You are here

Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Arrangement, instrumentation, lyric writing, music theory, inspiration… it’s all here.

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Ian Stewart » Thu Jun 29, 2006 11:33 pm

Am I alone in thinking that the subject of modes is the most boring subject in music? I personally would rather discuss the different qualities of paper software manuals are printed on. This obsession with modes is responsable for some of the most boring jazz ever produced.

I'm with Feline1 here - as far as I am concerned a Cmajor chord over Db is precisely that. It is not related to any mode, you do not hear it as a mode and cannot be explained as a mode.

Modes are the Linus blanket for people who can't let go and just use their ears.
Ian Stewart
Frequent Poster
Posts: 659
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby rmacd » Fri Jun 30, 2006 12:45 am

noiseconjecture wrote:Am I alone in thinking that the subject of modes is the most boring subject in music? I personally would rather discuss the different qualities of paper software manuals are printed on.
a sad existance, that would be.

noiseconjecture wrote:This obsession with modes is responsable for some of the most boring jazz ever produced.
way off.

noiseconjecture wrote:I'm with Feline1 here - as far as I am concerned a Cmajor chord over Db is precisely that. It is not related to any mode, you do not hear it as a mode and cannot be explained as a mode.
If that's how you explain it, then that's cool - as long as everyone else understands what you mean. Just try using that method to explain the harmonies at the beginning of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.....
User avatar
rmacd
New here
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Ian Stewart » Fri Jun 30, 2006 9:35 am

rmacd wrote:

noiseconjecture wrote:I'm with Feline1 here - as far as I am concerned a Cmajor chord over Db is precisely that. It is not related to any mode, you do not hear it as a mode and cannot be explained as a mode.
If that's how you explain it, then that's cool - as long as everyone else understands what you mean. Just try using that method to explain the harmonies at the beginning of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.....

But remember there is a tradition polytonality in music, particularly in French music in the twenties and to try and analyse these harmonies in terms of modes would not work, particularly as this isn't where the composers were coming from.
Although I realise that the Indian tradition of raga is strict, the Western tradition has never been this strict for centuries. I personally believe that limiting yourself to modes, or analysis using modes, misses the point of what Western composers are doing.
I haven't analysed the Rite of Spring for years so have forgotten it, IIRC the opening is exactly what Feline1 is talking about, the bass notes are not releated to the bassoon theme through any mode or scale.

I suppose I'm really a contradiction, although I often have an atavistic approach to composition, I never, ever use modes.

Just read you bio, I'm really impressed with you television music.
Ian Stewart
Frequent Poster
Posts: 659
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby thejazzassassin » Fri Jun 30, 2006 10:08 am

Stravinsky definitely took influence from the modal system - he also loved jazz and tried to infuse the spirit of jazz (! 8-)) into much of his work.

Perhaps Stravinsky's greatest influence and hallmark is his bitonality, easily confused with modality: this is especially evident in the Rite of Spring. I would say that this polarity, the sudden breaks in the piece, the general contrasting moments and his wholly new idea of musical timing are all much more prevalent than any modality in the piece.

The opening, and much of the Rite of Spring is two or more key centers that oppose, being united. Amongst other things!

For modality try the Lark Ascending or Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams. Both seriously modal.
User avatar
thejazzassassin
Regular
Posts: 63
Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2006 12:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby rmacd » Fri Jun 30, 2006 10:10 am

noiseconjecture wrote:
But remember there is a tradition polytonality in music, particularly in French music in the twenties and to try and analyse these harmonies in terms of modes would not work, particularly as this isn't where the composers were coming from.
Although I realise that the Indian tradition of raga is strict, the Western tradition has never been this strict for centuries. I personally believe that limiting yourself to modes, or analysis using modes, misses the point of what Western composers are doing.
I haven't analysed the Rite of Spring for years so have forgotten it, IIRC the opening is exactly what Feline1 is talking about, the bass notes are not releated to the bassoon theme through any mode or scale.

indeed it's quite true, though stravinsky was a genius, the main influence would not have been the theory behind what was being composed, but what it sounded like (correct me here if I'm wrong). there's other ways, apart from modes, to analyse a work; one that seems to be coming about is schenkerian analasys but I have absolutely no idea what it is or what it's supposed to do :bouncy: slightly OT but any ideas??

noiseconjecture wrote:Just read you bio, I'm really impressed with you television music.
cheers man!
User avatar
rmacd
New here
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Ian Stewart » Fri Jun 30, 2006 10:23 am

rmacd wrote: one that seems to be coming about is schenkerian analasys but I have absolutely no idea what it is or what it's supposed to do :bouncy: slightly OT but any ideas??

You're not alone in this, see the recent thread on it.
Ian Stewart
Frequent Poster
Posts: 659
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby The Right To Arm Bears » Mon Jul 03, 2006 11:07 pm

For me there's nothing that clever about modes - simply starting and finishing a major scale on the various intervals from the root isn't rocket. I see such long winded explanations of modes it then makes me forget what they actually are :headbang:
User avatar
The Right To Arm Bears
Regular
Posts: 69
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2004 12:00 am
Support your right to arm bears!

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Bozzieman » Wed Jul 12, 2006 3:29 pm

I've always found that "Dead can Dance" had a special sound ...

And I'm guessing it had something to do with the mode they composed their music in ...

Any one any idea what mode they used ? :headbang:
Bozzieman
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2002 12:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby apefist » Thu Nov 23, 2006 10:55 am

I've always found modes to be fascinating, especially the east asian modes.

I'm not sure if these have been covered under different names or terms, but for your consideration:


Balinese....C C# D# G G#

Chinese.....C D E G A

Egyptian....C D F G A#

Japanese....C C# F G G#

Hirajoshi...C D D# G G#

Iwato.......C C# F F# A#

Algerian....C D D# F# G G# B

Ethiopian...C D D# F G G# A#

East Asian..C C# E F F# A A#

Even though there is some overlap, I think the half-step forms the "sound" of these modes as opposed to western modes in which whole steps seem to dictate the scale's sound (for the most part).
User avatar
apefist
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Conception » Mon Jan 15, 2007 4:44 am

Can Someone help me out with this one?

HWH5HWW
Or C C# D# E G Ab Bb C?

I think im blind cause i cant find which catagory that falls under. sounds kinda melodic minor but maybe i just dont kno wwhat im talking about :tongue:
Conception
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 1:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby mrthingy » Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:17 pm

Hi,

I use modes when playing the guitar, but only as a way to remeber the fingering of sacles up and down the fret board.

What I'm interested in is how you compose in a mode, isn't it just the same as composing in a key? How is/how do you make F Lydian different from C Ionian? Isn't it just the same thing?
mrthingy
Poster
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Pabs » Wed Jan 31, 2007 9:27 pm

mrthingy wrote:Hi,

I use modes when playing the guitar, but only as a way to remeber the fingering of sacles up and down the fret board.

What I'm interested in is how you compose in a mode, isn't it just the same as composing in a key? How is/how do you make F Lydian different from C Ionian? Isn't it just the same thing?

Try this:

Write a chord progression in F Maj and improvise over it using F Lydian/C Major.

Pabs
User avatar
Pabs
Regular
Posts: 161
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2004 12:00 am
 

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby mrthingy » Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:14 pm

To be honest I didn't notice that much difference...

I found that playing the B in either mode was pretty bad (cou that just be that the chord sequence had a few Bb's in it?) and I played the same sorts of notes in both, similar licks around the e, f, g and a.

That was on guitar, then when I messed around on the keyboard I really found playing from F or C as a starting point made no differents at all in the sorts of things I was playing. Are you ment to keep it all in the same octave when you're playing modes on Keyboards/piano?

I'm not that good at analysis what I'm playing so it maybe that I just don't get it, but I'm still at a loss to think of modes as anything other that fingering patterns.

I do find that if I play in some modes, mixolydian for example, I get certain 'feel' but I think thats more down to the fact that I end up playing similar bits in that mode.

However, from your example, pablo, I guess I'm thinking of it wrong. When I use a mixolydian over something in the key of C, I would use G mixolydian. But seeing as you sugested F lydian over something in F it the idea maybe to use a mode from one key over a chord progression in another key.

:?
mrthingy
Poster
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby TP. » Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:19 pm

Ionian:


Dorian:


Phrygian:


Lydian:


Mixolydian:


Aeolian:


Locrian:
User avatar
TP.
Poster
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby TP. » Sun Jun 03, 2007 7:20 pm

Conception wrote:Can Someone help me out with this one?

HWH5HWW
Or C C# D# E G Ab Bb C?

I think im blind cause i cant find which catagory that falls under. sounds kinda melodic minor but maybe i just dont kno wwhat im talking about :tongue:

Well since nobody's replied after all this time...

I don't have a name for it, but it looks like a mode that would be played over an altered dominant chord. But it's not written "correctly", i.e. the notation does not reflect the harmonic functions of the notes. If you write it as:

C Db D# E G Ab Bb C

...then you can see that:

C is the root of a dominant chord
Db is the flat 9th (really a minor 2nd)
D# is the sharp 9th (really an augmented 2nd)
E is the 3rd
---There is no 4th---
G is the 5th
Ab is a flat "13th" (it would actually be a 13th if it were an octave higher, otherwise it's a sharp 5th but it would be called G# if it were a fifth)
Bb is the minor 7th.

There is a scale called "Altered scale" that would be:

C Db D# E Gb G# Bb C

It fits over "altered" dominant chords, with the flat and sharp D ("9th") and G (5th).

The mode you have written looks close to that. The only difference is the perfect 5th in your version.

Probably someone somewhere gave it a name and put in in a scale book.
User avatar
TP.
Poster
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby guy999 » Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:49 pm

This is all very nice. But how do I go about putting these modes into guitar solos/riffs? If its in say, C, do I just pick C modes dependant on the underlying chords, and will get a different "sound"/"voicing"/whatever dependant on which one I play? Or if you are in C do you play D dorian, E phrygian etc. (though surely they would sound the same?) As for fingerings on guitar, from what I have read above, I take it you can play any mode in any key without moving position on the fretboard?
Any help would be appreciated. I have not fully understood these for years, just been turning a blind eye. I listen to a lot of progressive music and would like to finally try and comprehend what they are doing melodically (and i'm bored of pentatonic minor) :smirk:
guy999
Poster
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat May 12, 2007 12:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Pabs » Mon Jul 16, 2007 6:17 pm

Examine this example:

'So What' by Miles Davis (download it off iTunes if you don't have this recording) is rooted around D min but the key is NOT F maj/Dmin. The Key is ACTUALLY C Maj. The D min chord is the ii chord not the vi chord.

The reason the Key is C Maj is because they are all improvising in C Major...which when played over Dmin sounds Dorian. Had they been improvising in Bb Maj over that D min chord it would have sounded Phrygian not Dorian.

To be honest you don't really need to learn modes the same way you learn scales. If you can play the C maj scale all over the neck of the guitar you already have the ability to play D dorian, E phrygian F lydian etc.... its just a different start and end point or root.

It may benefit you to associate different chords derived from the same scale with modes.

eg G Major Scale

G Maj - G Ionian/Major
A Min - A Dorian
B Min - B Phrygian
C Maj - C Lydian
D Maj/D7 - D Mixolydian
E Min - E Aeolian
F# Dim - F# Locrian

Pabs
User avatar
Pabs
Regular
Posts: 161
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2004 12:00 am
 

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby leslawrenson » Mon Jul 16, 2007 6:24 pm

pablo fanques wrote: To be honeest you don't really need to learn modes the same way you learn scales. If you can play the C maj scale all over the neck of the guitar you already have the ability to play D dorian, E phrygian F lydian etc.... its just a different start and end point or root.

Pabs



That's very true. But, of course, by understanding the modal system, and also knowing how to play all the other scales all over the neck, you can learn to centre your sound around a particular mode. So that, for example, if you want to stay in the Dorian mode, you can alter your scalar playing whenever the band change chords. So the band stay in the one key, but you exploit the chord change to retain the Dorian signature (ie you effectively start playing in a different key).

Jesus! I used to be heavily up on this in the days when I taught guitar. I was heavily into the modal "centre" style of playing espoused by Joe Satriani back in the early 90s, and I used to get really anoraky on this very subject.

I'd glad to report that I've lightened up a lot since then.

:D
User avatar
leslawrenson
Regular
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 1:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby leslawrenson » Mon Jul 16, 2007 6:53 pm

mrthingy wrote:Hi,

I use modes when playing the guitar, but only as a way to remeber the fingering of sacles up and down the fret board.

What I'm interested in is how you compose in a mode, isn't it just the same as composing in a key? How is/how do you make F Lydian different from C Ionian? Isn't it just the same thing?


The common mistake that seems to be made with modes (and there are a couple of persons in this thread who make the mistake) is that you play modes within the same key. But that misses the whole point of modes. They are not to be used simply as a means of telling you which note to play from (that is used merely as a means of demonstrating the harmonic relationship between the intervals).

So, for example, there is no point playing A aeolian in the key of either Cmaj or Amin, since all you would really be doing is playing within either the key of Cmaj or Amin. To hear (in our eg) the sound of A aeolian, you need to contrast it with another key. So, for example, you might be playing a solo in the key of Gmaj, in which the A tone is dorian minor. But, if you play the notes of the Cmaj scale in your solo, but playing around the A tonality, you will be playing A aeolian, and it will be the flattened F sharp (ie looking at it from the point of view of Gmaj) that will give the "aeolian" sound to your solo, since it will contrast with the key (ie Gmaj) over which you are playing. That is to say, the western listener will be expecting you to play F sharp in the key of Gmaj, but my playing the flattened F sharp (whilst centering your solo around the A tonality) your solo will take on an aeolian quality.

This is a very simple example, but it centres on the key point that you can only really hear the modes by playing them "out of key" (for want of a better expression).

And of course, some modes sound dreadful over some chord changes cos the keys just have too much discordance in them. They are just a little too "way out there" (if you know what I mean!). As with everything, though, it's all a matter of practice, and that's what makes knowledge so powerful, cos it gives you the ability to dictate to the music, rather than leave the music to dictate to you.
User avatar
leslawrenson
Regular
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 1:00 am

Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Rousseau » Mon Jul 16, 2007 11:08 pm

Yes modes are essentially simple, but it helps from the outset to erase ANY notion of key, dominant, major, minor from the discussion (except, of course, that major and minor are modes, but that's another story).

1st principle. You can play all church modes (ie all the ones with Greek names (albeit incorrectly named but that's another story)) using only the white keys on a keyboard.

2nd Principle. Each mode has a governing characteristic. Let's take Dorian. The thing that distinguishes the dorian mode from other modes (both theoretically and sonically) is the sixth degree of its scale; it is always a major sixth from the final. If you start on D, you'll be hearing a B natural. It is this interval that gives the mode its flavour, and it is this interval which of course governs the harmony that will frame the mode. The Lydian mode is characterised by its sequence of whole tones (F, G, A, B) and its augmented 4th flavour.

3rd Principle. Change the final (or the bass note or drone) and you change the mode. For example, play c,d,e,f,g,a,b,c over a G bass and you're in mixolydian mode. Play the same notes over a F bass and you're in Lydian mode. Play the same over a B and you're in Locrian mode.

4th principle, you can't modulate with modes, since modulation is a tonal concept (which implies a completely different set of rules, hierarchical relationships and teleological objectives). Modes are essentially static.
Rousseau
Regular
Posts: 178
Joined: Mon May 17, 2004 12:00 am
Location: down sarf

PreviousNext

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users