you scale patterns. here’s a link really helpful site that will do just that … in this case. (*Note – When you get to the final vii(dim) chord. (Remember. b6 & b7) PHRYGIAN SCALE PATTERNS TO PRACTICE 4th scale degree root – Lydian (Bb. C. G. A. E. root). in this case F Major. D. And you should include the notes that are available and easiest to access from the diatonic chord you’re working with and the two diatonic chords located immediately above and below it that chord. Bb. the formula is R b5 R. Bb. b6 & b7) AEOLIAN SCALE PATTERNS TO PRACTICE 7th scale degree root – Locrian (E. D. G. G. E. b3. play the F (or F5) below it & the Am (or A5) chord above it – starting with the G root on the third fret of the Sixth string (or Big E string) play up to the octave of it – the G (5th Fret) on the fourth string (i. If we create a scale starting with G (but only using notes from the major scale of F) and ending on G. A. * an 8 note scale if you include the root again at the top of your scale) – but use only the notes available in the Gm chord or the adjacent diatonic chord below it (F) or the two chords above it (Am & Bb) … Voila! You’ve just built a scale from G to G. Bb. F. 2nd scale degree root – Dorian (G. E. C. A) (notice this scale differs from A major by substituting a b2. F. this time using the full chord shapes for each diatonic chord – not just power chords like in this example which is just designed to get you started. for the Ionian mode … I love the fact that they include a sweep pattern version for each modal scale!) The second mode or Dorian Mode only uses notes from the F major scale – our main key for purposes of this article … so the second note of the F major scale is G.
C Mixolydian. all the modal scales must include all the notes of the major scale on which the mode is constructed – and only those notes! In this case or key that we’re using for study purposes in this article. . b3. ….(notice this scale differs from E major by substituting a b2. Bb Lydian. This method of naming the modes is really important to remember!) Modes are simply an alteration of the major scale of the root note to accommodate diatonic chords from the key of the song that you’re playing over (or choosing to work with for a particular segment of the song). and E Locrian. G Dorian. so even though all these modes in this example are in the Key of F Major. D Aeolian. the modes would be named F Ionian (or the F Major scale). More simply. the major scale on which our modes are based & must always accommodate is F. A Phrygian. b6 & b7) LOCRIAN SCALE PATTERNS TO PRACTICE (Note – Each mode is named based on the first note of the mode scale. b5.
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