View Full Version : Need to confirm so stuff about modes

04-11-2003, 09:03 AM
I've been trying to understand modes and need to confirm some stuff....

Say i have a chord pattern and the E min pentatonic scale sounds fitting (this with the root on the 12th fret). I used to use this technique to solo earlier.

Then i learnt patterns to extend the scale. i.e Now i could use the blues box pattern + this new pattern i learnt with was also supp to be the Em pentatonic except it started on the 10th fret of the 6th string.
Is this second patternt i learnt one of the modes of the pentatonic scale?

If i have a progression in the key of D.
I know the pentatonic would be a safe bet,
but can i solo over it with a, say, D Mixolydian or a D Lydian etc.


04-11-2003, 11:25 AM
I am by no means an expert, so anybody can feel free to correct me, and I won't be offended...

The way I think of modes is that they are the same notes as the major scale, but with a different starting point. So, the D mixolydian has all the same notes as G major, only instead of starting on G, you start on the fifth degree of the scale, D. So in general, playing the D mixolydian in a song in the key of D might not sound as good as say, the A mixolydian which shares all the same notes with D major. That, of course ignores anything you might want to be doing to go along with chord changes and such.

Personally, I've never really thought of the pentatonic scale as having modes, but if you're playing all the same notes in a different position, I suppose you could think of it that way.

Hope this helps, and welcome.

04-11-2003, 12:34 PM
Originally posted by akash47 Then i learnt patterns to extend the scale. i.e Now i could use the blues box pattern + this new pattern i learnt with was also supp to be the Em pentatonic except it started on the 10th fret of the 6th string.
Is this second patternt i learnt one of the modes of the pentatonic scale? Hi there Akash. I also don't claim to know much, so someone can correct me if I'm wrong. There are various patterns associated with the Em pentatonic scale. One of them can be considered to "start" on the 6th string tenth fret. That D note there is part of the scale. However, that note is not the *root* of the scale. I don't think there is such a thing as a mode of a pentatonic scale, but someone who knows more than I may want to correct me or agree.

04-11-2003, 12:58 PM
I think it will be helpful for you to read this article,


and this one.


04-12-2003, 03:58 PM
the mode you're playing in is determined by the chord under it. so If you're playing a chord progession in C major, for example, C-Am-F-G, then you're playing C major, A aeolian, F Lydian, and G mixolydian, respectively. when people talk about what you start on, that's strictly theoretical and on-paper stuff. id you're playing C major over a C chord, it doesn't matter what note you start on, it's still C major. you could play the notes in the exact same order over an Am chord.

now, what some people like Satch do is change the harmonic direction of a progression. for example, over the same progression, you could change keys and play C lydian, A phygerian, F Major, and G mixolydian, for example.

I'll try to post some powertabs explaining this a little bit better later.

04-12-2003, 04:17 PM
ok, here ya go.

example 1(bars 1-4): here you have the same melody played over 4 different chords. in this, you could consider it playing C major, A minor, F lydian, and G mixolydian. notice how the melody sounds a little different when played over different chords.

example 2(bars 5-8): just a little improvised solo, but notice how the same scale (C major) sounds different over each chord. again, this is playing C major, A minor, F lydian, and G mixolydian.

example 3(bars 9-12): here is a more satch-type thing. The chord progression is strictly is C major, but the different modes played over each chord give it a very different sound. there are a lot of possibilities with this, especially when you throw in modes from the melodic and harmonic minor scales. it's just something you gotta expieriment with. hope this helps.

04-12-2003, 06:05 PM
thanks for all your inputs guys.. things are seeming a bit more clear now...

hey the1andonly is is possible to repost the ptb file as a txt. I'm not too sure abt how to open a ptb... thanks.
now, what some people like Satch do is change the harmonic direction of a progression.
i really cant understand this... could you elaborate with language as simple as possible.. thanks.

now some more doubts...
i was doing some research on modes, on the net when i came across this text...
If i was playing and repeating the chords D minor 7 and F major 7 ( try it yourself), the notes in the C major scale work nicely over these chords but if you play C ionian scale (starting & ending with C) over these chords it will be a very dissonant sound. But if you use D dorian (as shown above) starting and ending with D, it will work much better.

Now what i'm thinking is that by playing a D dorian over those chords are you not in effect playing a C major scale over those chords (the notes are the same rite...).
In fact why not simply play a D maj or minor scale...

and, i thought C ionian and C major are the same things..

Oh well.. as you can see i'm very very confused... :) hehe

I'm gonna fine a tape recorder and try the above out. ...lets see how that works out... in the mean time your comments are welcome..

thanks again

The Bash
04-12-2003, 09:49 PM
Well actually Ionian is one of three Major Scales.
C Ionian, F Lydian and G Mixolydian can all be thought of as being in the key of C Major or sharing the same scales and chord scales as C Major. They likewise can be thought of as beloning to any of the 7 modes of C Major.

C Ionian (C Major)
C Lydian (G Major)
C Mixolydian (F Major) are all diffrent keys and again share the same tones/ chords etc as all 7 modes of whatever key.

Now what's confusing is the perhaps the way in which the example of Dmin7 to F Major7 was stated. The notes of C Ionian sound fine over this as it's the same as thinking C Major Scale. What I belive was meant by C Ionian was he intened you to start on C and end on C and thus resolve you scale/melody around C when the resoultion note should be D.
Basically what he's telling you is while the notes of C Major work (cause there the same notes as D Dorian) it's how you play them that matters. If you really bring out the C notes (end phrases on them etc.) it won't sound dissonant like playing a Eb over a E would sound dissoant but it won't sound good either.
The end result is a lame lick :)

A better way of thinking of D Dorian is Dminor with a raised 6th
or rasing the Bb to B.

This is perhaps a bit tougher way of viewing things at first, but I belive much better. When I first learned modes I related everything to the Major Scale. So D Dorian was C Major etc.
While this worked out nice on paper and made it pretty easy to rember what what what, it didn't translate well to the guitar or actual music making.

Guni or James would be a better one to ask than me but I personally don't think Modes were intened to be related to the Major Scale such as D Dorian is the same as C Major, it's not really the same thing at all other than they just happen to share the exact same notes. To Me D Dorian is D minor with a rasied 6th thus all the chords in D minor that contain Bb would now have that Bb raised to B thus altering the chord in some way (this isn't techincally a perfect explination but I'm trying to keep it simple so you'll at least get the point).
Anyway I think viewing the altered scale tones is a much better way to actually grasp what a mode really is. Cause really all it is (at least to me) is a sound.

That's what 1 and only meant about Satch that he's changing keys often times using Aminor to A Dorian etc.
For a real bad but basic example if I have
Am-Dm could be thought of as A Minor
Am-D as A A dorian

Not a brillant example but maybe easy enough to get the point.

04-12-2003, 09:57 PM
The most important thing about modes and modal playing, is what note you are PRETENDING to be the root (or is functioning as the root).
If you play the notes from C major but PRETEND D is the root you are really playing in D Dorian.
The best way I can think of to illustrate this point is to record a drone D note and play the notes from C major over it. Try to make up melodies that work over this drone. Then do the same with the other Six Scale tones. Then you will have a better understanding of how each of the Modes resolve to the Root.

By the way Good to hear from Bash haven't seen many posts from him lately.

04-13-2003, 01:43 AM
OK,about chanigng the harmonic Direction:

Over any major chord, there are three major modes that work over it: Ionian, Lydian, and Mixolydian there are then 3 minor modes that work over minor modes: Dorian, Phygerian, and Aeolian.

now let's say you are playing a song in the key of C major, with the chords C-Am-F-G. this chord progression is built strictly off the C major scale, so you could solo with just those modes, like this:

over C : C ionian (C D E F G A B)
over Am: A aeolian (A B C D E F G)
over F: F lydian (F G A B C D E)
over G: G mixolydian (G A B C D E F)

now this is the most natural and easiest way to solo over these chords. however, there are two alternatives to each mode used. when they are used, you're starting to play 'outside' the original key of C major, but it still sounds good. here are the alternatives:

over C: C lydian (C D E F# G A B) or C mixolydian (C D E F G A Bb)
over Am: A dorian (A B C D E F# G) or A phygerian (A Bb C D E F G)
over F: F major (F G A Bb C D E) or F mixolydian (F G A Bb C D Eb)
over G: G major (G A B C D E F#) or G lydian (G A B C# D E F#)

when you use any of these modes instead of the mode diatonic to the scale (the ones listed in the example 1) you are 'changing the harmonic direction' a.k.a. playing 'non-diatonic modes'. in the powertab file (just go download powertab. i forget the website but you can find it in a search. it lets listen to files as well, and the examples i tabbed out are something you need to hear more than just read)

and to answer your other question, about a progression in D major, it depends what chords are in it weather you can use D mixolydian or D lydian. let's look at all the chords harmonized from D major:

D - Em -F#m - G - A - Bm - C#dim

now you can do the same thing with D mixolydian (same as G major) and D lydian (same as A major)

D mixo. : D - Em - F#dim - G - Am - Bm - C
D lydian : D - E - F#m -G#dim - A - Bm -C#m

now if they share chords, you can use either scale. for example,
both D major and D mixolydian both contain D, Em, G, and Bm, so over these chords, they are interchangable. D major and D lydian share D, F#m, A, and Bm. so those two are interchagable there, if those are the only chords present.

04-14-2003, 11:55 AM
Hey Bash and 1andonly... thanks for adding some nuance to my sledgehammer answer, and in the process teaching me a thing or two. Nicely done.

04-15-2003, 09:27 AM
wow... real complex stuff here..
i'll print this out and read it till something gets in...

thanks for all the inputs guys

04-15-2003, 10:12 AM
You can download the program for free here:


It sure is a great tool, and I agree: itīs way better to hear the examples then seeing them in ASCII-TAB