Writing modal chord progressions

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by malin, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. malin

    malin Goujat

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    I've read a lot of stuff online but I need the details and the explanations to know teh why its a Lydian progression or dorian progression.

    SchechterWhore...i'll let you start and I'll pick you brain with questions since I have covered the subject with my teacher!
     
  2. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    I've been summoned. :lol:

    As you know, a mode's characteristics are based on its own unique formula. These are as follow:

    Code:
    Ionian - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    Dorian - 1 2 b3 4 5 6 7
    Phrygian - 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
    Lydian - 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
    Mixolydian - 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7
    Aeolian - 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
    Locrian - 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7
    
    Characteristic notes:
    Ionian - 3, 4, 7
    Dorian - b3, 6
    Phrygian - b3, b2
    Lydian - 3, #4, 7
    Mixolydian - 3, b7
    Aeolian - b3, b6, b7
    Locrian - b3, b2, b5
    The base unit of a chord progression is the cadence. Since we are familiar with major key progressions, we can analyze what goes on in a cadence through the major mode. Let's take a basic V-I. I'll do this in A.

    V-I: E-A
    These are the notes of those chords -
    V: E G# B (5 7 2)
    A: A C# E (1 3 5)
    Sometimes, it's appropriate to add the seventh on top of the V, in which case V7 is E G# B D, or 5 7 2 4. If you go back up to that table on the characteristic notes in a mode, you'll see that we have the 3, 7, and 4 in this ionian cadence. We can try to apply this to the other modes as well, taking the characteristic notes and factoring them into the cadence.

    Dorian -
    IV-i: D-Am
    D: D F# A (4 6 1)
    Am: A C E (1 b3 5)

    ii-i: Bm-Am
    Bm: B D F# (2 4 6)
    Am: A C E (1 b3 5)

    Phrygian -
    bII-i: Bb-Am
    Bb: Bb D F (b2 4 b6)
    Am: A C E (1 b3 5)

    Rarely, this:
    vø7-i: Em7(b5)-Am
    Eø7: E G Bb D (5 b7 b2 4)
    Am: A C E (1 b3 5)

    Lydian -
    II-I: B-A
    B: B D# F# (2 #4 6)
    A: A C# E (1 3 5)

    Or, there's the standard V-I...

    V-I: E-A
    E: E G# B (5 7 2)
    A: A C# E (1 3 5)

    ...but that doesn't exactly say anything about the #4 unless you factor it in as Vmaj7-I, or V-Imaj7(#11), or something. Of course, you could just have V-I going and play the #4 as part of the melody.

    Mixolydian -
    v-I: Em-A
    Em: E G B (5 b7 2)
    A: A C# E (1 3 5)

    bVII-I: G-A
    G: G B D (b7 2 4)
    A: A C# E (1 3 5)

    Aeolian -
    v-i: Em-Am
    Em: E G B (5 7 2)
    Am: A C E (1 b3 5)

    bVII-i: G-Am
    G: G B D (b7 2 4)
    Am: A C E (1 b3 5)

    iv-i: Dm-Am
    Dm: D F A (4 b6 1)
    Am: A C E (1 b3 5)

    Locrian -
    bII-i°: Bb-A°
    Bb: Bb D F (b2 4 b6)
    i°: A C Eb (1 b2 b5)
    Locrian is tricky because it has a diminished tonic chord. This may not be a practical example.

    Most modal material I've heard is in the form of a riff, but these progressions should be pretty solid. The main thing to note is what notes make a scale mixolydian, or phrygian, or whatever. Usually, it's just one note.
     
  3. malin

    malin Goujat

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    Well you confused me a little bit...where does all the IV-i, ii-i, bII-i come from...also

    From what I have gather...I can have 3 ways of creating modal chord progressions

    1-Starting and resolving on the note of the mode
    2-Static situation, cluster of note that include the notes that define each modes
    3-creating modal chord and shifting them around wich will create a change of keys

    but if you can explain a little more about your way...its would be greatful
     
  4. malin

    malin Goujat

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    Heres a quick example...I'm playing in E lydian but I'm using the E bass note has a pedal tone to make the lydian sound...I also changed modes during that little video

     
  5. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    I look for chords that contain the characteristic notes of the mode and see what works. You have two goals in building these chord progressions: first, the chord must reflect the notes of the mode. Second, the chords can't suggest a relative tonic. The ones I provided just seem to work. Keep in mind that if you build chords out of the modes, you get the following chord scales:

    Ionian - I ii iii IV V vi vii°
    Dorian - i II bIII IV v vi° bVII
    Phrygian - i bII bIII iv v° bVI bvii
    Lydian - I II iii #iv° V vi vii
    Mixolydian - I ii iii° IV v vi bVII
    Aeolian - i ii° bIII iv v bVI bVII
    Locrian - i° bII biii iv bV bVI bvii

    Only a handful of these are really usable, as they are all relative to the major scale, and by using too many chords from the scale, you risk going into the major mode. I just narrow it down to the usable chords.

    Ionian - All of them.
    Dorian - All of them except vi°.
    Phrygian - All of them, but you have to watch out for v°-bVI
    Lydian - All of them, but just make sure the tonic doesn't sound like IV in the relative major.
    Mixolydian - All of them except for iii°.
    Aeolian - All of them.
    Locrian - The tonic chord here is problematic, so it really is whatever sounds convincing to you. I find this is better for modal rather than harmonic composition. Usually, the tonality is established through motivic ideas in the locrian mode, but motives are also what makes atonal music sound centered, so it's not really a harmonic device.

    In the progressions I listed in my first post, I was just trying to get to the tonic chord, as that is ultimately where we want to end up.

     
  6. ShadyDavey

    ShadyDavey 7ibrarian

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    The Gambale method (perhaps not his but I first saw it Demonstrated by Frank so hey, convenient term of referrence) also works quite nicely for creating modal progressions.

    Whatever your relative Major yey happens to be (Bb Major for C Dorian, Ab Major for C Phrygian etc) you only need to be aware of the three Major Triads from that key for this to work - to demonstrate the example in C major you simply take an F triad and place it over a C bass note, then move to a G triad over a C bass note - F/C and G/C slash chords - resolving to the C major for the V - I cadence.

    Whatever other mode you want to create a progression for, always refer to the relative major scale, place the IV and V over the tonic note of the mode and prosper. For C phrygian (Ab Major) then the simple progression is Db/Ab and Eb/Ab resolving to Ab. Experimenting with a fixed droning bass note and then superimposing all the triads from the relative major key can lead to hours of fun and whilst a little "quick and dirty" works quite nicely.

    Feel free to hit me up for a .pdf I've got by Frank if you want more information on that technique.

    I've got some information on another method using the "characteristic note" approach so I'll try to dig that out for you as well :)
     
  7. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    ^ The pedal tone approach. ;)

    Good demonstration of the technique, though. Pretty much anything goes over a pedal.
     
  8. malin

    malin Goujat

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    Thank you and what is you other approach?
     
  9. ShadyDavey

    ShadyDavey 7ibrarian

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    Using chords with the characteristic note(s) of the mode.

    I'll get some diagrams done later on :)
     
  10. malin

    malin Goujat

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    Thank you very much :)
     
  11. ShadyDavey

    ShadyDavey 7ibrarian

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    Looking through my notes all I have is a few specific formulae for common chords that really typify modal tonallities......and no diagrams. They were in fact so lacking in usefulness that I did a quick google search and was rewarded with this:

    Google

    Mr Schecterwhore actually explains the process far better than most of the links in that search so I can't help you to any great degree beyond that Frank Gambale method :lol:

    As far as characteristic chords - experiment with the relevant triad (or even the 7th chord) and then shuffle around the tones to include the 6th for Dorian, or #4 for Lydian etc...adding in tritone substituions (again as outlined above) is the icing on the cake.
     
  12. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    Here, I think I have another way of explaining progressions to you. This comes out of the major mode, but you can use these principles, for the most part, in conjunction with the rest of the modes.

    There are three groups of harmonic functions within a given key: tonic, subdominant, and dominant. In a major key, these are as follows -

    Tonic: I, vi, (iii)
    Subdominant: IV, ii, vi
    Dominant: V, vii°

    Obviously, I is tonic. vi and iii are weaker tonic functions, and generally aren't used as a point of resolution. I have iii in parentheses, but I'll get to that later.

    The subdominant functions are generally used to prepare a dominant function. Like it says here, IV, ii, and vi are these functions. vi, you probably noticed, is also listed in the tonic functions. It, however, is a weak tonic function, and is also a sort of weak subdominant function We'll look at how these work soon enough, though.

    Finally, the dominant functions. These prepare our ear for the tonic. In major keys, these are easy, because V and vii° contain the leading tone. vii° and V7 have the additional dissonance of the tritone, which begs resolution.

    Because vi is a step away from V, it can be used to approach V. It is also closely related to I, in that it shares two notes with I. This allows it some ambiguity of function. It is also typically used in progressions going I-vi-(subdominant)-(dominant)-I, although variations exist.

    And then there's iii. iii is weird, because it contains two notes from the tonic triad, and two notes from the dominant triad. It's typically used more as a tonic function, though. iii doesn't sound quite as dissonant as V or vii°, so we can't really use it that way. It's found more in linear chord successions, such as I ii iii ii I.



    Anyway, these functions exist in each of the seven modes, although they are sometimes a little different. Here they are, according to my analysis:

    Aeolian-
    Tonic: i, VI, III
    Subdominant: iv, ii°, VI
    Dominant: v, bVII

    Dorian-
    Tonic: i, III
    Subdominant: IV, ii, maybe vi°
    Dominant: v, bVII

    Mixolydian-
    Tonic: I, vi, iii
    Subdominant: IV, ii, bVII
    Dominant: v, bVII

    Phrygian-
    Tonic: i, III
    Subdominant: iv, VI
    Dominant: bII, v°, bVII

    Lydian-
    Tonic: I, iii
    Subdominant: II, vi, (#iv°, though rarely, and this is the chord you have to be careful with)
    Dominant: V, vii

    Locrian-
    Tonic: i° (although the tonic octave or simply the third might be preferred), III, VI
    Subdominant: iv, bII, VI
    Dominant: bII, V


    With those in mind, then we move on to the different types of cadences. Most cadences are used to approach the tonic chord.

    Authentic cadence: dominant -> tonic
    Plagal cadence: subdominant -> tonic (this doesn't work when you're using the sixth chord as a subdominant)

    And there are the cadences that do something else, and are usually inserted to keep the progression moving.

    Half-cadence: tonic or subdominant -> dominant
    Deceptive cadence: dominant -> something other than tonic, usually vi, but sometimes iii, IV, etc.



    I'll get more into modal progressions later, I have to go to a final in a bit, but I'll leave with an example.

    The Beatles - Hey Jude - at 3:10, we get the chord progression F-Eb-Bb-F, or I-bVII-IV-I. This is sometimes called a "double plagal" cadence, since bVII is the IV of the IV chord. Anyway, you can obviously assign a mixolydian scale to the progression.


    The Spice Girls - If You Wanna Be My Lover - The first progression is Cm-Eb-Fm-Bb-Cm, or i-III-iv-bVII-i, which is an aeolian progression. (Speaking truthfully, I just wanted an excuse to post this. :lol:)


    Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit - Right from the beginning, the progression is F#m-G-F#m, or i-bII-i. Phrygian. There are tons of metal tunes that use the phrygian mode.


    And, for the sake of being obnoxious...
    Coldplay - Violet Hill - Aeolian, deceptive cadences all up in this bitch, but the biggest one is in the progression starting at 3:04, going to 3:11. C#m-E-A-E-G#-A, which is i-III-VI-III-V-VI.




    Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of the how and why of these progressions.
     
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  13. malin

    malin Goujat

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    thank you so much!!!
     
  14. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    Did that actually help? I'm looking at it, and I can see how it would be easily confusing. :lol:
     
  15. malin

    malin Goujat

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    well I have to reread and reread but I'll have some questions later on...yes its confusing

    Ionian - I ii iii IV V vi vii°
    Dorian - i II bIII IV v vi° bVII
    Phrygian - i bII bIII iv v° bVI bvii
    Lydian - I II iii #iv° V vi vii
    Mixolydian - I ii iii° IV v vi bVII
    Aeolian - i ii° bIII iv v bVI bVII
    Locrian - i° bII biii iv bV bVI bvii

    The little 0 besides some chords is what? I'll be damn because everything is different from rench to english
     
  16. leandroab

    leandroab Stay Negative™

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    I wish I could understand all this :(
     
  17. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    "°" means diminished.

    A° = A diminished = A C Eb
    A°7 = A diminished 7 = A C Eb Gb
    Aø7 = A half diminished, or A minor-7-flat-5 = A C Eb G
     
  18. malin

    malin Goujat

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  19. GJaunz

    GJaunz SS.org Regular

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    Schecterwhore did a really great job explaining this, so there's really nothing new I can add, but I will add my 'in a nutshell' explanation of writing chord progressions in modes:

    1) in the normal major scale (aka Ionian), the chords I through VII are as follows:
    I is major with a major seventh (only 1/2 step lower than tonic of chord)
    II is minor with a minor seventh (7th is full step lower than tonic of chord)
    III is minor with a minor seventh
    IV is major with a major seventh
    V is major with a minor seventh
    VI is major with a minor seventh
    VII is diminished with a minor seventh

    2) so from here, just make sure that your progressions resolve rhythmically on the chord indicative of the mode you want to work in (eg. the II for dorian etc) instead of the I chord like you would in a normal major key.

    3) As Scheterwhore also mentioned, including the seventh in the chords can be a nice "landmark" to distinguish your modal progression from a major one or another mode. Some progressions will fit into more than one mode when using chords of just 1st, 3rd, and 5th (eg. C,E,G for C major), but often you'll find that the 7th of one of the chords will be different, so if you include it, it'll differentiate the progression into the intended mode.

    This is my simple/general way of looking at modes, hope it helps. I'll paste links below to a couple youtube lessons I've done involving modes as well. I'm planning to do more (one for every mode), but I separated my shoulder snowboarding, so my guitar playing/vid making is pretty limited for the next month or so.



     
  20. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    At 1:20? The chords are F7(But it's not easy)-Bbsus4-(when she)-Bb-(turns you on)-Bbm-Fm7. Simple progression in Bb minor - V7-I-i-v7. The major I is a chord borrowed from the parallel major. In classical parlance, it's called a "picardy third". v7 is from the aeolian minor. I'm looking at tabs, and people have the last chord in the progression listed as Ab6 (and I'm adjusting for the capo notation), and depending on your training, you could call it either, since they're the same notes (Ab6: Ab C Eb F, and Fm7: F Ab C Eb). There is a specific time when Ab6 is Ab6 and not Fm7, but I'll get into that some other time.

    The part with the strings is over F. The scale being used is the fifth mode of Bb hungarian minor. Hungarian minor is harmonic minor with a raised fourth, so Bb hungarian minor: Bb C Db E F Gb A Bb (1 2 b3 #4 5 b6 7), and the fifth mode is F Gb A Bb C Db E (1 b2 3 4 5 b6 7). Cool song.

    The entire thing is an E major triad, but there's kind of a pandiatonic thing going on here. The electric piano is playing E G# B A F# C# G# B D# E. If you want, you can separate these into functional tones.

    E G# B - Tonic triad.
    A F# C# - ii
    G# - iii (or I, but it sounds like iii to me)
    B D# - V
    E - I

    You could say that it's a I ii iii V I progression over a tonic pedal harmony. Completely diatonic.
     

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