Scale/Mode Theory Questions

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Texicaster, Jun 21, 2019.

  1. SuprHtr

    SuprHtr Tele-Meister

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    As a beginning guitarist, I really appreciate this thread. I got all excited and made my wife read it. She teaches piano and voice and keeps telling me I need to explore theory more than I have, even offering to teach me at the piano. She read through and approves of this thread and many of the excellent points y'all have made. I love this forum!
     
  2. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    True, it's just the pattern on notes on the fretboard. The piano equivalent is that pattern of black keys and white keys.
     
  3. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    if G mixolydian lacks the leading tone F#, then, provided we stick to making harmony in only that mode, the V chord will be minor, ie DFA

    is that a V chord? or do we have to think differently?
     
  4. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    In modal music, you don't do that V -> I move. That's the difference between C Major (with functional harmony) and the modal C Ionian.

    A good example is Flamenco Sketches:



    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamenco_Sketches

    The modes used in "Flamenco Sketches" are as follows:

     
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  5. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

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    You wouldn't have a song in G mixolydian usually unless it's a modal song where it might be vamping on a G7 chord for example. You can use it to spice up blues as well thinking of it like that. Basically I'd think of it like "it's probably a V chord". So you could even forget about G mixolydian if you're looking ahead and see it resolves to C, you know you're in C and it's a V ---> I and that's an easier way to do it.
    To me, I see a lot of over focusing on modes when there isn't a need or benefit to break it down so much. Seeing common patterns like ii-V-I and instead of thinking 3 different modes, it's a 2 5 resolving to (whatever chord) is more beneficial. All 3 of the modes are the same set of notes so to me it over complicates it by turning it into 3 "scales"when it's really just 3 chords from a single scale or key.
    In jazz where the key center may temporarily shift you can practice and try to see where it will "modulate" to a different key for a period of time, and seeing it in these sections is how you break it down into something to wrap your head around rather than just endless new modes every new chord without seeing the patterns.
     
  6. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I agree with the latter part of this — that coming up with a mode for every chord is overthinking things: if the chords are diatonic to the key of the song then you play in that key, but target different notes within the scale as required.

    I don’t agree that you “wouldn’t have a song in G Mixolydian usually”! There certainly are Mixolydian songs. They will likely use bVII-I or IV-I as the cadence, not V-I (or v-I for that matter). bVII-I is a classic rock cadence.
    Remember the “what key is Sweet Home Alabama in?” thread? If it’s in D then it looks like it’s Mixolydian: the chords then are I, bVII, IV.
     
  7. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

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    For the hell of it here's the modes in parallel: This isn't something I'd say you need to memorize, I'd just start playing and understanding theory in more practical ways first like above. But you will start to notice and learn as you go, and this is a cheat sheet of what you will notice.
    Ionian standard major scale
    Dorian, flat 3rd, flat 7. Notice the natural 6th, it's the only minor mode with a "natural" (unaltered from Ionian) 6th.
    Phrygian Flat 2nd, flat 3rd, flat 6th, flat 7. The flat 2nd is what distinguishes this from the other minor modes. It's like Aeolian with the 2nd flatted
    Lydian has a raised 4th or #11 is how you usually see it, an octave up from the 4th. Major with a raised 4th
    Mixolydian we already know has a flat 7
    Aeolian flat 3rd, flat 6th, flat 7. "Natural Minor"
    Locrian flat 3rd, flat 5th, flat 6th, flat 7. It's like Natural minor with the 5th flatted.
    Flat 3rd makes it a minor scale or mode, and natural third is major, or dominant if it has the flat 7 or "dominant 7"
     
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  8. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

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    Maybe a lesson here is that we can all think of and describe things differently haha.for example in the bVII to one, i'd be thinking of the one mostly. and the mixolydian would be only on the bVII chord assuming it's a dominant 7th. But that's in the key of the I chord to me using a "one of those things that happens in music" move to the bVII or wherever else it might go. It's mixolydian because it's taking the function of a V chord resolving to one.
    Am I understanding ?
     
  9. kbold

    kbold Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I would also note that the CAGED system is based around the pentatonic scale. It's a useful tool to navigate and learn the fretboard, but has its limitations. It is omitting the 4th and 7th note of the major scale.
    In your example, G mixolydian, the CAGED system is missing that crucial flat 7th.
     
  10. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Personally, if I was a composer writing a song that was largely major, including having the 5 chord be a major chord, but it used the b7 chord every time, and always (or almost always) used a mixolydian melody (i.e. used the b7 melodically most of the time rather than the natural 7): I would use a mixolydian key signature and notate the natural 7 as an accidental every time the 5 chord was used...rather than using an accidental every time a b7 note was used.

    That is what is meant by "in a mixolydian key." It basically means that the 3rd of the 5 chord is your accidental, i.e. your "out of key" note, not the b7 note. Most rock that we think of as "major" actually uses this approach: It's actually, i.e. to the ear, mixolydian, but the 5 chord is kept as a major chord. But when put to sheet music, most will notate it in a major key, and use accidentals for the b7. It's not that it isn't actually mixolydian when this is done; it's just that it isn't commonly notated as such. It's because most readers will not get what is going on if you score using a modal key signature that is not simple major or minor (major and minor are also modes but are generally not called as much). So, unfortunately, in an effort to avoid confusion, mixolydian actually gets notated as major with the b7 marked as an accidental a lot of the time..which, to those who realize what's going on, actually increases confusion IMO. Oh well. It's just up to your own ear at that point to realize that if you are given a major key signature, but the b7 is getting marked as an accidental every time, and the natural 7 is rarely getting used (and only when on the 5 chord), then you are actually in a mixolydian key with an accidental natural 7 on the 5 chord, not in a major key with an accidental b7 being frequently used.

    Again, these days, it is uncommon for a song to stay strictly within its key in every single respect. Most rock and pop uses combinations of modes, not one mode strictly.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019
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  11. kbold

    kbold Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    G mixolydian uses the same notes as the C Major scale, but starting on G. The flattened 7th note of G mixo is the F. I would think mixolydian when 7th chords are being used (in this case G7).
    I would not think of using C mixo in this context. A Bb would sound may sound off, even as a passing note. (OK over a C7 within the song).
    In other words, I think of modes as contextual i.e used to enhance the chord or melody structure.
     
  12. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Not for me. I'm thinking of Leavitt (A Modern Method for Guitar, Berklee).
     
  13. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I have trouble with "starting on". I can play in any mode and start on any note. It's about the centre of gravity.
     
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  14. kbold

    kbold Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I was thinking in terms of root notes, but good point.
    I do like Texicasters analogy to stepping stones.
     
  15. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Well, as I suggested before, to me the idea that you use the Mixolydian “on” (or “over” for that matter) a chord is just not right. I know a lot of you guys out there think it’s useful, but it is not how I work at all.
    Modes are not things that apply for one bar (measure) at a time: a song (or a portion of a song) is in a key / mode. So for me Sweet Home Alabama is in D Mixolydian, Get Back is in A Mixolydian. I wouldn’t expect a C# to sound good in SHA or G# in Get Back, except maybe as a passing note: but I’d expect them to resolve to D (SHA) or A (GB).
     
  16. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Some songs have rapid, non-diatonic changes. In which case a mode such as mixolydian might only be applied over a single chord. However, it is true that when people say “modal music” they are referring to compositions that tend to stick to one or two modes. For example, Al DiMeola’s Elegant Gypsy album is mostly modal music in Phrygian mode.
     
  17. Leon Grizzard

    Leon Grizzard Friend of Leo's

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    I'm late to this thread (and it seems, pretty much all threads these days), but I think you have it. In country and most Americana type tunes, the melody of the tune will be in the major scale (mostly) but it sounds saucy to play the b7 over the I IV and V chords. Of course you already have it on the V.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with thinking I IV and V mixolydian, along with the parent major scale, I IV and V major pentatonic (which are contained within each of the respective mixolydian scales, and all three are within the parent major scale) and little snatches of blues scale. Especially if you learn to play it all within one position, like around the 3d fret for a tune in G. Eventually it all blends into one big pool of notes, with the chords tones being the flat dry rocks. (Great way to look at it!) Start out keeping flat, dry rocks, I 3 5 b7 on the beats 1 2 3 4, and the other, maybe slippery notes on the ands.
     
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  18. ASATKat

    ASATKat Tele-Afflicted

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    The CAGED chords are simply a triad = R, 3rd, 5th.
    Any scale that has the R. 3 & 5 can have it's own CAGED grid,

    In the key of C there are three different 135 scale/modes.
    Ionian 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    Lydian 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
    Mixolydian 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7

    Each one of those scales can use its relative minor
    C Ionian and A Aeolian
    F Lydian and D Dorian
    G Mixolydian and E phrygian

    The relative minors that relate to the three major chords can be played as a minor Pentatonic, these pents can be played over the C major chord in the key of C,,,
    A minor pent, relative to C
    D minor pent, relative to F
    E minor pent, relative to G

    The basic C major scale has all of this inside it,,
    7 note diatonic scales, there are 7
    6 note scale or septatonic, there are 6
    5 note major pentatonic, there are 3
    5 note minor pentatonic, there are also 3
    4 note arpeggios there are 7
    3 note major triads, there are 3
    3 note minor triads, there are 3.
    3 note diminished triad, there is 1
    2 note dyads, there are 7

    There is a CAGED chord grid for any triad you want out of the C scale, for example,
    A minor CAGED
    -A . . G . . E . . D . . C
    -0-----5-----5-----8----12
    -1-----1-----5---10----10
    -2-----2-----5-----9-----9
    -2-----2-----7-----7----10
    -0-----3-----7-----7----12
    -0-----5-----5-----8----12

    This minor CAGED is impossible to play all six strings at the same time, so to be practical just play 4 notes or less at a time.

    Practical chords from A minor CAGED
    I often don't play the 5th string,
    -A . .G . . .E . .D. . . C
    -------------------------------
    -1-----1-----5---10----10
    -2-----2-----5-----9------9
    -2-----2-----7-----7----10
    -0-----3-----7-----7----12
    --------------------------------
    Make a CAGED grid for the other two minor chords Dm and Em.

    Combining the major and the minor CAGED gives you all the chords you need to harmonize the C major scale.

    It just goes on and on ,,

    As you can see there is a whole lot more than just one pentatonic being the center and origin of the CAGED chords/arps.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
  19. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    The problem with analyzing scales (and "Greek Modes", which are just a certain set of specific scales, as they relate to a Major Scale), is that one tends to play with the Eyes rather than the Ears.

    To get the Ears back in control, think about this: when you hum or whistle, or sing ... you don't analyze the Mode, you just know what the note will sound like before you even make the sound. That's what we're after. We have been playing our "Voice" as an instrument all our lives, so we have mostly mastered that instrument, if not in perfect pitch, at least insofar as note choice goes.

    I advise singing along with scales, as you practice them, so the sound of the relative pitches really get into both sides of your brain. Eventually, you start to get pretty close to the ability to play what you hear in your head, without having to analyze the notes ahead of time with your eyes.
     
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  20. awasson

    awasson Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    Two things...

    1) I dig this discussion. I’ve been too lazy with my study of theory and discussions like this stimulate my interest and curiosity.

    2) The post above by @ASATKat really jibes with my thoughts on CAGED. I never “learned” CAGED but I do use some of the chord shapes. Because I never learned it or was taught it, I could never understand the fuss about it but I came to accept that it is probably a good tool for understanding where the root, 3rd and 5th lie and then you can use that to build your melody.

    Anyway, thanks. Please carry on and I’ll keep absorbing what I can.
     
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