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11/19/2004 7:54 AM
Jon Riley (9697) wrote:
Ha! This old, perennial question...:-)
You should do a search on here for mode threads, but I don't mind repeating the concepts... (You may be aware of some of this, so sorry if I'm overdoing it...)
A mode is not a fret pattern.
A mode is the sound of a scale (a major scale in any pattern) being played with a specific root note, soundwise. IOW, over a chord with that root, or with that note as a drone, or by finishing phrases with that note.
Take G ionian mode. This is exactly the same thing as the G major key.
That means the notes A-B-C-D-E-F#-G, with G as "home" note. G doesn't have to be the lowest note or starting note. But it WILL be the final note, and the "home" chord.
In the G major key, you can play any pattern you like (any "mode" of the G major scale) over any chord in that key.
It's the chord that will provide the modal sound.
And anyway, this is not something you need to concern yourself with.
When playing in the key of G major (= G ionian mode), you probably have several chords. They each (technically) have their own modal sound, but this is irrelevant - they are all subordinate to G.
When you solo, you use the notes A-B-C-D-E-F#-G, in any order or pattern you like.
If you want to reflect the changing chords, you should focus on the arpeggios. And you can still do this without changing your pattern or position. (The arpeggio of every chord is available in all scale positions.) True, some positions may be physically easier, especially for certain phrases. But changing position makes no difference to the mode.
Giving mode names to fretboard patterns is just a way of naming them. (We've got to call them something. In the old days, they called them after the index finger fret number, as in "G major 7th position", for example - a much better idea, IMO.)
It has no bearing on how or when you play them.
You don't "apply" modes when you play. The modes are written into the music, as a combination of the chords and the key scale.
Other modes are different things.
Take A dorian mode. This is the G major scale based on A.
That means the Am chord is "home" - the "i" chord. It's not the ii chord in G major any more.
IOW, A dorian mode is like the A minor key, except it has a major 6th (F# instead of F), and a minor 7th (G, instead of the occasional G# you get in A minor).
A typical sequence in A dorian mode might be:
|Am7 / / / |D7 / / / |Am7 / / / |D7 / / /|
|Em / / / |G / D / |Am / / / |Am / / / |
Am is the "home" chord, and you would use the G major scale throughout to compose melodies or improvise with.
You can still use any pattern of the G major scale, any "mode" you want. The chords (specifically the Am) are governing the modal sound produced.
In jazz, a typical dorian chord is a m11. (Miles Davis's "So What", the archetypal dorian tune, uses m11 chords.)
The other common mode (especially in rock music) is mixolydian. Here's a typical D mixolydian chord sequence (you must have heard this a million times :-)):
|D / / / |C / G / |D / / / |C / G / |D ...etc.
D is I, C is bVII, G is IV.
(See, it's just like the D major key, except for a b7, C.)
Again, you would use the G major scale, any pattern you like. And again, it's the chord sequence that determines the overall mode - in this case focussed on D, making it D mixolydian.
In jazz, a typical mixolydian chord is a 7sus4. Songs where a 7sus4 chord is held for several bars indicate mixolydian mode, usually (although dorian, aeolian and phrygian will also fit). Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" is an example of modal 7sus4s, switching between mixolydian and dorian.
With both these modes, it does help if focus your melodies and solos around the "final" note (A or D respectively). But it's the chord sequence that rules ultimately.
Aeolian mode is the natural minor scale, the basis for the minor KEY.
So the key of E minor uses the G major scale based on E. (You could have several chords - but they will end up on Em, and probably start with Em.)
Aeolian mode is slightly "darker" than dorian, because of its b6.
But the "key" of E minor goes further. It uses a B7 chord as V, not Bm, giving a raised 7th (D#) which resolves to E better than D does. Raising the 7th gives "harmonic minor", and it's also common to raise the 6th too (to C#) to make "melodic minor".
The minor "key" combines all three minor scales (and chords harmonised from any of them).
An example of an aeolian mode tune in rock is "Losing My Religion" - this is in A aeolian (A natural minor). This contains no E7 chord, so is not technically the A minor "key" - it's a purely modal tune, utilising the A natural minor scale throughout.
In comparison, an example of the A minor key is "House of the Rising Sun", which contains an E7 chord, as well as a D (from A melodic minor).
Aeolian mode is very rare in jazz. The minor key (or dorian mode) is always used instead. On a tonic chord in a minor key, jazz players will use melodic minor, not natural minor.
A jazz aeolian chord would be a "mb6", or m7b13. But the b6 is a problem, which is why it's rarely used.
Other modes are much rarer as sources for entire compositions, but you do get lydian and phrygian modes in jazz.
Lydian is the brightest mode - like the major key with a #4 - and is often used on maj7 chords in jazz, because jazz players prefer the sound of a #11 on the chord to a perfect 11.
A typical lydian chord, therefore, is a maj7#11.
Phrygian is very dark (natural minor with a b2). It has a faintly "Spanish" sound, is popular with some metal players, but is not common in mainstream rock or jazz.
Jazz saxist Wayne Shorter has written tunes using phrygian and lydian modes - amongst others. But not many others have.
The jazz phrygian chord is a susb9 (7sus4b9).
Locrian mode is rarest (and darkest) of all. It's highly unstable because of its b5, and is never (to my knowledge) used as the basis for entire pieces of music. (I know some people have tried, but I've not actually seen any results...)
Its sound does occur in passing sometimes in jazz, as a suitable scale for m7b5 chords - but jazz soloists often prefer raising the 2nd of locrian, to give the chord a major 9th. 1-2-b3-4-b5-b6-b7 is known as "locrian natural 2".