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Modes

Modes

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Modes Advanced Theory:
Modes Advanced Theory:

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Ionian Advanced Theory: In the key of F major starting on the first degree – or F Ionian scale … our chord progression

viewing it as relating to F major would be I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, and vii°. 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, vii°, 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).

play G natural minor – but emphasizing the mode root D. that would be Bb. you could also look at it as an A natural minor scale) over an E to F chord change. minor chord built on 7th degree of the underlying tonal/modal major scale). IV. up to a bII. 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). Phrygian mode could be identified and used over an Am to Bb (or A to Bb) chord change. 1/2 step up to bII Major. Dm. is uniquely characterized by it’s #4 (or augmented 4th).Phrygian The Phrygian Mode. (In fact. ii (and in chord progressions and songs constructed in all modes except Ionian or Locrian. Additionally. The Lydian mode is often used where the I chord moves to II chord – and both are major. if we’re in Bb Lydian (constructed from F major) and the progression is moving from Bb to C and repeating or “cycling. in Phrygian mode. I. even the 4 chord – IV. bvii minor (or bVII Major. since we are talking about a half-step (one fret) chord change. Lydian The Lydian Mode. For examples of the unique sound of the Lydian mode in the rock context listen to “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. F. which is a common substitution) — think A Phrygian! … Also. which features a C Major scale against the F to G cycling progression producing F . to-wit: an A Phrygian mode scale. and you see/hear these other chords in this relationship to each other: i minor (or sometimes I Major). but emphasize the Phrygian note – for example. the most reliable indicator of the Phrygian mode will be the presence of a 1/2 step move from the i. or sometimes a V or V7 Major is substituted).” 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. and so on. the iv chord is usually always kept minor. it is usually played against a drone/pedal tone and/or only for sections of a song. or the third mode. 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. An example would be playing an E Phrygian scale constructed starting on the third scale degree of the C Major scale (or. for E Phrygian. F) progression might also nicely support use of the Lydian mode well. So an A Phrygian chordal progression (remember we’re in the key of F) would feature the following chords: Am (or A). the diatonic diminished chord is almost always skipped or another chord is substituted in it’s place in the progression). vii°. it is similar to the Phrygian mode and other than the root being a half-step different. It is used most often against a halfstep chord change from the minor i chord to the bII chord. C. … In the key we’re using in this study – F Major. 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. these chords would be Bb (I). vi. the fingerings are fairly identical. For example. … Remember. bVI Major. is uniquely characterized by it’s Spanish sound and flavor. In this way. and is thus sometimes also called the Spanish Gypsy scale. Particularly where the progression moves from the I chord to the II chord and repeats or cycles. 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). although even where such Major substitution is done in Phrygian.e. V. a I – II – V (in Bb Lydian. 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). you could even see substitute Major chords for every chord in the progression. or a substituted Major I chord to a bII chord. or I. (Em or E). (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. iv minor. If we are in Bb Lydian. bIII Major. C. which is a very familiar use and a sound we’re all very familiar with. v minor (or vDim. Because of the tendency for your ear to want to resolve to another chord when playing in Lydian. C (II) and Am (vii). or fourth mode. play A natural minor – but emphasizing the mode root E … for D Phrygian. Lydian mode progressions will tend to sound unresolved because of the #4 in the scale. It resides in and exists because of the half-step between the 3rd & 4th degrees of the major scale. Bb. Gm (or G) … So if you’re in a song where Am is the i chord.

II Major. or even the verse section of “Tequila” by The Champs. Aeolian The Aeolian Mode. the main riff from “Third Stone From The Sun” by Jimi Hendrix. Even “Oceans” by Pearl Jam may be yet another cool example featuring Lydian mode. V Major. or the intro & verses of “Freewill” by Rush. (Em or E). for example. 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. “Possum Kingdom” by the Toadies. C. “Dear Prudence” by the Beatles. and you see/hear these other chords in this relationship to each other: I Major. the diatonic diminished chord is almost always skipped or another chord is substituted in it’s place in the progression). find it’s sixth degree. the presence of a minor vii chord 1/2 step below the Major I chord. Any song which features a i iv v. “Just Remember I Love You” by Firefall. and almost always. IV (and in chord progressions and songs constructed in all modes except Ionian or Locrian. “Louie. I. Am. the diatonic diminished chord is almost always skipped or another chord is substituted in it’s place in the progression).. or sixth mode. where a Major bVII chord is substituted for the minor vii chord. iii minor. vii°. 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. “Jessica” by the Allman Brothers Band. “I’m So Glad” by Cream. “Franklin’s Tower” by the Grateful Dead. Dm. “What I Like About You” by the Romantics. “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour. like a minor blues or rock progression . V. iii. … So if you’re in a song where C is the I chord. I. b3.” “No Rain” by Blind Melon.Lydian mode. or the song “Maria” from West Side Story. Am … So if you’re in a song where Bb is the I chord. where the progression moves from I to bVII to I to bVII and cycles back & forth – you get the idea. For a good example of the unique sound of the mixolydian mode. ii. 4. vi. characteristic of the I to bVII movement of this mode. like. “Get Down Tonight” by KC & the Sunshine Band. “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction. 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. coupled with the presence of a Major IV chord. will work over any Dominant 7th chord. minor #iv (or #ivDim. both built on the root 1/2 step below the root of the V chord. 2. “1999″ by Prince. or a substituted Major IV 1/2 step above the iii – which is more commonly used in this mode). “Cinnamon Girl“ by Neil Young. the intro & verse sections of “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles. ii minor. iii minor (or iiiDim. vi. is the exact same thing as the natural minor scale! For any major scale. or even a III Major). 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. This common variation is called the Lydian b7 scale: http:// gosk. Further.php ) Mixolydian The Mixolydian Mode. “Lowrider” by War. Dm. b6. Which is used as necessary to accommodate chords requiring this b7 note change. “Flying in a Blue Dream” by Joe Satriani. v minor or V Major (a Major V is almost always substituted in Mixolydian mode!). vi minor.com/scales/lydianb7-scale-for-guitar. Louie” by the Kingsman. vii°. and you see/hear these other chords in this relationship to each other: I Major (or Augmented). Some very recognizable Lydian melodies are the very first few notes of the theme songs from The Simpson’s or The Jetsons cartoon shows. the intro & verses of “Here Comes My Girl” by Tom Petty. So a Bb Lydian chordal progression (remember we’re in the key of F) would feature the following chords: Bb. Gm (or G substitution – more likely). b7) & you get the Aeolian mode. listen to The Grateful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain” which moves from B to A to B to A -or. the jazz standard “On Broadway” by George Benson. F. Gm. “What I Got” and “Wrong Way” by Sublime. vii minor — think Bb Lydian! … The most reliable indicators of Lydian mode will be Major I and a Major II chord.Bb. So a C Mixolydian chordal progression (remember we’re in the key of F) would feature the following chords: C. “Hey Jealousy” by the Gin Blossoms. or the fifth mode. Or you can also listen to. 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. 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. “Hog Heaven” by Frank Zappa. and build a natural minor scale over it (1.I bVII I bVII and is played in E Mixolydian – which you might also view as a V to IV progression in E Major. (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. F. iii (and in chord progressions and songs constructed in all modes except Ionian or Locrian. “Free” by Phish. ii. (Eb or Em). Other Mixolydian examples include a traditional folk tune “Old Joe Clark. IV Major. 5. vi minor.

b9. the Locrian Mode. … So if you’re in a song where E(dim) is the i° chord. the main riff to “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica. which is one of the rare examples of a whole piece written in mainly Locrian mode. 1/2 step up to bII Major. and you see/hear these other chords in this relationship to each other: i minor. “Buddy Holly” and “Hash Pipe” by Weezer. or even a II Major). “Thank You” by Dido.using the i iv v. Advanced Theory: In the key of F major starting on the seventh degree – or E Locrian scale … our chord progression would be vii°. “First Tube” by Phish. 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. biii minor. For a good example of songs featuring the Aeolian Mode. unless it’s being used as a pivot chord to change keys. C. Bb. “Black Magic Woman” by Fleetwood Mac or Santana. 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. “Maria. or seventh mode. #9) used with altered dominant chords. vii°. a b4). bV Major. “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath. The formula is 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7. although in blues songs in this mode you will sometimes see a ii° chord). the vii7 chord is half diminished if it stays in the key. F. goes one more. “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac. or altered scale. “Last Resort” by Papa Roach.” 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 Major.e. “ATWA” by System of a Down. … So if you’re in a song where Dm is the i chord. 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. hence it’s shortened name – the Altered scale. or a bIII. ii minor (or iiDim. but there are rare examples. Certainly. or more often when it is used to emphasize a diminished chord. So D Aeolian chordal progression (remember we’re in the key of F) would feature the following chords: Dm. who majored in music theory. Dm. and it usually does. there just aren’t many songs in Western music written entirely in the Locrian mode. Maria” by Santana. V. Super Locrian is the “offical” name of the 7th mode of the melodic minor scale. bVI Major. “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi. iii. You will hear this mode used over diminished chords & diminished jazz progressions. Then it’s a fully diminished chord that utilizes the flat submediant (i. you could listen to the march from Three Fantastic Dances by Dmitri Shostakovich. but the minor i to minor iv change will give it away. (Advanced Diminished Theory Note — there is one more 7th degree root mode mode which is commonly used in jazz – the “Super-Locrian Mode. Some might describe it as a Japanese or even Hindu type flavor. C. & a particularly tell-tale identifying giveaway will be the presence of a minor iv chord. it is frequently used over altered dominants. Am. and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit. Advanced Theory: In the key of F major starting on the sixth degree – or D Aeolian scale … our chord progression would be vi. IV. and also flattens the 4th: 1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7. I. describes: In standard fourpart harmony. Gm. “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne. iii. Locrian Finally. will be immediately identified by the presence of a diminished chord at the root or heart of the progression. So E Locrian chordal progression (remember we’re in the key of F) would feature the following chords: E(dim). it has a very exotic sound. Frankly. IV.” A Locrian scale has everything flattened but the root 1 & the 4th. can be played in the Aeolian mode. This mode is not generally used for song construction. 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. which uses power chords derived from the Aeolian mode. #5. ii. Bb. “Schism” by Tool. The Super Locrian is also called the jazz scale. iv minor. You will most likely encounter it for a short passage or progression. listen to the guitar solo in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” or “Achilles Last Stand. As my friend bassist Kelly Tomlinson. “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits. Gm. It is called the altered scale because it contains the most important jazz alterations (b5. “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics or Marilyn Manson. the diatonic diminished chord is almost always skipped or another chord is substituted in it’s place in the progression. v minor (sometimes the V Major or V7 Dominant is substituted). “Building A Mystery” by Sara McLachlan. Jones” by the Counting Crows. This mode is based on the root of the diminished chord. “Two Step” by the Dave Matthews Band. Since it has all those alterations. 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 . but if you’re a masochist. or diminished whole tone scale. bIII Major. (Em or E). “Mr. or bVII chord in songs in this mode. Consequently. the Super Locrian mode scale. ii. I. and you see/hear these other chords in this relationship to each other: i(dim). You might also see a V7. iv minor. vi. Am (or A). However. F. You can also listen to these classic songs: “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan or Jimi Hendrix. bVI. V (and in chord progressions and songs constructed in all modes except Ionian or Locrian.

like in using both minor and major pentatonic scales together over a blues progression. or arpeggio. which better fits the outside chord when it comes up. neither the diatonic G Dorian or G Aeolian modes fit since D contains an F# in it’s construction [D F# A]. Well. The reason this works is that both of these modal scales.e. And remember you can always bend up to chord tones. (* Advanced Theory Note on Combining Modes — Let’s take a typical Dorian progression with a minor i chord and a Major IV chord.particularly where both chords are Major. whereas one of the three minor modes – Aeolian. 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. 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. to make things even more interesting. Bb mixolydian over the Bb7 chord (the fifth mode constructed in Eb Major). 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. 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. but that takes our minor sounding progression and temporarily makes it sound Major and. which has a tritone as its own tonic and dominant rendering it atonal. or I IV bVII.. not an F# 6. G Dorian will continue to work. If the progression moves to a Dm for the v chord. you should always start with the scale or mode which best fits and includes all of. … If instead. the V chord is D Major. an A Dorian scale would raise that 6th from minor b6 to Major 6 and catch the F#.g. Lydian & Mixolydian – will likely work better as a choice to play over an entire Major key progression or song. C Bb F. we could just use an D Ionian modal scale – D Major scale – over the D chord. moving G Dorian over the IV chord up to play A Dorian over the V chord]. so that won’t work particularly well. [And here's another helpful hint: as in our example. rather than concentrate on the Locrian modal scale. However. contain all of the triad notes for all three of those chords. however. This process of using the diminished chord to change keys up or down a minor third works over both Major or minor keys. but it also contains a b7 (G). While using a G Dorian modal scale will work over both modes. as in our example. 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. not in a good way! So instead we might try to find a minor sounding mode that also works. 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. Combining Mixolydian and Dorian modes constructed from the same root note in this way works well over any I bVII IV. Finally.key built on the major 2nd degree of the original key/scale – i.. Bb7 (IV). the point here is that in choosing which modes to use when combining modes.e. in this case.e. you’ll like it! Remember.. and C mixolydian over the C7 chord (the fifth mode constructed in F Major). Dorian & Phrygian – will likely work better as a choice to play over an entire minor key progression or song. it works particularly well to spice up a standard 1 4 5 blues progression which uses all Dom 7 chords – e.* This article is designed merely to give you a good idea how & where to start. i. since both of those modes also contain all of the notes of Dm (D F A) in their scale. 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. and C7 (V). We would play F mixolydian over the F7 chord (the fifth mode constructed in Bb Major). 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. despite being constructed from different parent Major scales. when soloing over diminished chords of all varieties. since you can use mixolydian mode over any Dom7 chord. 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. where you may want to combine modal scales. progression. or at least the most. There are many times. 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. A Aeolian contains an F or b6. raising the 6th) over the C (IV) chord to emphasize the Major 3rd of the C chord. or use chromatic notes to walk or slide up or down into any chord or scale tones. but so would G Aeolian. The reality. 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 might first start by remembering that one of the three Major modes – Ionian. F7 (I). like Gm to C. the 5th degree of the new key/ scale – and resolve nicely to change keys in the middle of the song down a minor third. Consequently. it’s . Another way to look at it is that diatonic chords of G Dorian and G Aeolian modes contain a minor v chord (Dm). Try it on your blues. but switching to G Dorian mode (i.

You see this most often in jazz. So if the chord is Major and particularly if its extension contains a major 7 note (as opposed to a b7 note). but in most cases. instead of the expected minor 3rd. since there is only a 1/2 step (one fret) below their roots to the next Major scale note. since we’re in F Major. or a 1/2 step move from the i or I chord to a II chord. 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.) I hope this explanation was fairly easy to understand & helpful. On the minor side. so we might use a major mode rooted on the A to outline the unique flavor of that “outside” chord – perhaps A Ionian (i. you should consider playing either the Ionian or Lydian mode over it.g. so it makes sense to incorporate that significant one fret v.e. If the chord is minor (& the chord or progression does not contain a b9). or where that’s not possible. you should consider playing either the Dorian or Aeolian mode over it. modality of the song or progression. … 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. Anyway. 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.usually best try to pick ones that either both contain all the notes from all the chords in the progression. if an A Major chord is inserted (instead of the diatonic A minor). Lydian may work better. It emphasizes the whole step (two frets) below the root of the chord in the Major scale on which it is constructed.e. 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. e. where the fifth is flatted (b5). In this event. that keeps the same overall all minor. we would pick a mode based on the root of the “outside” chord.e. we would say from the 1/root to the b7. … but. and it becomes necessary to choose a different mode to accommodate an “outside” chord tone/note. try to select a mode to play over the “outside” chord which at least creates the same “mood” over the progression being played. i. 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. your primary choice should be the Ionian mode. Maj7. 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. Think about it. or underneath a solo to make it more interesting. or all Major. & perform like a pro! Mode — Basic Triad – 7th – 9th – 11th – 13th (i. and it differs from the I and IV chords. 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. there is a major 7 note 1/2 step (one fret) below the I of the I chord. which is the parent major scale. A major) or A Lydian (constructed in E major). practice hard.. Phrygian is a minor sounding mode used to emphasize a flat 9 (or flat 2) note in a minor chord. For example. for a minor m7 m9 m11 chords you also have two primary modes to choose from – Dorian or Aeolian. or vice-versa. Locrian is the diminished mode used to emphasize a diminished chord. it has a Major 3rd. or even A Mixolydian (constructed in D Major) if the . have fun. If the fourth (or 11th) of the chord is raised. Mixolydian mode is an often used variation of a major sounding mode used primarily to emphasize Dominant 7 ( b7) chords. … or purposefully changing the overall minor v. 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. or in mixolydian mode. Maj9 chord – you have two primary modal choices that fit – Ionian and Lydian.… unless you’re purposefully trying to add a tasteful and pleasant sounding touch of Major over an otherwise minor song or progression.

it will instead produce an Ionian sound and be in Ionian mode. So if you’re trying to decide which mode fits the chord. the other minor sounding mode (constructed in Bb Major). Lydian. where the “outside” chord is a minor chord. A5. then it’s mostly likely going to be one of the three minor modes – Dorian. Edim. we might want to consider the natural minor mode constructed from the relative Major of the root of the minor chord. Notice that all three of these minor mode scales – D Aeolian. we generally should strive to pick a mode which picks up any chord tones “outside” the main key of the song. D5. 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. 5 Major. 1 Major. Phrygian or Aeolian. if the “outside” chord was a Dm. and D Phrygian – all have the minor 3rd or b3 of our Dm chord (F) in them. 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. 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). D. 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. In other words. Bb. and 5. It’s not where you start or stop that produces a mode. for example. (The Locrian mode obviously sounds diminished!). some modes are major and some modes are minor. since D is the 2nd degree of the C major scale and Dorian is also a minor sounding mode. Bb5. Bb. 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. if it’s a minor chord. The Dorian. 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. or even an entire song in a minor key. Or perhaps D Dorian mode. Mixolydian modes are Major sounding modes. if you play G Dorian mode of the F Major scale over an F chord. Remember. Am. Lydian. Now. 6 minor. 7 diminished – all built in order on the notes of the major scale. just play the top 3 (big strings) of each chord – i. you can start on any note of the scale over that Gm chord and resolve to any note of the scale & still get Dorian.e. 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. we might look at D Aeolian mode constructed in the key F Major.progression lends itself to the sound of a Dominant). G5. if you play it over an F chord. of each diatonic chord will consist ONLY of notes from its major scale. with me so far? Good. Ok. Dm. If it’s a Major chord. then most likely it’s going to be one of the three Major modes – Ionian. C5. since all three of those major modes contain a C# (the major 3rd of our A chord). 2 minor. You can even skip notes or play licks using only some of the notes of the modal scale. So play those chords in key of F major … F. D Dorian.e. you get Ionian. The root. 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. (F) . or a Major key song. E. The Ionian. even though they are all constructed from and relate to completely different major scales. but the interaction of scale against chord! Or. Or even D Phrygian. turn them all into power chords – F5. if we play G Dorian mode of the F Major scale over a Gm chord. the unique sound of each mode is created by the interaction of its parent major scale (i. That is … F. When the modes are used in this chord specific way. 3. C. 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. A. G. Now we start with the fact that the major scale is played over the I chord. against the root note of the chord. but yet maintains the overall mood of the song or progression. or Mixolydian. you do not need to start & stop on the root note of the mode. in this case F. For example. or even the entire song or progression. Phrygian & Aeolian modes are minor sounding modes. 4 Major. These are the “diatonic” chords in the key of F major. Gm. or even over an entire song. and you play from G to G trying to make it Dorian. Similarly. if we were looking for a more exotic flavor emphasizing the flat 9 (Eb note) which occurs in that particular mode. if you’re just playing with a bass player. However. C. unless we are purposefully trying to create tension to be resolved later in the progression. you’re playing over. 3 minor. In the next article of this series.

G. F. D. 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. 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. b6 & b7) PHRYGIAN SCALE PATTERNS TO PRACTICE 4th scale degree root – Lydian (Bb. F. F major): As to the Gm (or G5) chord. Bb. 2nd scale degree root – Dorian (G. the D string) – in other words. A. 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. we already covered the Ionian Mode of the F Major scale above). let’s build a seven-note scale from the sixth string root to the fourth string root (i.e. 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. or second mode of the F major scale. If we create a scale starting with G (but only using notes from the major scale of F) and ending on G. (*Note – When you get to the final vii(dim) chord. sounding in and utilizing the G Dorian Mode (the Second Mode of F Major)! Now. you can then try to work out the same idea for the adjacent smaller sets of three strings each in order. 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. G. D. C.. F. you only need to use power chords (root. F.” they each have their own unique flavor and sound. Bb. C) (notice this scale differs from C major by substituting a b7) MIXOLYDIAN SCALE PATTERNS TO PRACTICE 6th scale degree root – Aeolian (D. Bb. root). E. G. because each mode has a different scale degree as its starting and ending point. C. A. often called their “tonal center. C. b3. A. (Remember. the formula is R b5 R. we get the G Dorian scale. A. Here’s a good simple way to look at it. G. E) . 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. 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. A) (notice this scale differs from A major by substituting a b2. E.) 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 link really helpful site that will do just that … in this case. let’s repeat this process for each diatonic chord up the scale – using only one or two fret moves (half or whole steps). creating the easiest path from the sixth string root note to the fourth string root. Bb) (notice this scale differs from Bb major by substituting a #4) LYDIAN SCALE PATTERNS TO PRACTICE 5th scale degree root – Mixolydian (C. And. b6 & b7) AEOLIAN SCALE PATTERNS TO PRACTICE 7th scale degree root – Locrian (E. 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. D) (notice this scale differs from D major by substituting a b3. E. D. in this case F Major. D.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. C. Bb. G) (notice this scale differs from G major by substituting a b3 & b7) DORIAN SCALE PATTERNS TO PRACTICE 3rd scale degree root – Phrygian (A. C.e. Bb. E. E. to make it even easier since we’re on the three lowest strings. fifth. F. F. G. D.

C Mixolydian. G Dorian. 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. so even though all these modes in this example are in the Key of F Major. Bb Lydian. the major scale on which our modes are based & must always accommodate is F. …. A Phrygian. and E Locrian. More simply. . b3. b6 & b7) LOCRIAN SCALE PATTERNS TO PRACTICE (Note – Each mode is named based on the first note of the mode scale. b5. D Aeolian. the modes would be named F Ionian (or the F Major scale).(notice this scale differs from E major by substituting a b2. 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).

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