View Full Version : Modes are confusing

05-16-2003, 11:46 AM
Hi All

One thing I have always been told about how to apply modes is that if you were playing in the key of C and your chord progression was Dm Em F G Dm, your probable mode choice would be D Dorian which is the 2nd degree of C. That is theoretically correct except when I do this it just sounds to me as if I am playing C major scale on a Cmajor scale chord progression starting from the 2nd note D, and it doesn't sound very exciting.

Would I be correct in saying that if playing a chord progression in C major say Am C Em F G that instead of using A Aeolian over the Am which would be diatonically correct I could rather use an A Dorian scale which is the 2nd degree of G, but will work over the Am chord. Does this make sense to anyone. Is there a good article on the the use and application of modes, especially Satriani style.


05-16-2003, 12:08 PM

There is alot of confusion out there about modes, to clear things up, try reading these articles:

Chord Scales - Part 1: The Major Scale (http://www.ibreathemusic.com/learn/article/105)

Chord Scales - Part 2: Modes (http://www.ibreathemusic.com/learn/article/106)

Chord Scales - Part 3: More Scales (http://www.ibreathemusic.com/learn/article/108)

Hope this helps.

05-25-2003, 09:34 PM
Is there a good article on the the use and application of modes, especially Satriani style.

Satriani will sometimes keep a song in a particular key (A for example) and then just switch between A major, A mixolydian, A minor, etc. to get different sounds. It creates some very interesting ear candy because your ear hears A mixolydian for a whole verse, and then he switches to A <something else> for a chorus! It's a great idea, I think he refers to it as pitch axis.

I've attached a powertab file which is a simple way to hear the differences between the diatonic major and minor modes (3 each). It may also help with the visualization process of learning.

This powertab file is just a basic reference. If this method is useful then I would suggest applying it in every manner you can think of! For example, play the arpeggio descending and play the scale ascending. Apply it to every arpeggio fingering you know to learn the scale shapes, etc...

I'm not really big on the names of the modes so I didn't even put them in! I know what they all sound like (and I can play them), but I can't remember the actual names!:D

One more thing to try (based off a Vai lesson)... record yourself playing through these exercises and then burn a CD of it. Play it in the car while driving to work and learn to recognize the modes by sound. Sing along with the recording, too. Every little bit helps.

05-25-2003, 09:43 PM
Yeah, that´s right, you´re describing the Pitch Axis System there, which has been used in classical music for quite a while, before Satch actually made it kinda popular among rock guitarists.
The song "Not Of This Earth" is a great example of a tune which is based on results from using the pitch axis theory...

05-26-2003, 02:29 AM
Eric mentioned pitch axis and satch here.. just wanted to add that in the surfing with the alien tab book there is a little diagram and some discussion fo pitch axis by satch... and it also includes satch boogie which has that cool pitch axis tapping thing in the middle... you may be able to find these same diagrams and discussions and tabs online word for word and note for note if you look hard enough.. <hint hint>

Eric,on Not of this Earth, didn't you mention one time that you had read that Satch said Not of the Earth was his best pitch axis tune ever? that is an extremely cool song

also, here is a powertab file of a pitch axis based thing from my vault of ideas I haven't taken anywhere yet...