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Modal approach... con's and pro's

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Indontmiztipe, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. Indontmiztipe

    Indontmiztipe TDPRI Member

    Dec 5, 2011
    If i dont have my fancy words in the wrong order there's basically 2 ways of looking at modes. parallel and relative. Where relative basically takes the scale and gets you to start on another scale degree to create a mode. And where parallel just alters the formula of the major scale; my way.

    Personally i have always learned it in the last way, just like how i learned every scale. You take the major scale, apply the proper formula and there you go. So that got me thinking, why does the other approach exist?

    Whats the pro's and con's and where does the first approach actually come in handy?
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013

  2. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    Good question. No 'cons' in knowing both.
    IMO - your way is the best way to achieve the 'modal sound/flavor' over chords and actually a lot of guys who disparage (just don't understand) modes don't get this. So you've already got a leg up.

    As for why it's useful to understand what the parent scale is ... for me, if I know not only the parent scale but then am able to extrapolate all the other modes, it helps me to see/hear the other chord shapes/tones that may not be so obvious in the home key.

    Example: Am7 groove (or Am7 to D - the Carlos Santana secret chord progression). A dorian right? Right. Since I know A dorian is the second mode of G Ionian (major scale) I now can instantly start seeing (lets be real - guitar's a visual instrument) Gmaj7/Cmaj7/D9 chords and arpeggios, etc. I personally like to gravitate (in this case of Am7) to playing more in and around the key of D7 (D mixolydian - V of G). All the while I know I'm in Am7 but I can now think through all these different yet very related keys. Instant access to the color tones of Am (F#, B, D, G). A Cmaj7 arp sounds great over an Am7 chord. And then you extrapolate from there. If I know D7 stuff works then I can now use all my 'out' and jazzy dominant 7th lines (thinking from D7) like mel.min. up a 1/2 step from D (and away we go!) and it'll all 'potentially' sound good. *Of course you gotta be cognizant of and sympathetic to the tunes feel, other musicians' vibe, confident in your own playing, etc. ... but in theory - it'll all work. This is what players like John Scofield, Mike Stern, Oz Noy, etc. do when their jamming over one chord. It's one of the ways most jazz musicians post 1959 approach improv.

    Next time you play a jam and the progression inevitably hits on Am7 to D play these voicings:

    Am7 - x x 10 9 8 10 (or, x x 10 9 8 7) - doesn't it look like a C chord?
    And just move one note to this ...
    D7 - x x 10 9 7 10 (or, x x 10 9 7 7)

    Larry Carlton would always mention that he favored the sound of Em, C, D and G triads/arps over an Am7.

    Conversely, next time you're goovin' on a funk D7 or even a more uptown or sophisticated blues (or anything that has at least two consecutive bars of D7 in it) play some A dorian lines - instant 'jazz'.

    So one may ask/declare, "but it's all the same notes, right?" Right - but the shapes and colors are different. What makes a B phrygian scale sound different from a B major scale? The interval collection/arrangement. Explore those unique intervallic relationships when you play modally. If you feel like trying B phryg over that Am7, use what's unique about B phryg - the C/F# tri-tone relationship, the B/C m9 relationship, C/E/F#, F#/G/D/B. Don't just run the scale/mode up and down - that's not gonna get it really.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013

  3. Thorpey

    Thorpey Tele-Holic

    Dec 26, 2008
    Blackpool, UK

  4. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Iowa City, IA
    I tend to look at a mode both ways, depending on what I want to understand or get out of it. It's like I can look at one of my sisters and tune into certain things about her, then switch gears and tune into other things, like how she was as a child. The point is that I think we all look at many things in more than one way. It is hard to read one's own mind and say that you are thinking this way, or that way, or both ways at the same.

    I think theory will get easier for people when they can think of a chord or scale in more than one way. For example, a chord has pitches, intervals, are found in certain keys, have certain functions (I ii iii IV V, etc.), is maybe a member of a larger chord (in a seventh chord, there is a triad in the bottom three notes, and a different triad in the top three notes). With practice and experience, you can look at theoretical objects in ways that serve your purpose. It is not hard to get to that point. It is all drill, drill, drill. Doing drills is the easiest way to learn certain things. Drill, baby, drill.

  5. fezz parka

    fezz parka ---------------------------

    Ken's post is like 10 lessons in one. Well done my brother...

  6. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    So is that positive or negative 'shock' - lol!

  7. ac15

    ac15 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    May 9, 2005
    I think it makes no difference. You need to know the sounds.

  8. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

    Thats my experience. And not only does the theory make sense in itself, it also starts to become more relevant to your playing. When you can hear a sound in more than one way, for instance the multiple functions of a single chord, or the chordal make-up of a mode - your playing opens up - big time. But you have to practice those things for that to happen. Kens example up there isnt accidental...

    Try this little 'hexatonic' exercise (you can play these as single line or comping) using two adjacent triads from A dorian

    - say C and D - because Ken outlined those sounds earlier.

    play these notes - C E G - D F# A. E G C - F# A D. G C E- A D F#. and then again up the octave.

    Its just the triads C and D alternating through their respective inversions.

    But they throw a whole new light on the sound - first because yo arent just running up and down the scale - and second, you are targeting 6 out of 7 tones of the scale - when you finally play that missing 'B" - it sounds great!

    Try it with D and Em - Bm and C - everytime you do this you highlight a certain colour from the scale.

    Now try it with some pentatonics from A dorian

    such as ...A C E D G - C E A G D or even F# A C B E A C f# E B -

    This is also partly what modality is about IMO - not just so-called 'right' notes over a chord - but melodic sequences that target colours in the mode and 'heighten' the impact of the notes that are left out!

  9. PraiseTele

    PraiseTele Tele-Meister

    Mar 20, 2011
    Funny to me that anyone who is into building muscle cars WANTS to understand the how and the why of things...what puts in more power into that power plant...

    But when it comes down to music, i get that now everyone wants to be able to compose and completely grasp what's going on, but when you talk to them, they are often complaining about not being able to play the way they hear things...?!?

    I've got it the other way around; i understand more than my ability to play, and my experience is that because of that, when i talk to players about theory, they perceive me as a monster player and are intimidated because i have a grasp on some theory...

    Just think it's funny! Learn a little bit, or a lot, but keep learning and you'll get there!

  10. stinkey

    stinkey Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 4, 2010
    malmö sweden
    There i have my new lessons!! Thank you.

  11. Alex Strekal

    Alex Strekal Tele-Meister

    Dec 25, 2012
    Euclid, OH
    My own approach to modes tends to go the parallel route. I think of modes as intervalic relationships with their own color, and in my mind, there is a difference between "modal music" and "tonal music that uses modes".

    "Modal music", in its simplest form, is based on a drone - you just endlessly play the intervals of the mode and keep the root note ringing through, static, the whole time. This creates entrancing musical ideas, and each mode is effectively its own tonality.

    For some reason, I've found that certain people have a hard time grasping "modal music" in this sense, and they only understand modes in the context of tonal music, as relative to the major or minor scale. There is no "con" to this, but without also being able to envision modes as their own colors independent of a major/minor key center, the full picture just isn't there.

  12. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    Cool. That'll be $75.00 (kidding ;) - glad you understand it and can use it!)

  13. fezz parka

    fezz parka ---------------------------

    The Carlton quote is worth 25 bucks alone.:lol:

  14. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    Yeah, and I should send Larry a check! I think I read it in GP about 35 years ago and it literally changed my life.

    Sent from my Nexus 7

  15. Thorpey

    Thorpey Tele-Holic

    Dec 26, 2008
    Blackpool, UK
    That's a me not understanding a word of it :lol:

  16. fezz parka

    fezz parka ---------------------------

    Yep. My "lessons" with HR were usually breaks on my Dad's sessions. We had no time for theory stuff, it was always, as HR would put it, "Let's get to the music. Time to play." I'd play his Tele and he'd play the Black Guitar. The day he showed me what you could do with triads made my head spin. He laughed and said "Gotcha!":lol:

  17. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca

  18. fezz parka

    fezz parka ---------------------------

    No, I don't. I've got the Sundazed RI of HR is a Dirty Guitar Player, Mr. Roberts Plays Guitar...and I've got all the stuff he did with my Dad.:lol:

    Back when you could still make mp3s from youtube stuff, I grabbed this:

  19. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    I had the vinyl but I lost it - ?
    Great great album.

  20. fezz parka

    fezz parka ---------------------------

    Parking Lot Blues.:cool:

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