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Thread: Lets talk modes...

  1. #26

    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    Feel is a good way to talk about tonality - thus all the corporeal adjectives used in description.

    Re the Western/non-western differences, this is what I'm emphasizing in contrasting the various instruments, idioms, styles ... the horizontal, lyric form of much non-western system is at home on oud, violin, and other "melody" instruments, where I tend to think modal; when I'm playing instruments with greater polyphonic range, I tend to think scalar/chordal, maj/min tonality which we were taught and became our "native" language. I greatly encourage exploration beyond.

  2. #27
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    The notion of modes makes much more sense to me if I think, "this phrase should sound Spanish or that should sound Celtic". A non academic way of using modes I know. But it makes more sense than pounding away at some chart and playing 'out of context' in some practice exercise. And why not learn a bit about Spanish music? (Or Celtic music.)

    And did you see that harp video? Christina Tourin really did a great job of providing descriptive words for each of the modes. (As well as an excellent description and history of modal theory.) Thanks for that link!

    (I'll hold the door open a little more so that others can try "music theory...")

  3. #28

    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    Tetrachords yea. O.K.
    Tetra means 4. There are 8 notes in a scale. Sometimes it is useful to look at only half of the scale.
    A very nice explanation. But it gets confusing the further you read.

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    It makes sense to work on a particular style (in this case it is Jazz) and a particular tune, and a particular phrase in a tune, in order to see why certain notes and certain chords 'don't work' or 'do work'. Knowing the simple stuff first is the key.

    Why do people try to be 'big shots' by using music theory to show how smart they are? I'll stick with 'one bite at a time'.
    Not sure where all this is coming from, seems you are going out of your way to show how smart you are. In your post you talk about things making sense and then go on to say you don’t understand the mode chart...confirming that people learn different things in different ways. If you don’t like it go back to your pie.
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  5. #29
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    This so-called music theory is like a big building with many entrances. Explaining it to others involves leading them around to the entrance you happen to know best, but it might not be the nearest one to where they stand, and so, inadvertently, you come across as being a smart braggart. For instance, to me it is simple math covered in an enzyclopedia of fancy language grown out of playing (the piano, especially). I am not going to get you started about that math, because it would leave me without followers (inexplicably so, but based on experience).
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  7. #30
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    Great link dadsaster! The visual is very helpful, I had been looking at it from the fretboard POV and working thru it and making it harder than I needed to. A friend of mine who is a Berklee grad has always spoken of tetrachords and while I could always follow along I just never really got it until recently.

    In improvising I was going along trying to keep up with chord changes and the key of the tune and such and I always suspected that if I really knew the modes better it would make things easier. However, I was thinking - great 7 modes to learn along with everything else...so I would generally abandon any study of them. Then one day I was reading about tetrachords and how there are just 4 and they are put together to form all the modes it was like...voila...and I got it finally.

    Now, the understanding fades in and out so I still have work to do but now rather than having to worry about chord changes and such I can go along using modes...it’s still not ‘easy” but for me it’s more logical to the way my brain works.

    I do agree that knowing scales, chord tones, and arpeggios are necessary whether one knows them from study of theory or by ear but tetrachords give me another tool to deploy while playing.
    I'm with you on the usefulness of thinking about tetrachords! Also, hadn't seen that jazzmando page about the subject, thanks dadsaster
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  8. #31
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    Okay. Thanks to all of you for the new info. I had read something about tetrachords, but it never made sense. Today it did! At least I think that I see something that will help me.

    The way I'm thinking about it now is that when I'm following a chord progression and playing over it, I can think (for example) "going to the 6m" and then "see" in my head the aolian (6th note mode) pattern which gives me the pallet of notes that I might want to use. In the past, I was sort of stuck with just the arpeggio notes of the 6m chord. This opens a door for me.

    Thanks for the help.
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  9. #32
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    This so-called music theory is like a big building with many entrances. Explaining it to others involves leading them around to the entrance you happen to know best, but it might not be the nearest one to where they stand.
    It is so true, so very very true, and especially with regard to music theory and application. No matter where you start, you are jumping in the middle and swimming out to the edges.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    Re Lydian, George Russell wrote an influential treatise you might look into as well.
    Yea that is what I was referring to. I read a lot about it and have it on my reading desk as something to dig into when I can.
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  12. #34
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    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    Why do people try to be 'big shots' by using music theory to show how smart they are? I'll stick with 'one bite at a time'.
    It feels like that sometimes doesn't it. Giving folks the benefit of the doubt though, it is more likely natural runaway enthusiasm for a subject, and in my case, a discomfort with my ignorance of so many parts of the subject.

    We nerds suffer from both sides of this. I myself have let intellectual enthusiasm get the better of good graces. "Oh, oh, oh, and you know what else, you know 5281 is a prime number and, and, and..." and I have also wanted to choke someone who spoke that way.


    For me and what I have picked at - I think the best approach is to first and foremost recognize modes - even at the expense of understanding them. One way to learn to play expressively within a genre, I figure, is to recognize what modes are in play, and learn what the scales in those modes are, and then, off line, to practice those scales.

    But as far as intellectual understanding, I must admit I was playing tons of Irish fiddle tunes, for many years, before I ever heard the word mixolydian or could distinguish it from serbo-croation minor Freudian.
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  14. #35
    Chief Moderator/Shepherd Ted Eschliman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    Still my personal favorite: Augmented 11th. AKA Lydian Dominant, Lydian b7 or a Mixolydian #4.

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  15. #36

    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    If you are a songwriter, I think the modes offer a lot. I've been messing around with some chord progressions in the various modes and there is plenty to mine.

  16. #37
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    ... serbo-croation minor Freudian.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  17. #38

    Default Re: Lets talk modes...

    Quote Originally Posted by dadsaster View Post
    I practice major, minor, blues, arpeggios and pentatonic scales. Recently, I started messing around with scale modes in order to further my musical understanding. I'm wondering who here practices some of the off color modes, how you practice them and where you use them in your own playing?

    It seems like a really big musical area. I can derive pentatonic scales from each mode. I can derive chords for each degree of each mode. It also makes me wonder if I'm practicing my major scales poorly. I know all the FFcP positions for major scales. However, when I try playing a mode, it doesn't flow like the major positions yet.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Getting back to the OP...

    Major, minor, blues, pentatonics and arpeggios flow because you have used them many times in a musical context.

    Modes are tools for achieving certain musical goals. There really is no reason to practice ”the modes”. You might get something out of it, but very little bang for the buck. Don’t practice modes; learn a mode and use it to make music.

    Some people have mentioned how certain modes are used in traditional music. Stick to those, if you are interested in traditional music. If you can be more specific about your musical interests, people can give you specific suggestions.

    If you want to get into jazz, do a search on “Using modes in jazz” and you will find a wealth of information with examples of tunes that you can apply various modes over. Be aware that there are also “synthetic scales” that are not modes, but can also be very useful tools. Also, note that there is “modal jazz”, but that it is not the only jazz context for using modes.

    Again, some modes and scales are more useful than others. Learn modes you will use.

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