Applying Modes - Part 1

by Sinisa Cekic

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  • Welcome to lesson about Applying Modes!
    In this lesson I would like to show you where and how you can apply modes. We will take the example of famous C major scale and and its tones-

    C D E F G A B C

    and examples of songs with a progression that you hear many times, songs of different tonality and genres, all played with only one scale - C major !

    I will not talk much about the Modes generally, because here are many good lessons on this topic. I'd like just, if possible, simplify even more these "mysterious" modes!
    All of the modes in the Key of C major have the same notes. If you play from C to C you would be playing the C Major Ionian mode. If you played from D to D in C Major, you would be playing the Dorian mode. E to E is the Phrygian mode. Don't let all the names get you confused. Once you learn the Key of C, all the other Major keys will be a easy to learn.
    Remember, all major keys are constructed the same. Major, minor, minor, Major, Major, minor, diminished and Major.

    So let's see this C major scale also known as Ionian(Major) mode:

    C D E F G A B C

    When using the Ionian mode on guitar, you'll soon realize that its natural tones/flavors are suited to major chords and certain major key progressions.

    - Dorian (minor) mode starting from D :
    C D E F G A B C

    Dorian is the second mode of the C major scale as it begins on the second note of the scale. When using the Dorian mode on guitar, you'll hear it naturally works over minor chords and certain minor key progressions.

    - Phrygian (minor) mode:
    C D E F G A B C

    Phrygian is the 3rd mode of the C major scale (following Ionian and Dorian), begins on E and is a minor mode. Many musicians see Phrygian as a natural part of spanish music.
    The flat 2nd (E-F) is mainly what gives Phrygian its flamenco and also middle eastern sound.
    The modified Phrygian mode could essentially be applied over major chords. A major 3rd is often used in place of the minor 3rd, creating a scale called Phrygian Dominant.
    So, what now? The three different modes but the same tones... ??!
    -The real flavor of any Mode can be discovered when playing over chord changes.
    That's the magic of a simple major scale !!

    Let's start..
    This is a first part of the lesson where we will study only the first three modes-

    Ionian- chord progression/ C F G
    Dorian- Chord progression/ Dm G7
    Phrygian- / Em F Dm F G
    GP file ,tabs, and backing tracks included!
    Scale used - C major

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