Author Topic: An alternate way to think of modes  (Read 1985 times)

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Offline max_mue

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An alternate way to think of modes
« on: October 16, 2018, 09:14:17 am »
Thanks for sharing that Borodog :)

I'm sure this one was posted several times on the forum, but it's a good example that changing the way you look at something can make life easier.

My moment of insight has something to do with modes. It seems more complex than it actually is.
At first I thought of modes as different scales for a specific tonal centre:

Example: Modes based on C

C   D    E     F    G   A     B       - ionian (aka major )
C   D    Eb   F    G    A    Bb     - dorian
C   Db  Eb   F    G   Ab   Bb      - phrygian
C   D    E    F#  G    A    B       - lydian
C   D    E     F   G    A    Bb      - mixolydian
C   D    Eb   F   G   Ab    Bb     - aeolian (aka minor)
C   Db  Eb   F   Gb  Ab   Bb      - lokrian

This perspective implies that you'd have to memorize seven different patterns consisting of whole and half tone steps.


Fortunately the whole thing is more simple than it seems.


Example: Modes based on the C major scale

C major has the tone C as its tonal centre:
C D E F G A B C

A minor has the tone A as its tonal centre:
A B C D E F G A

If you compare the two scales you can see that both make use of the same tones, the composer just chooses a different tonal centre the musical piece gravitates to.

What would happen if you chose D as the tonal centre using the tones included in the C major scale?
You end up with D dorian!

Furthermore:

C D E F G A B                        - C major
   D E F G A B C                     - D dorian
      E F G  A B C D                 - E phrygian
         F G  A B C D E              - F lyidan
            G  A B C D E F           - G mixolydian
                 A B C D E F G       - A minor
                    B C  D E F G A   - B lokrian

This perspective implies that you only have to memorize the pattern of a major scale and start on a different step to end up with the different modes.

#Funfact:
The reason there's a different mode for every step of a major scale is of mathematical nature.
The key is that there are 7 intervals and you use half tone steps as well as whole steps.

Example: There are no different modes for a whole tone scale!

C D E F# G# A# C    - whole tone scale based on C
   D E F# G# A# C D - that's a whole tone scale as well!



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Offline Endureth

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Re: An alternate way to think of modes
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2018, 04:20:19 pm »
This perspective implies that you'd have to memorize seven different patterns consisting of whole and half tone steps.

Fortunately the whole thing is more simple than it seems.

Yes it is.  I remember when I had my eureka moment with modes, the fretboard really started to open up for me shortly after and everything became easier and more 'common sense-y'.

As for alternate picking, I never know how much 'oomph' to put behind the pick going up or down.  I always seem to get tripped up.  I suppose I really just need to dig in and practice it.


Offline DavidP

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Re: An alternate way to think of modes
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2018, 06:56:18 am »
Max, I have been mulling over this since you posted since I have been exposed to C lydian doing some of the jams over backing tracks in Guitar Challenge.  Also watching Justin's recent video on blues vocabulary mentioned adding notes from dorian mode when playing minor pentatonic.

Seeing that C lydian uses the notes of G maj scale, C is the 4 note in the scale and F lydian is on the 4 note in C maj scale.

It seems a safe bet that the sequence is always as above i.e. E dorian would be using the notes of D major ... is that correct?
« Last Edit: October 28, 2018, 09:36:45 am by close2u »

Offline max_mue

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Re: An alternate way to think of modes
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2018, 08:33:30 am »
Quote
Also watching Justin's recent video on blues vocabulary mentioned adding notes from dorian mode when playing minor pentatonic.
I haven't seen that one so I can't tell you more on that :)

Quote
It seems a safe bet that the sequence is always as above i.e. E dorian would be using the notes of D major ... is that correct?
Absolutely correct, David :)

Another way to look at it:

C major           <--->       D dorian
+2 half steps                 +2 half steps   //transposing every tone of the scales
D major           <--->        E  dorian
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Offline DavidP

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Re: An alternate way to think of modes
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2018, 09:10:24 am »
Thanks Max  :)
« Last Edit: October 28, 2018, 09:37:23 am by close2u »

Offline close2u

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Re: An alternate way to think of modes
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2018, 09:35:59 am »
… If you compare the two scales you can see that both make use of the same tones, the composer just chooses a different tonal centre the musical piece gravitates to.

That is true … the modes use exactly the same tones.
Crucially, there is more to it than that.
There are certain notes which bring the 'modal colour' - the unique sound.
They need to be emphasised.
It is not just about the root / start note.
Also, very importantly, the intervals between notes take on a whole different shift.

The Major scale is W, W, H, W, W, W, H.
The modes have different intervals and they contribute to and make for the different sounds.


Quote
... you only have to memorize the pattern of a major scale and start on a different step to end up with the different modes.

In terms of having the patterns in muscle memory I agree.
In terms of having the know-how and musical sense as to how best to make use of the unique intervallic relationships, the 'modal colour' notes and the possibility for different runs, licks, phrasing then knowing the scale pattern is just the very start.

Offline close2u

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Re: An alternate way to think of modes
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2018, 09:42:09 am »
I watched this video a while back - it took me a while to find it again.
I recall it as being a good concise summary of the flavours.



I'm watching again as I type.

Offline DavidP

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Re: An alternate way to think of modes
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2018, 02:06:23 pm »
Thanks for taking care of the housework, Richard, tidying up the detour that max and I were brewing up there.

That is a great video ... will get back to this when ... well, no idea when but provided a deeper insight into modes and what they are all about.  Meanwhile, back to my major and minor pentatonic scales.

Offline max_mue

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Re: An alternate way to think of modes
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2018, 03:59:25 pm »
Thanks for the added info & clarification Richard :)
I didn't include the intervals in the overview since it's implicated by the different starting tone, but as for their importance it should have been stated.
IIRC you are into maths, I really enjoyed reading "Music and Mathematics: Exploring the Connections" (Just in case there's an empty spot on your wishlist for christmas ;) )

Quote
In terms of having the know-how and musical sense as to how best to make use of the unique intervallic relationships, the 'modal colour' notes and the possibility for different runs, licks, phrasing then knowing the scale pattern is just the very start.
That would be a good opening sentence for the OP ^^
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Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: An alternate way to think of modes
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2018, 06:24:57 pm »
I like modes.

I always think of them both ways. In parallel and relative to each other. So whenever I'm working on something I can choose to emphasize a certain tone that implies a certain mode.

Example for relative relationships: I do this a lot with the IV chord in a major key.
If you take C major and take the IV chord which is F, and build the mode following the same notes of the C maj scale, you get F lydian. What sets F lydian apart from F major is the B natural in F lydian. So I can choose to use that B note in my F chord to get that F lydian sound in a chord.

Example for parallel relationships:
I don't use this as much, but it is essentially modal interchange, where you borrow a chord from a parallel mode. The iv (minor) chord in a major key is an example of this. The iv chord is borrowed from the aeolian mode.
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Offline EarlyMorningRain

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Re: An alternate way to think of modes
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2018, 04:15:15 pm »
Very cool! I think the trick with modes to learn them from as many angles as you can because we will all understand them a bit differently

 

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