Mode Question

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Trying to get my head around these and I see some explanations which,to my mind, just don't seem consistent with each other. And some other explanations (despite the introduction saying "modes are simple") are just technically mind bending.  I think Im getting there but  my question is...(bear with me and pretend its a complete moron asking this!) ...lets say the chord is E major,and I want to play E Mixolydian over that. From what Im reading,Im thinking I start on the fifth note of the E major scale,which is B,and from there I play the Mixolydian pattern (major scale with a flat 7th?). If I do that,is that technically correct?  Hopefully for my sanity the answer is yes.

Lets make the big assumption that that is correct,hooray! (Ill have to review my line of questioning if its wrong!) That would lead me to ask a follow-on question. If the same E major chord is being played and Im soloing over that in E major scale,(resolving back to E whenever),and I throw in a Flat 7th every now and again,would that be considered Myxolidian,or do I need to be combining the flat 7 plus resolving back to the B,for it to be Mixo..?

Apologies if this seems laughable,but my normally logical little brain is having a bit of a malfunction,when it comes to understanding these. I accept my problem might be wanting to understand them too much instead of just playing them. Thanks in advance. 

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  • Col_DeckerCol_Decker Frets: 2186

    Trying to get my head around these and I see some explanations which,to my mind, just don't seem consistent with each other. And some other explanations (despite the introduction saying "modes are simple") are just technically mind bending.  I think Im getting there but  my question is...(bear with me and pretend its a complete moron asking this!) ...lets say the chord is E major,and I want to play E Mixolydian over that. From what Im reading,Im thinking I start on the fifth note of the E major scale,which is B,and from there I play the Mixolydian pattern (major scale with a flat 7th?). If I do that,is that technically correct?  Hopefully for my sanity the answer is yes.

    I think that would mean you'd be playing B Mixolydian over an E major chord. If you were to shift that position down the neck so that the first note is now an E and play it you'd be in E Mixolydian.

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  • Thanks for the reply. It does however just compound my confusion. So,If I start on E and play that flat 7th pattern,that is E mixolydian? (assuming a E major chord in the background) Why then does every video I watch,seem to say that eg: Mixo starts on the 5th so you play between B and B  (again assuming its over an E major chord) (Im just using the Mixo as an example). Confusion reigns yet again!
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  • bloodandtearsbloodandtears Frets: 432
    edited March 23
    Mixo is the 5th mode of the major scale... but the root note (i.e. B in this case) determines the key of the scale..
    I - ii - iii - IV -V - vi - vii
    E F# G#  A  B  C#  D#

    to find the E mixo mode you would need to use circle of 4ths to bring you the relative major which is A.

    I - ii - iii - IV - V - vi - vii
    A  B  C#  D   E   F# G#

    Given the E major chord as a backing tonality, and using the notes in the A major scale, but starting from the 5th (E), you will essentially be playing the E mixo mode.


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    is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is?

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  • Thanks,but unless someone can provide me with "The Ladybird book of Modes" or similar, its a life term at the Pentatonic minor/major prison for me!

    @bloodandtears ; so are you saying (albeit with some rationale) the same as the first reply from @Col_Decker,that to be playing E mixo,I would just start on E and play a major scale with the required flattened 7th? Is that it?

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  • bloodandtearsbloodandtears Frets: 432
    E Mixolydian Scale Notes: E F# G# A B C# D

    E Major Scale Notes: E F# G# A B C# D#

    yes....flattened 7th


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    is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is?

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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2878
    edited March 23
    when you want to use any mode, you need to know:
    - what is the tonic of the mode?
    in your case, E Mixo so the tonic is E

    - what mode is to be used so that you can know what degree of the major scale it comes from?
    in your case, Mixo is the 5th mode.. so it's tonic is located on the 5th note of a major scale..

    this creates the final question: what major scale is E the 5th of?
    in your case, E is the 5th of A
    so the 'centre key' [or 'parent key] for E Mixo is A major

    examples:
    C Mixo: Mixolydian is the 5th mode. What major scale is C the perfect 5th of? the centre key for C Mixo is F major

    E Dorian: Dorian is the 2nd mode. What major scale is E the major 2nd of? D major

    A Lydian: Lydian is the 4th mode. What major scale is A the perfect 4th of? E major

    make sense?
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • RoysterdoysterRoysterdoyster Frets: 98
    edited March 23
    Ok,That makes very straightforward sense,but why then in most videos,do we see players, droning an E note and then moving to a different starting note for each mode. As far as I can see they never start on E and run through the scale just making the required adjustments (ie; flattened this or sharpened that?) except when Ionian/Major
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2878
    Ok,That makes very straightforward sense,but why then in most videos,do we see players, droning an E note and then moving to a different starting note for each mode. As far as I can see they never start on E and run through the scale just making the required adjustments (ie; flattened this or sharpened that?) except when Ionian/Major
    droning on the E enables you to actually hear the tonal differences between the different modes..
    if I were for example to play all of the modes in G [G Ionian, A, Dorian, B Phryg etc] you'd just have an ear full of G major starting in different places.. that's sort of mask each mode's tonal character..
    however, using a constant note as the tonic [E in your example] the reference remains fixed..
    you get E Ionian, E Dorian [from D major], E Phryg [from C] etc
    now the individual character of each mode is much easier to hear..
    so for example, you'll hear the E Mixo is essentially an E major scale with a minor 7th and E Dorian is an Em scale with a major 6th...
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • Clarky said:
    when you want to use any mode, you need to know:
    - what is the tonic of the mode?
    in your case, E Mixo so the tonic is E

    - what mode is to be used so that you can know what degree of the major scale it comes from?
    in your case, Mixo is the 5th mode.. so it's tonic is located on the 5th note of a major scale..

    this creates the final question: what major scale is E the 5th of?
    in your case, E is the 5th of A
    so the 'centre key' [or 'parent key] for E Mixo is A major

    examples:
    C Mixo: Mixolydian is the 5th mode. What major scale is C the perfect 5th of? the centre key for C Mixo is F major

    E Dorian: Dorian is the 2nd mode. What major scale is E the major 2nd of? D major

    A Lydian: Lydian is the 4th mode. What major scale is A the perfect 4th of? E major

    make sense?


    Mmmmm? Im not sure about sense,but,I think perhaps where part my confusion lies is that when Im thinking  E mixo,Im thinking what is the fifth of E (B as I said above) but in fact what I should be working out is what E is the 5th of? .Is that right?

    Although why would I need to know the centre key,in practical terms? If that's not an even more moronic question than my last few!


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  • JAYJOJAYJO Frets: 773
    Mixolydian is the 5th mode. so yes what scale is E the 5th note of =  A major. You would be using the A major scale but using the E note as your home note rather than the A.
    Dorian is the 2nd mode. So what scale is B the 2nd note of = A . so to play B dorian you would be using the A major scale but the B note would be the home note. Though you would view these scales as Mixolydian or Dorian not Amjaor.
    Your E mjor chord helps give it the Mixolydian sound.
    Bm helps give the B dorian sound. 

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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2878
    edited March 23

    Mmmmm? Im not sure about sense,but,I think perhaps where part my confusion lies is that when Im thinking  E mixo,Im thinking what is the fifth of E (B as I said above) but in fact what I should be working out is what E is the 5th of? .Is that right?

    Although why would I need to know the centre key,in practical terms? If that's not an even more moronic question than my last few!


    Yes that's right.. what is E the 5th of? is the way to look at this..

    in practical terms you need to know the centre key because that tells you what pool of notes are available
    and therefore what fingerings you can use...

    think of it this way...
    a major scale contains 7 notes..
    a major scale can spawn 7 different modes..
    learn the fingering to a major scale and by default you also have the fingering to the 7 modes
    because they all have the same 7 notes in common..
    so... if the notes are the same, why to they all sound so different?
    the answer is context...
    you're soloing away over an Em chord.. the Em scale will obviously fit nicely because they are of the same key..
    the Dorian mode will also fit nicely because chord I of the Dorian mode is also Em.. 
    they will sound slightly different though..
    this is because the 6th note in the minor scale is a minor 6th, and in the Dorian mode is a major 6th
    the Dorian mode does not sound quite as minor overall as the natural minor scale..

    in terms of chords for example
    if you was playing a chord progression in Em, chords I and IV would be Em and Am respectively..
    whereas in E Dorian, chords I and IV would be Em and A..
    again this is because of note 6 being C in Em and C# in E Dorian
    so it's presence is felt not only in the scale but also the chords generated by the scale
    note that in the Dorian mode, moving from chord I to IV sounds a little more 'uplifting' because IV is a major chord [rather than a minor one]..
    it's the characteristics of the different moods the modes can generate that makes them such powerful expressive tools both in improvisation and composition


    play every note as if it were your first
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  • Jedi42Jedi42 Frets: 4
    If the chord is E major you would not necessarily want to play E mixolydian (unless you really want that sound). You would play E ionian. All the other key chords within the key of E major have their own modes...therefore:

    I - E major(7) - E ionian,
    II - F#m(7) - F# dorian,
    III - G#m(7) - G# phyrgian,
    IV - A major(7) - A lydian,
    V - B7 - B mixolydian,
    VI - C#min(7) - C# aeolian,
    VII - D#m7b5 - D# locrian

    Note, all the modes given here have exactly the same notes as E major. What the modes offer is a linear realignment with regards the tonality of each chord. So for example, the progression:

    E major - C#min - A major - B7

    would have the modes: E ionian, C# aeolian, A lydian and B mixolydian due to the position of each chord with respect to the diatonic chord structure of E major.

    Hope this makes sense.

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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2878
    Jedi42 said:
    If the chord is E major you would not necessarily want to play E mixolydian (unless you really want that sound). You would play E ionian. All the other key chords within the key of E major have their own modes...therefore:

    I - E major(7) - E ionian,
    II - F#m(7) - F# dorian,
    III - G#m(7) - G# phyrgian,
    IV - A major(7) - A lydian,
    V - B7 - B mixolydian,
    VI - C#min(7) - C# aeolian,
    VII - D#m7b5 - D# locrian

    Note, all the modes given here have exactly the same notes as E major. What the modes offer is a linear realignment with regards the tonality of each chord. So for example, the progression:

    E major - C#min - A major - B7

    would have the modes: E ionian, C# aeolian, A lydian and B mixolydian due to the position of each chord with respect to the diatonic chord structure of E major.

    Hope this makes sense.

    not sure I completely agree with this...
    if you're playing a chord progression in E, you're never playing modally if your note pools all come from the key of E..
    you'll just be playing in the key of E
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • RoysterdoysterRoysterdoyster Frets: 98
    edited March 30
    I've been away from this trying to get my head round it,and this just further depresses me when people with clearly a lot more knowledge than me,have different views....I joked I needed a ladybird book of modes,but in all seriousness is there an industry standard/"go to" resource on this subject? Maybe a one to one lesson with a good teacher would be the answer? 
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  • LeeCassidyLeeCassidy Frets: 54
    edited March 30
    Try this little tool I built to help visualise the modes of the major scale. http://www.modewheel.co.uk/  

    If you want to see what Mixolydian looks like in the key of E, just rotate it so Mixolydian lines up with the note E. Then, if you want to see what the notes of Lydian are in the key of E, rotate it so Lydian lines up with E. Repeat as necessary.

    At bottom, try to think of it like this. The major scale is a sequence of intervals. That sequence happens to be an irregular pattern (ie, it's not a uniform pattern, like all whole steps, or all half steps, etc.). That pattern is: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. If you pick a starting note and use that pattern to select notes from the twelve notes, you'll have used the first mode of the major scale. 

    Now, you can start that sequence from another step, like, say, the second step. That would give you: whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half, *whole (*this last 'whole' is the one you skipped, the first step, when starting from the second step in the sequence). Because of the major scale pattern's irregularity, starting from this second step you will end up with a different set of notes than if you'd started from the first step. You can use the tool I linked above to experiment and see this in action (or you can write them out yourself, which is a good way, too).

    Starting from each of those steps is a mode. The Dorian is starting from the second, the Phrygian from the third, the Lydian from the fourth, etc. If you started from the note E and wrote out all seven modes in that key, you'd see they're all unique. However, whilst they're all unique, they all have various degrees of commonalities, and they broadly fit into two categories; those that feature a major third, and those that feature a minor third. These broad categories allow you to use the modes fairly easily. If you're playing a piece in the key of E, you can use any of the modes in the key of E that feature a major third (you just might find some clashes here and there, and you might need to omit/make less of a feature of the notes.

    Here's an example. Imagine you have a simple chord sequence of E, A and B. Here, the chords are in the key of E. If you want to improvise a melody on top of this, you could use any of the modes that feature a major third. This would be the Ionian (first mode), the Lydian (fourth mode), and the Mixolydian (fourth mode).

    If you use the Ionian, it'll be plain sailing throughout, and none of the notes will sound dissonant/unpleasing against the chords. If you use the Lydian mode, you could run into some dissonance over the A chord. E Lydian does not have an A. Instead, it has an A#. You can use that modewheel tool to see this.
    If you use the Mixolydian mode, you could run into some dissonance over the B chord, as the major third of the B chord is D#, yet there is no D# in E Mixolydian.

    In those last two cases, you just need to be a little creative. There are many things you can do. You can omit the offending notes in your melody. Or you can revert to playing the Ionian mode over the offending chord. Or you can even roll with the dissonance and try to make something interesting out of it (tough, but doable).
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2878
    Try this little tool I built to help visualise the modes of the major scale. http://www.modewheel.co.uk/  

    If you want to see what Mixolydian looks like in the key of E, just rotate it so Mixolydian lines up with the note E. Then, if you want to see what the notes of Lydian are in the key of E, rotate it so Lydian lines up with E. Repeat as necessary.

    At bottom, try to think of it like this. The major scale is a sequence of intervals. That sequence happens to be an irregular pattern (ie, it's not a uniform pattern, like all whole steps, or all half steps, etc.). That pattern is: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. If you pick a starting note and use that pattern to select notes from the twelve notes, you'll have used the first mode of the major scale. 

    Now, you can start that sequence from another step, like, say, the second step. That would give you: whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half, *whole (*this last 'whole' is the one you skipped, the first step, when starting from the second step in the sequence). Because of the major scale pattern's irregularity, starting from this second step you will end up with a different set of notes than if you'd started from the first step. You can use the tool I linked above to experiment and see this in action (or you can write them out yourself, which is a good way, too).

    Starting from each of those steps is a mode. The Dorian is starting from the second, the Phrygian from the third, the Lydian from the fourth, etc. If you started from the note E and wrote out all seven modes in that key, you'd see they're all unique. However, whilst they're all unique, they all have various degrees of commonalities, and they broadly fit into two categories; those that feature a major third, and those that feature a minor third. These broad categories allow you to use the modes fairly easily. If you're playing a piece in the key of E, you can use any of the modes in the key of E that feature a major third (you just might find some clashes here and there, and you might need to omit/make less of a feature of the notes.

    Here's an example. Imagine you have a simple chord sequence of E, A and B. Here, the chords are in the key of E. If you want to improvise a melody on top of this, you could use any of the modes that feature a major third. This would be the Ionian (first mode), the Lydian (fourth mode), and the Mixolydian (fourth mode).

    If you use the Ionian, it'll be plain sailing throughout, and none of the notes will sound dissonant/unpleasing against the chords. If you use the Lydian mode, you could run into some dissonance over the A chord. E Lydian does not have an A. Instead, it has an A#. You can use that modewheel tool to see this.
    If you use the Mixolydian mode, you could run into some dissonance over the B chord, as the major third of the B chord is D#, yet there is no D# in E Mixolydian.

    In those last two cases, you just need to be a little creative. There are many things you can do. You can omit the offending notes in your melody. Or you can revert to playing the Ionian mode over the offending chord. Or you can even roll with the dissonance and try to make something interesting out of it (tough, but doable).
    nice post...
    when I teach modes, I make a simple chord progression with just power chords so that there are no 3rds or 7ths to force the tonality... and I get them to mess with Ionian and Mixo.. then Aeolian and Dorian..
    this is just to get them to hear and get a feel for the tonality differences in a simple and 'clash-free' environment..
    then.. I will get them to play minor over power chords E, A, E, C
    they'll be fine with Em [ E Aeolian].. and then switch them to E Dorian...
    they'll then notice things not working over the C power chord
    solution... E Dorian of all chords until the C and then switch to Em [E Aeolian]
    then the next step is to get them to switch some more...
    E chord = E Aeolian or E Dorian [they get to choose]
    A chord = E Dorian [which really brings it to life by making it effectively an A maj chord]
    C chord = E Aeolian [to maintain consonance with the chord]

    the object of the exercise is cause and effect... learn the sound of modes by finding out which work over what chords..
    and noting the impact on tonality of your choices..

    I do the same sort of thing with the major modes too just to hammer the point home..

    When the penny drops you see them smile and really start to appreciate how powerful modes can be as tools for composition and improv as they each inject their own tonal flavours

    from personal experience, modes are an extremely difficult thing to teach in written text...
    and much easier to teach face to face, with instruments and music to play over the top of...
    this is because the student gets to hear them with context..
    and context is the killer piece of the puzzle


    play every note as if it were your first
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  • sm55onlsm55onl Frets: 23
    edited March 31
    I'm always trying to figure this question out....so here goes...(am willing to be shot down metaphorically - which can subsequently turn out to be a good learning exercise if not initially fatal in its outcome :-) )

    Starting from the C Major scale [also known as C Ionian mode] and starting from different degrees of the scale - by shifting along one note at a time for each mode - then we get the following scale sequences/modes...
    • C Ionian: C D E F G A B C - W W H W W W H
    • D Dorian: D E F G A B C D - W H W W W H W
    • E Phrygian: E F G A B C D E - H W W W H W W
    • F Lydian: F G A B C D E F - W W W H W W H
    • G Mixolydian: G A B C D E F G - W W H W W H W
    • A Aeolian: A B C D E F G A - W H W W H W W
    • B Locrian: B C D E F G A B - H W W H W W W
    Note the following:
    - all the notes are the same (just in sequentially shifted order)
    - D Dorian, E Phyrygian etc all have, as their parent scale, the C Major scale.

    Now try the following - start each of the above sequences on the note of C itself...
    • C Ionian: C D E F G A B C - W W H W W W H
    • C Dorian: C D Eb F G A Bb C - W H W W W H W
    • C Phryg:  C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C - H W W W H W W
    • C Lydian: C D E Gb G A B C - W W W H W W H
    • C Mixolydian: C D E F G A Bb C - W W H W W H W
    • C Aeolian: C D Eb F G Ab Bb C - W H W W H W W
    • C Locr: C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C - H W W H W W W
    The parent scales then become

    [C Ionian] C maj;
    [C Dorian] Bb maj;
    [C Phrygian] Ab maj;
    [C Lydian] G maj;
    [C Mixollydian] F maj;
    [C Aeolian] Eb maj;
    [C Locrian] Db maj;

    However for your own example:

    E major scale [W,W,H,W,W,W,H] - E Gb Ab A B Db Eb E
    E Mixo scale [W,W,H,W,W,H,W] -  E Gb Ab A B Db  D  E

    ...and, thus, we see that the seventh degree of the mixolydian scale is flattened with respect to the major scale.
    Also, by working back through the sequences we can ascertain that the parent scale of E Mixolydian is the A major scale.

    [Note the usual caveats regards the following:
    - any mistakes not noted whilst in a hurry to get to the footie this afternoon
    - use of ‘b’ instead of ‘#’ signs
    - possible interactions with other scales; minor, etc]

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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2878
    edited March 31
    sm55onl said:
    I'm always trying to figure this question out....so here goes...(am willing to be shot down metaphorically - which can subsequently turn out to be a good learning exercise if not initially fatal in its outcome :-) )

    Starting from the C Major scale [also known as C Ionian mode] and starting from different degrees of the scale - by shifting along one note at a time for each mode - then we get the following scale sequences/modes...
    • C Ionian: C D E F G A B C - W W H W W W H
    • D Dorian: D E F G A B C D - W H W W W H W
    • E Phrygian: E F G A B C D E - H W W W H W W
    • F Lydian: F G A B C D E F - W W W H W W H
    • G Mixolydian: G A B C D E F G - W W H W W H W
    • A Aeolian: A B C D E F G A - W H W W H W W
    • B Locrian: B C D E F G A B - H W W H W W W
    Note the following:
    - all the notes are the same (just in sequentially shifted order)
    - D Dorian, E Phyrygian etc all have, as their parent scale, the C Major scale.

    Now try the following - start each of the above sequences on the note of C itself...
    • C Ionian: C D E F G A B C - W W H W W W H
    • C Dorian: C D Eb F G A Bb C - W H W W W H W
    • C Phryg:  C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C - H W W W H W W
    • C Lydian: C D E Gb G A B C - W W W H W W H
    • C Mixolydian: C D E F G A Bb C - W W H W W H W
    • C Aeolian: C D Eb F G Ab Bb C - W H W W H W W
    • C Locr: C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C - H W W H W W W
    The parent scales then become

    [C Ionian] C maj;
    [C Dorian] Bb maj;
    [C Phrygian] Ab maj;
    [C Lydian] G maj;
    [C Mixollydian] F maj;
    [C Aeolian] Eb maj;
    [C Locrian] Db maj;

    However for your own example:

    E major scale [W,W,H,W,W,W,H] - E Gb Ab A B Db Eb E
    E Mixo scale [W,W,H,W,W,H,W] -  E Gb Ab A B Db  D  E

    and, thus, we see that the seventh degree of the mixolydian scale is flattened with respect to the major scale.

    [Note the usual caveats regards the following:
    - use of ‘#’ and ‘b’ signs
    - possible interactions with other scales; minor, etc]

    this is good... 
    however, lets mend a few things [then you'll no longer need your get out of jail free caveat... lol..]..
    you cannot duplicate note values and you must have one letter designating each of the notes..
    one A, one B, one C and so on
    so...
    E major scale [W,W,H,W,W,W,H] - E Gb Ab A B Db Eb E should be E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#
    E Mixo scale [W,W,H,W,W,H,W] -  E Gb Ab A B Db  D  E should be E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D

    This will lead to some unusual notes like B# and E# but it's perfectly valid
    in the key of C#, all notes are sharp

    the reason is because of how intervals work
    E to G is a 3rd of some sort E - F - G [counting the first note, 1 - 2 - 3.. sorry for the baby talk but it's way of describing this that's easy]
    when you look at the number of semi-tones you'll find that it's a minor 3rd [a different topic for another day maybe?]
    E to G# is still a 3rd.. but this one is a major 3rd
    E to A is a 4th of some kind.. when you look at the number of semi-tones you'll find that it's a perfect 4th [just the name of the interval.. nothing more]
    E to Ab is still a 4th.. a diminished 4th..

    although G# and Ab sound the same, are the same place to stick your finger one on the neck
    and is the same button to press on a piano.. lol..
    they are the same pitch but not the same note

    does it really matter?
    when you're actually playing music probably not.. so long as you're putting your fingers in the right places at the right times then so what... sounding good is what matters most...
    when you're trying to understand something [like how do scales, chords and modes work] then yes..
    when you're scoring music [not something everyone does - I happen to be one of the folks that do] then it matters here too

    let's look at your major scale
    E Gb Ab A B Db Eb E
    you have a tonic, flattened minor 3rd, diminished 4th, perfect 5th, flattened minor 7th, and a flattened tonic at the octave [which is kinda broke cos E and Eb cannot coexist in the scale]..

    E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D# is a tonic, maj2nd, maj3rd, perf4th, perf5th, maj6th, maj7th
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • sm55onlsm55onl Frets: 23
    Clarky,

    Yes, thanks for the correction regards using a different letter for each note...and the subsequent/corresponding scale degree designations.
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2878
    edited March 31
    sm55onl said:
    Clarky,

    Yes, thanks for the correction regards using a different letter for each note...and the subsequent/corresponding scale degree designations.
    no prob matey...
    I know some folk get a bit hot under the collar about this sort of thing..
    seriously... actually playing matters far more than the theory..
    there are plenty of beautiful players out there that have really quite limited knowledge..
    that said, it's worth trying to ensure that the bits of theory you do know are accurate and well understood..
    especially the fundamentals like
    - intervals
    - scales and key
    - chord spellings [and how to derive chords from scales]

    these are the foundations upon which you build everything else [like modes for example]
    set these foundations down well and more difficult topics are far less challenging

    and remember... when it comes to allocating time and effort,
    theory can help solve compositional problems or offer alternatives to your instincts that can be quite interesting..
    but never write from theory alone.. you musical instincts and intuition always come first and get the final say.. 
    never put theory before playing
    playing always comes first... cos that's the bit you do in the studio and up on stage...
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2878
    I've been away from this trying to get my head round it,and this just further depresses me when people with clearly a lot more knowledge than me,have different views....I joked I needed a ladybird book of modes,but in all seriousness is there an industry standard/"go to" resource on this subject? Maybe a one to one lesson with a good teacher would be the answer? 
    have you got a DAW [like Logic for example], so you can record or create backing tracks?
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1807
    edited March 31
    Worth repeating for emphasis:
    Clarky said:
    ... actually playing matters far more than the theory...
    ... your musical instincts and intuition always come first and get the final say.. 
    ...playing always comes first... cos that's the bit you do in the studio and up on stage...
    It’s easy to get confused by modes. Particularly as there are two different methods of deriving modal scales. At the end of the day they are just theories to explain why something works.
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2878
    Roland said:
    Worth repeating for emphasis:
    Clarky said:
    ... actually playing matters far more than the theory...
    ... your musical instincts and intuition always come first and get the final say.. 
    ...playing always comes first... cos that's the bit you do in the studio and up on stage...
    It’s easy to get confused by modes. Particularly as there are two different methods of deriving modal scales. At the end of the day they are just theories to explain why something works.
    absolutely...
    a few months ago I did a session on modes with one of my students..
    after about 30 minutes he said "really? is that it?"
    face to face is so much easier..
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • UnclePsychosisUnclePsychosis Frets: 5074
    I posted this explanation before and I think people liked it:

    There are basically two ways of thinking about constructing modes: either thinking of them as modified major scales OR thinking of them as major scales starting on different notes. They give you the same results but to me it is better not to mix the two up. 

    Firstly, remember scales are always named for the note they begin with. This is important when talking about modes. 

    Take G mixolydian as an example: I think of this in two different ways. 

    The first is as a "modified major scale" in which case I know that the recipe to construct a mixolydian scale is to start from G major (G A B C D E F# G) and flatten the seventh to get to G mixolydian (G A B C D E F G). 

    The second is as a "major scale starting on a different note". In this case, I know I want G mixolydian, and I also know that G mixolydian is the same as a major scale, but starting on the fifth degree of that scale. Since I know my intervals I know G is a fifth above C, I know that G mixolydian is therefore the same notes as C major but starting on a G which gives (G A B C D E F G). 

    Similarly, for D dorian. The recipe method tells you to start with D major (D E F# G A B C# D) and flatten the third and seventh to get D Dorian (D E F G A B C D). The "major scale in a different place" method tells you that Dorian scales are a major scale but starting on the second degree of the scale, so since D is the second note of C major we again go back to the notes of C major but play them starting on D to give (D E F G A B C D). 

    Beginning to make sense? 

    Personally I prefer the "major starting in a different place" because in my head its more obvious how the different modes are linked together. For instance, its immediately obvious to me that D dorian and G mixolydian are linked harmonically because they're both C major starting on a different note. I also, personally, find it much, much easier to remember which mode is which this way round! 
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  • @unclepsychosis Thanks for that. This is all slowly but surely sinking in. I do like the two explanation theories you have given as that is one of the things that I found confusing. So its good to know that both are correct/relevant as I was thinking one was right and one was wrong but I couldn't understand why. Excellent stuff. @clarky I don't have a DAW (yet) but looking at that anyway. Why do you ask here? Would that help? Are you thinking of me laying down some chords and playing over them to experiment? I have a loop pedal which I use for that,but maybe youre thinking of it for something completely different?
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  • Axe_meisterAxe_meister Frets: 2150
    To me It's understanding the sound a certain mode/scale makes over the underlying chord.
    Now you could "stay in key, e.g. play ionian of the the I chord and say the Lydian over the 4th chord, but they sound very different. (let's assume the chord are just major triads), but you could also play the ionian over the 4th (the forth being the root) or a mixolydian. 
    It's all about where you want the melody to move. However the more notes in the chord the more constrained you are in terms of scale choice.
    Personally I find it very hard to improvise using modes but can give you great scope when composing a solo.



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  • UnclePsychosisUnclePsychosis Frets: 5074
    @unclepsychosis Thanks for that. This is all slowly but surely sinking in. I do like the two explanation theories you have given as that is one of the things that I found confusing. So its good to know that both are correct/relevant as I was thinking one was right and one was wrong but I couldn't understand why. Excellent stuff.
    -to be pedantic, the explanation is actually the secret third way that I didn't mention. That explanation is that modes are just scales in their own right - it's just a collection of musical intervals that give a particular sound. The two "explanation theories" just give you an easy way to remember the notes in each one! 
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2878
    @unclepsychosis Thanks for that. This is all slowly but surely sinking in. I do like the two explanation theories you have given as that is one of the things that I found confusing. So its good to know that both are correct/relevant as I was thinking one was right and one was wrong but I couldn't understand why. Excellent stuff. @clarky I don't have a DAW (yet) but looking at that anyway. Why do you ask here? Would that help? Are you thinking of me laying down some chords and playing over them to experiment? I have a loop pedal which I use for that,but maybe youre thinking of it for something completely different?
    no prob matey...
    having a DAW means you can create simple backing tracks to play over and experiment with..
    playing with modes with context makes all the difference
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • JalapenoJalapeno Frets: 3324
    edited April 5
    This topic always ends up with longer and longer explanations for something that ought to be straightforward.  2nd mode of CMaj is D Dorian (not C Dorian) - take it from there.

    it is valid to try out the sounds of C Dorian over CMaj etc but it'll sound odd coming as it does from Bb Maj - if quirky and odd is the effect you want  go for it !

    Arpeggios is where the cool stuff is anyway ..... <puts on tin hat>


    Modes? We don't need no steenking modes !!!!


    Imagine something sharp and witty here ......

    Feedback
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  • BarneyBarney Frets: 343
    I think an easy way to look at modes is learn the order they are in first ...play a cmaj scale and relate each each mode to each note and look at the intervals 

    So if you play cmaj7 scale from 3rd fret a string ..count up 6 for e.g. and you will have A aeolian...look at the interval and see how it relates back to the parent scale ...the interval will be the same wherever on the fret board ...so  A aeolian is same notes as c Maj...now move the A note to C one the same string now you have C aeolian with a parent scale of Eb 


    This will work with all the modes using different intervals a degrees of the scale ..this is relating back to maj scale ..eventually you will need to look at each mode from its root note ..


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