Easy Mode Lesson

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons' started by blakem, Oct 9, 2008.

  1. blakem

    blakem Senior Member

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  2. kfowler8

    kfowler8 Senior Member

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    blakem - let me asking you something about one of your prior posts. My understanding is for example, you can't just play A Dorian over the key of Am. You have to look at what your underlying chords are.

    So if I had the chord progression Am - D, I could play Dorian but not Aeolian or Phrygian since they'd want the D to be Dm instead of a major.

    If my chord progression was Am - Em. I could play either Aeolian or Dorian.

    Am I think about this the right way?
     
  3. blakem

    blakem Senior Member

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    yes I believe so, what I always do is play the major scale that matches the chord you are playing... in the key of A,you have these chords, you have A major, B minor, C# minor, D major, E major, F# minor, G# minor, so depending what chord I am vamping on I choose a scale.. if its a major chord , I play that major scale, if it's a minor Chord, I play that minor scale... with modes the best thing to do is record a rythm pattern, then go back and play the different modes over it... I always mix and match the modes and I think it sounds cool... as far as the theory of what modes are proper.. I am not sure, I just trust my ears.
     
  4. kfowler8

    kfowler8 Senior Member

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    I guess a key point is it's called "theory" for a reason. There's nothing that says you can't play any note against any chord. Modes just help establish a framework to start on.
     
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  5. blakem

    blakem Senior Member

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    very true...
     
  6. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    :hmm: Typo?

    That's G#dim there, not G#m. :)

    A major scale = ABC#DEF#G#
    G#dim = G#BD
    G#m = G#BD#

    D, not D#. :)
     
  7. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    :applause:

    Spot on - you've cracked it. The chords will show you the way.

    You are of course always free to introduce any of the "other" five notes - the ones NOT diatonic to the mode - but they will sound as "outside" tones, and need careful use, depending on how "jazz-tastic you want to be! Best to use them in chromatic runs to begin with. Anyway, that's going one step further than needed at this point.
     
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  8. JonR

    JonR Senior Member

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    Correct.
    If we're going to define terms correctly, then "key" is different from "mode" anyway.
    The "key of A minor" is a tonality using a combination of natural minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor, the main chords being Am, Dm and E(7); secondary chords being C, F, Bm7b5.

    "A dorian mode" sounds quite like the key of A minor, except it has a major 6th (F#) and a minor 7th (G). There will be no E or E7, no Dm, but very likely a D or Bm chord.
    Precisely.
    Yes, pretty much. With Am and Em alone, either A dorian or A aeolian would fit. But in any real piece of music, you're likely to have other clues as to which is right. Eg, a melody may have either an F or F# in it; or there might be other chords.

    Simply put, the chords generally give you the notes you need to solo with.
    Am = A C E
    Em = E G B
    That gives you A B C D E G, with the F undetermined (which is the difference between aeolian and dorian of course).

    If you had Am and D:
    Am = A C E
    D = D F# A
    That gives you A C D E F#. The most common scale containing all those notes is G major, ie A dorian if A is keynote. Seeing as there is no G, then A melodic minor is a possibility (A B C D E F# G#), but less likely.
    A mode of G melodic minor would fit (A Bb C D E F# G), but that would be a very left-field choice.
    In real music, a vamp of Am-D is a sure indicator of A dorian mode.
     
  9. kfowler8

    kfowler8 Senior Member

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    I actually read this on here but I loved the food analogy. The chords are your base food and the modes are the spice you add on top. Some spices go better with certain foods more than others.

    So if I think of pizza as Am - Em progression, pepperoni (A Aeolian) and bacon (A Dorian) are a natural fit on the pizza and taste really good. I could add chocolate chips (A Phrygian) but that wouldn't mix as well. I love chocolate chips, just not on pizza!
     
  10. JonR

    JonR Senior Member

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    Well, "theory" is not actually a very helpful word ;). "Music theory" is not like any scientific theory.
    Music theory is based on "common practice" - a summary of what most musicians do most of the time.
    IOW, it's a mistake to separate "theory" and "practice", as opposites, but practice (real music) will always include odd things not included in basic theory, because they are not common practices.
    At the same time, popular music in particular (including rock and jazz) is always evolving, and rock musicians in particular are rarely trained in theory. So there will be frequent mismatches between what's written in books (especially old ones) and what modern musicians actually do.
    Very true.
    It's not a question of what you "can" and "can't" do, because the "rules" are not laws to be obeyed. The "rules" are more in the sense of what is done "as a rule"; ie common practice. It's good to know the "rules" because they tell you how to get the most familiar sounds.
    Then again, the very fact that the "right" sounds are familiar means you can learn most of the rules by ear alone, by trial and error. Your ear already knows music theory, intuitively (as long as you've heard enough music in your life) - your brain just doesn't know the terminology, the jargon to help you talk about it.
    That's much more debatable! It depends what you mean by "modes"; a lot of guitarists (and guitar teaching material) uses the terms in confusing ways. The truth is:

    1. Modes are not fret patterns

    2. Modes are not contained within keys

    3. Modes are a different way of making music, outside of the major-minor key system (which was the basis of classical music and all popular music up to around 50 years ago).

    4. Most modern popular music (inc jazz and rock) mixes "key" concepts with "mode" concepts, which is partly why the topic is so confusing.
    Some music is wholly within a conventional major or minor key - in which modal terms are irrelevant. Some other music (not very much) is totally modal. The rest is a kind of combination of the two.

    5. The worst thing some guitar teachers do is to talk about modes as providing different "moods" to your playing (partly true sometimes, but rarely applicable in real music), and then talk about fret patterns with mode names.
    (I don't want to rant further on this here, but I suggest you AVOID any tuition material that uses mode names for fret patterns.)
     
  11. kfowler8

    kfowler8 Senior Member

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    Thanks guys. Good stuff.

    Can you touch on why and where the "7" (eg: E7) is added above?
     
  12. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    As Jon's post was a long(ish) one, let me pull this particular pearl out for closer emphasis.

    :thumb:
     
  13. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Trad answer:

    Why - to make the V chord more unresolved, and therefore create more of a push back to the I chord. eg E7 > A has a different "push" than plain E > A.

    Where - on the V chord. In a plain ol' major key that is the only place where extending a chord to include its 7th will give you a "7th chord" (a major chord with added b7). The others will all be either maj7 (maj chord plus maj 7) or m7 (min chord plus min 7) or m7b5 (a diminished triad plus a min 7).

    More rock & roll answer:

    Anytime that you like the sound.

    :)
     
  14. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    ;)

    Don't get me started - can open, worms everywhere, thread hijacked...

    :laugh2:
     
  15. kfowler8

    kfowler8 Senior Member

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    Wow that's actually perfectly logical! :D I like the "push" example.
     
  16. JonR

    JonR Senior Member

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    Basically what huw said ;).

    Less basically... :rolleyes:...

    The V (dominant) chord in a key is the most likely one to have a 7th added, because it provides a nice extra tension to lead the chord back to the tonic. This is more noticeable in major keys (IMO) but works in minor keys too.
    It's the old tritone, basically:

    ------------------
    -3->>--2--------------
    -1->>--2--------------
    ------------------
    ------------------
    ------------------

    The dissonant b5 (G#-D) resolves to the consonant major 3rd (A-C#) - like a "stretched" tension relaxing inwards. Add the roots and you have the whole "perfect cadence":

    ------------------
    -3->>--2--------------
    -1->>--2--------------
    -2----------------
    --------0----------
    ------------------

    In fact, the tritone can resolve outwards too (a "squashed" tension relaxing outwards, if you like):

    ------------------
    ----------------------
    -1---2--------------
    -0----------------
    -----4----------
    ------------------

    That time, it's an augmented 4th (D-G#) resolving to a minor 6th (C#-A) - which is of course just an inverted M3.

    Then again (this is the fun thing with tritones):

    ------------------
    ----------------------
    -1---0--------------
    -0---1------------
    -----------------
    ------------------

    This time it's D-Ab (b5) resolving to Eb-G (M3). Or Bb7 going to Eb.


    However, this is all classical stuff ;). In blues (granddaddy of rock) dom7 chords are used just as groovy tensions which don't need resolution. It sounds kind of funky to just let that tritone sit there and wink at us... "I ain't goin' nowhere, brother..."
     
  17. JonR

    JonR Senior Member

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    Well, the topic was "Easy Mode Lesson". That's just asking for trouble... :D
     
  18. jbutler

    jbutler Senior Member

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    Great info on this thread... Just want to add a few thoughts:

    One of the big problems particular to guitarists is that they tend to learn “guitar” more so than they learn music itself; there’s a tendency to concentrate on fingering patterns that, although useful, establish more of a visual association than an aural one to the instrument.

    You know those diagrams commonly used to show you where every note of a scale falls on the fretboard for a particular position on the neck? Have you noticed how they don’t necessarily start on the root, but instead function as position markers? They’re great as finger exercises and for building muscle memory, but the problem is that they don’t really get the true “sound” of a scale into your head because they start before, and go beyond, the tonic. That’s what a scale is: a series of intervals between octaves, so in a way you’re not really playing scales when you go through them.

    I haven’t played seriously for a very long time and I’m far from a hotshot guitarist, but I was trapped in this “visual” approach to playing for years until I bought a decent keyboard and took a music basics class as a refresher and realized how much is missed because it’s relatively easy to build a cool sounding “bag of tricks” with little understanding of what you’re really doing on the guitar.
    

    It’s so easy to think “Well, I know this PATTERN works over this chord, so I’ll just play around with it until I come up with something good.” And that WORKS, but in a lot of ways it’s almost just a happy accident that it does. But learning theory on a keyboard it doesn’t work that way: you learn scales and modes from tonic to tonic, and in doing so you really get the sound of each into your ear. I can’t stress enough how useful a keyboard is in understanding these things... There’s a definite advantage in its chromatic layout and the fact that unlike guitar, there’s only one key for each note in its range.... 


    Modes, in the context of soloing, are not difficult and any way you can get them into your head and ear is fine, but there comes a point where you have to step back and keep it simple. It’s all about the central tone, the one you keep coming back to for that sense of resolution, (usually!) Modes, just like Major and Minor scales, (which are modes themselves after all,) are all about different sets of intervals built from the central tone and how the melodies built from them will “weave” themselves into the harmony of the chords they’re played over. That’s it!
     
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  19. JonR

    JonR Senior Member

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    The missing link is chords. Every scale pattern contains the arpeggio of the chord you're playing over (and probably the arps of most of the chords in the song), and you need to be aware of those.

    Eg, if you're playing a pattern of the C major scale over an F chord, you need to know not just where the tonic (C) is, but where the F,A and C notes are, because those are the chord tone foundation of any phrase you play.
    They don't have to be the actual framework of what you actually play, but we all hear those 3 notes as primary, with F ruling, and you're either playing with them or playing against them. So you better know which it is!

    You're right the visual nature of guitar can be a trap, but it can also be genuinely useful. If you can "see" the relevant chord shapes in the scale patterns you're using, you can see the foundation to build phrases from. You can see the interval patterns. This is better than memorising notes and theoretical relationships.
    Of course, you need to know the sound of intervals (both harmonic and melodic ones), but then the visual patterns are the quickest way to find them.
    Eg, if you want the sound of a major 6th above (say) a C note, you don't need to think "OK, that's an A, now where can I find that A on the neck?" - you can just go for where you know a major 6th is. Ie, if the C is on 10th fret 4th string, then your pattern knowledge tells you the major 6th is the same fret on 2nd string. With experience, you get used to the sound of that interval along with its shape/pattern on the neck.

    This is how I think when I improvise. Not in note names, and certainly not in scales, but in chord shapes and interval patterns.
    It wasn't any "system" I picked up on. I just learned chord shapes, all the way up the neck, and it seemed the obvious starting point for improvisation. Easy, and impossible to go wrong.
     
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  20. jbutler

    jbutler Senior Member

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    No doubt! Like I said whatever works for the individual musician. My point, and I should have written this more clearly, is that many, probably mostly those like myself who didn't come into it with a particularly well trained or naturally talented ear, will wind up relying on a visual approach EXCLUSIVELY and miss much of the "ear refinement" that will occur when one takes time concentrating on the SOUND....

    I'm putting it out there because it's helped me enormously. I stopped playing about ten years ago after years of hitting walls I never seemed to get past, and it's only been for the past year or two that I've been taking the instrument seriously again. I'm sure my years of past experience count for a lot, but now that I'm approaching it this way I'm playing, writing, and improvising better than I ever have! And don't get me wrong, I'm still "visual," just not exclusively! And all it took was forcing myself to close my eyes from time to time and listen rather than look....
     

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