View Full Version : Modes and improvising

09-22-2003, 03:19 PM
Hello everyone. I've been lurking on this site for quite a while, reading all the great info here. I finally decided to become a member so here's my first question!

Modes. Now, I know you simply play the same notes but start on a different root. But, also you can alter the notes of the scale, and play different modes. For example: I want to solo over a C maj. chord. I can play melodies starting, ending and centering around the D note and presto, I'm playing D Dorian. But, the notes of the scale are the same. However, let's say I want to solo over an Em chord. Now, the normal 2 is going to be an F# but I discover that I like the sound of a b2 so I play melodies around the F note. So now I'm playing E Phrygian (I think.) This is where it gets muddy for me. How can I know which modes sound best with which chords/keys? There must be some kind of formula or set of rules or is there?

thanks in advance!

09-22-2003, 05:38 PM
My knowledge of theory isn't too deep, but I'll see what I can do. You're right about playing in E Phrygian since that's the third mode of the C Major scale, and you're still playing all the notes in the C Major scale.

You could always follow the cliche "If it sounds good, it is good", but I'm sure you want something a little more indepth than that. :)

When I'm making up a chord progression for a certain mode, I'll choose chords that complement the particular mode I'm using.

Ex. - If I'm using the E Phrygian mode, I'll play an E5 power chord, then maybe play the F 5th or maybe a C major 3rd or B 4th.

Since each mode has it's own sound, with the Phrygian mode having a Spanish sound, I'll try to come up with riffs that relect that sound.

Also, I like to use chords that use the root, 3rd and 5th tone of the scale or mode, and quite often throw in a root/6th chord as well. Plus I'll focus on the notes used in the chords when I'm playing lead, and that helps.

I'm not the best at explaining this sort of thing, but I hope I helped a bit. :)

09-22-2003, 08:34 PM
Hey Hawk,

In such cases we usually refer to inner IBreathe resources (which we've got tons of). So you should definitely read Guni's article about modes:

Modes article (http://www.ibreathemusic.com/learn/article/106)

Use "Search" both thru articles and forums!


09-23-2003, 01:50 PM
Will do...thanks for the replies.