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> Memorizing Modes, How to think about modes while writing or improvising
Taylor G
post Feb 8 2011, 04:00 AM
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Hi I have a question about how to visualize mode positions. I was amazed to find out that all the 7 modes are really just the major scale pattern with different root notes within a Major scale. So really when I'm playing a C Lydian scale I am really playing the G Major scale just starting with the 4th degree of the G Major. While that's pretty simple of an idea to understand, my question is while improvising, for instance to a song in C (while choosing the C Lydian as my scale of choice) should I be thinking in my head, "ok I'm going to just play the G major while focusing on C as my root tone" Or should I only be thinking of playing the Lydian scale in any position? I hope I am phrasing my question clearly here. I want to know what goes on in the mind of a great guitar player while improvising. Learning the Major scale in all 5 positions seems like something I can do with time. But memorizing all 7 modes in all their 5 positions seems like I'd lose my mind in the process. What is the best way to go about mastering the 7 modes?
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JamesT
post Feb 8 2011, 06:35 AM
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You're doing the right thing by starting with the 7 modes/modal patterns. Check out Zsolt's Modal Madness lessons for a great way to go about memorizing them and for getting a handle on how they sound. I play these, not at full tempo mind you, but over the slower backing tracks. From there, I think it would be good to start adding more knowledge by learning each mode in each position.

I'm about where you are at though. I like to think of G Mixolydian (for example) as "In the key of C with emphasis on the root notes". Like you say, the notes are the same, and technically I think it is correct to think of it this way. I think the next step for me is to get a better handle on the "characteristic notes" of each mode as these notes are closer to the definition of a mode. There are some good articles in the theory section on this, but I think we could have more for sure. Even though I'm basically just a rock player, I think it would be beneficial to get good at this. I think guys like Petrucci, Vai, and Satch use modal playing in their solos quite a bit.

I watched a youtube video that Satch did this where he said in the early years of his playing, he would often play modally over a pedal tone (open e string) for extended practice periods just to get familiar with the sound of each mode. That might be food for thought. Or if you've got a keyboard handy, put on a synth patch, hold the sustain pedal down, and play the 1 & 5 of a chord and then solo over it in the mode of choice. I have been planning to spend some time with this and combine it with AP practice in upcoming months. Maybe by the time I get familiar with how each mode sounds I will be better at AP too. cool.gif

Whoops, sorry Chowy, I didn't realize that this was your "Ask an Instructor" section. I should have waited for your comments before my reply. I'd like to hear your thoughts as well.

This post has been edited by JamesT: Feb 8 2011, 06:40 AM


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Rated Htr
post Feb 8 2011, 01:37 PM
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It's not about memorizing shapes, if you know the major scale, you know all the modes technicly. It's about knowing the sounds and what makes the modes special. For example, Lydian is the same as Ionian, the difference between them is that Lydian has a #4 ( Sharp 4th ). If you play a simple major triad or bar chord, and attack the #4 instead of the 4 you'll hear some difference, but it's not enough cause you can play lots of things on top of a major chord. Now, if you start to add 7ths and other extensions to the chords, you can start hearing the difference.

There are 3 minor modes: Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian.

If you play a minor chord you can play them all and it's harder to tell the difference if you don't know their formulas or if you don't attack their characteristic notes.

Dorian is the only one of those 3 modes that has a major sixth. So, if you play, for example, a Gm6, and play Dorian, you can hear it very well, and it blends in very well. Phrygian and Aeolian would clash because they have a flat sixth.

If you didn't understand the theory that I said, the main point is, you have to understand the sound of each mode, and what makes each mode special for you to use it, because if you don't have chords behind it, when you say you're playing Aeolian, you could be playing anything, because the shapes are the same for every mode, in different orders.


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Taylor G
post Feb 8 2011, 10:13 PM
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Thanks for the feedback guys. Much appreciated. I do understand the theory to it. That makes perfect sense to me. Basically it matters most as to what mode I decide to play over which chords. I can see how focusing more on the characteristic tones of the modal scale is most important. Ideally, I'd like to be able to improvise well, and so choose the modal scale on the fly (while of course knowing the chord progression) I guess the only thing to help here would be a lot of practice!
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Rated Htr
post Feb 8 2011, 10:28 PM
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The thing here is, get a shape of the ones you have and determine a key. Ok, I'm going to play G C D as my chord progression. Play the G major scale on box 1. How do you know it's the G major and not G Lydian? Because you will attack the 4th and not the sharp.

Let's say you put Gmaj7 Cmaj7 D7, it's still the same thing cause it doesn't show the tonality note to the modes, so it's a matter of you attacking the notes and knowing where the notes are. Now let's say I really want to restrict myself to Lydian. You have to learn what chord progressions you can make, in this case, the difference on the 4th degree.

So, to play Major you would keep it like that I IV V and to play Lydian I #IVdim V so

Gmaj7 C#min7b5 D7, and that way, on the second chord, if you played G Major and attacked the 4th, it would clash.

This is how I study the modes, hope what I wrote is still understandable and encourages you to discover the beauty of this theory smile.gif


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Fre
post Feb 9 2011, 08:04 AM
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This is a very clear explanation for studying modes on practise. Thanks man!
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