Lesson in Guitar Modes

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by mingo, Sep 2, 2005.


  1. mingo

    mingo Member

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    I'm looking for someone to simply explain guitar modes to me. I know the names of them, and keys etc. I'm just wondering how to apply them to chord progressions, etc..

    For example if the key is in C Major, you don't just play notes in the C Major scale in say the 5 or 8th postition?? Are some notes different??

    When do you use modes, etc.

    Any tab examples, or videos, websites would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  2. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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  3. mingo

    mingo Member

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    thanks for the link. i looked through it.

    one thing i still don't get is, do all the modes in say C major contain all the same notes? then if so, whats the difference between playing a solo in C in ionian or mixolydian?? or do they contain different notes??

    so if a pop/rock song chord progression was C Am F G what modes would/could you play??

    any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks
     
  4. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    It is confusing, I agree.
    Now, remember that modes are just a tool, and offer some ideas of choices of what to play. There are a lot of other things to play that are NOT modal too.
    Ok...

    technically, it does seem as tho modal theory is saying "just play C major over everything", but that is what we have to get around, and there are various approaches.

    - It's about stress. Start and end on the correct note, and stress the note. Playing A Aeolian over an A minor chord starting on the A and making an effort to sound "Aish" will help.
    Important hint - USE YOUR EARS. Listen, and play what sounds cool to you.

    - Forget about a whole progression, just think about a single chord. Take A minor. It could be thought of as the relative minor in C (Aeolian), or the 2nd of G Major (Dorian), for example. So in a progression like C Am F G, you could go from C major stuff (Ionian) over the C and G major stuff (starting on A) over the G, and so on.
    This idea is to try to avoid the "C over everything" approach by using one of the other modes for each chord. One common thing is to use C - Lydian, (G Major based) over the root chord.

    - Here's where it really starts to open up: Don't just run up and down the scale like a set of stairs. Play riffs and phrases based on the mode. Cool thing - take a mode, starting on the correct note (e.g. A dorian, G major scale from A up to A). Now play every other note of that scale, 4 at a time. Move up to the next note of the scale, and play every other note for 4 notes. Maybe take those 4 note groupings and find a fingering to play them all at the same time, like a chord. Play a few of these chords together. Hey! You've just harmonized the Dorian mode and played a chord melody and arpeggios of all the chords!

    -Most important: Learn each mode "both ways".

    [​IMG]
    You must be able to see, hear, and feel A Aeolian Mode as both
    "C Major starting on the 6th note A"
    and
    "A Major with a flat third and a flat 6th"
     
  5. rpavich

    rpavich Member

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    I would second the suggestion to check out "Modes: no more mystery"...

    Here's what I did to internalize the modes:

    I bought the Gambale tape and watched it several times....lol..

    The most important thing that I did was to tape 7 modal progressions based on the ones in the tape and do NOTHING but play over them for about 1 month...by then you've internalized them to know how they sound...you'll be able to pick them out when they are used in a song...

    Just remember; they are just scales....make melodies out of them...

    bob
     
  6. mingo

    mingo Member

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    just want to say thanks for all your help everyone...

    i might be getting it now... is this right to say??

    So if a song was in the key of D, you could play D Dorian, which would pretty much be the same as playing a C major scale only emphasizing on the D note instead of C???

    Do you guys know any famous song examples that use different modes??
     
  7. mingo

    mingo Member

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    ohh yeah, i'd love to see that frank gambale video... i'm gonna look for it on ebay maybe.
     
  8. rpavich

    rpavich Member

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    Mingo,
    Yes, you are right...C major (ionian) and D dorian might be the same notes but it's the emphasis that makes them what they are...

    Another good exersize is to play an open E bass note and noodle on the different modes over it....

    Example:
    Play open e and then play E Ionian for 1 minute
    Play open e and then play E phrygian for 1 minute...

    You'll get the different flavors in your ear that way...

    Really, get the Gambale video...all these questions are answered very simply....

    bob
     
  9. mingo

    mingo Member

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    great, i'll try that, i have a Line6 DL4 that i can loop an E chord and practice the E modes.

    what are some approriate songs/styles/chord progressions to use modes with soloing, or does it matter? just when it sounds good?

    thanks again, i'm starting to get it, but still want to see the frank gambale video. i saw a bit of it, its very good, and informative. his hair and outfit are kinda distracting though :)
     
  10. rpavich

    rpavich Member

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    Mingo,
    All of this (like a lot of things in music) is tied together....

    Gambale suggests doing "triads-over-bass-notes"

    this will also reinforce the modal spellings, chord relationships and everything by doing this by yourself on paper....
    Take the "4" and "5" triad of the mode and put it over the bass note.

    C ionian: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
    The important thing is the formula: notice the intervals between the notes: W-W-1/2-W-W-W-1/2 (whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half)
    If you keep this formula...you can spell any mode in any key...

    So, to practice the "sound" of C major use these chords

    C/Fmaj-----C/Gmaj

    Just those two chords (F and G)over a C drone note and just play melodies out of the C major scale....

    To play C dorian? do the same thing but remember that C dorian is the second mode of Bb Ionian so you have to diagram that out

    Bb Ionian: Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb

    And so play these chords:

    C/Ebmaj---C/Fmaj

    And play melodies using C dorian (Bb Major)..

    There are so many treasures buried here...it's amazing....this will really link your thoughts on how things go together....

    Cool thing: notice that C/Emaj---C/Fmaj is also a ii-V progression: Cmin7--Fmaj (a jazz staple)


    I know this seems complicated but it gets simple if you just buy Franks tape and then just listen to the sounds you're making...

    I hope this helped..

    bob
     
  11. mingo

    mingo Member

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    would it be safe to say that we mostly see modes used in jazz, blues, and with guitarists like satriani, etc.

    you wouldn't hear modal work in a top 40 song though usually??

    just curious
     
  12. Mingo -

    depends on the top 40 song. In the realm of better advice, modes are a way to think about making music, and a way to analyze it. The same piece of music could intelligibly be analyzed in myriad ways, any one of which might or might not have actually been going through the musician's head. B.B. King's guitar solos on major-key blues tend to sound Dorian (w/the blue 3rd), while his minor-key solos tend to go for the Aeolian. (Never transcribed, but that's what I hear.) I doubt B.B. thinks of the Dorian mode, though, and it's not necessarily the most helpful way to think about his music.

    Which leads me to: for the reasons in the previous paragraph, I'd hesitate to paint broadly, but I don't think modes are that helpful for (or consciously used by) blues musicians, but are useful for much (60%? more?) of jazz post 1960, and essential to someone like Joe Satriani. I don't listen much to the radio, so I don't know what you're thinking of re: top 40, but: if you hear a guitar break on a Britney Spears record, I bet the player was conscious of mode, same probably holds true for a modern-rock/metal solo (especially if the player wears influences from 80s metal). Whether you need modes to play that stuff depends on what works for you, conceptually, and what the music requires. Maybe some examples of songs you have in mind?

    (That was a longer first post than I intended. Hello, Gear Page!)
     
  13. rpavich

    rpavich Member

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    Mingo,
    What black_smithers says is valid also....modes are just a way to analyze what has happened...

    There are many ways to attack a solo...for example; most of the time now I try and "forget" modes and scales and use the chord tones and all of them passing tones in between to make melodies....

    Not the only way but that's where I'm at...

    In the end..the modes are a valueable tool in learning the fretboard and learning how music locks together....

    bob
     
  14. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Member

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    Usually when you say that a song is in a key you are refering to a major key. So if you say the song is based in D minor, and the mode is D dorian than the key is C.


    Music is built of chords, and chords are built on scales. Depending upon the way you look at things modes may or may not apply.

    Let's look at the major based modes;

    Ionian- The basic major scale- Mary Had a Little Lamb, Three Blind Mice

    Lydian- The first part of the melody of the theme from The Simpsons is lydian, as is The Star Spangled Banner. Same as ionain but with a raised 4th.

    Mixolydian- This is the scale played over a dominant chord. In a blues all the chords are dominant, so in theory you would play this scale over the first chord in a blues. But often blues players play the "blues scale" instead (confusing, huh?). Good blues players (IMO) modualte between the mixolydian and blues scale, however. Try "She Said She Said" by The Beatles, both the melody and guitar on the verse. Same as ionian but with a b7th.

    As for the minor based modes, Santana sticks heavily to A dorian on the song "Oye Como Va", and D aeolin on "Black Magic Woman". 95% of songs based in a minor key are going to be in either of these two modes. The guitar in "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane is in phrygian.

    All that's left is locrian, and you won't find many songs based in this mode. You can play this over a half diminshed chord, a common context would be over the ii chord in a minor ii-V-i ... Dminor half dim./ G7 / Cmin7.


    Modes are better as a learning tool than a playing tool (again, IMO). Eventually you should be thinking about chord tones- where modes help to fill in the other tones over a given chord. For example, lets say you are playing a song in the key of C, and you are currently playing an E minor chord. The notes in the chord are E, G, and B, and the 7th is D, but what are the other notes? Would the Eminor chord have a 9th or a b9th? How about the 6th?

    You can look at the notes of the Cmajor scale, or the notes of the E phrygian scale. It's the same notes. The reason it helps is as guitar players everything changes as we move our fretting hand, and things can get confusing. If you are playing an E minor chord but you need to think about C major to know what notes to play, by then the song may have changed to the next chord. Knowing the modes helps connect the dots on the guitar. The reason I say it's better to think of the chord tones is there are times when you want to play extensions or alterations that intentionally go out of key and don't fit the modes. The chords are just the frame work.


    But there are times when people approach modes in a playing context- in fact there is a whole type of jazz compostion refered to as modal. These are songs where there are few chords so the improviser has a lot of space to move. This is where people talk about using a certaint mode for a color or flavor, for example, over a D minor chord you can ideally play any mode that conatains the notes of D minor- D dorian, D phrygian or D aeolian. So someone might say, "I use D phrygian to get a spanish or eastern sound". But another way to look at it is with chords and chord substitution, and playing those notes implies an Eb chord over the D minor chord. Implying an Eb chord over a Dminor is what gives you an Eastern sound. In my opinion this is a better way to look at things, as it helps you really understand why things sound they way the do. Like I said above, music is built of chords, not scales.
     
  15. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    No, I don't think so, unless I'm misunderstanding you. Think about the key of D and what notes are in it:

    D major has D, E, F#, A, B, C#, D

    D Dorian is D, E, F, A, B, C, D

    Those F/F# and C/C# note pairs will sound wrong if you are trying to play within the key of D.

    Instead, you need to shift your modal thinking to the key of D. Instead of playing C Ionian (the C major scale), you would play D Ionian, E Dorian, etc. Make sense?

    Bryan
     
  16. jordanL

    jordanL Member

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    A great album to hear some of the modes in use is Miles Davis Kind of Blue, most of the tunes are relatively simple harmonically, and are approached modally.

    Heres some Modal Vamps-repatable chord progressions that highlight the flavor of each mode. Record a rhythm track and play the notes of C major over each of these and you'll start to hear how you'll want to highlight different notes in each

    Ionian CMaj7 | FMaj7

    dorian Dm7 | G7

    phrygian Em| F| G | F
    Lydian F | G

    Mixolydian G | F

    aeolian Amin | G | F | Emin

    Locrian Bdim | Am
     

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