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Thread: How do you find out the primary chords for each mode?

  1. #1
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    How do you find out the primary chords for each mode?

    How do you know what chords fit into a mode, like C ionian has Cmaj, Dm, Em, Gmag, Am, Bm7b5 but what chords give it the characteristic '"ionian" sound along with the other modes too?

  2. #2
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    To find the chords of a mode, simply build triads off of each note of the scale the same way you do for the major scale.

    Or, if you know what major scale the mode is from, use the same chords. For example, D dorian is the second mode of C major, so it's going to have all the same chords as C major, since the D drorian scale is made up of all the same notes as the C major scale.

    What gives a mode its characteristic sound is how the seven notes of the mode relate to the tonic chord. For the case of D dorian, it's how those seven notes sound in releation to the D minor chord (the i chord). All chord progressions in D dorian will resolve back to D minor.

    When dealing with modal chord progressions, you have to be careful how you construct them, as it is easy to fall into the trap of the progression wanting to resolve back to the I chord of the parent major scale (C major in the case of D dorian). Modal chord progressions work best with very few chords, and sometimes even using no progression at all and just staying on the tonic chord of the mode (D minor in D dorian). Modal progressions also work better when the chords used are 7th, 9th, 11th, or 13th chords rather than simple triads. This helps spell out the harmony a little more clearly and defines clearly which mode is being used.

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    Thanks, but what im asking is how does one build a chord progression for each specific mode? Like If I wanted to play a D dorian improv. What chord progression would fit and why?

  4. #4
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarSoul24
    Thanks, but what im asking is how does one build a chord progression for each specific mode? Like If I wanted to play a D dorian improv. What chord progression would fit and why?
    ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Poparad
    When dealing with modal chord progressions, you have to be careful how you construct them, as it is easy to fall into the trap of the progression wanting to resolve back to the I chord of the parent major scale (C major in the case of D dorian). Modal chord progressions work best with very few chords, and sometimes even using no progression at all and just staying on the tonic chord of the mode (D minor in D dorian). Modal progressions also work better when the chords used are 7th, 9th, 11th, or 13th chords rather than simple triads. This helps spell out the harmony a little more clearly and defines clearly which mode is being used.

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    You just told me how to be careful when constructing a progression like it and that it helps to use chords like 7th, 9th, 11s, etc. Im asking how do you find the primary chords for the modes, which chords work well the characteristic of a mode. For example, a friend told me Dm, Em, G are primary chords for D dorian, I don't know why. I mean I know the chords in a mode but how does one find them the main chords for giving the sound, I know it'll probably be few chords like a 3 chord vamp and the rest are used as secondary to let it flow.

  6. #6
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    I think Poparad was mainly trying to point out this sentence again: "Modal chord progressions work best with very few chords, and sometimes even using no progression at all and just staying on the tonic chord of the mode (D minor in D dorian)." (that and the one after it)
    Dorian for example... a lot of times, people stick to a Dm7, or maybe Dm7 and G7 when soloing over that.
    You could also try to use slash chords, with the root of your mode as the bassnote for each... for example, playing G/D-F/D-Dm7... the constant bass note might help to emphasis the D when you apply the D Dorian mode over it
    Eric

  7. #7
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    Right, as EricV said, that's what my point was. The only 'primary chord' for a mode is the tonic chord. All other chords you might add to the progression are more for variety and to break up the monotony of a static chord (unless a static chord is what you want).

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    alright thanks guys.

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    My friend said that the Maj6 gives Dorian it's characteristic sound so a D dorian would have a B as the 6th. He also said it's good to use chords that have the maj6(B) in it as it emphasizes the Dorian sound. So he explained to me how Emin- E, G, <b>B</b>, Gmaj- G, <b>B</b>, D are good chords to use to play Dorian as a lot of the other chords can make one lead make to the tonic.

  10. #10
    chewing bubble gum Chim_Chim's Avatar
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    There's several different ways and these guys have given you most of them.

    Results may vary from mode to mode so you've just got to be aware of the possibilities and then find what works best per situation.
    Some days I seem to do OK. Other days I feel like just shoving an M-80 right up my guitar's butt.

  11. #11
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarSoul24
    My friend said that the Maj6 gives Dorian it's characteristic sound so a D dorian would have a B as the 6th. He also said it's good to use chords that have the maj6(B) in it as it emphasizes the Dorian sound. So he explained to me how Emin- E, G, <b>B</b>, Gmaj- G, <b>B</b>, D are good chords to use to play Dorian as a lot of the other chords can make one lead make to the tonic.
    Each mode does have its characteristic notes, but you don't need to add another chord to get them. Playing a Dm6 or Dm13 chord will highlight those notes too.

    The characteristic notes of a mode are the notes that differ from the natural minor scale for minor major and the major scale for major modes. The difference between dorian and natural minor is that dorian has a major 6th, so that is the characteristic note.

    As for Ionian and aeolian themselves, they aren't so much modes as they are the major key and the minor key when used for songs.

  12. #12
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    I think if you will forget about what chord progressions to use and explore how to construct a modal vamp for that specific mode it will cause the light bulb to come on.

    I'm backing out as you have some of the best answering your question already --- but think vamps instead of chord progressions.

    I've messed around with this site before and found it easy to understand.
    Click here
    Last edited by Malcolm; 08-09-2006 at 12:12 AM.

  13. #13
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    hope this helps

    here's one way to look at it...
    first of all your harmonized minor scale

    Imi-II-dim-IIIma-ivmi-vmi-VIma-VIIma

    Choose any key....instead of having a iv minor chord...change it to major.
    So for example

    Ami (your Imi chord) to Dma (your iv mi chord that you've switched to MAJOR)

    when the Dma hits...it forces the A dorian issue.



    UPDATE

    yeah malcolm is right....think more on vamps rather than a full blown chord progression...modes usually come into play over a chord or two UNLESS you're interested in fusion. my example is a simple vamp idea that forces the dorian issue.....IV MAJOR chord in a Minor Tonality.
    Last edited by imyerzer0; 08-10-2006 at 06:45 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarSoul24
    My friend said that the Maj6 gives Dorian it's characteristic sound so a D dorian would have a B as the 6th. He also said it's good to use chords that have the maj6(B) in it as it emphasizes the Dorian sound. So he explained to me how Emin- E, G, <b>B</b>, Gmaj- G, <b>B</b>, D are good chords to use to play Dorian as a lot of the other chords can make one lead make to the tonic.
    This is a very useful approach. Play around with the chords that contain the characteristic note for the given mode. I have done so - for some reason I am able to create more interesting sounds when playing over Dm - G than Dm - Em. Perhaps it's a sign of my need for spending more time on Dm - Em. Yeah, I think it is. I'm gonna have a go now actually. And for youself, just remember that approach, it's very handy.

  15. #15
    Detroit VidKid's Avatar
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    Here’s a guide to Modal Progressions. Just start your progression on the first chord in the list and move among the chords with either stepwise, 5th, 3rd movement etc. End your progression with the chord you began, to establish the tonal center again.Each mode has it's unique sound and you need to experiment with each.

    Common Diatonic (Primary) Modal Progressions:
    Ionian – Major
    Cmaj7-Dm7-Em7-Fmaj7-G7-Am7-Bm7b5-Cmaj7

    Dorian – Minor (Most Metal tunes with power chords)
    Am7-Bm7-Cmaj7-Dm7-Em7-F#m7b5-Gmaj7-Am7


    Phrygian – Minor (Spanish sounding) The Em or E-F-G passage with open E,B strings
    Am7- Bbmaj7-C7-Dm7-Em7b5-Fmaj7-Gm7-Am7


    Lydian – Major Ex. (C-D/C passage is common)
    Cmaj7-D7-Em7-F#m7b5-Gmaj7-Am7-Bm7-Cmaj7


    Mixolydian – Major/Bluesy
    C7-Dm7-Em7b5-Fmaj7-Gm7-Am7-Bbmaj7-C7


    Aeolian – Minor (Use Am7-Bm7b5-E7alt for final cadence)
    Am7-Bm7b5-Cmaj7-Dm7-Em7-Famj7-G7-Am7


    Locrian-Major? Starts on 7th degree of Ionian Mode
    Bm7b5-Cmaj7-Dm7-Em7-Fmaj7-G7-Am7-Bm7b5



    VidKid
    Yesterday's dissonance is today's consonance, while today's atonal is tomorrow's consonance-Liebman

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