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Modes: don't you just love 'em?

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

Postby Wurlitzer » Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:04 pm

Pabs! wrote:
Pauly99 wrote:
Looks like the bottom half of a Lydian mode and the top half of a mixolydian mode. Those crazy Hungarians!

In Jazz piano, we'd just call that Lydian dominant

Ah yes I should have recognised it sooner! So what we are saying is that the Overtone/Acoustic scale and the Lydian Dominant mode are one in the same. Who'd though a link between Bartok and post-'Bop Jazz.

In fact, a huge amount of modern jazz harmony comes from or is at least influenced by early 20th century classical music. Not so much Bartok, but Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky etc.

Debussy used the acoustic scale too, for similar reasons to Bartok and Daniel's point about Bagpipes above - the fact that it corresponds (approximately) to all real overtones has a nice resonant "earthy" effect over a sustained tonic drone.

I think the Lydian Dominant in jazz is somewhat different: It has more to do with the idea of tritone substitution, so working the flattened supertonic into what would otherwise just be the natural mode on the dominant.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Wurlitzer » Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:35 pm

mrthingy wrote:I've been trying to "get" modes for a while and I think I have now.

Don't know if the terminology is all correct but my understanding is that it (baicly) playing in a key, but 'basing' the music around a note other than the first degree of that key?

For example D Dorian uses C D E F G A B from C major scale, but to get the 'dorian' sound you have to make D the over-riding, inflencial note rather than C.

Is that right?

Technically that's correct, for the diatonic mdoes anyway - Dorian, Lydian etc.

For example if you play entirely on the white notes of the piano, normally you would think you're playing "in" C Major, and C does indeed tend to naturally exert the greatest amount of "gravity".

But if you insistently base your phrasing and thinking around D instead, you can make D sound like the centre of gravity, and the music will be dorian.

This is a good start for being able to work out any mode and get going. For example if we're rehearsing a song you don't know and I shout over to you "it's just E dorian!", then if you know that the dorian mode is the one based on the second degree of the major scale, you can quickly work out that E dorian will be based on the second degree of the D major scale, and will be E F# G A B C# D E, and jam along.

OTOH, it's a little bit arse over tit in some ways, because the original modes weren't derived from the major scale, the major scale emerged out of the modal system.

To really get into modes and get a feel for how they work, it's important to be able to think of them instantly in relation to their own tonic (sorry Rousseau - "final" ;)). You do that by learning the distinctive tone and semitone pattern of each mode. So for example dorian is T-S-T-T-T-S-T above the tonic. Follow that pattern and you'll come up with the same notes above upon E, but without having to go via the "key" of D.

In practice, I think what I tend to do is think in terms of the two primary modes that I know best through training - the ionian (major scale) and aeolian (natural minor scale), with alterations. So the dorian is the natural minor scale but with a raised 6th degree; the mixolydian is a major scale but with a lowered 7th degree etc.

In doing this, I'm still thinking in terms of the tonicity of the mode itself, not relating it back to some hypothetical major "key" on a different root. This way you start to feel more and more the real character of each mode, because you're hearing and feeling how each scale degree of the mode sounds in relation to it's OWN tonic.

There is a whole other school of thought about modes, to do with their use in improvising upon different chords within a key, as elaborated by people like Jamie Abersold. So when you see "Em7 - A7 - Dmaj7", you think "Dorian mode on E - Mixolydian mode on A - Ionian mode on D". Here the identity of each mode IS much more to do with its relationship to the overall "parent" key.

But personally I think that school of thought is a load of bollox, and only manages to add an unnecessary layer of intellectualisation to improvising that doesn't serve any useful purpose.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Rousseau » Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:47 pm

Wurlitzer wrote:
But personally I think that school of thought is a load of bollox, and only manages to add an unnecessary layer of intellectualisation to improvising that doesn't serve any useful purpose.

Absolutely.

I think you make a good point about getting to know the modes through hearing and experiencing their differences, rather than intellectualising them. And to that extent I'd recommend using just the white notes to begin with - you'll soon get a flavour of each mode by changing the drone.

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

Postby rz » Sun May 25, 2008 10:31 pm

As a guitarist who does lots of improvising/composing I find modal concepts to be very useful and not the least 'soul-less'. The point about modes is the accompanying harmony - play a minor/m7 chord and there are immediately 3 modes (Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian) that you can choose to use from the Diatonic scale. I kinda categorise these as 'Jazzy minor', 'Spanishy minor' and 'Romantic minor', respectively. And so on.

Just remember its the chord formed from the mode that makes it useful -as in Miles' ' So What' (D Dorian/Eb Dorian).
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Glyn Barnes » Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:57 am

Many years ago I used to play an Appalachian dulcimer. This is a very basic fretted instrument, typically there is a single melody string and two drone strings. The fret board has a diatonic scale; some models have a couple of extra frets to make it easier to tune in different modes without changing strings.

Given that this a very basic instrument harmonically it is important to understand modes in order to get any thing out of it. The Drone strings are typically tuned a 5th apart. The melody string is tuned so the lower string is one octave below the melody string when it’s fretted on the root note for the mode. A lot of traditional music is in the Dorian or Mixolydian modes, these have a very Celtic flavour due to the whole tone between the 7th and the tonic.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Chucho » Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:15 am

Pabs! wrote: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...


This it total BS and it serves no purpose to spread this muddle headed nonsense to people who are trying to learn this stuff.

Go and ask some real musicians what key 'so what' is in.
Then come back and tell us what they said.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby ClayButler » Thu Feb 11, 2010 5:23 pm

I think the problem with modes is that people mentally make them more difficult than they really are (myself included). For folks trying to wrap their minds around modes for the first time, here's a practical way of looking at their use in your performing/improvising. It focuses on the chord progression to find your mode.

http://claybutlermusic.com/blog1/2009/09/11/music-theory-going-modal/

http://claybutlermusic.com/blog1/2009/09/15/music-theory-modal-chord-progressions/
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Guitar Wizard » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:27 pm

Ian Stewart 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. 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.


mmmm you are wrong C chord over Db would be an altered interval
C add b9 which also could be a altered dom mode if you used a b7 to support the b9 or a maj7th b9 would be a mode.Modes can be derived by any number of note selection.So anything you play is in actuality a mode.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Pabs » Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:53 am

Chucho wrote:
Pabs! wrote: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...


This it total BS and it serves no purpose to spread this muddle headed nonsense to people who are trying to learn this stuff.

Go and ask some real musicians what key 'so what' is in.
Then come back and tell us what they said.

It's modal. Thats the whole point.. but if someone doesn't know what D dorian I'm just gonna tell em to play in C Major.

Hope this helps

How shall we proceed?

Thank you, come again!
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby ElecTrika-MixTek » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:50 am

David Etheridge wrote:
Modes have a long history back to medieval days; the days when 'official' music was the province of the church and many melodies were sung by monks in unison in chuches and monasteries.
Hence they were given names from ancient Greece (I believe) in keeping with the academic nature of the music.
Hi Dave,
I believe the names of the modes refer to the prominent tribes of Ancient Greece and the fact that such scales/modes were actually in use in ancient times. Naturally the medeival developments (Gregorian modes) are based on the earlier Greek texts, but the names are more than just passing academic references; the substantial theory was already well developed by the time Aristotle was teaching, so the medeival developments are a later evolution, or a response to some mathematico-aesthetic problems ultimately solved by what is now know as contemporary scale theory.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby David Etheridge » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:11 pm

Hi EMT,
many thanks for the clarification- it's all Greek to me! :headbang:

(bad joke -okay officer, I'll come quietly..... :roll:)

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

Postby agent funk » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:54 pm

"Well my lord, if it sounds like Greek it probably is Greek."

sorry couldn't resist - Blackadder series 1.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Adrian Clark » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:48 am

ElecTrika-MixTek wrote:I believe the names of the modes refer to the prominent tribes of Ancient Greece and the fact that such scales/modes were actually in use in ancient times. Naturally the medeival developments (Gregorian modes) are based on the earlier Greek texts, but the names are more than just passing academic references; the substantial theory was already well developed by the time Aristotle was teaching, so the medeival developments are a later evolution, or a response to some mathematico-aesthetic problems ultimately solved by what is now know as contemporary scale theory.

All three modal systems (ancient Greek, medieval, modern) are similar in concept... different melodic results produced by different combinations of intervals built from a central root note. If I recall correctly, though, there's no continuity in the names used. Our Lydian has nothing to do with the original Greek Lydian mode.

The medieval system was a bit more fiddly than ours. We just have a root and a set of intervals, but in the medieval modes there was a distinction between the 'final' (root) and the 'reciting tone' (the main note used in a liturgical chant).

There were four basic modes, equivalent to our Dorian, Phrygian, Mixolydian and Lydian, but each one had 'authentic' and 'plagal' variants, depending on where the root sat in relation to the vocal range.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Daniel Davis » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:23 pm

Most songs today are indeed in Major and Minor (Ionian and Aolian)

Locrian is barely used due to the lack of a major or minor chord on the root - Sad But True

The remaining 4 common scales with a distinct modal feel are


Dorian Mode - Greensleeves, What shall we do with the drunken sailor?, Scarborough Fair, Smoke on the Water, Eleanor Rigby

Myxolydian Mode - Sweet Home Alabama, Norwegian Wood, I feel free, Sympathy for the Devil

Lydian - the Simpson's theme

Phrygian - White Rabbit
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:00 pm

Daniel Davis wrote:Most songs today are indeed in Major and Minor (Ionian and Aolian)

Locrian is barely used due to the lack of a major or minor chord on the root - Sad But True

Why sad? Locrian (like the VII chord) exists in theory. In practice it's not much use, or always actually sounds like something else. That's fine, isn't it?
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