Chord Scales - Part 2: Modes
(09 Apr 03)
A longwinded intro
"The researches of many commentators
have already thrown much darkness on this subject,
and it is probable that, if they continue,
we shall soon know nothing at all about it"
Darkness? Yes, I think that is the right term when it comes to understanding the term modes as it is used today.
Over the years modes have become somewhat of a mystery, leaving a reader in pure astonishment and curiosity when a magazine article states that Mr. X playes Dorian, or Mr. Y loves to write Mixolydian songs.
Ok, I just gotta say this despite the possibility of a lot of hate mail: Modes also have become somewhat of a 'business card' for musicians to emphasise their skills by saying things like: "I only play Lydian" - "Hey, you gotta play Mixo over that chord..." etc... I think all in all this led to undesirable usage of terminology.
I personally prefer the term chord scales. Basically, they stand for the same thing although in my view chord scales say more about their application.
And here we are at the core of this article and one of the main things I'd like to lay upon you: "modes" aka "chord scales" are more than just a theory on how to improvise over chords. They are a logical, ordered system that combines todays music theory and it's applications in composition, arranging, melody writing, etc ... well, and yes, improvisation.
Having said that, I'd like you to get away from your instrument when working through this article. First we got to understand the theory part before we can actually go about working with this system and applying it correctly.
To be honest I had a really hard time getting this article together (I hope it paid off). The topic is so broadly important in so many different fields in music that it is hardly possible to mention every aspect.
I tried to carefully select the content of this article to demonstrate chord scales and modes in the most practical possible way.
I hope that this article will answer a lot of your questions.
And as always: if there's anything you'd like to share or ask about this article please feel free to post in the forums for immediate response and discussions.