How do I determine if I am playing a different mode or just a progression?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by thevisi0nary, Dec 8, 2016.

  1. thevisi0nary

    thevisi0nary SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    577
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Location:
    asbury park, nj
    Have a riff, just learning theory and learned that even though the notes are G major I could technically be playing E aeolian. I am assuming that my key center is E because the riff is mostly structured around the E chord. How can I know for sure that E is the key center and I am not playing a progression in G maj?
     
  2. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    12,977
    Likes Received:
    1,147
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    It depends on what chord the rhythm player is playing, and, moreso, which bass note the bass player is playing.

    If you don't have a bass note, yet, then the mode is whatever you want it to be.

    A lot of songs take advantage of this: the guitar will start a riff that sounds a lot like it is in G major, then the bass kicks in on low E and suddenly, it's revealed that the song is in E minor.
     
  3. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    3,905
    Likes Received:
    488
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Location:
    Never Neverland
    Does it sound major or minor? Which note sounds like it is home bass/at rest?

    That's your root note and will give you your key.
     
  4. thevisi0nary

    thevisi0nary SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    577
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Location:
    asbury park, nj
    So this progression: E-Dsus2-E-Dsus2-E-Dsus2-Amaj-Gmaj - Repeat

    This would then be E aeolian?
     
  5. TheTrooper

    TheTrooper SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    442
    Likes Received:
    69
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2014
    Location:
    Ascoli Piceno, Italy
    Well yes and no, because in Gmajor/Eminor the A would be Minor (II degree of G major) but If You were using a borrowed chord from it's parallel key (E Maj) the A would be Major (IV degree), but it wouldn't really keep the Aeolian flavour, unless you are very clever to use it (maybe as a passing chords)


    E to Dsus2 would already be E aeolian (2 chords usually work) but You could do E(or Emin7) - Dsus2 - G(or Gmaj7)
     
  6. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    12,977
    Likes Received:
    1,147
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    No.

    E aeolian is E F# G A B C D E

    The chords you listed yield the scale: E ? G/G# A B C# D E, which is alternating between E mixolydian and E dorian. The tonic chord being E, and not E minor strongly reinforces that it's not really a minor key.
     
  7. thevisi0nary

    thevisi0nary SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    577
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Location:
    asbury park, nj
  8. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    12,977
    Likes Received:
    1,147
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    The root is obviously E. The notes you are playing are E G A B C and D.

    E aeolian would be my guess.

    I'm not really seeing how the chords you mentioned would fit with this, but maybe that's because I'm not really looking at it too deeply.
     
  9. TheTrooper

    TheTrooper SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    442
    Likes Received:
    69
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2014
    Location:
    Ascoli Piceno, Italy
    If You were to keep the low E as a pedal tone, yes, E aeolian no doubt.
     
  10. thevisi0nary

    thevisi0nary SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    577
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Location:
    asbury park, nj
    Thanks guys
     
  11. tyler_faith_08

    tyler_faith_08 Strings of Chaos

    Messages:
    451
    Likes Received:
    23
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2013
    Location:
    Mobile, AL
    Ultimately, the tonality is whatever it feels most resolved to. It seems oversimplified and very plain, but effective answers sometimes happen to be that way.
     
  12. jorymil

    jorymil SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2016
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I wouldn't worry too hard about whether the tonality is E "Aeolian" or not. When it comes to minor, it's usually not that cut-and-dried. Just call it E minor and leave it at that. You can play just about anything except for a G sharp and it'll still sound like E minor if you handle it right. And of course, you can do like you're doing and play a standard E F# G A B C D E Aeolian/Natural minor scale over it. There's tons of different scales you can use in a minor key; all depends on what sound you're going for.
     
  13. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

    Messages:
    5,082
    Likes Received:
    902
    Joined:
    May 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    And even then you can still have a major tonic chord in a minor key. Picardy third endings are centuries old, and pop up in rock music occasionally.

    Yes - Roundabout
     
  14. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    12,977
    Likes Received:
    1,147
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Well, Picardy thirds are totally different than a major chord in a repeating progression. The idea there, coming from monastic music, was that someone thought that all songs had to resolve to a major chord at the very end. The idea was adopted into secular music. I don't think there are any songs with a major tonic chord in the actual progression if the song is in a classic minor key (not going to get into enigmatic minor or weird stuff like that).

    But then you can't say "this has never happened" without someone making it happen, if only to prove you wrong...

    So, how about this progression:

    Dsus4 Gm Fmaj Dsus2 Asus2 Dmaj

    IDK, sounds almost passable...

    There must be something already studied about this sort of thing...maybe you can help me out. Still pretty weird, though, IMO.
     
  15. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

    Messages:
    5,082
    Likes Received:
    902
    Joined:
    May 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Sure. They are used specifically at points of formal closure, i.e. cadences. Arguably, chord loopy stuff does not have cadences. I wouldn't include the picardy third cadence in a discussion of chord loops though. After all, cadence has more to do with phrase boundaries than it does harmony.
     
  16. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Blames it on "the rain"

    Messages:
    371
    Likes Received:
    93
    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Seattle
    Based on the notes you're playing, it's either E Phyrigian(C maj) or E Aeolian(G maj), the one note that would decide it has been omitted (F for C maj, or F# for G maj) which is cool because you could write a riff that comes before this in E Phrygian and fit the F into it, and write a riff after this with the F# to modulate into E minor of you like
     

Share This Page