Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Scales/modes Made Easy ( Fairy Tale)
GMC Forum > Discussion Boards > THEORY
Darius Wave
Hey there! While answering one of student's questions I had this idea, I decided to share it with all of You.
Let's go through basic 7 modes and explain where did they came from, using a form of a little fairy tale smile.gif

Long time (veeeery long time) ago there was a musican who had a broken piano. His little baby brother has taken away all the black keys and lost them in the forest. The notes that left where white keys only - c d e f g a b. Pack of those notes in this particular order sounded joyful and was known worldwide as a C-major scale. He made chords using only the notes from the list and called his song "C-major key". He was especially in love with the ones made from 1st, 4th and 5th note (C-major, F-major, G-major). He thought they are critical for that key.

Once our musician felt borred playing those happy melodies over and over again. He really wanted to make something new, but he wondered if it's really possible to do anything different with the same 7 notes.

He tried a lot but it was still sounding the same until....he occasionally made a mistake. He played notes from C-major scale but startting for a d note = d e f g a b c. He thought it's sounds different and fresh, but when he tried to play it over his beloved C, F and G chords, he realized it still sounds like C-major.

He struggled for a moment - "Why does this new notes order sound different standalone, and doesn't with the left hand backing chords?". He thought that maybe if he starts the scale form the d note, he should also make the most important chord in the key, start from d note as well. When he matched the notes, he found it would be D-minor chord.

He already knew that chords made from 1st, 4th and 5th note from the scale, are the coolest ones, so he made missing two chords for a new key, having a complete list of D-minor, G-major, A-minor. Now everything was sounding "the new way".

He then thought "how cool is that". Maybe I should do the same with every note from C-major scale.

So he did. This way he created a pack of modes and gave them names:

D-dorian (made from 2nd note of C-major) = d e f g a b c d (important chords - D-minor, G-major, A-minor) . He didn't knew that someday this scale will become so important for all funky, blues and rock playing

E-phrygian (made from 3rd note of C-major) = e f g a b c d e (important chords - E-minor, A-minor, B-half-diminished). He had no idea that someday this would be used a lot in metal music to create sort of oriental flavor.

F-lydian (made from 4th note of C-major) = f g a b c d e f (important chords - F-major, B half-dimished, C-major). If he could knew this would be one of most favorite scales for Steve Vai smile.gif

G-mixolydian (made from the 5th note of C-major) - g a b c d e f g (important chords - G-major, C-major, D-minor). How great it would be to know this scale would be a basis of most of major blues and rock'n'roll

A-aeolian minor
(made from 6th note of C-major) - a b c d e f g a (important chords - A-minor, D-minor, E-minor). It sounded so sad and opposite to major scale, that he decided it would be most commonly used scale, right next to major.

B-locrian mode (made on 7th note of C-major) - b c d e f g a b (important chords - B half-diminished, E-minor, F-major). It sounded so weird that he thought there's not much use for it unless somone will discover jazz someday.

When he was done he was surprised how much it was possible to be done with those 7 notes he had at the beginning. He realized it's not the notes themselves but the interaction between notes and backing chords + the intervals between each step from the scale.

He had a huge hope to find missing black keys someday and wondered it would be nice to also name specific points of each of these modes, so everyone could make one from any note of his choice.

He figured out that:

Major scale is a one that has a half-step between 3rd - 4th and 7th-8th notes, while all other notes have a wholestep between them

Dorian mode is just a minor scale with 6th note being pushed one halfstep up

Phrygian mode is just a minor scale but it's 2nd note had not enough strength to climb to proper fret, so there's a half-step between 1st and 2nd step + half-step between 5th and 6th step

Lydian mode is just a major scale but it's 4th note has been moved half-step up

Mixolydian mode is....just a major scale but it's 7th note has fallen 1 half-step down

Minor mode is a scale where between 2nd-3rd and 5th-6th notes there area helf-steps. Between all other notes there are whole-steps

Locrian mode has half-steps beteeen 1st-2nd note and 4th-5th note. Between other notes there's always a whole-step

After few years he found his black keys in the forest and he was experimenting with all the modes he made. He suddenly realized it's quite hard to learn all the notes for each of those modes all over the keyboard.

He than had the idea it would be much simpler to memorize relations between scales - just 7,and use them to translate something wierd sounding to something more friendly.

He learned all the relations so he could quickly use that skill in his playing.

First occasion was when his friend asked him to play over A-mixolydian track (performed by his friend's folk band). He sudddenly thought that his mind feels empty while thinking of that name and looking at the keyboard. So he made some calculation. A-mixolydian was mad on a 5th step of some major scale. So A note = 5th note. Counting down a 5th interval from A note, he found it was D note. So D was the root major key, that A-mixolydian has been made. In other words A-mixyolydian has exactly the same note names as D-major scale. When he hear "D-major" name, he suddenly felt like all the keyboard looks so familiar for that key. This way he saw D-major notes on the keybaord, but playing over A-mixolydian track. Everything was clear.

Trying to explain this method to his firends, he found out that each of them feels better with different of those modes. Some felt "unlocked" for improvisation, while they translated the "weird name" into a relative minor scale.

One of his friends was amazed when he heard that playing over G# locrian mode is as simple as using notes and shapes he new for F#-minor scale.

Another was was happy to use his favorite A-minor scale, shapes and licks to play over F-lydian track.

And they all lived happy every after because they knew the pattern instead of learning tons of keys separetly

And....that's the punchline
This way you save some time and learn how do things work in music, not just that they are.
Thanks Darius. That's brilliant. Nice one mate smile.gif
Steve Vai's favorite , nice cool.gif
AK Rich
And we all lived happily ever after. smile.gif Great post Derek! cool.gif
Darius Wave
thx guys! smile.gif
I was just trying to remember all modes theory approach. Fairytales should stick far better in my childish mind ;-)

Thanks, Darius!
Darius Wave
Glad you liked it smile.gif I was trying to fit in in a story since dry facts not always want to stay in our heads as fast smile.gif
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Invision Power Board © 2001-2020 Invision Power Services, Inc.