Respond to This

Modal Improv Primer PDF

WHOLENOTERS, Go to My Wholenote Page and download Modal Improv Primer. Give it a look., Study the material and PLEASE contact me with any feedback or questions you may have. Right click the link on my wholenote page, scroll to "Save target as. . ." and save the PDF to your computer-Scott
Respond to this

Re: Modal Improv Primer PDF

4/15/2008 4:48 PM

Alan Roberts (10065) wrote:

Looks good. I'll take a closer look when I have some free time.

Respond to this

Re: Modal Improv Primer PDF

4/16/2008 12:26 PM

Chris Bond II (2841) wrote:

The good news: Your presentation is very good and it's obvious you spent a lot of time and effort.

The bad news: It kind of reads like an incomplete manual, and is also not written from a "teachers" standpoint but rather an information gatherer.

To elaborate: Your explanation of Dorian-

within the major scale, are other scales or modes which are made by using another note
within the Major scale as a Root for another scale. Using 2 as the root for a scale, the whole
step/Half step sequence changes to W H W W W H W. Likewise the intervals change thus
producing the Dorian Scale. Emphasis is placed on the 2 as the Root for Dorian

Notice you explain its origin as being a second above the tonic.

But, you describe it's intervals as being R 2 rb 4 5 6 b7

What's wrong with this?

A couple of things.

First, you use the term R or root. A scale does not have a root, a chord does and there is a difference.

A root can be voiced anywhere within a chord, but a tonic, is always the starting point and the lowest note in the scale. If you play anything other then the tonic first, then you are probably playing a different scale (pentatonic, ascending melodic minor and a few other exceptions excluded).

Also, when you describe the derivation of the Dorian, you display it's interval as having a b3 and b7. This is in comparison to D major, which you make no reference to.

This is one of the things that confuse people learning modes most of all, and a raspberry in my wisdom tooth.

While you do give some "flavor" offerings of the modes, you miss out on their true usage (or how most people actually use them)

Dorian for example, besides some pretty cool jazz licks, and the latter will kind of explain why you get those cool licks, It's most positive attribute is this-

It's really an arpeggio containing upper extensions to the 13

D Dorian C D E F G A B C
D Minor chord - D(R) E (9) F (3) G (11) A (5) B (13) C (7)

I'm not looking to come down on you or anything, I admire your enthusiasm. I just ask you keep in mind that when you attempt to teach, you want to be as prepared as you can be.

Good luck!

Respond to this

Re: Modal Improv Primer PDF

4/16/2008 11:17 PM

Scott Irvine (851) wrote:

Thanks for the input. While writing this material, I had two objectives in mind: The end user of this material can: 1. acquire a basic technical proficiency in using modal scales. 2. acquire in the mind, the sounds of the modal scales studied.

Please keep in mind this is a primer not an exhaustive study guide. THAT is for another PDF.

I do admit not mentioning modal scales can be played in all keys, However, I kept the modal scales diatonic to one key for the purpose of efficiency, If the scale patterns illustrated are played along with a recording of the chord progressions shown, the end result should be learning the sounds of the scales and the ability to trust your ears and hands when playing them. I try to keep the material as practical as possible.

Basic mission: Get the information off the paper (or PDF) into your mind and hands.

Thanks again, -Scott

Respond to this

Re: Modal Improv Primer PDF

4/17/2008 1:47 PM

Jon Riley (9697) wrote:

It's also worth pointing out that modal sounds are a waste of time in a key context.

Eg, the dorian sound - minor scale with major 6th - is all very well, but you won't get that sound when playing a ii chord in a major key; because the chord will be over before you notice it.
A Dm chord in C major is just a ii chord in C major (C ionian). The theoretical fact that it is also a D dorian chord is neither here nor there: it has no practical effect.

Where modes really come into their own is as tonalities in their own right, outside of a key context.
D dorian mode is not "in the key of C" - any more than the key of A minor is "in the key of C". They are different things.

BTW, I disagree with Chris when he says:

"A root can be voiced anywhere within a chord, but a tonic, is always the starting point and the lowest note in the scale."

I know what he is getting at (I think), but there's no reason a tonic has to be the lowest note - in practice - any more than a root does.

It's wise to differentiate the two, however, as he says.
Root = tonal centre of chord
Tonic = tonal centre of key (major or minor)
(Commonly we think of these as lowest notes, at least when beginning to learn theory and spell scales and chords; but when learning patterns we need to get used to the fact that a root and a tonic can be anywhere in a pattern or chord shape. Any major scale pattern, eg, will have at least 2 tonics in it. And every note can be a root...)

The equivalent word for a mode is "final".
But in fact I don't see a huge problem with "root" for a mode, especially when we are talking about modes in relation to chords. (The word "final" dates back to medieval practice!)

I guess "tonal centre" is maybe less contentious - although that is not really appropriate when talking about chords in keys, because the tonal centre there is the tonic, not the chord root (other than on the I chord of course).

The important thing when teaching modes is always to be careful about application, and in what situations the knowledge is useful - and equally when it is not.
There is a LOT of misinformation out there on this topic; so let's not add to it!

(I haven't yet read your material tho, so I'll come back if I think anything else needs saying.... Maybe I'll owe you an apology! ;-) )

Respond to this

Re: Modal Improv Primer PDF

4/17/2008 10:22 PM

Chris Bond II (2841) wrote:

BTW, I disagree with Chris when he says:

"A root can be voiced anywhere within a chord, but a tonic, is always the starting point and the lowest note in the scale."

Sorry Jon, but I'm going to ask you to defend. I defy you to provide a single example of any true diatonic scale (containing 5 whole-tones and two semi-tones, or derived from which and used as scalar example) that does not change function if the tonic note is changed.

I see that you relaxed a little in the next paragraph, but it isn't an opinion that "maybe there should be a difference" in the terminology, but there in is in fact a difference.

With respect- Chris

Respond to this

Re: Modal Improv Primer PDF

4/18/2008 5:57 AM

Jon Riley (9697) wrote:

I think we're misunderstanding each other.

You said:
"...a tonic is always the starting point and the lowest note in the scale."

This is quite clearly not true. We both know many scale patterns (and scale exercises) where the tonic of the scale is neither the lowest note nor starting note.
And many songs (perhaps most) where the same is true.

IOW, your statement IS true in certain contexts and in certain senses. But not all by any means.

Perhaps I was being deliberately pedantic in picking you up on the ambiguity of it. But I wasn't at all sure what you meant.
"Starting" and "lowest" are not words that describe the function of a tonic note, if this is what you were getting at.

For example I fully agree that:

"any true diatonic scale (containing 5 whole-tones and two semi-tones, or derived from which and used as scalar example) .... does ... change function if the tonic note is changed."

- which seems to be saying something quite different. (The first statement makes no mention of function or change of tonic.)

I also agree there is a fixed and definite difference in definition between "tonic" and "root" - as we both explained.

I'm not too worried, as I said, about the use of "root" for a mode, as long as it's in the context of a chord/scale (although, as we know, that concept brings its own issues...)

The problem with using "tonic" for a mode is that it's not strictly correct (the right word is "final"). A mode is not a key, even tho it's a little like one.
But "tonic" is still better than "root" (in this modal context) if we are also talking about more than one chord in the mode.

In short, I agree about the important of correct definition (it's one of my main beefs in threads like this!), but I accept - personally - that in practice context can allow some flexibility without risk of misunderstanding.

Respond to this

Re: Modal Improv Primer PDF

4/18/2008 10:56 AM

Chris Bond II (2841) wrote:

You are quite right sir. I did mis-speak when I said the tonic is always the lowest note. It's one of those instances where I should have said what I meant and been a little more clear. Instead I was typing a little faster than i was thinking.


Respond to this

Re: Modal Improv Primer PDF

4/17/2008 2:34 PM

Jon Riley (9697) wrote:

OK, Scott, I've read it, and maybe owe you a partial apology at least! Here's my comments in full:

1. Nice design and presentation. (There could be improvements in the graphic layout - maybe a little more space here and there - but otherwise good.)

2. I very much like your numbering of the patterns using traditional position (fret) numbers. However, perhaps you should explain this system, as other numbering systems are out there.

3. The sign "8va" is short for "ottava" and means "octave higher"; and is used in notation to avoid the excessive use of ledger lines. In your notation, the number "8" is better and less ambiguous.

4. You're not quite clear in the mode section when talking about "3 of the patterns" or "4 of the patterns" that you mean the previous major scale patterns, not the current mode scales. It's confusing as it is.

5. You're also not clear on what use the modes are. You make the occasional reference (eg to Lydian mode on maj7 chords). But this is far too sketchy - and also far too tantalising! - to be of use as it is.
Given that this is the title of the whole document, this needs to be addressed! How would I use modes in my improvisation? When and where? What advantage(s) do they confer? Some examples, please? ;-)

6. A melodic minor is not a "key". "A minor" is a key, which may use A melodic minor as an occasional alteration. Stick with the word "scale".

7. The accidentals are wrongly placed in the notation. The #s should be before the notes, not after.

8. Melodic minor modes seem like a rather advanced topic for material at this level! I think you need a lot more background as to why (and when) such scales might be chosen.
You are not clear enough that the modes are not used in the "home" key. Eg the lydian dominant and altered scales.
There is a typo at the end of this section: C#maj7 is labelled underneath as "C Major or Lydian".
(I also advise using "maj" rather than "M" - it's clearer and more conventional.)

9. A harmonic minor would not be used over Am7 -the latter has a G natural! (In fact, in jazz, harmonic minor would be very unconventional anyway, but that's less important.)

10. Using the 4th mode of harmonic minor over a m7b5 chord is VERY unorthodox. Probably best not to suggest it. It KIND OF fits, but not very well.
On a Dm7b5 in C minor, the standard choices are D locrian (C natural minor) or D locrian natural 2 (F melodic minor).
C harmonic minor would be a 3rd choice.
A harmonic minor is very left field!

(IMO, teaching material should always err on the side of convention. The fact that something might sound cool or weird, odd-but-good, could be mentioned, but that quality should be made clear.)

11. 5th mode of harmonic minor over a V chord is also unusual (if a little less contentious). I've never seen an "11b9" chord, so if you find one, can you let me know!
7b9 chords in jazz usually take the HW dim scale. "7b13b9" chords (not "b13b9") would probably take the altered scale.
Again, this is what is "normal" in jazz language, so should - IMO - be the first option mentioned.

12. The 7th mode is a poor choice as an alternative to the altered scale because it doesn't contain the 7th of the chord - a crucial tone! IMO, no point in mentioning this one. (If there is a chord that would suit the 7th mode, it's a dim7 chord, which is the natural vii chord in harmonic minor anyway. This could be a good 2nd choice to the jazz convention of WH dim on a dim7.)

There's a huge amount of useful information there! But I think you've tried to cram too much in. Either you need to expand hugely on the use of modes (of melodic minor as well as major) - or, to keep it the same length, you need to reduce the breadth of topic.
Say, drop the melodic and harmonic minor stuff, maybe make it a follow up document; expand on the major scale modes instead, and their application.
(I'd be very interested in how you see them applied in any case. I don't think we'd be in disagreement, but because of all the misinformation on the topic out there, you need to be very clear and unambiguous.)

Respond to this

Re: Modal Improv Primer PDF

4/18/2008 2:05 PM

Scott Irvine (851) wrote:

Jon, Chris and anybody else.
Thanks again for the feedback on Modal Improv Primer! I also want to encourage others to download, peruse and most importantly use the material offered. There will be revisions made. This is not a final work. This is a work still in progress.

Now I hope I can find all the various files used in the PDF. This version was done a while back on a Mac which since then literally bit the concrete so the work ceased. Between two computers and a CDROM I have every thing (I hope). Thanks again, Scott

Respond to this

Re: Modal Improv Primer PDF

4/21/2008 2:50 AM

Chris Davis (1425) wrote:

There's a lot of stuff in there.

Personally I think the idea of learning modal patterns on the guitar is flawed. What's the difference between starting a collection of the same pitches on C or D? Nothing. Learn ONE scale in multiple positions (four positions of the major scale) and learn to relate it to modal uses.

Also, it can be cool to play different modes over a chord, but keep in mind that sometimes we fly thru chords so quickly, it doesn't make much sense. You'd be better off instructing on key plains rather than specific chords.

Let's say we have a lovely minor ii-7b5 V7#5 i-7, say in the key of C minor, so:
D-7b5 | G7#5 | C-7

What key are we in? C minor, for these three chords. Want to make a bluesy sort of cool sound? Treat the whole progression as if it's in dorian. IE. play a Bb major scale over the thing: VIOLA c dorian. No other scale patterns required but the major scale.

Yes, you can dig into something that small and say you're going to play a D locrian over the -7b5 and a altered scale over the G7#5 and a C dorian over the C minor. And you would have to "know" three "different" scale patterns. Why? You can play it that way with two major scales and a melodic minor.

So we'd play:
Eb major(=D locrian)|G# melodic minor (=G altered)| Bb major

This a lot more effective for anyone to start improvising and sound good than trying to force memorization of multiple ways of playing the same thing.

My larger point: STOP thinking of scales as set things, and START thinking of scales and there derivative modes as collections of pitches--use one "scale" to imply all seven modes by learning to movethe chord root/tonic relationship around.

Also, this makes you less root oriented from a improvising standpoint. Not a bad thing.