How to look at life

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Coolnama
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How to look at life

Post by Coolnama » December 7th, 2009, 5:46 pm

So, I had an argument with a friend of mine today, stupid argument really, the kind of argument where I shout "I'm playing in B minor!" and he says "no idiot you should be playing in D major" and I say "its the same thing"! ( more or less :P ).

Not as simple as that well he is a metal head and he's all into modes :roll: so the song is in D major, and he says "ohh check it out you should play in (something) Phrygian" ( because apparently all metal heads love Phrygian :O ), I'm really not sure what note he said, but since he said Phrygian I'll assume it was F# Phrygian. So when he played it I noticed he just played a B minor scale ( I know I know relative minor ) but starting on F# in the 6th string, and thats exactly what I told him " oh ok a B minor scale starting on F#" ( and then he said no D major, and then argument xD ).

Ok now a couple of questions

1. Ok so I know the difference between a D major scale and a B minor scale or a C major scale and an A minor scale is the tonal center, so lets say someone is playing a C chord and I do a little lick from the A minor scale, but I start on the C note, so am I really playing in A minor or am I just playing C major in a different place?

I would guess the thing about tonal centers is like when I do the whole complete scale like I just go A B C D E F G A over the C major chord and in that case I would be playing in that mode ( you know the minor mode, I forgot what its called )

So I guess modes are just like changing the tonal center ? like over the C major you play E Phrygian its just C major with the tonal center on E ? ( you know basically )

2. So lets say I play a little lick from the C major scale over a C chord and I start it on F, would that little lick be part of F Locrian then ? Or like a Locrian lick O_O ( I think thats the name for when u start on the sub-dominant )

Wow i think I've memorized the names
1st ( either Aeolian or Ionian, they are too similar :P )

2nd note is Dorian

3rd note is Phrygian

4th note is Locrian (?)

5th is Myxolidian

6th is the minor one ( I think its Aeolian or Ionian )

7th I'm not sure

So modes aren't as complicated as they once seemed ? Or is there some big gap in my logic ?

Also I need to learn the like 'feels' of the mode like which mode sounds happy or sad, not that I think in modes right now I usually just play the major scale and then move up or down from there, I do know I use the Dorian and the minor ones, but I never really thought about it.

Thanks :D
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Re: How to look at life

Post by NoteBoat » December 7th, 2009, 8:14 pm

Coolnama wrote: Not as simple as that well he is a metal head and he's all into modes :roll: so the song is in D major, and he says "ohh check it out you should play in (something) Phrygian" ( because apparently all metal heads love Phrygian :O ), I'm really not sure what note he said, but since he said Phrygian I'll assume it was F# Phrygian. So when he played it I noticed he just played a B minor scale ( I know I know relative minor ) but starting on F# in the 6th string, and thats exactly what I told him " oh ok a B minor scale starting on F#" ( and then he said no D major, and then argument xD ).
You had the better argument. Phrygian is a minor scale - F# Phrygian has the same notes as D major or B minor, but it has a minor sound.
1. Ok so I know the difference between a D major scale and a B minor scale or a C major scale and an A minor scale is the tonal center, so lets say someone is playing a C chord and I do a little lick from the A minor scale, but I start on the C note, so am I really playing in A minor or am I just playing C major in a different place?
That depends. If you're consistently using A as the center, you're in A minor (or A Aeolian). If you're resolving to C, you're in C major. The "playing in a different place" thing confuses lots of guitarists - modes are not fingerings, and you can play any mode in pretty much any position.
So I guess modes are just like changing the tonal center ? like over the C major you play E Phrygian its just C major with the tonal center on E ? ( you know basically )
Yes, that's exactly what modes are.
2. So lets say I play a little lick from the C major scale over a C chord and I start it on F, would that little lick be part of F Locrian then ? Or like a Locrian lick O_O ( I think thats the name for when u start on the sub-dominant )
Little licks aren't in modes... they're just little licks. They're not long enough to establish a specific mode. But the mode of C major starting on F is F Lydian.
1st ( either Aeolian or Ionian, they are too similar :P )
Ionian.
4th note is Locrian (?)
Lydian.
6th is the minor one ( I think its Aeolian or Ionian )
Aeolian. But Dorian and Phrygian are also minor modes.
7th I'm not sure
Locrian.
So modes aren't as complicated as they once seemed ? Or is there some big gap in my logic ?
No gap in the logic. They're not complicated (until guitarists start talking about them!)
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Re: How to look at life

Post by Coolnama » December 8th, 2009, 12:53 pm

AHh thats right Lydian, I knew it was with L.

Wow what a massive "aha"!

So okay a little lick isn't anything, but I guess if I have a long solo or a melody that I use E as a center then thats Phrygian ( if we're talking C major) or I could chnage tonal centers in the middle of the solo or melody then I change the mode the melody is in or whatever.

So it's always going to be the same CDEFGABC notes just using different notes as the center ( in C ) ?

So like what are the sounds of the different modes? like I know a few ( or think I know a few )

Ionian well I guess sounds happy ( major )

Aeonian sad? ( minor )

Myxolidian Um sounds good when playing a something that includes the V chord?

Phrygian from what I've read is kinda gypsy O_O

I use Dorian alot but I never really stopped to listen to how it "sounded" or "felt"

Oh, you said that Dorian and Phrygian were minor as well, why ?

Well now what I think of modes is that they are not a brand new scale, they are a different way to play the scale, right ? ( not as in fingering, but what note you play around, as in what note is the center )

Wait, so if I'm playing in A minor I'm actually playing in A Aeolian ( if I'm playing over a C chord ) ?
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Re: How to look at life

Post by cnev » December 8th, 2009, 1:31 pm

Well I've been reading this post and Cool you are actually asking some of the questions I wished I asked and I think I'm starting to get the mode thing but I have question.

Cool wrote
Well now what I think of modes is that they are not a brand new scale, they are a different way to play the scale, right ? ( not as in fingering, but what note you play around, as in what note is the center
I was under the impression that since you start at a different note in the scale the fingering would be different since the WWH change. Is that incorrect?
Last edited by cnev on December 9th, 2009, 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to look at life

Post by Coolnama » December 8th, 2009, 2:38 pm

Thats what I thought too :D

But no, when you play for example E phrygian or A Aeolian ( minor ) or D Dorian you are actually just playing the C major scale but starting from E or from A or from D ( respectively ) if you were to start on E and do WWH then you would just be playing the E major scale.

ok C major scale is C D E F G A B C ( wwwhwwwh)

E major scale is: E F# G# A B C# D# E ( WWWHWWWH )

What you play when you play E phrygian is : EFGABCDE, you know same scale just putting E in bold ( so it looks cooler )
And well its not as easy as just playing the C major scale and starting from E, you have to make E the tonal center of what you're doing so it can really be called Phrygian ( and actually sound Phrygian ).

Sure I know a fingering for Dorian mode, and a fingering for Phrygian, but the notes I'm playing are the same as in the Major scale ( of the particular key).
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Re: How to look at life

Post by Fretsource » December 8th, 2009, 4:26 pm

Coolnama wrote:
And well its not as easy as just playing the C major scale and starting from E, you have to make E the tonal center of what you're doing so it can really be called Phrygian ( and actually sound Phrygian ).
That's correct and nicely put. Just remember, though, that the harmony you're soloing over will also have an effect on the tonal centre. If you were playing E phrygian over a strong I IV V7 progression in C major, you wouldn't be able to make E the tonal centre because the chords would be pointing strongly to C as the tonal centre. Your solo's E tonal centre would be fighting a losing battle with the chords' C tonal centre, and you'd be back to playing the C major scale again instead of E phrygian.

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Re: How to look at life

Post by cnev » December 9th, 2009, 11:03 am

OK I'm still not convinced I get this, so Cool or anyone else, if I started with the C major scale and then decided to play E Phyrgian are you telling me that I would use the exact same finngering and pattern to play the E Phyrigian that I used for the C Major only I'd start on the E instead of C? Somehow that doesn't seem like that would change the "tonal center" of the song.
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Re: How to look at life

Post by kingpatzer » December 9th, 2009, 11:31 am

A scale is defined as an ordering of tones spanning a single octave.

A mode is a scale. The words mean basically the same thing. A song can be in A harmonic minor or A dorian, or A whatver-ian.

It is useful to think of them as alterations of the major scale and to talk about them in parrallel (C Ionian, C dorian, ec. -- which is how I tend to view them, and which I think alleviates a lot of confusion), but properly speaking C Dorian is a different scale from C Major in precisely the same way the C Hungarian scale is different from C major. It is a different ordering of tones spanning the octave.
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Re: How to look at life

Post by Fretsource » December 9th, 2009, 11:48 am

cnev wrote:OK I'm still not convinced I get this, so Cool or anyone else, if I started with the C major scale and then decided to play E Phyrgian are you telling me that I would use the exact same finngering and pattern to play the E Phyrigian that I used for the C Major only I'd start on the E instead of C? Somehow that doesn't seem like that would change the "tonal center" of the song.
The fingering and pattern don't matter. Even the instrument doesn't matter - All that matters is the sound.
But as Coolnama said, it's not just a case of starting on E, and expecting that note to become the new tonal centre. To make E the tonal centre, you have to play the notes in such a way that E is heard as the most important note among all the other notes of that selection. That means you have to emphasise it, especially on strong beats and resolve to it often. And if someone else is playing chords at the same time, those chords also have to agree with the mode and resolve to E minor.

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Re: How to look at life

Post by Minotaur » December 9th, 2009, 12:06 pm

cnev wrote:OK I'm still not convinced I get this, so Cool or anyone else, if I started with the C major scale and then decided to play E Phyrgian are you telling me that I would use the exact same finngering and pattern to play the E Phyrigian that I used for the C Major only I'd start on the E instead of C? Somehow that doesn't seem like that would change the "tonal center" of the song.
Kind of sort of yes. It's the notes that change based on the shifted steps between the notes.

I'm wrestling with this since yesterday, and have a cursory understanding of it. I put this together as a Word document, from a combination of an article at http://musiced.about.com/od/beginnerstheory/f/modes.htm and my understanding of it...

•Ionian - Also known as the major scale; follows the pattern
W-W-H-W-W-W-H.

•Dorian - Constructed from the second note of a major scale; follows the pattern
W-H-W-W-W-H-W.

•Phrygian - Constructed from the third note of a major scale; follows the pattern
H-W-W-W-H-W-W.

•Lydian - Constructed from the fourth note of a major scale; follows the pattern
W-W-W-H-W-W-H.

•Mixolydian - Constructed from the fifth note of a major scale and follows the pattern
W-W-H-W-W-H-W.

•Aeolian - Also known as the natural minor scale, is constructed from the sixth note of a major scale and follows the pattern W-H-W-W-H-W-W.

•Locrian - Constructed from the seventh note of a major scale; follows the pattern
H-W-W-H-W-W-W.

My notes:

Examples in C major & G major.

•Ionian
C D E F G A B C
G A B C D E F# G

•Dorian
D E F G A B C D
A B C D E F# G A

•Phrygian
E F G A B C D E
B C D E F# G A B

•Lydian
F G A B C D E F
C D E F# G A B C

•Mixolydian
G A B C D E F G
D E F# G A B C D

•Aeolian (which happens to be minor because it is the 6th degree of a major scale).
A B C D E F G A
E F# G A B C D E

•Locrian
B C D E F G A B
F# G A B C D E F#

What it seems like is that everything is shifted over by one position and "wraps" on the next mode. As the author of the article wrote: "Thus, in a way, modes can be defined as displaced major scales." I think of them not only as "displaced scales", but as "sub-scales within the parent scale. If I understand it all correctly, you can have each one of these modes under any scale.

My overriding question is "OK, so why do I need to know this to play the kind of music I like which is already written?" The answer is "I don't". My understanding is that this is a matter of playing a scale over the chords in a scale... e.g. a pentatonic scale over a major or minor scale. But if like me, you are not interested in solo or lead, and only play rhythm with some melody, I think this is pretty useless with respect to that.

Mnemonic:
Ionian.......I
Dorian.......Don't
Phrygian....Particularly
Lydian.......Like
Mixolydian..Modes
Aeolian......A
Locrian......Lot
It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.

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Re: How to look at life

Post by NoteBoat » December 9th, 2009, 12:08 pm

cnev wrote:OK I'm still not convinced I get this, so Cool or anyone else, if I started with the C major scale and then decided to play E Phyrgian are you telling me that I would use the exact same finngering and pattern to play the E Phyrigian that I used for the C Major only I'd start on the E instead of C? Somehow that doesn't seem like that would change the "tonal center" of the song.
Yes, you could play the exact same fingering. Let's say you're in the key of C, and you're playing in 5th position. Your notes are:

Code: Select all

A D G C E A
        F 
B E A D   B
C F     G C
    B
If you start with the C note, you're playing a C scale. But if you start on the 7th fret of the 5th string, you're playing an E Phrygian scale. The notes are exactly the same - and since any one position on the guitar has more than two octaves worth of notes, you can play any mode in any fingering.

I'm not saying "starting from E" puts you in the Phrygian mode. But figuring out the mode, although it can be complicated at times, isn't really that hard. Assuming you're in one of the modes, the first question is: Does your melody sound major-y? If so, you're in Ionian (major), Lydian, or Mixolydian. If it sounds minor-y you're in Dorian, Phrygian, or Aeolian (natural minor).

Once you're narrowed it down to an overall group - minor sound or major sound - you can tell one mode from another by how it treats just one note: if it's major, and the 4th is sharped, you're in Lydian. If it's major and the 7th is flat, you're in Mixolydian. If it's minor and the 2nd is flat, you're in Phrygian, and if it's minor and the 6th is sharp, you're in Dorian. As you noted, the differences can seem very small. But they all depend on how it sounds, and how it sounds is caused by your choice of tonal center - whether it's a conscious choice or not makes no difference. And that's why lots of guitarists get confused: if your ears - your ability to imagine a sound before you play it and your ability to relate what you hear to scale names - is lacking, it's hard to tell the difference. So guitarists who think of a specific fingering as being "dorian" or whatever could really be playing in ANY mode... but because they don't know that, they often aren't in the same mode they're talking about :)
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Re: How to look at life

Post by Coolnama » December 9th, 2009, 3:45 pm

if it's major, and the 4th is sharped, you're in Lydian. If it's major and the 7th is flat, you're in Mixolydian. If it's minor and the 2nd is flat, you're in Phrygian, and if it's minor and the 6th is sharp, you're in Dorian.
What ?? What do you mean if the 4th is sharped or the 7th is flat, I thought the notes were the same. (?)
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Re: How to look at life

Post by Fretsource » December 9th, 2009, 4:19 pm

Coolnama wrote:
if it's major, and the 4th is sharped, you're in Lydian. If it's major and the 7th is flat, you're in Mixolydian. If it's minor and the 2nd is flat, you're in Phrygian, and if it's minor and the 6th is sharp, you're in Dorian.
What ?? What do you mean if the 4th is sharped or the 7th is flat, I thought the notes were the same. (?)

Yes - they are - but the intervals between them aren't.

If you take the C major (Ionian) scale you've got
C D E F G A B C
The 4th note is F and it's natural, not raised. It's a perfect 4th above the tonic

But if you start that scale on F and make F the tonal centre, then you've got F Lydian
F G A B C D E F
The 4th note is now B
But F to B isn't a perfect 4th. It's an augmented 4th. A perfect 4th above F is Bb, not B. So if F is now the tonic, then this is really the F major scale with a sharped (i.e.raised) 4th, AKA, the F Lydian mode.

This is why Kingpatzer suggested above that you learn to think of modes as parallel scales - so that you can compare them all from the same tonic and their differences become apparent.

C Ionian = C D E F G A B C
C Lydian = C D E F# G A B C
C Mixolydian = C D E F G A Bb C

Now you can easily see the raised (sharped)and lowered (flatted) notes.
Last edited by Fretsource on December 9th, 2009, 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How to look at life

Post by Coolnama » December 9th, 2009, 4:38 pm

Oh ok that makes sense.
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    You gotta set your sights high to get high!

    Everyone is a teacher when you are looking to learn.

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Re: How to look at life

Post by kingpatzer » December 10th, 2009, 5:39 am

This is why I feel somewhat strongly it's better to understand modes in parallel.

In C:

Ionian looks like this:


C D E F G A B
1 2 3 4 5 6 7


Dorian looks like this:

C D Eb F G A Bb C
1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 8

Phrygian looks like this:
C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C
1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8

Lydian looks like this:
C D E F# G A B C
1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 8

Mixolydian looks like this:
C D E F G A Bb C
1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 8

Aolian looks like this:
C D Eb F G Ab Bb C
1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8

Locrian looks like this:
C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C
1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 8

(I hope I did those correct, it's early here this morning :) )

Now, that is harder to remember because we're not dealing with scale shapes on the guitar neck, but rather with tonal relationship to the major scale. But this is actually more useful from a theory perspective.

If you are looking for a minor tonality, then you need a scale with a b3. If you are looking for a scale to play over a chord progression that includes something like a b9 chord, then you need a scale that has a b2 (or you need to know to treat the 2 as an avoid note -- another reason I think modes are a mistake as they mask the reality that this cat can be skinned multiple ways).

If you know the intervals involved, not just the "shape," it is much easier to understand what is going on in a song, and it makes it easier to understand how to interact with the harmony as a soloist. What matters, from a theory perspective, has nothing to do with shape and everything to do with intervals.

By way of example, Noteboat de-constructed a Metallica solo and instead of a convoluted collection of modal shifts he was able to show what was happening was a simple modulation between keys. The reason he was able to do this was not that Noteboat has some great capacity that we mere mortals can never attain, but because he knows to look at the possible relationships between the intervals played and the keys suggested by the harmony.

By not considering whatever major scale "shape" fits the note played, but rather the interval relationships, the simplest explination had nothing to do with modes. This, by the way, is very frequently the case!!

Modes are popular among guitarists because in general guitarists don't have a good grasp on intervals. This is in part due to a lack of formal education among most guitarists that other instruments rarely enjoy. There aren't many self-taught pianists or sax players out there. But it is also, and perhaps even more importantly, due to the way the guitar is structured.

Piano players think in terms of intervals much more readily because the intervals are so clearly lay out on a keyboard where the notes are in a perfectly linear sequence. Moreover, there really isn't but one "shape" for each scale type on a piano. Want to know an interval? Just count the keys!!

On a guitar it is not so simple, and it is much easier to see shapes than intervals. Is the common power chord shape a fifth or a flat fifth? It matters where on the guitar neck you choose to play the shape. This is a complication other instruments in general do not face.

Still, while it seems complex at first, it presents a much simplified theoretical framework from which to do analysis. Remember, we don't play theory. Theory is what we do to explain the music we play. And like theory in other fields, the more simple explanation will rule the day. Simple explanations require understanding the simplest building blocks of music: intervals.
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