For reference - chords for all of the modes of the major scale

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons' started by huw, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Spin off from a couple of other threads - reference material.

    Major/Ionian
    Notes: 1234567
    Chords: Maj, min, min, Maj, dom7, min, dim
    which we can write I, ii, iii, IV, V7, vi, viii(dim)
    In key of C: notes CDEFGAB
    Chords: C Dm Em F G7 Am Bdim

    Dorian
    Notes: 12b3456b7
    Chords: min, min, Maj, dom7, min, dim, Maj
    writen: i, ii, bIII, IV7, v, vi(dim), bVII
    In C dorian: notes CDEbFGABb
    Chords: Cm Dm Eb F7 Gm Adim Bb

    Phrygian
    notes:1b2b345b6b7
    chords: min, Maj, Dom7, min, dim, Maj, min
    writen: i, bII, bIII7, iv, v(dim), bVI, bvi
    in C phrygian: notes CDbEbFGAbBb
    chords: Cm Db Eb7 Fm Gdim Ab Bbm

    Lydian
    notes: 123#4567
    chords: Maj, dom7, min, dim, Maj, min, min
    writen: I,II7, iii, #iv(dim), V, vi, vii
    in C lydian: notes CDEF#GAB
    Chords: C D7 Em Fdim G Am Bm

    Mixolydian
    notes: 123456b7
    chords: Dom7, min, dim, Maj, min, min, Maj
    writen: I7, ii, iii(dim), IV, v, vi, VII
    In C mixolydian: CDEFGABb
    chords: C7, Dm, Edim, F, Gm, Am, Bb

    Aolian (aka natural minor)
    notes: 12b345b6b7
    chords: min, dim, Maj, min, min, Maj, dom7
    written: i, ii(dim), bIII, iv, v, bVI, bVII7
    in C aolian: CDEbFGAbBb
    chords: Cm, Ddim, Eb, Fm, Gm, Ab, Bb7

    Locrian (hardly ever used as such, included for completeness)
    notes: 1b2b34b5b6b7
    chords: dim, Maj, min, min, Maj, dom7, min
    written: i(dim), bII, biii, iv, bV, bVI7, bvi
    in C locrian: CDbEbFGbAbBb
    chords: Cdim, Db, Ebm, Fm, Gb, Ab7, Bbm

    Things to notice:

    1) I've distinguished between major chords and dominant seventh chords. Dom are major in that they contain a major third, and you can play a standard Maj instead of any dom7, but try to remember that they are kind of different too.

    2) When extending the other chords to include sevenths follow these rules in all modes:

    Maj extend to Maj7
    min extend to m7
    dim extend to m7b5
    (dom7 already contains its seventh)


    Application:

    Think of the modes as "keys", rather than "scales". People on here aften ask the wrong question - we get lots of "what scale should I play over this chord".

    What they would be better off asking is "what key/mode is this song in?"

    I'm going to restrain myself from adding more personal comment & opinion, and leave this as I intended it, as a reference chart.

    Cheers

    Huw

    :)
     
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  2. L60N

    L60N Senior Member

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    Its good to see it laid out in bare form Huw. Me personally, I like to see pictures, I need to "see" the relationships going on. Top reference post though! :thumb:
     
  3. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Ok - I'm going to add a couple of things that I've posted before on another site during a looooong discussion on the subject. Seems like as good a way as any of getting it all in one place.

    That way at least I can find it, even if few others are that bothered... ;)

    So, part I:

    (the discussion at this point had been about how, in order to really get to grips with modes, one has to abandon the idea of relating them to a "parent" major scale, and get to know the sound & flavour of each one as a seperate thing).

     
  4. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Part II:

    (this time in reply to a specific querry about soloing using modes)

     
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  5. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Part III:

     
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  6. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Part IV:

    (at this point someone had been talking about the "one scale per chord" approach)

     
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  7. Gyroman

    Gyroman Senior Member

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    Yikes! I think my brain is going to implode! I haven't had time to deliberate, cogitate and digest all of that, but would I be correct in saying that modes are bloody useless unless the chord progression requires it? I'm not going to look big and clever by playing a locrian based solo in Pretty Vacant???:laugh2:

    Being serious for a moment: Thanks for your time and effort in posting these things. I'm very new to theory, and a lot of this stuff is a bit beyond my grasp at the moment; but if I read and re-read it enough, hopefully enough of it will seep through to my subconscious to help that little lightbulb in my brain light up when the time is right. :thumb:
     
  8. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    :thumb::applause::dude:

    YES - EXACTLY :)

    Thanks - it makes me happy when someone gets that bit. If you managed to pull that out of it first time through, you're on the right track.

    :)
     
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  9. Solidasrock

    Solidasrock Senior Member

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    There is a more practical technique:

    I just play what sounds good to my ears. :acoustic:
     
  10. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    If that works for you, then happyhappyhappy - the Music is all that matters.

    :)

    I posted this stuff up so that anyone who does want to check out the modes can find some simple, accurate, reference material. Far too much of the "information" on the subject that crops up on the interweb is just plain wrong, or "half assed", as my US friends might say. That's all. :)
     
  11. GibsonByBirth

    GibsonByBirth Banned

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    This is a language for communicating music. How do you talk to other musicians about the process of making music? How do you make the sounds sound best if you can't communicate in the language? How do you take the next step in understanding what to do if you can't understand why what you do know works?
     
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  12. GibsonByBirth

    GibsonByBirth Banned

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    Thanks I believe that this was for me. It will take a couple of days but I will have questions.
     
  13. GibsonByBirth

    GibsonByBirth Banned

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    I worfed out the modes from the notes given and I came up with the corresponding scales. What is the difference between scales and modes?
     
  14. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    In practice, not a great deal... sometimes.

    There are various ways I could answer the question, but most would be talking about either historical differences, or derivations etc, rather than talking about how we use them.

    As I see it a "mode" can refer to either a "scale", or a "key":

    Most often "scale" means laying out all the notes of a key, in order. Looked at like that a "mode" can be a "scale".

    But a "mode" can refer to a "key" as well, which was kind of where we began this thread: the key/mode consists of the harmony made from the chords built on the notes of the scale/mode.

    (I'm sure someone will chip in with the definition that a mode is a rearrangement of a major scale (or other scale), but our whole point here is to see them existing away from any "parent" scale that they might happen to be a mode of.)
     
  15. mcmurray

    mcmurray Senior Member

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    Great thread.
     
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  16. markbastable

    markbastable Strange kind of blues-coloured moon Premium Member

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    I'm very happy I found this thread.
     
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  17. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    A blast from my past! Hope it's useful to you. :)
     
  18. JonR

    JonR Senior Member

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    An excellent reference chart indeed, and I hope huw won't mind if I take it a little further.

    Looking at the chart as it is, it might seem to imply (and I'm guessing this is not huw's view ;)) that all the modes are relatively equal, that you can employ all 7 chords in each mode as easily as you can in a major key. But it doesn't quite work like that...

    Here's (roughly) how it does work...

    C Major/Ionian
    Chords: C Dm Em F G7 Am Bdim
    All 7 chords can freely be used in this key. The C tonic will assume a governing role - as a gravitational centre - because of the nature of the scale, and the fact that the main dissonance (Bdim, or a G7 chord, or an F-G or Dm-G chord change) is resolved by moving to a C triad.
    Plus, this is the most familiar sound in western music.

    C Dorian
    Chords: Cm Dm Eb F7 Gm Adim Bb
    Used at random, these chords will tend to pull towards a Bb major tonic.
    To preserve the sense of a Cm key chord, it's best to limit the chords to Cm, F7, Dm and Bb. But only use Bb briefly, ideally followed by Cm. Never follow F7 with Bb (always go back to Cm).
    The typical C dorian piece only uses two chords: Cm and Dm, or Cm and F or F7.

    C Phrygian
    chords: Cm Db Eb7 Fm Gdim Ab Bbm
    Used at random, these chords will tend to pull towards an Ab major tonic.
    Phrygian is a weak mode. Best to limit the chords to just Cm and Db, play Cm most of the time, and use the Db as a contrasting chord, always pulling back to Cm.

    C Lydian
    Chords: C D7 Em Fdim G Am Bm
    Used at random, these chords will tend to pull towards a G major tonic.
    Lydian is as weak as Phrygian. Limit chords to C and D, and it's usually best to retain a C bass under the D chord, as well as making sure the C is much more emphasised than the D.
    Bm can be used instead of D as a contrast chord, but again, make sure C is more prominent.

    C Mixolydian
    chords: C7, Dm, Edim, F, Gm, Am, Bb
    Used at random, these chords will tend to pull towards an F major tonic.
    Mixolydian is a relatively strong mode, but it's still best to limit the chord use, if only because the key chord (C7) is such a familiar sound as the dominant of F. You have to stop it sounding like it's waiting to go to F all the time. You can use an F chord in C mixolydian, but make it brief! Avoid the Edim chord. You can use all the other chords but, as with other modes, best to play the C7 for much longer than any other chord.
    C, Bb and F triads can be combined to give familiar mixolydian sounds, such as:
    |C / / / |C / Bb F|C... (loop)

    C Aeolian (aka natural minor)
    chords: Cm, Ddim, Eb, Fm, Gm, Ab, Bb7
    As the natural minor scale, this is a fairly strong mode (comparable to dorian and mixolydian), but still weaker than the minor key itself. Used at random, these chords are likely to lead to Eb as natural tonic.
    The difference from the C minor key is the use of Gm rather than G or G7. G or G7 will drive the harmony more firmly towards Cm, creating the sense of "key", and turning the ear away from expecting Eb as "home". Gm-Cm (or Bb-Cm) is a weaker "modal cadence" - quite usable, but be careful about using the Eb chord at all in any C aeolian progression.
    Common sequences in C aeolian involve Ab and Bb as passing chords.

    C Locrian (hardly ever used as such, included for completeness)
    chords: Cdim, Db, Ebm, Fm, Gb, Ab7, Bbm
    As huw says "hardly ever used". This is because its root chord is an unstable diminished triad. Our familiarity with functional harmony means we expect such a chord to resolve somewhere else, not to be a key chord in its own right. You can't resolve to a diminished chord. All of the other chords in this set are more stable than Cdim, the most stable being the relative major tonic, Db.
     
  19. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Yes, you guess correctly Jon. :)

    As the first post said, this spun off from a conversation in a previous thread (I can't even remember which) and at the time of posting it seemed most relevant to simply show the chords themselves, and how they varied from mode to mode, than it did to delve into usage.

    This is a different time though, and the extra info is more than welcome .

    :)
     
  20. LiveSimply

    LiveSimply Senior Member

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    Huw/JonR, thank you once again for taking the time to share your knowledge. We are quite fortunate to have you guys on the forum.
     

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