Best way to learn modes?

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crkt246
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Best way to learn modes?

Post by crkt246 » April 10th, 2010, 10:20 am

Hey guys long time no post but I guess I'm back (at least for a little while...)
Right now I am looking to expand my soloing sound and skill and I am pretty sure knowing the modes will help me do that so I amlooking for any advise on the best way to learn modes?

Thanks guys and God Bless.

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tinsmith
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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by tinsmith » April 10th, 2010, 3:41 pm

I'd like to add to that......How do we get to care about the modes.
When play scales, I can see the chord structure around them which build chords. With modes, I can only see a couple which have any connection or meaning at all to the key.
Whats the deal????? I've seen lots of articles & all I really see is Blaah, blaah blaah......some pretentious music know it all showing that the connection & can't understand why I do not.

I also don't understand why they are not scales, when all scales are is the repetition of a pattern of notes.....Seems like the same thing to me.

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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by greybeard » April 10th, 2010, 11:43 pm

tinsmith wrote:I also don't understand why they are not scales, when all scales are is the repetition of a pattern of notes.....Seems like the same thing to me.
That's exactly the point - they are scales. They are scales harmonised to the base scale. Take C major. D Dorian is just a Dm scale with an augmented vi. E Phrygian is just an Em with a flat ii. F Lydian is an F Major with a sharp IV. G Mixolydian is a G Major with a flat vii. We already know about Ionian and Aeolian.

To make them sound different to the base scale, you have to play them as discrete scales. With a base scale of C, the Lydian has to be played with the tonal centre of F.

The major problem with guitar, is that many people learn scale patterns, rather than scales, so tend to play the base scale patterns, when playing modes. The result being that they end up playing around the tonal centre of the base scale rather than any of the modes.

My advice is to leave them alone for as long as you can.
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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by Moonrider » April 11th, 2010, 7:42 am

Go back and read what greybeard posted one more time.

Now that you've done that, I'll point out that for guitar players "modes" are most useful as an analysis tool to figure out why that lead sounded cool over that chord progression. If you've internalized your scales to the point where you can start and stop on any note without thinking about it, then modes are a natural expansion of how you use scales to construct leads and melodies. You'll just . . . play them. UNTIL you reach that point, it's best to leave them alone.
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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by Wattsiepoops » April 12th, 2010, 3:41 am

My girlfriends dad (Retired Music Teacher) told me that modes are pre-Bach and therefore pre-scale, as bach was like the pioneer of scales. And that most of the scales were built off the mode's

I don't understand them, just an interesting fact i'd thought i'd share.
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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by NoteBoat » April 12th, 2010, 5:10 am

My two cents on the topic:

- Bach wasn't the pioneer of scales - he wasn't even close. All of the scales and modes existed long before Bach.

- Greybeard is right: modes ARE scales. "Mode" is from a Greek root, "scale" from a Latin one - they both mean the same thing.

- Modes got confused as something other than scales back in 1547 when a music theorist (Heinrich Glarens) noticed similarities in the structure of the existing church scales - which were called modes - and the existing secular scales. He coined the terms "Ionian" and "Aeolian" to give Greek names to the secular scales. But these scales and modes existed long before Glarens.

- The way that Glarens thought about modes - which is the way they're still taught in most schools (including the colleges I attended) was as "related" scales. This thinking is good for passing a theory or music history test, but it's useless in practical terms.

- Many guitarists think about modes as fingerings. They aren't. Any mode can be played in any fingering. So if you use this sort of mindset, odds are good you won't be playing in the mode you think.

- As several have pointed out, with a few exceptions it's best to leave them alone. Modes only "fit" in a few contexts: modal jazz, a little bit of metal (but a lot less than people claim), and pre-baroque music such as Gregorian chant. Other styles may use ONE mode - for example, a lot of folk music is in Mixolydian. In my teaching, modes are appropriate for only about 2% of the guitarists I work with.

- And finally, the only really useful way I've found to teach and learn modes is as parallel scales, which Greybeard alluded to. The Ionian is the major scale; Lydian is the major scale with a #4; Mixolydian is the major scale with a b7; Aeolian is the natural minor scale; Dorian is the natural minor with a #6; Phrygian is the natural minor with a b2. Locrian has extremely limited use, but if you want to explore it, learn Phrygian first - then the Locrian is the Phrygian with a b5.
Last edited by NoteBoat on April 12th, 2010, 6:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by Scrybe » April 12th, 2010, 5:40 am

NoteBoat wrote: - Many guitarists think about modes as fingerings. They aren't. Any mode can be played in any fingering. So if you use this sort of mindset, odds are good you won't be playing in the mode you think.
I think of modes as colours or flavours. This makes them utterly useless until you really lock into the sound of each mode you plan to use. Also, if you're using them in a solo, you have to be aware that you're, um, painting with these colours over a harmonic canvass - the harmonic canvass will dictate the sound just as much as what you play.

Whether or not you study them is up to you and also depends on what music you want to play. But there are probably a heap of other things that would also open your soloing up and get you playing better, and these other things may be more appropriate for the styles of music you play.
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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by Ricochet » April 12th, 2010, 6:28 am

"Mode" also means "Fashion" or "Style," and that's pretty much what they are in the guitar world. A recently fashionable formula for soloing. And often used with just about the same rationale as the latest clothing fashions.
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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by Wattsiepoops » April 12th, 2010, 7:07 am

NoteBoat wrote:
- Bach wasn't the pioneer of scales - he wasn't even close. All of the scales and modes existed long before Bach.
That is then a misunderstanding of mine. I was listening but kept zoning out and back in. A huge section of what he was telling me about was Bach's 48 scales and his composition for each of the 48 scales. Trying to point out to me that B# actually does exist.
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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by Fretsource » April 12th, 2010, 7:48 am

Wattsiepoops wrote: A huge section of what he was telling me about was Bach's 48 scales and his composition for each of the 48 scales. Trying to point out to me that B# actually does exist.
Actually, it was 2 compositions (one prelude and one fugue) for each of the 12 major and 12 minor keys = 48 compositions in all, which are known as "the 48 preludes and fugues for the 'well tempered' keyboard".

It was a demonstration of how the new 'tempered' tuning method that was gradually being adopted by some instrument makers made it possible to play in any key without having to retune the instrument each time. Previous to that it couldn't be done on fixed pitch instruments because B# wasn't the same as C, A# wasn't the same as Bb, etc. Having someone like Bach endorse this new method was a great boost for getting it accepted.

It's always a good idea to pay attention to the girlfriend's dad - or at least appear to :D

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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by Wattsiepoops » April 12th, 2010, 9:51 am

Well he does have a degree in classic music.
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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by Minotaur » April 12th, 2010, 10:58 am

The host and guide at About Music Education.com calls them "displaced scales". While she's right to a certain extent, it's a lot more than that. I got my butt handed to me in an extremely heated 5-6 page discussion on modes at a certain bass forum for saying that. I stopped conversing on the matter after page 1. :roll:

Anyway, the reason for her contention that they are displaced scales is because in each mode, the root moves over by one scale degree:

•Ionian - Also known as the major scale; follows the pattern W-W-H-W-W-W-H.
•Dorian - Constructed from the second note of a major scale; follows the pattern W-H-W-W-W-H-W.
•Phrygian - Constructed from the third note of a major scale; follows the pattern H-W-W-W-H-W-W.
•Lydian - Constructed from the fourth note of a major scale; follows the pattern W-W-W-H-W-W-H.
•Mixolydian - Also known as "mixo," is constructed from the fifth note of a major scale and follows the pattern W-W-H-W-W-H-W.
•Aeolian - Also known as the natural minor scale, is constructed from the sixth note of a major scale and follows the pattern W-H-W-W-H-W-W.
•Locrian - Constructed from the seventh note of a major scale; follows the pattern H-W-W-H-W-W-W.

Note (no pun intended) how she says "Constructed from the x note of a major scale". Any major scale to get that scale into that mode.

An F Phrygian starts on the 3rd note of a major scale, so F Phrygian (and someone please correct me) would be F Gb Ab Bb C Db Eb. What's F the third note of? The Db major scale. So here you have the pattern H-W-W-W-H-W-W that makes up F Phrygian.

Personally I have no use for any of this in playing rhythm guitar or playing bass thumping of the R 3 5 or R b3 5 as a bass line pattern. But some people get off on this. This is all well and good for composing and if you're that advanced to improvise and it comes as natural as your heart beating, without thinking about it. I have nice charts, but I ain't stressing over it.
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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by Scrybe » April 12th, 2010, 12:36 pm

Ricochet wrote:"Mode" also means "Fashion" or "Style," and that's pretty much what they are in the guitar world. A recently fashionable formula for soloing. And often used with just about the same rationale as the latest clothing fashions.
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Can't be bothered coming up with an equally specific Renaissance period date only to have NoteBoat or Fretsource point out I was off by 30 years.... :lol:
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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by tinsmith » April 12th, 2010, 4:42 pm

Thanks for straightening out, they ARE SCALES..

I was listening to some musical genius kid on a vid on a different site.....The first thing he wanted to straighten out was modes were not scales......After monkeying around with them, I was like, "Why aren't these scales too."

Thanks.....maybe I can't try a few again......just the ones which suit my fancy.....maybe something that I can see the structure. Perhaps I can grow into them SLOWLY that way & understand what I play not something I've just memorized.

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Re: Best way to learn modes?

Post by Scrybe » April 12th, 2010, 5:11 pm

tinsmith wrote: Thanks.....maybe I can't try a few again......just the ones which suit my fancy.....maybe something that I can see the structure. Perhaps I can grow into them SLOWLY that way & understand what I play not something I've just memorized.
To 'get' modes you really have to get the sound of each one. If you're gonna go down the modal path, I suggest learning the patterns, then improvising lots over drones. Use a D drone, and improvise using D dorian, then D phrygian, then D aeolian and really really really really listen to the differences in how they sound. I can't stress that enough - if it doesn't sound any different, it isn't modal.
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