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Do you use Major Scale MODES? Do you really understand them?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Clearyrich, Feb 5, 2019.

  1. BriSol

    BriSol Member

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    One point of clarification I'd make about chord-scale playing: it does not inherently mean that there is only one melodic option or scale per chord. An elaborate chord-scale approach would involve optionally using 2 or 3 scales over the exact same anchor tone or on the same chord (which Allan Holdsworth did to one extent or another). This is basically an extension of the same thing people are doing when they apply a chord-tone approach with 2ndary "superimposed arpeggios", which is a form of "polytonality" or "bitonality", except we're using full scales instead of arpeggios. You can call it "polymodal" or "bimodal" if you want. I don't see an opposition here, just extra notes.
     
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  2. GuitarInnovations

    GuitarInnovations Member

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    Thanks for sharing this. I have been dabbling with chord tone soloing, but it's been haphazard. Since I've been playing scales for a long time, I'm not as comfortable as I'd like to be moving vertically across the strings as I am moving horizontally in scalar patterns, though I am getting better.

    I've been spending time learning lots of two string arpeggios, and working on arpeggiating chords with alternate picking.

    I can see how it can all come together, but I haven't dedicated enough time to learn all the notes of the fretboard in order to utilize chord notes more within the context of branching out from scales. That's my goal, though.
     
  3. Clearyrich

    Clearyrich Supporting Member

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    Quite right - the patterns are all major in the sense of fretboard shapes ( i.e. the standard 7 positions of the major scale) but only 3 of them produce a major sound due to the major 3rd interval (Ionian, Lydian, Myxolydian). 3 produce a minor sound due to the minor 3rd interval (Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian) and 1 (Locrian) is a diminished one-off because of its minor 3rd and tritone (b4#5) intervals.

    That's the beauty and fascination of modes. Within 7 major scale notes you have "implicitly" got 7 different sound or mood patterns, depending on your starting note.

    However, as I argue in my book, they are NOT Diatonic or Non-Diatonic Scales (except Ionian Mode - one and the same with the Major Scale) because they do not satisfy the essential criteria for such. So they have to be something else. I call them "Root Variants" in my book.

    Then when you get into the pentatonic versions you have to consider which notes to exclude yet still retain the modal flavour/sound. That's where knowing what the "characteristic" note of each mode becomes particularly important because if you leave that out you are likely to be simply playing a major or minor pentatonic. Another dimension I cover in my book.
     
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  4. Bb7

    Bb7 Member

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    Messiaen called these the modes of limitless tuition.
     
  5. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    The chord has to support the mode.
    The mode is the portion of the scale that is supported by the chord.
    Taking it beyond this befuddles me.

    Your melody goes over a chordal structure, or, you harmonize the melody with the chord.

    Note choice is always unlimited and the result will be dependent on context i.e. what you hear is what you get.

    Analysis follows from results and context from my, totally inexpert, POV.

    Analysis might provide a choice of vocabulary to work with, but does not restrict one from any choice. The result tells the tale. The ear is the judge.
     
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  6. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    NOT arguing... Merely a jumping off point...
     
  7. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    And then what you do with the altered major scales...melodic monir, harmonic minot, harmonic major and melodic minor #5? Those are the parents.
     
  8. Megatron

    Megatron Member

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    Your about 30 years behind bro. your still talking shapes. Your in the camp of players that don't know what you don't know.(but for some reason want to write a book about it?). I was there.....when I was about 14.
     
  9. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Ah ha! ;)
    The note names (letters) are not the most important thing, IMO, except as signposts to placing chords. I.e., once you can find your way around the fretboard effortlessly, you can largely forget the note names. It's chord shapes that become your visual guide (and all the other frets around them relate as extensions or alterations).
    I.e., mastery of the fretboard comes (IMO) when you can find any chord you want anywhere on the neck - if not a playable shape, then an arpeggio (and partial shapes are always available).
    Obviously, without that knowledge, then chord-tone soloing is tricky (where are those damn chord tones? :rolleyes: )
    But then if you work from scale patterns without knowing where the chord tones are, you can't play a sensible solo anyway. You have to know where the chord tones are within each scale pattern (bearing in mind that each scale pattern contains 7 chords, with all their extensions).

    That's why I don't recommend soloing in any part of the fretboard where you don't know all the relevant chord shapes. Not unless your ear is really good...
     
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  10. Tootone

    Tootone Member

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    Doe, a deer, a female deer.
    Ray, a drop of golden sun.
    Me, a name, I call myself...

    Seriously though. I had a chat one day with Dave Kilminster...

    What he told me is... play each mode, and only that mode, until you "hear" its sound and come to recognise its sound.

    Anyone who's played guitar for a while, can hear the difference between a major and minor chord.

    Modes are similar. After a while, you listen to music.. the melody usually... and you start to "hear" the modes.

    Took me quite a while to be honest. But ultimately, probably the simplest way to go about it.

    Or you can start doing the math every time you play.
     
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  11. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Non-musicians can hear that too, quite clearly. If you can't hear that before you pick up an instrument, you probably shouldn't pick up an instrument in the first place... (Obviously you need a little music education before you can name the difference ;).)
    Yes. And in fact what we usually hear in most music is two "modes": the major and minor keys.
    Mixolydian and dorian are probably the next two most common sounds, but usually in combination with a parallel major or minor key.
     
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  12. huw

    huw Member

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    :D

    Well played, sir. Well played.
     
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  13. JonR

    JonR Member

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    :D
    Hal Galper says the same thing about chord-scale theory.
     
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  14. Ferg Deluxe

    Ferg Deluxe Gold Supporting Member

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    Agreed! This happened to me. I assumed “modes” was what I needed to learn first since that’s what all the hot-shots were talking about in the magazines.

    I wonder, does this issue manifest itself more with guitar playing than with other instruments? I’d be willing to bet it does, based on guitar lending itself more to self-instruction than (some) other instruments.

    I have a grasp on the various confusions I’ve endured over the years of my journey with this instrument, and many of them can be traced back to the “Wild West” as @JonR mentioned earlier.

    I don’t know if a rigid and formalized structure would have helped or hurt me early on, but certainly *some* structure would have been helpful. That confused kid who was learning Whitesnake songs from magazines, while banging on an acoustic I borrowed from dad (still have it too!), was susceptible to all kinds of
    snake oil concepts, incorrect assumptions, and flat-out wrong ideas (or at the least, poor explanations of ideas that were correct but taught so poorly).

    Over the years I’ve met many a guitarist who got their start the way I did — learning the mechanics of playing rock songs, knowing where to put my fingers, but not knowing that there was a reason why things sounded the way they did. And I can often see where they stumbled or got confused because I had the same problem.

    “Modes” was one of those almost-mystical concepts that I heard about early on, with vague and confusing definitions that made them seem like something that required a masters degree to understand.
     
  15. Ferg Deluxe

    Ferg Deluxe Gold Supporting Member

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    Well, that is important, but believe that’s beyond the scope of what I was trying to address in that one post. By no means is my post meant to be an answer to everything concerning modes or their application.

    I just wanted to present a basic, visual explanation of the concept in a way that made sense to me 25 years ago.

    It may help some, it may not help others depending on their current understanding, or how they learn.
     
  16. Clearyrich

    Clearyrich Supporting Member

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    Thanks for putting me right. Very helpful and constructive of you. I certainly know I don't know what I don't know whereas you seem to know everything and at a very young age evidently. Congratulations.
    However, to reiterate, my book was/is about trying to explain, in my own way, the 'basics' of a complicated topic in a manner which helps those, like me (beginners/amateurs), who were/are put off by the plethora of so called "experts" out there who do not offer any consistently logical or structured basis for their explanations of what modes are and how they work.
    I cite again the reviewers of my book, both very experienced guitar tutors, one of whom being a Senior Tutor at the Royal College of Music in the UK, who both consider that what I have to say on the subject is worthy of publication. You as an expert clearly would not find much (perhaps nothing) in it of merit. Nevertheless, other lesser beings who continue to struggle with the topic might find it of some benefit.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  17. jkendrick

    jkendrick Member

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    No offense, but how is it valuable to teach something you admit to not understanding? I agree that sometimes experts don’t do a good job explaining modes. I think oftentimes modes are also explained in an overly simplistic manner that offers more confusion than insight. And explaining modes as patterns on the fretboard as you have above is certainly in that vein. If you had come to a good understanding of modes through a method you developed on your own, I could see that being potentially valuable as a book subject. But you have demonstrated you haven’t come to a good understanding of modes. I’m sorry if that sounds overly harsh, but you are selling something.
     
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  18. Megatron

    Megatron Member

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    Those 'shapes' are containers. All the tonalities of the family of notes are in All the shapes. If your still looking at 'this shape starts on this note'......not going to waste my energy.
    And I could't care less about Super Tutor royal conservatory....blah blah, means less than nothing to me.....
     
  19. General_Specific

    General_Specific Member

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    I understand, but every definition of modes says to play x mode over x chord. Never is changing chords addressed.
     
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  20. DesWalker

    DesWalker Member

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    I don’t understand modes at all. If it isn’t too long a list can someone please list the differences between C Ionian and C Lydian. Many thanks.
     

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