Suggest a concise and easy to pickup method for modes

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by Descent, Aug 28, 2019.

  1. HungryGuitarStudent

    HungryGuitarStudent Regular

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    Sep 7, 2013
    Here are two concise and clear guitar centric explanations. The books are very cheap on Amazon. If you’re broke, I’m sure PDF copies live somewhere on the internet.

    Fretboard theory volume 1, chapter 9.

    Guitar theory for dummies, chapter 13.
    Evil Chuck and c7spheres like this.
  2. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Aug 17, 2004
    Somerville, MA
    I'm not sure I follow this, particularly the bolded bit.

    If you're playing "D Dorian" in C major, you're playing C major. End of story. All of the pitches you're playing are in the key of C, and no matter how you're thinking of the scale, you're resolving to C, not D, so the overall harmony is C major.
    If you're playing "D Dorian" in D major, you're playing a bunch of either "bad" or "outside" notes, notably the b7 and the b3 that doon't belong in D major. Trying to ram those in is going to be extremely challenging, but you're essentially trying to make a Dorian tonality work in a major harmony, which.... ehh... Can work in bluesy sort of frameworks but you're going to have to treat those notes pretty carefully.
    If you're playing "D Dorian" in D minor, again, you're running into outside notes, in this case the major 6th clashing with the minor 6th of the overall harmony. You can probably ram it through if your phrasing is strong enough but, for example, the iv is going to pose some challenges since in D Dorian that's a major, not minor, chord.

    If you're playing "D Dorian" in the key of D with a harmonic framework built off the Dorian mode - say a Dm-G7-Dm-Am vamp - then you're playing in D Dorian. You could get cute and try to call that a ii-V-ii-vi vamp in C, but if you're not actually ever resolving to a C chord that's not really what's happening musically. Instead, what you're doing is resolving to D minor, but in a harmonic context where chords are harmonized out of a minor scale with a major 6th interval, which IS the Dorian scale.

    The concept of relative minor for a major scale is pretty apt here, you physically CAN describe the harmony in terms of the major scale, but to do so ignores how the cadence and resolution of the progression is functioning. In the case of C major and A minor (C Ionian and A Aeolean), any chord progression in one can be described in terms of the other, but if you're resolving to the A minor throughout, then it's not a C major progression, it's an A minor one. Any of the modes are no different.
  3. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    Jan 13, 2017
    I think you explained it perfectly. Originally a page back when you were saying D dorian is in the Key of D. I was assuming D major as well. Ramming the bad notes or not can be useful. If you play outside notes the right way or with the right inflection or techniques they can work very well.
    - It's all about how the bad note is approached (what came before it and how the outside note is played) and what is played after it.
    - I have a thing I always say that goes like this "It's not what you play, it's what you play next." Meaning, you can literally take any sound or noise or note (or silence), and depending on what comes after it (even nothing/rest), will determine the actual signifigance of what you just played. Think about it. I later realized Miles Davis already had a similar quote. I was so stoked about it when my buddy told me.
    - Miles Davis “It's not the note you play that's the wrong note – it's the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong.”

    - That's what I was saying whenI said it's like an infinity machine. All this stuff can be explained so many ways to say the same thing. It's a benefit and detriment at the same time. The way I really like to see things personally are all in terms of the Major scale being altered, relative and parallel formulas, chord types, rhytym, technique and a couple other things. I find that most everyone you talk to learned differently and so there is an adjustment period to bridge the communication gaps.

    I love this stuff, but I llike just jamming more.
    Winspear likes this.
  4. chopeth

    chopeth Regular

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    Jul 15, 2011
    Creative Guitar and Cutting-Edge Techniques
    c7spheres likes this.
  5. Bforber

    Bforber Regular

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    May 3, 2014
    Davenport, IA
    "I don't particularly like modes a lot" is the phrase I learned for remembering the order.
  6. sirbuh

    sirbuh Regular

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    Jan 10, 2010
    Midwest US
    RC's approach is heavy muscle memory, which has its place.
    Brett Miller's Modes No More Confusion is a quick chapbook that should fit the bill wrt to theory.
    Evil Chuck likes this.

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