View Full Version : modes

06-28-2002, 01:42 PM
hi guys . i am slowly getting music theory into my head, its been a challenge but well worth it. now i want to talk about modes and ask a question on the way.to make things easy ill base every thing on the C major scale. this scale has the following modes,C ionian,D dorian,Ephrigian,Flydian,Gmixolydian,A aeolian,Blocrian.now it is easy to see how these modes are created ,you just make each note a root and count forward. now if you harmonize all these modes in thirds you get the same chords just in a different order. all the notes again are the same just in a different order and it is this different order that changes the intervals of the modes. so which ever single note you play or chord you strum it is in the key of Cmajor. but when someone says that a song is written in Gmixolydian is it fair to say its written in C major as well?? if so why say its written in G mixolydian. now i think i know why you say G mixolydian and please correct me if i am wrong. lets say i strum the chords 1,5,1 of Cmajor C,G,C and then i do the same for GmixolydianG,Dm,G. what happens is that the two progressions sound different!so the first progression is written in C major and the second in Gmixolydian,right???i hope so. if i am right and i find myself analysing a chord progression that has all these chords C,G,Dm nothing else but these chords and no melody(notes) to help us analyse, how would i work out wether it is written in C major of Gmixolidian? PLEASE set me straight!!
thanks Peter

06-28-2002, 04:03 PM
Learn All the Modes With 'C' as the root
'C' Ionian
'C' Dorian (Bb Major)
'C' Phrygian (Ab Major)
'C' Lydian (G major)
'C' Mixolydian (F Major)
'C' Aeolian (Eb Major)
'C' Locrian (Db Major)

The Idea is to get the sound of these into your head as though they were new scales, don't brush it off because they are just the same major scale.

You want to hear the sound of these in order to use them instantly to improvise.

06-28-2002, 05:54 PM
A nice little exercise to do if you ainīt got a jam track or a sequencer or something:
Hit the low E-String and keep that string running, as some kind of a drone-note... then improvize using the modes based on E as a root note... E major, E dorian, E phrygian, E lydian etc.
Itīs a cool exercise and will help you to explore the sounds of those modes.
Also, you can later start to explore other scales... E Enigmatic, E Harmonic minor etc.
Warm regards

The Bash
06-28-2002, 08:53 PM
And Don't forget to sing.
Each mode will have its on little sound or song just as the Major Scale has its one little sound.
I think being able to sing the Major scale is very important to get the sound in your head (it also helps in hearing intervals). You can break it up and sing 3rds (the chords of the scale)
In C major (C-E-G)(D-F-A)(E-G-B) etc. up through the scale.
Also just being able to sing intervals P4 (C-F) in C (this is neat cause it sounds like the first 2 notes of her comes the bride or the farmer in the dell (one of the all time classics of course).
Anyway each Interval has its own special sound and I find it easier if I hear how it relates to something already in my head.
P5 (C-G) in C sounds like first 2 notes of the Star Wars Theme or maybe you can find something that it sounds like to you (others suggestions may be helpful but its always best if you find whatever (no matter how wacked out) enables you to rember it best. I often attach the strangest things to sounds, scales whatever in order to remember them.
Anyway I'd suggest getting really good at doing just this and then repeat the process with each mode.
I'd also dig up some sight singing info (or maybe someone here can suggest something or express it better) cause I find in my students its something thats highly overlooked.
Anyway in reading your posts you seem to be going hard at it. That's inspiring! Good Luck.
The Bash.

06-28-2002, 10:36 PM
thanks for your replys, i really want to get this topic to stick in my head and i have some questions to ask on your replys, but before i do can someone please give me a direct answer on my questions in the first thread. i want to know if i am right of wrong in what i am thinking.
the quetions were,,
(1)-- if a song is written in Gmixolydian can it also be said to be written in C major?
(2)-- if the answer is no, then would playing the 1,4,5,1, chords of G mixolydian mean that the proggression is written in Gmixolydian. and playing the same chord intervals in C major would mean that it is written in Cmajor.
im sorry if i am pushing you guys for straight "yes and no" answers because its not a very good way to answer a question, but i need that, yes or no, assurance to so i can get those questions out of my head and move on.
and i scincerly hope that i am not sounding arrogant or demanding. the fact is that i am in "awe" of the knowledge that you guys posess and i have only the highest regard and respect for you and i cannot emphasise this enough. but my problem is that when i am learning something and i get stuck on a problem i have to get that problem solved within myself before i can move on. i hope you understand and i look forward to your reply,thanks, Peter

06-28-2002, 11:33 PM
The whole Idea of Modes is what note of the Major Scale you 'Pretend' the root is at a given time. When you are functioning in a 'G' Mixolydian Mode you are 'Pretending' the root to be the 5th of the 'C' Major scale, the Key Signature remains the same ( same amount of sharps or flats), but the Key (root) is 'G', the piece is said to be "In G", meaning 'G' is the root Root of what? the 'G' Mixolydian Mode (or the fifth mode of the 'C' Major Scale). You might be missing the Idea of Key. Key is not limited to mean the root of a Major Scale, for instance when you are playing 'A' Natural Minor the Key is 'A' ( 'A' Aeolian or the 6th Mode of the 'C' Major Scale) the key signature has no sharps or flats would you say this is written in the 'C' Major Scale? NO, does it share all its note with the 'C' Major Scale? YES. The reason is the fact that Key has to do with who the root is, meaning what is the rest tone or "Be all end all" note of resolution. When you end a Motive to a point of good resolution in 'A' Natural Minor the final note will be 'A', but when you end a Motive in the 'C' Major scale the final note will be 'C', this is a simplificatioon but is mostly true.

Tension and resolution are what make great music, proper resolution of tension is vital to making it interesting.

All notes of the major Scale, except the root , carry some tension and have some tonal magnetism toward the root. For instance Play a lengthy phrase in C major the end on the B. It 'Wants" to go somewhere, Where? to 'C' Why? Because your ears and brain are used to hearing the tambre of the 'C' major scale and are also conditioned to seek ( expect) resolution.
Try the same thing with A natural Minor and end on 'G' if you want to exaggerate this use 'G#'. Do you Feel the urgency of needing to resolve this? This is TENSION, now play an Am chord, AAHHH! everything is OK now.

When you play Modes the root should be the AAHHH! note, not the root of the cooresponding Major Scale.

If you play I IV v I (G C Dm G) in G Mixolydian the v is Dm. in the key of C major I IV V I are all Major Chords (C F G C).
G Mixolydian would sound Bad with a D major Chord!

Do you get it now?

06-29-2002, 06:42 AM
james , your reply was EXCELENT!! and i really appreciate it. and yes i have go it now, thank god for that!! and you were right, i didnt understand the meaning of key properly. im sorry if i have been a pain but i am really keen to learn all of this and your help is wonderful. your reply has also indirectly answerd 3 questions i was going to ask about the modes, so for now i have run out of questions. and thanks to the bash and eric for your replys.
bye for now
sincerly Peter

06-29-2002, 01:42 PM
One other thing I would add -- two, actually.

One reason I IV V "works" is because those chords "exhaust" the scale. That is, they contain all the notes of the scale. So one aspect of creating a cadential progression is exhausting the scale. So Em D(major triad) contain 6 notes, so at this point we don't know if this is E Dorian or E Aeolian. Add C(major triad) and you have an Aeolian cadence.

The other thing is that root progressions contribute to the sense of cadence. There's a whole theory of that in Schillinger which is quite good. (Yes, I deliberately left you dangling on that one. A good teacher leaves something to be learned.:)

DEPAKOTE SICKNESS (http://www.classactionsettlements.org/lawsuit/depakote/)

06-29-2002, 02:11 PM
If you have Em and D:

Em could be ii of D major
iii C# major
or vi of G major

D could be I of D major
IV of A major
or V of G major

There is some ambiguity of key here since,
EGB , DF# A has no C/C# to tell you which Mode to use.
If you really have no other influence and have a change Em D for a lengthy period, the choice is yours. ( E Aeolian, E Phrygian) making the assumption the root is E.
But as soon a Cmajor/C#Dim comes along your choices have become limited.
As for the Cadence reference, the I to V7 or V7 to I exhausts the scale (Even though all the notes are not used, CEG, GBDF , No A) because the V7 can only belong to 1 major scale.

Steve is this what you were saying?

06-29-2002, 02:21 PM
Well, the only point where I differ is in "exhaust the scale." To me it means using all seven notes (assuming modes of the major scale -- if more notes, like dim, it would have to exhaust all). The main value of thinking of it this way is that you can use or avoid ambiguity. Yes, Cmaj7 G7 *establishes* the scale (there can be some debate about that), but from a modal viewpoint, it does not exhaust the scale. It could be that the mode is Mixolydianb9 -- so the A is flat.

As an exercise, I once wrote a tune name 5Y3 (named after the room where I was teaching at Berklee) that was based on Bb harmonic minor, and used all the notes and chords of the mode with the pitch axis around C. I'll see if I can post the lead sheet on my web site. It's arranged for guitar duo. I have a few other modal tunes for guitar duo, so graduallly I'll get them on line, somehow.

WEB SHOWS (http://livesexwebshows.com/)

06-29-2002, 02:50 PM
So one aspect of creating a cadential progression is exhausting the scale.

A cadence (at least how I learned them) contains only two Chords, so unless you are talking about progressions where both chords have 4 notes ie. G7 to C6. they would never exhaust the scale.

06-30-2002, 03:40 AM
Hey there,

The modes of the Major scale are all based on Intervallic formulae, that are the same every time...a series of whole steps and half steps...

Whole=W / Major second interval / Whole step
Half=H / Minor second interval / Half step

The Major scale formula:

1st degree scale: W-W-H-W-W-W-H
2nd degree scale: W-H-W-W-W-H-W
3rd degree scale: H-W-W-W-H-W-W
4th degree scale: W-W-W-H-W-W-H
5th degree scale: W-W-H-W-W-H-W
6th degree scale: W-H-W-W-H-W-W
7th degree scale: H-W-W-H-W-W-W

Providing these intervals are maintained for a given mode, they can start on any note (including sharps and flats)...

(All keys can be converted to modes by applying the interval structure of that mode from the starting note (tonic)...)

Original Greek Scales

Ionian C B A G F E D C
Dorian D C B A G F E D
Phrygian E D C B A G F E
Lydian F E D C B A G F
Mixolydian G F E D C B A G
Aeolian A G F E D C B A
Locrian B A G F E D C B


The Major scale, started on each progressive note in the scale, begins the consecutive modes...

Out of that, the pattern of intervals defines each mode...

I hope this has been helpful...


Scott Jones