A big list of scales and modes I compiled...

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by distressed_romeo, Sep 12, 2007.

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  1. ghost_of_karelia

    ghost_of_karelia Utrydd dei Svake

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    OK, so this is going to be a massively n00by post, but there's steam blowing out of my ears here!

    I'm pretty much a novice to music theory. I learned the major scale, natural minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor as the "TTsTTTs" thing, and these modes make absolutely no sense to me. I understand how you form them and how they're made, I just don't actually get what they're for.

    When you write a song in a particular mode, what drives you to write the song in that mode? Also, and this is a broad question (for which I apologise sincerely, it's not fun being a scrub at these things), HOW do you "write a song in X mode"?

    I want to get into writing music, but I quite literally have no idea what I'm doing. I have some riffs written on lined paper blu-tacked to my bedroom wall that fit into keys only because the notes happened to all be in the keys' scales, but that's as far as I've got.

    Will someone be my saviour and tell me what the dicks I'm meant to be doing?!
     
  2. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    Good observation. You can think of "mode" to mean "style" or "mood". You are already familiar with two modes that have their own sets of implications: the major and minor modes. We typically associate the major scale with positivity, happiness, serenity, all sorts of vague descriptors that basically mean the same thing, and the minor mode we associate with conflict and negativity, etc., though these modes do not necessarily represent themselves in those ways all the time. I like to look at the diatonic modes as colorations upon those two basic modes. We can organize all of the modes by their "brightness", meaning that we can compare a mode that has more raised notes (the major scale, or lydian scale) against a mode that has more lowered notes (the phrygian or locrian scale).

    Lydian - 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
    Major - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    Mixolydian - 1 2 3 4 5 6 ♭7


    Dorian - 1 2 ♭3 4 5 6 ♭7
    Pure Minor - 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7
    Phrygian - 1 ♭2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7

    Locrian - 1 ♭2 ♭3 4 ♭5 ♭6 ♭7

    Those colors are arbitrary, and if you asked me tomorrow I'd probably give you completely different ones, but the spirit of my choice is that the brightest stuff is at the top of my list, the darkest at the bottom, and that there are three groups you need to think of. Those three groups are chosen because of their tonic triads: lydian, major, and mixolydian all share a major triad (1 3 5) for their tonic chord , dorian, pure/natural/aeolian minor all share a minor triad (1 ♭3 5), and locrian is on its own with a diminished tonic triad (1 ♭3 ♭5). This is the meat and potatoes. We then fill in the color of the modes with the other four notes.

    The next thing I like to point out is the axial relationship between the three major modes and three minor modes. Think of the two big modes being the major and the minor, and the modes around them as offshoots that lead to some colors of another group. So, mixolydian has the major thing going, 1 2 3 4 5 6, and then a hint of the darkened, flatted side of minor: ♭7. It's still major, but it pulls a little toward minor, has a bit of attitude. Then, dorian has all the hallmarks of minor, 1 2 ♭3 4 5, ♭7, but the 6 pulls it a little toward the major side of things. In fact, if you talk to people about it, I think that you'll find mixolydian described as "major with a lowered 7" and dorian as "minor with a raised sixth" (as opposed to mixolydian with a lowered third), indicating that the two modes are being compared to major and minor respectively, rather than some all-inclusive system.

    Continuing, phrygian is like minor, but that ♭2 pulls it strongly into locrian realm, which is the darkest of all modes. Locrian, arguably, does not exist in practice, but that's a different topic.

    Here are a couple of tunes with similar basslines:

    Ray Charles - Hit The Road Jack


    Pat Benatar - True Love



    Hit The Road Jack uses this 1 ♭7 ♭6 5 pattern from the natural minor, whereas True Love utilizes the dorian equivalent, 1 ♭7 6 5. We know minor really well, so it sounds kind of basic. I don't know what kind of emotional attributes go with that 6 in dorian, but I think it sounds a little more ambiguous, a little more interesting. Has more modal color than the basic minor thing. If you want something in the minor family that is really moody, phrygian might be the way to go.

    Pink Floyd - Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun


    Alice In Chains - Would?



    You can hear a lot of interplay between the minor modes (and even a bit of locrian) in the first movement of Kodály's cello sonata, in which he treats the modes as coloration on the basic minor sound:

    Zoltán Kodály - Cello Sonata, mvt.1


    It ends in phrygian, with the characteristic ♭2 1 cadence (right before that awful B minor quadruple stop at the very end).

    Force myself to write with that mode. :lol: (I'm kind of serious about this. The fastest and probably the best way to learn composition is to make yourself conform to a preset rule. More on that later.)

    I don't focus a whole lot on modes. They take about 40 seconds to learn, but the internet makes it seem like there is some big secret to be wrestled from their presumed depths. Don't worry about modes, learn harmony and form and things that matter.

    I'm a firm believer in education. I think you need to know what you're doing, so I'm always going to recommend learning music theory and doing exercises like your life depended on it. That's not composition, but it gives you the tools to compose, just like learning to read and analyze literary form gives you the tools for writing your own literature, or how going to engineering school will probably prevent a few lawsuits, should anybody ever hire you to build a bridge or design an airplane.

    Composition is a highly personal process which takes a lot of trial and error. I'd say the first big obstacle you have to tackle is actually writing something. A lot of people have a few riffs hanging around, some actually write songs, a small portion of those folks know what's happening in their music, an even smaller portion of that group can objectively critique their own work, and an even smaller group of those people can improve on what they originally wrote. However, they all start in the "hey, I have a bunch of tiny ideas, but I don't know how to put them together" phase. This is the trick to get better: Always write complete pieces. I'd encourage you to write a piece for a solo instrument (it goes faster this way), and to give yourself a few parameters. You want to learn to plan your music, so forcing yourself to write a piece for solo guitar in ABA form that starts in the key of A and ends in the key of A, with at least 1 other key in the middle, would be an excellent skeleton upon which to build a short study: you have a vague idea of what's coming next, so you can work up to it, rather than flopping around in the dark.
     
  3. ghost_of_karelia

    ghost_of_karelia Utrydd dei Svake

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    Thanks so much, man! Pretty much answered all of my queries in one post :D
     
  4. doug7string

    doug7string Banned

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  5. RyanP

    RyanP SS.org Regular

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    Awesome man, thank you so much for this
     
  6. ducer

    ducer ducer

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  7. ROB SILVER

    ROB SILVER SS.org Regular

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    If this is any help to anyone... as far as I can tell, everything on the list is mapped out in all positions on my blog.
    Everything for six string and loads for seven and eight string as well.

    MY SCALE ARCHIVE
     
  8. scrambles

    scrambles SS.org Regular

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    InHiding likes this.
  9. InHiding

    InHiding SS.org Regular

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  10. thesnowdog

    thesnowdog SS.org Regular

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    ...just in case it's handier.
     
  11. PunchLine

    PunchLine SS.org Regular

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    There are no modes of diminished scale. While they are practically the same scale, you can think of two diminished scales: the Half-whole scale and the Whole-half scale. When you start on a note and keep playing both of these scales up the register, you play the same notes. Only the starting note is different. The scale repeats itself every minor 3rd interval.

    As long as you know which note to start from and which interval to lead with, i.e. start on an A note and play a half step up or play whole step up, you can use the scale confidently.
     
  12. levitator

    levitator listen to sabbath

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    very cool man! thanks!
     
  13. JeremyRodriguez5544998

    JeremyRodriguez5544998 SS.org Regular

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    YOU WENT ALL OUT! Haha. Much appreciated!
     
  14. JohnTanner

    JohnTanner Derpin' on the guitar since 2003

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    damn, im sure this would be very helpful. I'm not even sure how to read it though haha Any tips on how exactly to go about executing these modes with little knowledge of theory? like a walkthrough or something of that nature you can link me to

    Thanks!
     
  15. gingamann

    gingamann SS.org Regular

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    awesome work bud!!! nice collection, thanks for sharing
     
  16. gingamann

    gingamann SS.org Regular

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    Im reading this as it is based on the major scale... so... W W H W W W H (whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half)

    R = root ....pick a spot to start.
    2 = second note up from root in the whole/half / major scale... or if it is # or flatted - half step up or down
    3 = third note up from root in the whole/half / major scale.. or if it is # or flatted - half step up or down
    etc...

    idk... maybe im full of sh*t..lol maybe not... hope it helps :)
     

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