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Thread: Optimal chord vamps/Emphasizing mode moods

  1. #1
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    Optimal chord vamps/Emphasizing mode moods

    I've got a question about the creation of backing chords for modes.

    I.e. when you are up for playing a - let's say Lydian - solo. In this example, just to be concrete and make it a little easier, we choose F Lydian.

    Now, we know that to establish a Lydian atmosphere, we should choose chords which include the note that is characteristic for the mode we work with. Now we work with F Lydian, thus we want chords that got the B note, the #4.

    Those chords, in the key of C, would be Em (E-G-B), G (G-B-D) as well as B diminished (B-D-F). Most commonly, we stay away from the diminished chords in such events, as it doesn't really establish - it wants strongly to resolve to the C note.

    So now, what are we left with? The G and the Em chords, in addition to the root chord, F (F-A-C). The F chord is obligatory, as it has to be there to underline the root tonality. We are going to base the melody around F, and because of that, the F chord need to be there as a root chord.

    What I have thought about now, is, if we are going to create a vamp, consisting of two chords only, does it matter if we choose F - Em or F - G?
    Both Em and G has got the characteristic note of F Lydian (B!), however, only the G chord is major, and the F Lydian mode strongly implies a major tonality - in fact the mode of the major scale that sounds most major of them all.
    Now, if we chose F - Em, the Em chord would provide the B note as well, but now the chord next to F would be a minor chord. I know Em is a diatonic chord to C Major, just the same way G is, but I can't help it. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Will it give us a more optimal result, trying to base the chord progression/vamp for a major mode, on - where it is possible - major chords? Or doesn't it really matter that much, as long as it got the characteristic note, and isn't an 'outside of the scale' chord?

  2. #2
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
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    Your chords don't necessarily have to contain the characteristic note of the mode/scale. You could use powerchords, defining the mode/key with the melody line(s).

  3. #3
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apple-Joe
    I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Will it give us a more optimal result, trying to base the chord progression/vamp for a major mode, on - where it is possible - major chords? Or doesn't it really matter that much, as long as it got the characteristic note, and isn't an 'outside of the scale' chord?
    Just so long as the chords are within the key/mode, then they will work. Just because a mode is major doesn't limit you to just using major chords.

    That said, for F lydian I would use G-F. I just happen to like that one more.

    The best modal vamps are ones that start above or below the tonic chord and step back to it. Examples in F lydian would be:

    G-F
    Em-F
    Dm-Em-F
    Em-G-F
    Am-G-F

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    CURIOUSGEORGE,

    I know that the backing chords don't neccessarily need to contain the characteristic notes, however, that's the way I do it when experimenting, in order to express the atmosphere of the given mode in a best possible way.

    Let's say you're going to create a D Dorian atmosphere. Then you base the chord vamp around the Dm chord, obviously. Now, as the next chord, would you choose G (G-B-D) or Em (E-G-B)? Both contain the characteristic note - the B - but one is minor and one is major. D Dorian is a mode with a minor tonality. Should this decide whether you choose a minor or major chord in the backing? For the sake of optimal usage, I mean.

    Poparad, Right, it doesn't limit. I just want a discussion about optimal usage of the modes. Then I wonder if it may make a difference whether we use major or minor chords as backing for major and minor modes, respectively.

    So you would use G-F for Lydian, then. I've never tried it that way, starting on the other chord, ending on the root. I'll try it.


    POPARAD,

    if you were to create a chord vamp for F Lydian, consisting of two chords only, you also use G-F? Instead of Em-F? That's more or less what I asked, so your answers are interesting.
    And remember, yes, I do know, I'm not speaking about limiting, because I experiment a lot. I just want to be a little picky and have a discussion on the idea.

    Another one. Would it define the atmosphere more, if we use more chords that contain the characteristic note, or is a two-chord vamp optimal?

  5. #5
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    I prefer to state clearly the root (the F in this case) of the mode I'm playing in. Starting with the root helps to obtain this. Short "visits" to other chords and then back to the root also helps.

    The vamp: /F/F-G/F/F-G/etc... is probably my favourite lydian vamp. However I like to add the maj7 and possible the #11 to the F chord to ephasis the lydian mode also in the chord voicings. The vamp:
    /Fmaj7#11/Fmaj7#11-G7/Fmaj7#11/Fmaj7#11-G7/etc...

    If I should start with the G chord, I think I would prefer a G/F, giving a vamp like:
    |G/F-Fmaj7#11|G/F-Fmaj7#11|etc...

    G

  6. #6
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apple-Joe
    Poparad, Right, it doesn't limit. I just want a discussion about optimal usage of the modes. Then I wonder if it may make a difference whether we use major or minor chords as backing for major and minor modes, respectively.

    So you would use G-F for Lydian, then. I've never tried it that way, starting on the other chord, ending on the root. I'll try it.
    It's just another way to do it. You can certainly play it the other way around too, though.


    if you were to create a chord vamp for F Lydian, consisting of two chords only, you also use G-F? Instead of Em-F? That's more or less what I asked, so your answers are interesting.
    And remember, yes, I do know, I'm not speaking about limiting, because I experiment a lot. I just want to be a little picky and have a discussion on the idea.
    Again, it's just the way I like to do it. I like the sound of G-F, but Em-F is valid too.

    Another one. Would it define the atmosphere more, if we use more chords that contain the characteristic note, or is a two-chord vamp optimal?
    The problem with added more chords to a modal vamp is that it gets harder and harder to make the modal tonic sound as the tonic. The more chords you add, the more the ear wants to hear things resolve to the I of the parent major scale.

    With modes, just a couple chords are optimal, and there are two ways that work best for making vamps:

    First, is usuing planing. This is just what I was doing in my examples, which is stepping around scalarly with the chords, for example, Dm-Em-F.

    Another way to create a strong vamp is using a V-I motion. Take the chord a fifth above the modal tonic and vamp between those two. This doesn't always work quite as well as planing, but it's another option to try.

  7. #7
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    Gersdal, thanks for your thoughts. You really dived into to it there, providing a couple of good example chords - which I will test out. Great stuff.

    Poparad, Good point. Using more chords in the vamp, make it harder for the modal tonic to actually act as the tonic. I can see that. Very good point.

    Stay tuned, I'm sure I will come up with another few questions in very short time.

    So long.

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