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Thread: can i use modes this way?

  1. #1
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    for JonR n friends: can i use modes this way?

    hello...i have tried to found threads about these actually, but i can't see any..so i think i will make new thread about my question...
    my question is: if i have this progression: Am F G , can i play modes/scale over that progression like this? :
    A aeolian for the Am chord
    F myxoldian for the F chord
    and G lydian for the G chord

    or should i strictly use only A aeolian over all chords in that progression? please explain it to me thx u

    btw, if there is any thread or articles or anything that discussed this before..please let me know..i would like to read it...thx u

    note: i wouldn't mind if anyone besides JonR want to answer my question...i just want to see his comment too...i really appreciate all of you..thx u
    Last edited by Jeansen; 09-18-2008 at 11:01 AM. Reason: just want to explain a few things more

  2. #2
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    You can play the way you describe, but there is a lot of key center changes in what you describe:
    A aeolian for the Am chord - Key center C major or A minor
    F myxoldian for the F chord - Key center Bb major
    and G lydian for the G chord - Key center D major

    As you see, you'll keep jumping around a lot.

    You can not use A aeolian over the lot. If you plan the notes in the A aeolian over the progression it will by definition be:
    A aeolian over the Am chord
    F lydian over the F chord
    G mixolydian over the G chord

    They will all have the same key center, and it will allways sound ok - but maybe a bit boring.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by gersdal
    You can play the way you describe, but there is a lot of key center changes in what you describe:
    A aeolian for the Am chord - Key center C major or A minor
    F myxoldian for the F chord - Key center Bb major
    and G lydian for the G chord - Key center D major

    As you see, you'll keep jumping around a lot.
    so, is it not good if i jump a lot?

  4. #4
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    In my opinion, no. If you think it sounds good, yes.

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    wow..so i guess it is kind of experimental thing, right? thx u, Gersdal for the fast reply...it just like we are having a chat online ..thx u so much it way more clear for me now...

    btw, i still would love to read JonR's perspective on my question...hope he notice this question... thx u
    and thx u again Gersdal...

  6. #6
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    Hmm, yes. I didn't notice that the question was directed to JonR, and he's been disagreing with me by default lately His opinion would be interesting, I agree.

    PS: I was just having a coffe break Plenty of time to check out IBM

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    hi,Gersdal...it's ok..it's my fault actually,cause i'm editing too long so, you've read my first post..but actually, i really don't mind if anyone reply this thread...i even would be happy about it...the fact is that i just really want to read JonR's comments..his comment usually give me a new insight about music theory a lot..love the way he explain anything...
    thx u again, Gersdal

  8. #8
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeansen
    A aeolian for the Am chord
    F myxoldian for the F chord
    and G lydian for the G chord
    It would probably sound very forced.
    Whether of not C major would sound boring or not it's up to you. Your playing, your creativity.
    Whether or not the overall sound would be A aeolian, F lydian or G myxolydian depends on the amount of time each chord would be played, where would it end. Using this chords you can create each of the three modal vamps, providing you know how to bring out the sound of each mode. Take your time with F and it woudl be lydian, play Am for 1.5 bar then F and G quickly in nect half of bar, then back to Am ... aeolian. You get the picture.

  9. #9
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaughingSkull
    It would probably sound very forced.
    At least
    Quote Originally Posted by LaughingSkull
    Whether of not C major would sound boring or not it's up to you. Your playing, your creativity.
    Agree. Jimmy Page, for one, has shown that it can be everything but boring.
    Quote Originally Posted by LaughingSkull
    Whether or not the overall sound would be A aeolian, F lydian or G myxolydian depends on the amount of time each chord would be played, where would it end. Using this chords you can create each of the three modal vamps, providing you know how to bring out the sound of each mode. Take your time with F and it woudl be lydian, play Am for 1.5 bar then F and G quickly in nect half of bar, then back to Am ... aeolian. You get the picture.
    Well, probably correct, but the basic is imho: The C major over a Am chord is aeolian, over a F chord lydian and over G mixolydian. It is the combination of the chord and the scale that makes the modes.

    Another way of looking at it (in extremes) is: If the Am last for 2 min, the F for 2 min and the G for 2 min, try picth axis.

  10. #10
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    You have a strong tonal center with your progression, being A minor (or A aolian if you prefer). Aolian would probably sound the best for this kind of thing but someone extremely good at using modes could possibly pull it off the way you described but for the most part, I think your ear would refuse to hear it as correct. There is a way to remedy the problem though. You could make each of the chords modal. In other words, if you wanted to use mixolydian over the F chord, you could make it a mixolydian chord, like: F9sus or F13sus. For the G chord, if you wanted to make it lydian, you could change the chord into a Gmaj7#11 or some similar lydian family chord. It would work better with the chords stretched out for at least a few measures a piece. As triads, your ear will want to hear the whole thing in one key (A minor).

    -CJ

  11. #11
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeansen
    hello...i have tried to found threads about these actually, but i can't see any..so i think i will make new thread about my question...
    my question is: if i have this progression: Am F G , can i play modes/scale over that progression like this? :
    A aeolian for the Am chord
    F myxoldian for the F chord
    and G lydian for the G chord

    or should i strictly use only A aeolian over all chords in that progression? please explain it to me thx u

    btw, if there is any thread or articles or anything that discussed this before..please let me know..i would like to read it...thx u

    note: i wouldn't mind if anyone besides JonR want to answer my question...i just want to see his comment too...i really appreciate all of you..thx u
    Seeing as you asked my opinion... (although I might be repeating some of the above)...

    A sequence like Am-G-F is a standard sequence in A natural minor (A aeolian). There would normally be no good reason to switch scales. (a) it would sound wrong; and (b) it makes it more difficult! (You want more reasons?? )

    To say it's "in A minor" or "in A aeolian" just means that A will sound like the tonal centre, like the chord you want to finish on. It has no impact on scale pattern choice.
    You could choose any pattern of the C major scale - call it what mode you like - it makes no difference.
    Or, to be more precise, it will make a difference, but not a modal one.

    Whatever pattern you choose it will sound like A aeolian on Am, G mixolydian on G, F lydian on F - but you may not notice those sounds (esp if the chords don't last more than a bar), and it doesn't really matter.
    If you want to underline those modal sounds, you would accent the F note on the G chord (and on the Am), and the B note on the F. But (a) you may or may not like the sounds you get that way; and (b) that strategy may work against building good melodic lines across the chords, which is what matters.

    What should govern your choice of scale pattern is:
    1. how high or low on the neck do you want to go?
    2. which pattern offers the easiest ways to play the arpeggios of the chords?
    3. which pattern offers the easiest ways to play phrases you like?

    #2 is the most important. Any mode/pattern of the C major scale (any neck position) contains the requisite arpeggios, but some lend themselves better to playing off those arpeggios.

    The fact that it's in A aeolian means you will probably want to play off the A notes in whatever pattern you choose. Phrases ending on A will sound finished. A is the "period" on any musical sentence in that key/mode. Think of A as the gravitational centre, that you can pull away from for effect, but need to return to eventually. (Stay on it too long, you sound "grounded". Stay away from it too long, you are "flying", but may also sound lost or aimless.)
    The secondary notes are any other chord tone (on the current chord). After that, other scale notes (which are all chord tones from the other chords) are best as passing notes.

    I.e.:
    Code:
    CHORD  ARPEGGIO  PASSING NOTES
    
    Am      A C E     B D F G
    G       G B D     A C E F
    F       F A C     G B D E
    The fact that Am and F share 2 notes means that most of what you can play over Am will also work well over F. In fact, the whole A minor pent sounds good over F - and obviously over Am too. But it won't work over G.

    So you need to start from arpeggio notes - because they always fit. Obviously this means knowing how to find the arpeggios in each scale pattern - which in turn means knowing all your CAGED movable chord shapes.
    Plan a phrase to land on a chord tone on the next chord. Eg, on the Am chord, you could think of B as a target note on the G. You could start from A, C or E, play a scale line, and if it ends on B (or G or D) as the G chord starts, it will sound good. Plan something similar to get you from the G to the F chord, then from the F back to Am.

    A great example of simple lead phrases using this concept, over this very sequence, is Neil Young's "Like A Hurricane". Listen to the intro melody (actually the same as the vocal melody). It plays off chord tones on the Am (with passing scale notes between); hits a target D note on the G, plays a similar line from (and between) G chord tones; then plays a line on the F very like the first line on the Am. An element of sophistication is that the phrase on the F begins with an E note. That's the maj7 of the chord, which adds a special "wistful" character.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S6df...eature=related
    and here it is on keyboard, a little clearer:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1onkOGT8LU
    (The 4th chord is Em, btw, then another G before going back to Am.)

    This is basic stuff. Once you've done a few of these kind of exercises, you get an idea of what works, and of the effect of particular chord tones. (Eg, a 3rd has its own sound or character, diifferent from a 5th, and both are different in impact from a root.) So you start to get a vocabulary of expression. Then you can "push the envelope" - maybe go for non-chord tones. Hold (or repeat) a single note across all the chords, see if it works (some will, some won't). Add chromatic notes (outside the scale) in passing - see if you can get away with that (or look for strategies that let you get away with it - jazz players know them all ).
    You will also start to get an idea of what is "right" for any particular song. A phrase that sounds good on a blues or heavy rock number, might not work on a ballad (and vice versa), even tho the chords are all the same.
    You don't need rules spelled out for this, because you know what those kinds of music sound like. You know - at least once you've got past beginner-level improvisation - when you hit a note (or idea) that's wrong.

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    hello, everyone..thx u for replying my question..thx u so much... u all have added me a lot of new idea n knowledge..thx u so much

    JonR : ..i'm sorry, but i think u miss my point..i am not asking "what pattern to use over that progression"..but what i am asking for is : can i use any other modes/scale from unrelated keys for any chord in a progression as long as that scale/modes have the chord tones?

    as example:
    on that Am standard progression: Am F G

    ..can i use F myxolydian scale over that F chord since the F myxolydian have all of F triad chord tones? or can i use A harmonic minor over that Am chord, since the A harm.minor have all the Am triad chord tones?

    if i can't, why? i notice that Chris J has given me great explanation about this..(thx u so much,CJ )...but i really would like to read your comment too...

    i'm sorry if i am the one who misinterpret your explanation..please straighten my thinking to know what you really mean in your explanation above..
    thx u so much again

  13. #13
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeansen
    hello, everyone..thx u for replying my question..thx u so much... u all have added me a lot of new idea n knowledge..thx u so much

    JonR : ..i'm sorry, but i think u miss my point..i am not asking "what pattern to use over that progression"..but what i am asking for is : can i use any other modes/scale from unrelated keys for any chord in a progression as long as that scale/modes have the chord tones?

    as example:
    on that Am standard progression: Am F G

    ..can i use F myxolydian scale over that F chord since the F myxolydian have all of F triad chord tones? or can i use A harmonic minor over that Am chord, since the A harm.minor have all the Am triad chord tones?

    if i can't, why? i notice that Chris J has given me great explanation about this..(thx u so much,CJ )...but i really would like to read your comment too...

    i'm sorry if i am the one who misinterpret your explanation..please straighten my thinking to know what you really mean in your explanation above..
    thx u so much again
    You "can" do anything you want!
    As I said, if you use other modes/scales (that fit individual chords but not the overall tonality/key), (a) it will sound wrong (probably, but to varying degrees), and (b) make your life more difficult.
    This seems like a no-brainer to me.

    BUT - if you like the sounds of those "wrong" scales - then they are not wrong!
    IOW, you need to experiment along the lines you're suggesting and see if you like the sound. If there is no other context (no melody, no other band members to worry about), then you are free to find any sounds you like. There is no rule other than "make it sound good". (and "good" is down to your taste and opinion.)

    Normally, a composition (a chord sequence) derives from a key scale to begin with. That's why those particular chords have been put together: they all come from the same "family" (key scale), and you just have to identify what that is. That would be why other scales will sound "wrong".

    However, it is quite common (esp in jazz) for chord sequences to move through several different key centres, and occasionally one chord will need a scale that doesn't belong with those either. But still, I use the word "need". It's usually possible for any one chord to support 2 or 3 different scales (sometimes more). But that hardly ever means that all those options are equally valid. Almost always, only one of those options will sound right. That may or may not be the scale of the overall key; it may be a unique scale that works on that chord in that place.

    In short, what "sounds good" always depends on context. It's very rare to find a chord sequence where it sounds right to treat each chord as an isolated entity, unaffected by those before and after. (I don't think I've ever seen a sequence like that. The nearest I can think of is Miles Davis "Flamenco Sketches", which is a series of unrelated modal chords - no overall key centre. They don't relate to one another - but the scale for each chord is still clearly indicated.)

    So - while you "can" do anything you like; the question is: do you want to? Try it and see. Use trial and error to make an informed choice. Not all of what you "can" do is going to sound right to you.
    It doesn't really matter whether what sounds "right" to you fits some pre-ordained theory - although it almost certainly will.

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    hello, JonR ...thx u so much for answering my curiosity.. it means a lot... i do quiet understand it right now...thx a lot !! but i need to ask you something again...about this statement...
    However, it is quite common (esp in jazz) for chord sequences to move through several different key centres, and occasionally one chord will need a scale that doesn't belong with those either. But still, I use the word "need"
    could you explain me more about the word "need" and give me some example? thank u

    and one more ( please be patience with me ) ...it is me who misinterpret your first post explanation...so, if you don't mind, would you please just give me a quick explanation to me what you mean there by this sentences... how this methods related to my question earlier (about modes)? because i have read it again and again and i can't find the relation (or connection) between this methods with my question about modes...if you have time, please explain this valuable information to me...

    If you want to underline those modal sounds, you would accent the F note on the G chord (and on the Am), and the B note on the F. But (a) you may or may not like the sounds you get that way; and (b) that strategy may work against building good melodic lines across the chords, which is what matters.

    What should govern your choice of scale pattern is:
    1. how high or low on the neck do you want to go?
    2. which pattern offers the easiest ways to play the arpeggios of the chords?
    3. which pattern offers the easiest ways to play phrases you like?

    #2 is the most important. Any mode/pattern of the C major scale (any neck position) contains the requisite arpeggios, but some lend themselves better to playing off those arpeggios.

    .....

    btw, sorry for replying so late...i haven't got a chance to OL in the last few days...thx u again and sorry if i am asking bothering questions...
    Last edited by Jeansen; 09-24-2008 at 09:23 AM.

  15. #15
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeansen
    hello, JonR ...thx u so much for answering my curiosity.. it means a lot... i do quiet understand it right now...thx a lot !! but i need to ask you something again...about this statement...
    However, it is quite common (esp in jazz) for chord sequences to move through several different key centres, and occasionally one chord will need a scale that doesn't belong with those either. But still, I use the word "need"
    could you explain me more about the word "need" and give me some example? thank u
    I'm thinking of the example of an altered dominant.
    Eg, this sequence:
    Dm7b5 - G7#9 - Cm

    That's a standard ii-V-i sequence in C minor. The C minor scale will fit Dm7b5 and Cm, but not G7#9. If it was only G7, C harmonic minor would fit - but would not be the first choice of a conventional jazz improviser (they don't seem to like harmonic minor). The "#9" is an indication that this chord requires ("needs") the G altered scale.
    I guess it's not an absolute "need"! It's still only an "indication" to the soloist that that scale is the recommended one.
    G altered = G Ab A# B C# Eb F - nothing like C minor! (In fact it's the same notes as Ab melodic minor)
    Another scale that would fit (and a soloist might well choose) is the G half-whole diminished scale: G Ab A# B C# D E F. However, the usual indication for that scale would be "G7b9", or maybe "G13b9".

    Dom7 chords are the commonest place where these odd scales are employed - because they offer increased dissonance, and nice opportunities for half-step resolutions on to the next chord.

    Jazz musicians get used to spotting certain chord symbols which point to specific scale choices (which may or may not agree with what the surrounding key might be telling them). Eg:

    maj7#11 = lydian mode
    7#11 = lydian dominant (4th mode melodic minor)
    7#9, 7alt, 7#5#9, etc= altered scale
    7b9 = HW dim
    m6, m(maj7) = melodic minor
    9+, 9b5 = wholetone
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeansen
    and one more ( please be patience with me ) ...it is me who misinterpret your first post explanation...so, if you don't mind, would you please just give me a quick explanation to me what you mean there by this sentences... how this methods related to my question earlier (about modes)? because i have read it again and again and i can't find the relation (or connection) between this methods with my question about modes...if you have time, please explain this valuable information to me...
    OK, a bit of background might help... (some of this you may well know, so apologies in advance if that's the case)

    There is a common confusion which arises from the different ways in which people use the word "mode".
    There are essentially two meanings, which are related, but very confusing if mixed up:

    1. A tonality like a key, with a keynote and a specified set of intervals above. (The major key - previously known as Ionian mode - is one example of this meaning.)
    2. A way of re-arranging the notes of a common scale (eg major scale) so a different one is the root. (Thereby acheiving definition #1 )

    There is a 3rd meaning based on #2 which is commonly used in modern guitar teaching which further confuses the issue. Certain fret patterns are given mode names, based on what note is the lowest in the pattern.
    This idea is confusing, because you only get the mode in question (according to meanings #1 and #2) if the lowest note is also the root. The lowest note of a pattern may not be the root, this is the crucial point.

    So it's important you try and forget meaning #3!

    Your example sequence - Am-G-F - could be said to be "in A aeolian mode" or "in A natural minor". (Because that's the only set of notes that covers all the chords, and A seems to be the tonal centre.)
    So yes, you "use A aeolian mode" throughout. That's only the same as saying you "use the C major scale". That set of notes (A B C D E F G) extends over the whole neck and is available in various patterns. (Don't give them mode names unless you want to confuse yourself!)

    Now, in the unlikely event that each chord in that sequence lasts a long time - say 2 bars or more each - then you might start to get individual modal effects on each chord, depending on how you play the scale.
    Eg, if you are using all 7 notes freely, the sound on the F chord (if the chord lasts long enough) will start to acquire an "F lydian" sound. That happens regardless of what you do. But you could accentuate this modal sound, by going for the distinctive note in the scale, the "modal identifier". For lydian mode that's the #4 - B in this case.

    OK, now your question asked about using other modes on each chord. My answer is simply: you can use any scale you like! You don't even have to use a scale that contains all the chord tones. Of course, that will sound "out" (relative to the chord) and require great skill to make it sound good.
    If you use a scale that contains all the chord tones, but some notes not in the surrounding key/mode (such as F mixolydian on the F), then you are "inside" on the chord, but "outside" relative to the overall key/mode.
    Only you can judge whether that "sounds right" in the context you're using it.
    Eg, I can imagine a situation where F mixolydian would sound good on the F in that sequence (better than A aeolian/F lydian) - eg perhaps on a blues.
    But most of the time that's unlikely. (Even for a blues sound, A blues scale is probably a better choice for the F chord than F mixolydian - and F lydian dominant might be best of all.)
    The other option you mention - G lydian on the G - is a very different sound, although again there are times when that might work. You just have to experiment with these things.

    In short, your question seems to assume (understandably!) that theory has all the answers here. It does - but those answers are not prescriptions; they are not simple, direct solutions.
    If you find a situation where F mixolydian sounds good on an F chord in an Am-G-F sequence, then theory would be able to tell you why that is (given all the circumstances). Eg "it sounds good because you're getting a bluesy sound, which suits the tune." But to know beforehand, you would need to lay out all those circumstances (including the type of song, and the kind of sounds you like! ). The chord sequence on its own is not enough.

    For most improvisers, they do it through a little theory knowledge, and a lot of experimentation.
    A small amount of basic theory suggests there are a few straight paths you can follow, that are always "right"; and anything else is "wrong". As you experiment, you find there are side paths that seem to break the rules, but sound right. And vice versa - sometimes following the paths doesn't sound right (or sounds dull).
    This is not, in fact, breaking any rules - it's simply discovering more complicated rules. But that's the best way to do it: not by learning the complicated theory to start with, but by getting out there and finding out how stuff sounds. That way, you also discover what you like - which is an additional factor, beyond theory (well, almost...).
    Last edited by JonR; 09-24-2008 at 10:40 AM.

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