Your take on modes?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by trippled, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. trippled

    trippled SS.org Regular

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    So, I'm really trying to expand my theory knowledge lately and while I'm quiet familiar with major scale harmony theory I'm still far from being able to execute that knowledge on the guitar.

    I'm having a few books, Jazz Theory, introduction to jazz guitar soloing, the advancing guitarist, but wasn't really satisfied with the method of any of them regarding getting to know the fingerboard (I'll explain) and the use of modes.

    You see, on each of these books, they never talk about how you should practice modes on guitar and how should you approach them - as far as I'm concerned I'd play E major over A major 7th and follow my ear for note choice if I wanted a lydian sound and of course notes from the A Major 7th arpeggio.

    But then there's that issue of avoid notes and according to Jazz Theory for example you should learn all the modes in every key and eternalize them.

    Now that seems applicable to me if I was a pianist like the dude who wrote that book is, but how should a guitarist apply to know playing all the modes, in all the keys, over the whole fretboard? With that amount of work and information to memorize the chances of getting into the melodic minor scale harmony are quiet tiny.

    I'm not trying to cut corners here or get into shortcuts, I'm trying to realize what's the right way to study and what should I study, this whole thought of now memorizing the major scale shapes only with 6 more different numbering systems for the notes sounds to me insane instead of just using the major scale the mode belongs to and just use my ear.

    Can someone please be specific and explain how he applies this task?
     
  2. m3l-mrq3z

    m3l-mrq3z Banned

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    That's indeed a lot of information, though if I were you I'd try to approach it in a schematic way, meaning that you don't learn the notes being used in the modes, but the structure behind said modes.

    Are you a jazz guitarist? If you are a metal guitarist you don't need that whole lot of knowledge to play interesting things above dissonant chords. I recently watched an entry for the Seymour/Duncan competition where this guy was playing *too* outside of the box, using different modes for EVERY chord. Of course, it doesn't sound like music at all.

    Try to use more chromaticism and don't be afraid to hit the "wrong" notes every now and then. That's what I do, at least.
     
  3. birch

    birch SS.org Regular

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    Ive got a really thorough way to practice them ive been using with my students.
    First off, learn c maj scale, 3 note per string, all 7 different positions.

    Next, make a list of random numbers 1-7 (1 being the root note, or in the c maj scale, the 'c'), and use this to quiz yourself on the location of these functions in any given scale shape. Make sure you really take your time to learn this well.

    Now comes getting used to playing them in different keys. Go thru the keys in this order : C,F,Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb,B,E,A,D,G. The excercise to get that down is this: you limit yourself to frets 5-8 on your neck to get your starting note. So say your doing F, find the lowest F in frets 5-8, which is the 8th fret on the 5th string. Now you have to work out which of the original 7 3nps shapes will give you a useable fingering to use from this root note (its the 3rd one). Then play the scale starting from the lowest root note, to the highest avaliable note in your 3nps shape, down to the lowest avaliable note, then back up to your root note. Its fine to break out of the 5-8 limit once you have started playing the scale, its really just to get started.

    Once you have that down in all the keys, modes get a lot easier! Pick a mode you want to get down. Say you pick Dorian. You need to learn which intervals or functions are flat or sharp (for dorian this is flat 3 and flat 7)
    So you go thru the 12 keys excercise again flattening the 3 and 7 in each scale.

    You should notice that none of the fingerings are new, but you are just thinking about them in a different way. For example if you play a F dorian, its going to be the same fingering that you use for Eb major. This means the muscle memory carries over from your major scale work. What you need to learn anew tho is what the numbers are in relation to F.
     
  4. celticelk

    celticelk Enflamed with prayer

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    Learn the notes all over the fretboard

    Learn to recognize intervals. What's the major third of Bb? What's the minor sixth of D?

    Learn the interval formulas for the modes.

    When you need a particular scale/mode, play that interval set from the appropriate root note.

    Done.

    ...seriously, I find all of the "Lydian is the fourth mode of the major scale" information to be a confusing distraction. But then, I also think that learning endless three-note-per-string scale forms in position is a confusing distraction. YMMV.
     
  5. EcoliUVA

    EcoliUVA Not Gifted

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    Great advice so far. Intervals are the way to go, for sure, like celticelk said. I don’t know your end goal , but knowing intervals can only help. Usually while playing, I relate where I’m at currently to the Ionian root of whatever key I’m playing in. Personal preference, or just the way I've learned and makes the most sense to me I guess.

    The way I think about modes is thus (for modes of the Major scale): Ionian begins on the first scale degree, so in C Major, on C. Build intervals from there, based on the root Major scale, to get your "modal" scale. Dorian begins on the second degree - Learn the major scale pattern beginning on the second degree, and it becomes easy to see the relationship of the Dorian to the Ionian mode. This is true of all 6 non-Ionian modes (Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian). So to clarify, while you’re playing each 3 note per string pattern starting on the 6th string (or 7th, 8th, whatever) – associate the scale degree you start on with a “name” for that particular pattern. So, if you’re working in C Major and starting on the 3rd degree, call that “Phrygian” in your head. This is NOT a mode in and of itself, but will help you make associations later down the road.

    When I did this and learned 3 note per string scales beginning on each of the 7 different degrees (not counting the octave, which is Ionian again), everything just sort of clicked after a while. Usage is a whole different topic, and takes considerably more time - I would call this a more or less ongoing process, in the same way that improving writing ability is more or less never-ending. But essentially when improvising in say, D Dorian, I’ll think in terms of C Ionian for keeping my brain straight on the fretboard. Just know that your target tones will, obviously, be different (and certain scale degrees accent certain modes – this is another reason relating them to the Ionian mode is useful for understanding). If I’m off-target and you’re asking more about how to compose modally, this is still helpful, but you probably already know this in some way, shape, or form.

    If you’re writing music, it’s not nearly as important to have this kind of thing available on the fly. The above can still help think through things a bit faster, though.

    Birch’s suggestion is good, just don’t confuse what he’s asking you to do with the CAGED system. Personal opinion here, but don’t use that system, ever. In fact, if you’ve never heard of it, forget I said anything. Nothing happened here. This body of text does not exist.

    I hope some of this made sense and wasn’t too rambly. I’m bored at work and my mind is wandering. Wheeeeeee.
     
  6. VBCheeseGrater

    VBCheeseGrater not quite a shredder

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    I've found mixolydian useful for doing Grateful Dead solos. That's about the extent of my use of modes.

    Then again and probably as a result, i'm one of those guys that gets stuck in box patterns when soloing quite a bit
     
  7. trippled

    trippled SS.org Regular

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    I kinda do the process some of you mentioned, I'm familiar with the mode shapes and whenever I use modes I just relate the shape to it's relative major scale and can then use the mode across the fretboard.

    My question was if I should actually re-arrange the shapes in my mind so that I'll see the modes root as the root in the patterns when I'm improvising cause what I do today is using the patterns I already know and let my fingers and ears guide me - from my understanding this is what you guys do as well?
     
  8. Indigenous

    Indigenous Indigenous

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    Speaking from a jazz perspective, I NEVER use modes to improvise on a tune unless the tune is specifically modal. I find it much more practical to improvise around the chord tones, like the 3rds and 7ths. If you look at a ii-V-I progression and think Dorian, Mixolydian, and then Ionian, I find that you kind of miss the forest for the trees. You never hear a good musician run a different scale for each chord change, because it doesn't sound musical.

    What I DO find modes useful for is color changes relative to one another. For example, if I play a ii-V-I in C major (Dm7, G7, Cmaj7), the mode technically called for on the Cmaj7 chord is Ionian. However, I also have the option of playing C mixolydian, which will give a darker sound from the flat 7, or I can play C lydian, which will give a brighter sound due to the sharp 4. This is how I think about modes in regards to improvisation and music in general. I can more in depth if you want more explanation. Good luck, and happy practicing!
     
  9. trippled

    trippled SS.org Regular

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    Yeah but don't you use the appropriate mode to connect those chord tones?
     
  10. All_¥our_Bass

    All_¥our_Bass Deathly Chuuni

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    You left out C Lydian Dominant (C D E F# G A Bb), but still good post.

    It also depends on how long each chord sticks around for, otherwise one should attempt to choose scales that fit more than one chord.
    Running C Ionian over a brisk I IV V I or ii V I would work better than trying to change modes on each chord, but if each chord sits around for a while...

    Over a C major chord chord one could play
    C Ionian (Plain Major)
    C Lydian (#4)
    C Mixolydian (b7)
    C Lydian Dominant (#4 b7)
    C Phrygian Dominant (b2 b6 b7)
    C Harmonic Major (b6 instead of maj6)
    C Melodic Major (b6,b7 instead of maj6,maj7)

    Over Am:
    A Aeolian (Plain Minor)
    A Melodic Minor (maj6,maj7 instead of b6,b7)
    A Harmonic Minor (maj7 instead of b7)
    A Phrygian (b2)
    A Dorian (maj6 instead of b6)
    [there are others but they are lesser known and not used very often]

    The rule that relates these scale/chord pairings is they share notes, all of the modes are on the same root as their chord and have the same 3rds and 5ths, with degrees 2/4/6/7 for flavor (since the chord itself doesn't contain these one can pick what simply feels/sounds best to them).

    But when your chords have more notes you get less freedom this way-there's more possible scale/chord conflict.
    For example, playing mixolydian (maj scale w/ a b7) on a maj7 chord probably isn't the wisest choice.

    But certain 'wrong' notes played quickly as passing tones can sound good while adding interest and flavor-just don't 'hang' on the 'bad' note too long without resolving it.

    All of these are of course guidelines, but it should be more than enough to get you started.
     
  11. viesczy

    viesczy SS.org Regular

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    The way to practice modes is to set up a loop and let your ear play over the progression, paying attention to how the mode influences the progression.

    Hear the personality/color/timbre/life the modes have, hear the tension and hear it resolve. Hearing that and then apply it to your own ideas/personality.

    The mechanics of mode formation are easy as if you can correctly run a scale, BAM you have all the modes. Folks over think that aspect of it and rarely take enough time to make the personality/color/life/timbre of the mode theirs.

    Or am I misunderstanding what you're looking to do?

    Derek
     
  12. Indigenous

    Indigenous Indigenous

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    Technically, yes, but I don't think of it in that sense at all. I'm only thinking about chord tones, such as connected third to third, or resolving seventh to third. It feels more practical and natural to me to think ii-V-I in C major than to think D dorian, G mixolydian, C ionian. Technically they are the same thing, but to me it's like calling C to E a diminished fourth, and just confuses the issue.

    In regards to All Your Bass, yes I did leave out Lydian Dominant, but I didn't want to get into modes of melodic minor. You are absolutely right though.
     
  13. All_¥our_Bass

    All_¥our_Bass Deathly Chuuni

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    I understand why you wouldn't want to get into modes of melodic or harmonic minor for a beginner but... the OP directly stated a jazz context, and Lydian Dominant is rather common in jazz. Thus, I thought it should be mentioned.
     
  14. viesczy

    viesczy SS.org Regular

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    I was thinking about this thread all night... forget all about modes and go all Derek Bailey! ;)

    Folks "thought" he was genius! :nuts:

    j/k

    One of the easiest way is just to get into the bebop dominant and/or major scales. Add that passing tone btween the 6th & 7th, or the 5th and 6th. It'll get you used to not just playing the notes of said key and open your ears/creativity up.

    Derek
     
  15. GJaunz

    GJaunz SS.org Regular

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    My approach to getting used to modes is to take one major scale and go through all the modes of it. This way you don't have to think about the fingering at all, just think about accenting to new tonic note each time you switch modes. I made a jam track for practicing it like this:

     

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