Modal confusion

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by sidk47, Jan 27, 2018.


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  1. JonR

    JonR Member

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    That's exactly the one I was referring to (played in two octaves, yes?). My ears interpret that as a blues #4/b5.

    Of course, as part of a D# arp it's not bluesy as a whole, the first two notes being E7 alterations. So the whole thing sounds defiantly "out" on the chord (it's not "resolved" in any sense on the chord). But in hearing it as "blues" (before I got into checking just what it was), I guess I'm hearing the G natural and the D# as "A blues" notes, while the Bb somehow resists mental analysis.(It's not resolved, as chromaticisms usually are.)

    Naturally, as an arpeggio, it has its own structural integrity, even more so when repeated. You resolve the D# to E on the Am, a standard resolution of an outside phrase (in jazz or blues). IMO, that takes care of any "wtf?" response one might feel on first hearing the phrase.
    "No such thing as a wrong note" as the saying goes - provided it's resolved correctly. (My ears kind of forget the unresolved A#/Bb, and are satisfied by the D#>E move.)

    I'm not arguing here. This is just the way I hear it, the way my listening experience makes sense of it. My listening experience of jazz is some way short of yours, and that's significant.

    IOW, this kind of thing will "work" according to how often one has heard it done, essentially. (That's pretty much how and why ALL music "works"!;))
    I've heard way more blues (and folk, pop, R&B, rock etc) than jazz, so it's the blues elements that slot right in as familiar, and the more arcane jazz ones that pass me by: either they sound wrong (if totally new to my ears) or they sound strange (and cool). This is one is kind of between the two.
     
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  2. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Makes perfect sense. I agree to the letter!
     
  3. The Opera Panther

    The Opera Panther Supporting Member

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    This is mostly how I look at it. I will say, though, I tend to compare the Dorian, Phyrgian, and Locrian (Ha!) modes to the natural minor (Aeolian), rather than the major scale.

    So,

    C Dorian: The minor (Aeolian) scale with a sharp 6th
    C Phrygian: The minor scale with a flat 2nd/9th
    C Locrian: The minor scale with a flat 2nd/9th, 5th

    Given what I said earlier about how I think, it makes more sense in my head to decide major or minor first, then figure out how that scale is (or isn't) altered. But, agree with the rest of what you're saying - the modes are a sound. Try to play that sound, rather than applying the root major (or minor) scale.
     
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  4. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Thats perfect as well. Whatever way you look at it from the ROOT of the chord. That is the sound of the mode, and you are not double thinking. (Ummm...C major scale but accent D arpeggio!!!) That does NOT work. You will always at some point start playing C maj, and, you dont look at how the notes are coloring D minor. You need to hear in your head, flat3, flat7, major 6. Nothing at all to do with C major.
     
  5. Sascha Franck

    Sascha Franck Member

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    Yes, it does matter. IMO even a lot.
    1) You can "recycle" finger shapes of the major scale. Which is an enormous benefit.
    2) You can partially "recycle" musical patterns of the major shape.

    I know, you will probably not agree on 2), but I will happily come up with a few patterns working equally well over a Gmaj7 vamp and over an Amin7 vamp. And there's even more of those patterns that will work with just a tiny modification (such as a different target note you end on).

    I do - of course - totally agree that it's a good idea to a) see modes as their "own entity" and b) learn how to establish a mode just by your playing, even if there's no band/backing track or whatsoever. Yet, that doesn't completely make 1) and 2) worthless.
     
  6. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    I know exactly what you are saying, but its still a trap. Here is the difference. As you work through the modes around the fingerboard the way I layed them out, hearing and seeing them from the root, you will still see the finger patterns you are talking about, but you will relate them and most importantly hear them from the correct root note. Those patterns are there, and while it helps you get around faster AT FIRST, it tricks the mind back to the major scale they came from. Granted, it takes longer at first to do it they way I am saying. But its the right way, and in the long run, is hugely beneficial.
     
  7. kunos

    kunos Member

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    I think it's pretty normal to have different backgrounds, it is a pretty common mistake to think some things are "universal" in music just because you had N teachers telling you X and Y.. it's a pretty big world you know.

    Your approach obviously works for you and makes you happy about your playing and knowledge so good for you.

    Personally I find the "lick" (or lines.. whatever you want to call it) approach to improvisation pretty limited, the word "improvisation" for me means hearing something in my head and being able to play it on the spot on the guitar (that doesn't mean avoid any pre fabricated lick tho.. there are times where you "know" your lick number 38 will work great and you go for it).
    At that point, theory, scales, harmony and whatnot are only tools to make the above target easier to hit (and also to expand the realm of what your brain is able to come up with on the fly) while you seem to promote an approach where you build this vast vocabulary of "lines" that work over particular progressions and then "trigger" them while improvising.
    As I said, if it works for you, go for it, but it looks pretty limited and confusing from my POV, no offense. Or maybe I just misunderstood everything you said which is totally fine too, but honestly, I don't care enough to even try.

    Peace.
     
  8. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    You just wrote all that out and say you dont care?? Lol!! Of course you do. :p
    Seriously....
    Yes, I think you totally misunderstood me. The learning melodic lines and licks is training your ear and learning the language. Its not insert this lick here and that one there, but as you say, that does come out at times. (I wish it would come out more in my case!!) Just as when we are speaking, and or as we are writing to each other now, we are using words and phrases we have stored in our memory banks. We are not making up a new alphabet and new words, we are using what we know to improvise on the spot, and get our thoughts out to the other person. To be able to do that fluently takes lots of practice. We build our vocabulary to better express ourselves, and communicate easier and in a more interesting manner. Great speakers usually have strong vocabularies and a great grasp of the language. They dont memorize passages on a certain topic and just string them together. In musical improvisation, thats just a starting point to get your feet wet and accumulate the building blocks!! Now after all that and I think we are pretty much in agreement. At least thats what I feel from your above post.
    :)
     
  9. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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  10. dsimon665

    dsimon665 Supporting Member

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    one thing to try is playing modes without a drone or backing track.
    The criteria to listen for is: "can you hear the mode"?
    at a certain point the criteria is in the background of your attention/intention, but every once in a while bring it to the foreground.

    attention on any quality will reinforce the feeling, and maybe the affect will be subliminal. but it can build. concentration brings a very positive feeling.

    When I started that, what I found (unknowingly at the time and by accident) is that it (the structure of modes) is a lot like the strategy employed at the opening of many raga performances called "alap".

    Modes have a aural structure embedded in ones perception that is kind of like a multi story house - there's a foundation, rooms, and connecting corridors.

    Then, the exercise can give you an idea of which modes are more difficult to hear and the relative difficulty of building them.
    With a drone - it might be harder to figure out your internal compass.
    Like the difference between building a house, and moving in to one.

    another part of that is building the foundation, and then letting that go.
    residing in the upper stories of the house - is the mode still affective to you? maybe go back to the first story for a while.

    nothing off limits - any sort of handle isn't cheating. It doesn't have to be the foundation. Like the half steps - those can be a clue. In lydian 5 and #4. 5 is easy - a step to #4 puts you in a higher room.

    Not necessarily from "easy" to "hard". Sometimes hard to hard. and easy doesn't mean better or worse. bringing attention to the 5th isn't a bad thing.
     
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  11. smj

    smj Member

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    The simplest answer is... if the progression is A minor.... play an A minor scale of the appropriate variety... and there are many. The variety you choose will determine the mode at hand. Play A Dorian over an A minor chord if you want the Dorian sound.

    If it's a one chord vamp... say A min.... there's a variety of A min scales to choose from because they all share the same tonic chord.

    If the progression has a specific note as the tonal centre, stick with that. Trying to use a scale with a different tonal centre won't change the overall sound of the chord vamp/sequence generally speaking.

    If the vamp has two or more chords, the scale options are lessened. Look for the scale with the same tonal centre that contains all of the chords if possible.

    If all the chords don't fit into one scale, then you'll have to switch scales to accommodate the changes.
    ____________________________
    These are all generalities and not to be taken as a solution to every situation. But, if you're just starting with this stuff, it's pretty hard to go wrong with it.

    Sean Meredith-Jones
    www.seanmeredithjones.com
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
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  12. smj

    smj Member

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    Lots of talk about Autumn Leaves. The mistake I made as a student years ago was trying to find a one size fit all solution for playing over chord changes.

    Thinking it's one system over the other is a false option. Learning both (and many more) is where I landed. They all overlap in different areas so it gives me more clarity and big picture for figuring out the sound I want for any tune.

    Just take for example the Jerry Bergonzi books. They go through tetratonic lines, pentatonics, bebop scales.

    Another teacher emphasized chord tones and the Charlie Banocas chromaticism stuff.

    The Hal Crook and the school harmony books laid out all the chord scale stuff.

    The Brett Wilmott book gave me ideas for playing over substitute chords.... which complimented the chord scale stuff I'd been studying because they are two ways of looking at the same thing.

    I went to artist seminars whenever possible.

    I looked over transcriptions and omni books and just noodled on my own.

    Playing blues based music gave me other ways of thinking about chord changes.

    Just maintain a sense of wonder and curiosity which will keep you going. Study what interests you, but don't forget to eat some musical vegetables once and a while....:)

    Sean Meredith-Jones
    www.seanmeredithjones.com
     

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