Author Topic: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...  (Read 2442 times)

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #125 on: April 05, 2021, 08:02:38 am »
The thing with modal chord progressions is you need to approach them differently than you would a typical major key or minor key chord progression. Major and minor music is so ubiquitous, so common place that we need to briefly look at their workings.

In the Dice Songwriting lesson, Justin brilliantly discusses and demonstrates how a major chord progression can be made up of any random chord progression from the diatonic chords of the major scale. He does make sure to begin the sequence on the tonic chord of C, the ‘home base’. Then, by rolling the dice, he allows the chord progression to take a walk, to amble around at will, in any direction, knowing that all will be well and it will return back home as required.

Major key music, put simply, does this. It allows any of the diatonic chords to be played in virtually any order and they will sound good and feel good – especially when they return home to the tonic. This good feeling and this happy homecoming are particularly satisfying if the return is achieved through a dominant to tonic resolution (V7 to I … G7 to C in the key of C major). Although it must be noted that other chords also lead back to the tonic chord perfectly well too.

Minor key music has a similar openness and flexibility. Chord progressions in minor keys can also journey through long and winding paths of diatonic chords, exploring and enjoying the sights and sounds before a return home. There is one small point that needs to be made here, namely that minor key progressions frequently achieve their resolution and a more resounding resolution back home by substituting the minor v chord for a V7 chord. Analysis of this requires study of borrowing out of key chords and the harmonic minor. It is outside of our sights here so, now noted, can be set aside.

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #126 on: April 05, 2021, 08:03:31 am »
Let us think about some frequently used progressions in the major and minor keys.

Being aware of course that major = Ionian and minor = Aeolian.

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #127 on: April 05, 2021, 08:03:51 am »
Typical major chord progressions, used countless times in countless songs.

C, F, G, C … I, IV, V progressions … rock ‘n’ roll & much, much more.

audio track C major chord progression I, IV, V

C, G, Am, F, C … I, V, vi, IV progressions … the famous 4-chord song trick.

audio track C major chord progression I, V, vi, IV

C, G, Am, Em, F, C, F, G … I, V, vi, iii, IV, I, IV, V progressions (a la Pachelbel’s Canon … a variation on the theme of a 1, 4, 5 where the chords have been taken for a little meander before the 4 and 5 appear to take us home).

audio track C major chord progression I, V, vi, iii, IV, I, IV, V

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #128 on: April 05, 2021, 08:04:45 am »
Typical minor chord progressions, also used many times in popular music.

Cm, Fm, Gm … i, iv, v (a minor version of the 1, 4, 5).

audio track C minor chord progression i, iv, v

Cm, Ab, Eb, Bb … i, VI, III, VII (beloved of countless ballads and more).

audio track C minor chord progression i, VI, III, VII

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #129 on: April 05, 2021, 08:07:33 am »
The point about major and minor key music is that (almost) anything goes. It is possible to take any of the chords associated with the major and minor scales, throw them together willy-nilly and end up with a progression that sounds anywhere between reasonable and great. Then for melodic purposes, it will simply be a case of getting creative and improvisational with the major or minor scale respectively.
To reiterate Justin when improvising – all notes are equal but some notes are more equal than others. When you do create a major or a minor progression and improvise over the top, now and again, you will need to listen attentively and be judicious with some of the notes over some of the chords. But, overall, in simple terms, it will all sound mostly good most of the time.
Easy peasy.

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #130 on: April 05, 2021, 08:09:19 am »
The same cannot be said for modal progressions, that are not Ionian or Aeolian however.

Remember the rotating arc around the 12-colour circle of fifths?

Remember how we saw that each mode deviates from a major scale by way of either having a single sharp note (Lydian) or an increasing number of flat notes (Mixolydian through to Locrian)?

Those deviations from the major scale formula are the very heart of the different qualities of the modes and how they sound. They are the flavours, the colour tones, the unique characteristics. They are the colour blends. When seeking to play modal music, it is important to consciously bring those notes to the fore, to give them their due prominence, to highlight them and spotlight their characters.

It is not enough to randomly happen upon these special notes, playing them with no particular thought for what their personality is and what they will sound like. This is precisely what I did when creating the ‘modal melody’ for the audio tracks above. I composed a simple melody, making sure to run through all seven notes of each mode in ascending and descending movements. I deliberately gave equal billing to all of the notes in all of the modes, thus overlooking and neglecting the concept that Justin teaches: ‘all notes are equal, but some notes are more equal than others.’ Instead of creating a musical meal of delicious and subtle flavours, I stirred everything up in one big pot and created a mushy stew of perhaps bland texture and taste.

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #131 on: April 05, 2021, 08:11:01 am »
Well … what then?

Well, first of all, the chord progressions need to be created with much more care and thought. The dice method is not going to give good results for modal progressions. The whole point of modal music is that it does not, should not, will not, sound quite like major or minor music. It needs to sound different, other, fresh, unexpected. It needs offer us a different tastes and textures. And the chord progressions help to achieve this with a focus clearly placed on several vital ingredients.

The tonic of the progression needs to be emphasised, embedded, thoroughly established as home base.

A drone note playing the root note of the tonic can ground the progression within the mode.

The colour tones need to be picked out and emphasised as much as possible by selecting chords containing those notes. Making much use of extended chords, not simple triads, can be a big part of this.

Modal chords each have a unique ordering and combinations of major and minor and diminished chords when compared to a familiar major or minor scale. These need to be utilised to reveal the characteristic nature of the modes.

The chord that is the tonic of the Parent Major Scale is a chord to avoid as it can easily trick the ear and usurp the modal tonic, making you think that the progression is actually a standard major type. The tonic of the relative minor scale will also pull away from the modal flavour in similar style.

If the tonic of the Parent Major Scale is something to avoid, so too is the dominant 7th chord of the Parent Major Scale that would naturally resolve to it.

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #132 on: April 05, 2021, 08:11:20 am »
In this next step, to help make sense of modal progressions and to make use of them for improvisation, we will revisit the basic lists of chords associated with each mode, provide additional information for each, including their quality, their numeric tag and possible extensions to the chords, and listen to improvise over some backing tracks.

We will focus only on the three major and the three minor modes, ignoring awkward Locrian again.

For each mode, we will have:

a] the scale with its scale degrees;

b] the triad chords plus a select few extension chords (these chosen deliberately as they contain the colour notes);

c] some notes on the notes / themes that make each mode sound unique;

d] an audio track providing a chord progression (with a droning bass playing the root note C in straight 8ths across all bars);

e] a pdf of the Guitar Pro file for the backing track;

f] a suggested scale pattern to use as an improvisational start point.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2021, 09:40:36 am by close2u »

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #133 on: April 05, 2021, 08:15:43 am »
C Ionian - Triads and simple extended chords

C, D, E, F, G, A, B
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

             Triads                    Extensions
I            C = C, E, G               Cmaj7 = C, E, G, B
ii           Dm = D, F, A              Dm7 = D, F, A, C
iii          Em = E, G, B              Em7 = E, G, B, D
IV           F = F, A, C               Fmaj7 = F, A, C, E
V            G = G, B, D               G7 = G, B, D, F
vi           Am = A, C, E              Am7 = A, C, E, G
vii          Bdim = B, D, F


Here's a progression making use of several chords, all resolving happily to C major at the end.

audio track C Ionian chord progression

pdf with TAB for audio track

I encourage you to improvise some melody / lead parts over this using this scale pattern from above.



Make something up yourself too.
Select from chords 1 to 6, roll your dice and make merry! :)
Improvise over it.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2021, 09:35:18 am by close2u »

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #134 on: April 05, 2021, 08:26:36 am »
C Lydian - Triads and simple extended chords containing the colour tones

C, D, E, F#, G, A, B
1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, 7

             Triads                    Extensions
I            C = C, E, G               Cmaj7 = C, E, G, B
II           D = D, F#, A
iii          Em = E, G, B              Em9 = E, G, B, D, F#
#ivo         F#dim = F#, A, C
V            G = G, B, D               Gmaj7 = G, B, D, F#
vi           Am = A, C, E
vii          Bm = B, D, F#             Bm7 = B, D, F#, A


The main colour tone is the #4 and chords containing this can help to emphasise the Lydian quality.
The unique aspect in terms of chords is the major I - major II.
A classic Lydian movement in a chord progressions is from a major tonic to a major a whole tone higher.

Here is another short progression. The chords focus heavily on the tonic chord with visits out to the major II and the minor vii, both of which contain the #4.

audio track C Lydian chord progression

pdf with TAB for audio track

Improvise over this using this scale pattern.


« Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 04:58:17 pm by close2u »

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #135 on: April 05, 2021, 08:54:55 am »
C Mixolydian - Triads and simple extensions containing the colour tones

C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7

             Triads                    Extensions
I            C = C, E, G               C7 = C, E, G, Bb
ii           Dm = D, F, A
iiio         Edim = E, G, Bb
IV           F = F, A, C
v            Gm = G, Bb, D
vi           Am = A, C, E
bVII         Bb = Bb, D, F             Bmaj7 = Bb, D, F, A


The colour tone here is the b7 and the unique chord combination is a major I with a major chord a whole tone below it - the bVII. Many (rock) mixolydian progressions use just three majors - the I, bVII and IV. Note that the minor v also contains the b7 note so is a good choice to highlight that flavour.

The audio track I have created for you to use as a backing track mainly uses the I and the bVII with a small sprinkling of the v chord too.

audio track C Mixolydian chord progression

pdf with TAB for audio track

Improvise using this scale pattern from earlier.

« Last Edit: April 06, 2021, 09:33:43 am by close2u »

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #136 on: April 05, 2021, 09:06:29 am »
C Aeolian - triads and simple extensions containing the colour tones

C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb
1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7

            Triads                   Extensions
i           Cm = C, Eb, G            Cm7 = C, Eb, G, Bb
iio         Ddim = D, F, Ab
bIII        Eb = Eb, G, Bb           Ebmaj7 = E, G, Bb, D
iv          Fm = F, Ab, C            Fm7 = F, Ab, C, Eb
v           Gm = G, Bb, D            G7 = G, B, D, F [an out-of-key substitution]
bVI         Ab = Ab, C, Eb                     
bVII        Bb = Bb, D, F

As with the Ionian progression, there is much scope to make use of many chords in creating a chord progression here. The b3 note - making this a minor mode - is an obvious feature and appears in the tonic plus several other chords and their extensions. Note that many minor chord progressions substitute the v for a V7 to give a more resounding resolution back to the tonic. In doing so, strictly speaking, the music has moved away from Aeolian and into using the harmonic minor scale. As that is beyond the terms of reference here we shall not include its use.

The chord progression I have made as a sample / backing track makes generous use of the i, i7, iv, v, bvi and bvii chords.

audio track C Aeolian chord progression

pdf with TAB for audio track

Use this scale pattern to improvise.




« Last Edit: April 06, 2021, 09:38:27 am by close2u »

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #137 on: April 05, 2021, 09:07:25 am »
C Dorian - Triads and simple extensions containing the colour tones

C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb
1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7

            Triads                   Extensions
i           Cm = C, Eb, G            Cm6 = C, Eb, G, A
ii          Dm = D, F, A
bIII        Eb = Eb, G, Bb
IV          F = F, A, C
v           Gm = G, Bb, D                       
vi0         Adim = A, C, Eb                     
bVII        Bb = Bb, D, F             Bb7 = Bb, D, F, A

Dorian is a minor mode so the b3 is a necessary note to play around with. The unique feature of Dorian, in relation to the other minor modes, is that it has a natural 6, not a b6, so this is where you can extract its unique flavour.

audio track C Dorian progression

pdf with TAB for audio track

« Last Edit: April 06, 2021, 09:36:54 am by close2u »

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #138 on: April 05, 2021, 09:30:21 am »
C Phrygian - triads and simple extensions containing the colour tones

C, Db, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb
1, b2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7

            Triads                   Extensions
i           Cm = C, Eb, G            Cm7 = C, Eb, G, Bb
bII         Db = Db, F, Ab
bIII        Eb = Eb, G, Bb           Eb7 = E, G, Bb, Db
iv          Fm = F, Ab, C
vo          Gdim = G, Bb, Db
bVI         Ab = Ab, C, Eb                     
bvii        Bbm = Bb, Db, F

The big deal with Phrygian is the b2 note and the bII chord it gives rise to. This is unique among the six modes we are concentrating on here. This potent flavour note is an essential ingredient though does need using carefully so as not to overpower the overall mix.

The chord progression provided emphasises the tonic chord with forays to the bII and short bursts of the bvii which also contain the b2 note.

audio track C Phrygian progression

pdf of Guitar Pro Tab for audio track

Improvise usinig this scale pattern.


« Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 04:52:43 pm by close2u »

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #139 on: April 07, 2021, 04:21:21 pm »
Hi Richard

Just reporting in to say I am still here and still enjoying the journey. From a playing/listening perspective, I have been listening to the pre test examples and focusing on trying to identify the differences more clearly and where they occur. But I have read up to this point and it is really enlightening information and knowledge. Its been a few days since I jammed over those Southern Rock tracks but I am now beginning to understand why hanging around vi bvii i sounds good in Dorian, Aeolian and Mixolydian such that I could stay there all day. The scale patterns all look familiar so something is lodging upstairs !

Looking forward actually doing the first impro "tonic" exercises and listening to these latest progression, especially Phrygian as the bvi bvii i intrigues me. :o

So keep it coming and I'll let you know when my head explodes.

Cheers

Toby
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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #140 on: April 08, 2021, 08:20:35 am »
...
I have read this with great interest, listened with curious ears, and filed for future reference.  For to follow this path into Modal Wonderland would be a distraction for me at present....

If it makes an interesting read in its own right then that is good for me. I totally understand and commend you on not allowing curiosity and distraction to steal your concentration away.

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #141 on: April 08, 2021, 08:21:28 am »
... some of it must be sinking in as at least I got the Mixo chords right !

Good stuff!

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #142 on: April 08, 2021, 08:22:26 am »
OK still in catch up mode on the listening front but trying to absorb the rest very slowly.
I hope absorption is pain free and satisfying! :)

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #143 on: April 08, 2021, 08:26:20 am »
Just reporting in to say I am still here and still enjoying the journey.
And I'm very glad of it. Thanks Toby.

Quote
... I have read up to this point and it is really enlightening information and knowledge.
Thanks.

Quote
Looking forward actually doing the first impro "tonic" exercises
Could you possibly record some and share? I for one would be very interested.

Quote
So keep it coming and I'll let you know when my head explodes.
I surely don't want your head to explode. I think that there's not really much more to come. Maybe a few small chapters, footnotes, perhaps a quiz.

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #144 on: April 08, 2021, 10:52:34 am »
Richard

Great stuff and yes when I do the exercises I'll try and record, if only to get some feedback to see if I am on point. Are the tracks downloadable, as I'd prefer to drop them into Reaper and then practice on a loop, then record if I think I have found the sweet spots. I tried to save on of the other example tracks and just got a picture.  :)

Cheers

Toby
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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #145 on: April 08, 2021, 02:52:45 pm »
Sorted, thanks for the PM Richard. If others can't see the download button top right, expand the page to 100%, as mine had defaulted to an invisible 25%.  8)
Here since Mar 2013 Completed BC, RUST 1 & 2, IM, MTMS Still on Blues Rhythm and Blues Lead
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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #146 on: April 12, 2021, 09:42:41 pm »
Hi Richard I just watched Justin's new lesson on scale maestro about 3rds. Now in 11:55 he mentions that playing G major scale in key of A is G Dorian mode, I am a bit confused cause I thought that Dorian is a second mode therefore B major scale would be Dorian and G would be Locrian? I thought if he played A major scale in a key of G it would be a Dorian, unless I am missing something here (clearly I do)...

Keep on rockin' my friends


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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #147 on: April 12, 2021, 10:11:51 pm »
The A Dorian mode is the same notes as the G major scale.
Dorian is the second mode. A is the second note in the G Major scale.
So playing the G major scale with the A note as the tonal center is A Dorian

B Dorian and G# Locrian are the note of  A Major scale
G Locrian mode the parent scale is Ab

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #148 on: April 12, 2021, 10:21:24 pm »
... he mentions that playing G major scale in key of A is G Dorian mode, ...

A slip of the tongue perhaps ... or an insufficient explanation ...

"playing [ the notes of the ] G major scale in key of A is -G- A Dorian mode ..."

I have added some words and edited one part to make it more accurate.

As stitch says, A is the 2nd note of the G major scale.
When viewed in series, Dorian is the 2nd mode.

Go back to this post and transpose everything to the key of G.

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Re: Modes - an adventure, an exploration ...
« Reply #149 on: April 12, 2021, 10:30:01 pm »
Ok now I understand, transposing made more sense. I knew where to ask a question :) thank you Richard and Stitch for help!

Keep on rockin' my friends


 

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