Modal Vamps

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by tacorivers, Feb 2, 2010.

  1. tacorivers

    tacorivers Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm working through The Advancing Guitarist and the first chapter on single string playing. Anyway, I think that I understand the term modal vamp, but I wanted to make sure that I understand the concept (and yes I worked through the examples that he gives-VERY SLOWLY AS MY MUSIC READING SKILLS ARE SORELY LACKING). Anyway, here is what I got out of the material:

    1. The purpose of a modal vamp is to create a static (or nearly static) harmony over which one can play the various modes.

    2. The modal vamp does not "resolve" like a I IV V progression would resolve.

    3. A modal vamp can contain a number of different chords (subject to point # 2).

    4. A simple vamp can be created using a chord built off of the tonic of the relevant mode (built by stacking third intervals using the notes of the relevant tonic).

    5. Another vamp can be created with slash chords using the IV and V of the parent scale.

    Here are my questions:

    1. Assuming that I am using the tonic chord from the relevant mode, can I also use chords built off of the other notes in the mode? If so, are there notes in the mode that I should avoid ?

    2. Am I trying to avoid chords that tend to resolve to the I of the parent major scale? It seems like I would not want to avoid a resolution to the I of the relevant mode.


    Thanks for any help on this. Oh, and if you do not already have it, you should go out and buy the "Advancing Guitarist."
     
  2. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    Man, what an awful way to learn music. Let's take the phrase modal vamp, but take the word modal out of it. So what's a vamp? Here's a definition I looked up:

    Which is basically correct, although it's not always short, and it's not always an intro. But the point is it repeats, which means that it doesn't really resolve. That's why a vamp is different than a tag, a tag means you repeat the last couple bars of a tune (such as a I-VI-ii-V), but those tend to resolve.

    My point is that generally any vamp is going to be a modal vamp by default.

    So, on to the questions:

    Well, in guess a modal vamp there are no avoid notes because there's no functioning harmony. That's why generally a vamp will be based on a minor chord- Amin | D7, Amin | Bbmaj7, Amin | Emin, etc. So you have chords which imply a mode/tonality but do not resolve.

    If you decide to use a major chord then generally the natural 4th is an avoid note. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't play it or automatically switch to a raised 4th, it just means you shouldn't hang on it.



    This is why I was suggesting taking the word modal out of it. I'm sure Goodrick has good intentions with what he's trying to show you, but really none of this stuff will matter in the real world. Let's say you have A major, and you want to do something like Amaj7 | Dmaj7 or Amaj7 | E7 for a vamp- nobody's going to call you out on it. For instance, take Amaj7 | E7, but throw am E pedal underneath the whole thing, is that now a modal vamp?
     
  3. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Not exactly. Any particular modal vamp will usually be designed for one particular mode. Sometimes a vamp may permit 2 or 3 different (parallel) ones.
    True. There should be no sense of "tendency" in the chords, ie, a suggestion of forward movement (chords "leading" in the direction of a tonic). Modal harmony is static - like exploring a mood, rather than telling a story.
    Yes. The more it contains, the more likely it is to be only suitable for one mode.
    A single (triad) chord vamp will permit 3 modes: either 3 major ones or 3 minor ones, depending on the chord.
    Yes...
    But generally in jazz, modal vamps are NOT based on building in 3rds - they tend to use quartal chords: built mainly in 4ths, with occasional 2nds or 5ths, and maybe an odd incidental 3rd if one creeps in.
    Quartal chords have the advantage of ambiguity - they don't remind you of functional chords (chords with a role in a major or minor key). They don't have any clear identity, or any "leading" imperative. They just hang there! (Tense possibly, but kind of undecided...;))
    True - but it needs to be a bit more specific to be clear.
    If you are using the tonic chord, then you have an Ionian vamp.
    A common additional chord would be IV or ii, alternating with I. (This is quite a common sound in rock and R&B.)
    Any more chords, and you will end up with a major key sequence, or cycle, not really a "vamp" at all!
    Normally yes. Of course if your vamp is Ionian (based on the tonic chord), then you are kind of "resolved" there all the time anyhow.
    If you're in any other mode, you can avoid resolution by simply avoiding the tonic chord, and maintaining the vamp.
    Eg, a dorian vamp is typically ii-V (eg Am-D7 in A dorian) which - in key-based music - is a standard change pointing strongly towards resolution on I (G). But if you keep the vamp going, the tonal centre settles on A. (IOW, the chords become i-IV in dorian, not ii-V in the relative major.)
    But however many times you cycle Am7-D7, as soon as you hit a G the dorian modal feel is destroyed, and you are slap bang in G major.
     
  4. SRVYJM

    SRVYJM Member

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    Jon, you mean any time you hit a G note, or a G major chord? I played a vamp of Am7-D7 and played the G note without it sounding like it wanted to resolve to G at all, it still sounded very much like it wanted to resolve to A. I played a lot more A pentatonic then a full dorian scale of A, but for flavor I played the #6, and it still sounded like it wanted to resolve in A minor to me. I played more blues lines then a jazz thing, but still, A minor all the way.

    How else would modes work if everything always wanted to resolve to the Ionian chord as a tonic?

    As an example, I played this progression

    A minor- G major- F major- E minor and it wanted to resolve to E minor, very Phrygian sounding, and I of coursed emphasized that in what I played, but it still sounded resoundly Phrygian to me, not like a G major at all, even though all four chords are in the G major scale.

    4:06 in the morning here, good thing there is something to do this early when I can't get back to sleep!
     
  5. tacorivers

    tacorivers Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks for all of the help. To clarify, none of my comments came directly from Goodrick. He only suggests that one play single string modes over a modal vamp and provides some examples. My points were generated by my own research into modal vamps.
     
  6. tacorivers

    tacorivers Silver Supporting Member

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    This is a great explanation! Especially since I'm listing to Kind of Blue right now.
     
  7. JonR

    JonR Member

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    G chord. A G note is perfectly fine of course (as you say).
    Uh, no they ain't: F is in C, not G major. ;) (OK, you can kick yourself now... :))
    Moral - don't tangle with theory in the early hours... ;)

    Some would argue that Am-G-F-Em is an "Andalusian cadence" in A minor - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andalusian_cadence - although strictly that should have an E major final chord, pointing more clearly back to the Am tonic.

    Neil Young's "Like A Hurricane" uses your sequence, implying the A minor key (A aeolian mode), tho he tags a G on the end of it - maybe in case holding the Em does sound too much like a phrygian tonic?
    ||Am - - - |Am - - - |G - - - |G - - - |
    |Fmaj7 - - - |Fmaj7 - - - |Em - - - |G - - - ||

    I agree with you, it can certainly (without that last G) sound at least as much like a iv-III-II-i in E phrygian as a i-VII-VI-v in A aeolian. That effect would be underlined, of course, by holding the Em longer than the other chords.

    In terms of this topic, it isn't really a "vamp" - too many chords. It's a phrygian sequence or cycle.
    An E phrygian vamp might be:
    |Em - - - |Em - F - |
    - round and round.
    Or - in modal jazz - just a one chord Esusb9 (E7sus4b9), which is basically Dm6/E, or Bm7b5/E.
     
  8. SRVYJM

    SRVYJM Member

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    That kick hurt. I'm not going to go back and edit out my idiocy any longer. Happens too often, especially at 4am!

    OK, cool. I thought it sounded ok!
     
  9. dlguitar64

    dlguitar64 Member

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  10. hacker

    hacker Member

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    dlguitar,

    Great playing there. what chords are you playing in the Mixolydian Vid?
     
  11. dlguitar64

    dlguitar64 Member

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    thanks!i was alternating d and c triads over a d bass note.
     
  12. Luke

    Luke Senior Member

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    Frank Gambale has a YouTube video on modal vamps.

    He uses the four and five chords of the mode and keeps a static bass note of the mode's Root.

    The modes of C Major:

    C Ionian
    D Dorian
    E Phrygian
    F Lydian
    G Mixolydian
    A Aeolian
    B Locrian


    So let's pick E Phrygian:

    Notes are:

    E F G A B C D

    So he would play the A to B back and forth with the an E as the bassiest note.

    The chords would be:

    A-7/E and B-7b5/E

    Of course you can skip the 7ths and just go:

    Am/E and B flat5/E
     
  13. kimock

    kimock Member

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    That's good stuff, huh?
    Hacker, this is partially in response to your Mix vamp chord question, and partially a general reminder for everybody that you may want to consider what I would consider two preliminary stages to where you guys are picking this up relative to the melodic improv component.

    I'm not going to get to into this, it's too much for this format to explain briefly, but if you want to get a handle on the melodic stuff, you need to start with just a drone, R 5 R, and play the pitches in tune, unambiguously in Just Intonation. Yeah, that's a PITA, but figure it out.

    After that, you might consider extending that short R 5 R spine of 5ths up and or down one 5th, and see what that brings to the table. In the key of A for example A E B supports Lydian in a useful way, and kinda counterintuitively A E D or E A D won't sink major as long as A stays in the bass.

    If you can get a handle on that, and you can with a little work, when you get back to Equal temperament and you start looking for harmony for your vamp, you'll discover that there are multiple melodic meanings for those pitches other than the drone 5ths depending on what other pitches they associate with.
    Again, in A Mix, you're going to get different affects from associating the B with A and E, and the F# with E and B than you will if you associate B with G and D, and F# with D and A.

    It's the difference between hearing those pitches as a part of a stack of 5ths or as stacks of thirds. You can also hear that G as an overtonal 7th, but don't tell JonR;).

    Anyway, there's always a "stack of 5ths" interpretation for the mode and a "stack of 3rds" interpretation. The harmony you choose for your vamp might lean one way or the other, which is cool, but obviously by the time you get to triads G D A for MIX, you're in a really different place than if you were just using a single voicing like A F# G B, where the entire chord is open to interpretation. The melodic portion of the program will follow suit.
    Anyway, Hacker, try that chord for MIX. Throw an E on top if you want.

    Again, I'm not going to get into the specific tunings here for the modes, but they started out as tunings, and if you don't get back to that at some point, you're gonna miss out on a lot of the melodic potential, and harmonic flexibility of the modal approach in general as it makes the translation from unambiguous Just tuning to the multiple meanings of the pitches in Equal temperament.

    It's not just major scales with different roots. Straight up major would include 12 different meanings for those 7 pitches, and you can and will use them all eventually, either by design or by accident. You might want to look into that when you're feeling ready.
     
  14. Kappy

    Kappy Supporting Member

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    I took his lesson to mean this:

    The IV and V chords of the mother scale with the bass note of the mode underneath.

    So, to use your example, E phrygian comes out of C major/ionian. The IV and V chords of C major/ionian are F & G respectively. So vamp on F & G major, while playing an E bass. That will capture the sound of E phrygian for you to blow over. If you keep the same vamp chords (F & G), but change the bass note to any note out of C major, you will capture the sound of that mode. For instance D in the bass under a F & G vamp will yield D dorian, F in the bass will yield F lydian, G = Mixo, etc. etc. through all 7 modes.

    Seems simpler to me, but whatever works best for you is always the best.

    Dave
     
  15. hacker

    hacker Member

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    Kimock-I'm a little confused by your post. Are you suggesting that one cannot appreciate modal playing without retuning your guitar? Or that using just intonation simply accentuates the feel?

    I fully understand that modes are not just meant to be "major scales with different roots." I understand the progressions associated with the different modes and can recognize most of them by ear as well.

    I also appreciate the use of a drone note(s) in practicing modes. I have done this on both piano and guitar.

    What i couldnt figure out was the chords the gentlemen in the video was playing in the upper registers.

    Thanks for the lesson though!
     
  16. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Hi Hacker, I'm not suggesting anything, I'm coming right out and and saying as a statement of fact that there is a progression from the use of the specific non-modulatory, non-tempered Just intervals that are the sound of the mode with a drone, through the microtonal melodic adjustment of those same intervals with the various triads in Equal Temperament, to the use of the tempered modulatory pitches with non-triadic inversions of modal harmony. You guys are starting at the wrong end of that progression for the modal playing to be anything other than kind of a blur, but you're just starting. So keep an eye or an ear on that, because at some point down the road you're gonna have to relearn a bunch of stuff. Y'all are skipping ahead of the modal thing in a way that's preventing you from taking full advantage of the available musical potential.

    That's good!

    OK, so what was the difference?

    D and C triad shapes, A minor 7 if you want to call the open A string a chord tone as opposed to part of a drone. It's MIX straight up for sure, but that specific harmony is directing traffic in a way that limits the melodic application because your ear is still dealing with unambiguous triads in an Equal Tempered setting. So the general melodic application is scale-wise with skips of thirds, and the 3rd degree of the mode doesn't show up as other than the major 3rd of D.

    That's why I gave you that other voicing,
    in the key of D it would be: D B C E.
    If you tune your low E down to D you can just play that C on the G string 5th fret and strum the thing open. That's MIX too, but no triads.
    Now you have two meanings for the D B F# and C that you can invoke by context and you've expanded the musical resources of the mode quite a bit.

    That bit that dlguitar64 played was great, I dug it, but it's neither the intonation of Mixolydian nor its range. It's a slice, a nice slice, but just a slice.
    The triads have a limiting effect on the application of the didymic pairs.
    The quartal nature of modern modal harmony was brought up earlier, this is why. It's easier to hear and apply the difference between the triadic "stack of 3rds" sounds over the non-triadic harmony than it is to make the "stacks of 4ths or 5ths" sounds stick over those unambiguous triads.

    That's why at some point you want to explore and make the distinctions between "Just Dronality" with zero pitch ambiguity, Modal Triads in either JI or ET, and the full application of modern ET modal practice without triads.
    But you got to start at the top and get the **** in tune first if you want to do that.


    You're welcome! No biggie, just food for thought.:bonk
     
  17. stratoskier

    stratoskier Member

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    I hate to switch modes, but...

    Can anyone suggest something analagous to Gambale's major modes approach for learning/practicing modes of the melodic minor? BTW -- dkaplowitz had it right. Gambale suggests practicing the major modes using a vamp built from the 4 and 5 chords of the underlying major mode, with a bass drone = root of the desired mode. So that'd be F/E to G/E for a Phygian vamp.

    Of course, melodic minor harmony is much more complex (or unfamiliar?) than major mode harmony. Gambale's approach works nicely for the major modes because (as he explains it) a given set of two major triads a whole step apart is unique and characteristic to a particular major scale. When you put the drone note below those two chords, it unambiguously identifies a particular mode. Nice and clean. But I'm wondering if there is some comparable system for the modes of melodic minor. For example, mode 2 of C mel minor is Dorian b2, suggesting a Dsusb9 chord -- but what other chords make a nice vamp for learning the fingerings and sound of that mode? Just experiment with other chords from C mel minor to find something that works well? Any helpful backing tracks out there?

    (Kimock -- I know I've strayed was outside the sophisticated approach you're suggesting, but I am but a hack. I'll keep straining to get my head around the principles you described. In the meantime -- I spent about an hour enjoying some of your vids. Way cool stuff.)
    Thanks,
    Bert
     
  18. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    Can I ask why you would want to practice the modes of melodic minor in this way? Just curious.
     
  19. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Bert, ignore me. I just make this stuff up as I go along to scare the kids.

    Couple quick thoughts on the melodic minor, but that's all I'm good for, I don't relate to that scale in a conventional Jazz sense.

    First of all, it's just a major scale with a minor third, so no need to mystify it as complex.
    It's actually simpler to use that harmony, or at least apply it.
    The conventional wisdom being that there are no avoid tones, and that any combination of pitches "chords" are completely interchangeable with each other. Any pile, any bass note, all the same thing.

    You just "play the key", kinda like blues actually.

    You can arrange the scale in modes, starting from C to C, then D to D etc.
    and then name whatever pile you want from that starting point, but those sounds are all basically interchangeable.

    If you want to kick it back into my own lunatic fringe "outside the system, looking in" routine, you have a series of "mixed modes" with really pointless names.
    So your 1st mode of Melodic Minor is my "Major over Minor", the first tetrachord of Minor, 1 2 b3 4, with the second tetrachord of Major 5 6 7 8 above.
    Drone away.

    Your 2nd mode of MM is my "MIX over Phrygian", you get the idea, drone away. . .

    Your 3rd mode of MM is my Lydian Augmented, just like yours cuz no 5th equals no drone, so drone went away. . . so this bit is technically in danger of not being a "mode" at all if we stick with my lunatic fringe bullshit of needing to connect JI dronality to Equal Temperament for the purposes of idealizing melodic function.

    Your 4th mode of MM is my "MIX over LYD", dronality restored, it's got a perfect 5th, bust out the Vina, drone away.

    Your 5th mode of MM is my "Minor over Major", duh. Drone me all night long.

    Your 6th mode of MM is my half diminished scale if I had to name it, but no 5th, so no mode, so no drone.

    Your 7th mode of MM same deal, no 5th, no mode, but a nice altered scale I guess you call it, but either way it's a major scale with a minor third, or a major scale with a sharp root (NO MODE!!) all good, all completely interchangeable.

    I would just start with the "Mixed Mode" variety that have a perfect 5th and sing 'em with a drone and see what it makes you feel like besides possibly sea sick.
    After that you could grab any stack of anything with any/every other tone from the scale and see if you can tell 'em apart functionally.
    Maybe yes? Maybe no?

    In any event this batch won't behave like the regular major scale "modes" or harmony, so I don't know if there is a good translation from diatonic vanilla to MM.

    JonR will straighten my sorry ass out when he wakes up, and I'm ready for him to!

    peace
     
  20. stratoskier

    stratoskier Member

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    Well, perhaps I'm on the wrong track, but I believe a similar approach has helped me with my understanding and application of the major modes. I tend to think of these things in their various parts -- there's the theory (how is the mode constructed?; where does each mode fit?; what are its applications?), the mechanics (fingering options), and the sound (can I recognize the mode when I hear it? Can I hear it in my head?). In this context, it seems useful for all 3 areas to experiment with a new mode in its native environment -- that is, to rehearse fingerings, invent lines, and try to make music over a vamp that unambiguously fits the mode. Only after I feel comfortable with that can I move on to use the mode effectively when its use is suggested by a particular chord or passage sandwiched within a more complicated harmonic environment. I guess in summary, I think its useful to start simple.

    Got a hunch you're gonna cream me over that convoluted description and say something like "Just listen and make music, fool!" but after years of floundering, I'm really trying to bring some discipline to my practice.

    And Kimock -- thanks for the detailed explanation. I'll continue to ponder it!

    Cheers,
    Bert
     

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