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Thread: modes and dual functioning chords

  1. #1
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    modes and dual functioning chords

    If a mode is determined by the chord--for example, playing the C major scale over a Dmin chord produces a Dorian mode--then what happens if the chord has a dual function?

    Take the following chord progression:

    F - Am7 - D7 - Gm7 - C7 - F(9)


    Here, Am7 could be heard as the III-7 chord, or as II-7/V7/II.

    So, how do I control whether my mode is heard as a Phrygian mode or a Dorian mode?

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    You are way over your head. First things first. Go back and start over.
    Modal music is played over modal vamps.
    Tonal music is played over a chord progression.

    So that chord progression you are talking about --- F - Am7 - D7 - Gm7 - C7 - F(9 - take that to a modal vamp and then we can talk.

    There are several papers that branch out from this string. http://www.riddleworks.com/modes2.html#top
    Last edited by Malcolm; 06-30-2011 at 10:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    Modal music is played over modal vamps.
    Tonal music is played over a chord progression.
    The more I read and learn, the more I agree with you. What I don't yet understand is why some "chord scale" theorists seem to think otherwise. The progression I presented above was taken from a very well-known book, based on the teachings of a very well known school. Yet, the more I learn the less I appreciate that book. It almost seems that it is pure theory without practical application.

    That's why I asked the question.

  4. #4
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Malcolm is right. You are trying to define modal setting using functional harmony progressions. Modal music doesn't work that way. In fact, functional harmony makes any modal reference impossible.

    If you do a search for "modal vamp" you'll find lot's of examples.

    Personally, I think modes are overrated but YMMV

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    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    The more I read and learn, the more I agree with you. What I don't yet understand is why some "chord scale" theorists seem to think otherwise. The progression I presented above was taken from a very well-known book, based on the teachings of a very well known school. Yet, the more I learn the less I appreciate that book. It almost seems that it is pure theory without practical application.

    That's why I asked the question.
    Often times mode names are used as short-hand to describe functional chord scales. Don't read to much into it. Chord scales is a different thing - the use of modes names is unfortunate but some people make that reference so be careful. Chances are that some of us have direct experience with that "very well known school" - so you don't need to obscure the reference. Throw out what ever info you've got on the school name and the reference - and we'll help you sort it out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    Often times mode names are used as short-hand to describe functional chord scales.
    Ah. Okay so we're really talking about two different things--chord-scales are scales intimately linked to chords, that compliment their functionality; whereas modes are scales intimately linked to chords to supply a modal mood. Is that right?

  7. #7
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Ah. Okay so we're really talking about two different things--chord-scales are scales intimately linked to chords, that compliment their functionality; whereas modes are scales intimately linked to chords to supply a modal mood. Is that right?
    So far so good. But there's more to differentiate the two. Chord scales are built up from chord tones + extensions + avoid notes (everything relative to the chord and based on the chord's function within some tonality). Modes may use the same note set but technically don't have avoid notes and operate more closely to a seven note chord with no such thing as avoid notes. It's typically the kind of thing you can skip altogether until you fall in love with some modal tune and just have to sort out how to improve over it. Even then the functional harmony rules carry more weight overall. Generally with modes if you have to ask - your not ready. I've personally never found modes an attractive alternative and prefer to think in terms of chord scales. But to each his own I guess.

    cheers,

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    Chord scales are built up from chord tones + extensions + avoid notes (everything relative to the chord and based on the chord's function within some tonality). Modes may use the same note set but technically don't have avoid notes and operate more closely to a seven note chord with no such thing as avoid notes.
    Let me see. If I have a Dm7 chord, D F A C,

    a mode would be Dorian

    D, E, F, G, A, B, C

    with no avoid notes, and a chord-scale would be

    D, E, F, G, A, B, C

    avoid?

  9. #9
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Let me see. If I have a Dm7 chord, D F A C,

    a mode would be Dorian

    D, E, F, G, A, B, C

    with no avoid notes, and a chord-scale would be

    D, E, F, G, A, B, C

    avoid?
    Try is with anything except IIm7 (Dorian) and IVmaj7 (Lydian) - those two have no avoid notes but every other chord scale does.

    There was a thread not long ago where we got pretty deeply into extensions vs avoid notes. I think rbarata started the thread maybe it was named "Major 11th chords" - here's the link http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...ad.php?t=18730
    Last edited by Jed; 07-01-2011 at 02:00 AM.

  10. #10
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Ah. Okay so we're really talking about two different things--chord-scales are scales intimately linked to chords, that compliment their functionality; whereas modes are scales intimately linked to chords to supply a modal mood. Is that right?
    Yes!

    Let's make this as simple as possible. Or at least let's try to cut through all the chaft and get to something we can use in our music. We use a mode for it's mood. Getting that mood depends on the chords we play under the mode. You are hung up on avoid notes, using the following you can forget about avoid notes - if you follow what is outlined below there are no avoid notes.

    I'm going to use the C major / Am analogy to make my point. C major and Am have the same notes and same chords what decides if the song is major or minor? Notes are the same, chords are the same. Good question. If the song revolves around the minor chords (Am, Dm, Em) the song will have a minor flavor and if the song revolves around the major chords (C, F, G) the song will have a major flavor. Same with modes - the mood of the mode depends on the modal vamp being played under the mode's notes - and the characteristic note of the mode droning in the modal vamp.

    Check this out; http://www.riddleworks.com/modalharm3.html

    Now what mood does a mode have. Well that gets a little personal. Some lump all the minor modes into a sad category. I do not hear sad with Dorian. I hear an attractive jazz sound with Dorian. Lydian is so close to the major scale I really have a problem deciding what mood Lydian gives. It is said to produce a day dreamy mood. The following is a starting place.

    Ionian - now Ionian is the major scale, it is a little hard to go beyond the fact that Ionian is the major scale, i.e. it's hard to make Ionian a mode of the major scale because it is THE MAJOR SCALE. The major scale gives an attractive up beat mood. If you want that mood use the major scale and one of the cookie cutter chord progressions that go with the major scale.

    Lydian - we talked about this above. The characteristic note of Lydian is the #4. That #4 is what gives Lydian it's mood. A modal vamp for Lydian can consist of the tonic chord plus one more chord having the #4 in it's make up. One more point to throw into the mix. The vocalist does a real good job of setting the mood and normally the vocalist will be singing over a chord progression letting her/his voice set the mood. Now when the lead is passed to your instrument you should continue this mood. How are you going to do that? If the guys will lay down a modal vamp while you are taking your lead break - no problem, however, if the guys continue with the same ole chord progression that was used for the vocalist - good luck - the chord progression is going to call attention to the tonal center, not the modal mood. Read that again there is more to this modal stuff than just what you play.

    OK - it's a paradigm shift that you must get your head around. Here are the other moods.

    Mixolydian gives a Latin or Blues mood depending on the chords used. With a normal blues all dominant seven chord progression you get a Blues mood, however with a modal vamp using the tonic chord and a chord with a b7 in it's makeup you get the Latin mood. I hear Mexican, not Spanish.

    Dorian we talked about - Dorian's characteristic note is the natural 6.

    Phrygian gives the exotic Spanish mood. Perhaps Middle Eastern. It's characteristic note is the b2.

    Aeolian is the natural minor scale and does give a sad mood. It being the natural minor scale it can go both ways - modal or tonal. The characteristic note is the b6.

    Locrian is the diminished mode. It is said to give a dark, tense mood. Now it's modal vamp is best done with just the m7b5 chord droning in the background, i.e. it's modal vamp is just one chord. It's characteristic note is the b5.

    Now up pops the devil. There will be more than one chord in each scale/key with the characteristic note in it's make up, i.e. if you are looking for a chord with the natural 6 you will find more than one. I have yet to find a "rule" that tells you which chord to use in your vamp. Your ear decides. Just make sure the chord you decide to use has the characteristic note in it's make up. AND you want a droning effect. A one or two chord vamp gets that very nicely more than two you are getting into tonal center.

    Like I said it's a paradigm shift, so let this mull around for awhile.

    Major scale = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, same notes as Ionian.
    Lydian ......= 1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, 7, one note difference.
    Mixolydian = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7, one note difference.

    Aeolian = 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7, same as the natural minor scale.
    Dorian = 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7, one note difference.
    Phrygian = 1, b2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7, one note difference.
    Locrian = 1, b2, b3, 4, b5, b6, b7. Now we have two notes different here.

    By the way - that's parallel modes, you think in relative modes. Both get to the same spot, just take different roads. I find parallel much easier to use. Take your pick. A Google on parallel modes and/or pitch axis will give you more information. http://www.riddleworks.com/modalharm2.html

    That harmonization chart may need a little explanation if you are like me and rely upon lower case for minor chords and upper case for major chords. First it is stacking 3rds of the mode's notes, that may throw you and then it only uses upper case and the - sign to signify a minor chord with a flatted 7th.

    If you want a major mode (Lydian or Mixolydian) take the major scale and change one note.
    If you want a minor mode (Aeolian, Dorian, Phrygian or Locrian) take the natural minor scale and change one note. Remember Aeolian is the same as the natural minor scale and with Locrian you will change two notes.

    Now that is easy to use and you can forget about avoid notes. However, the rest of that story is what do you do with the modal notes, if you run them in order it is going to sound like a scale exercise, i.e. how do you make melodic phrases from them. Yep, it always gets around to some one has to play the tune.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NehOx...feature=relmfu Hal is talking to a Masters Class, i.e. what you do first is let the melody be your guide.

    Another story, best taken up on another string.


    Good luck.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 07-01-2011 at 09:18 AM.

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    Okay. Thank you all for the information. Let me now come back to three questions that came up as a result of this discussion.

    1) Apparently there is no concern for avoid notes in modes. However, in chord-scales there can be. Is this because the avoid note(s) will "dilute" functionality?

    2) Leaving modes altogether and focusing on chord-scales, won't I run into a similar problem I had with modes; that is, if my chords are changing too quickly in a progression, how can a chord-scale over a particular chord really be established in the ear of the listener?

    3) and lastly, coming back to the original question--but with chord-scales in mind instead of modes--if the chord is in the position in a progression where it can have two different functions, how does one have time to take one of two different chord-scales and establish its sound in the ear of the listener?

  12. #12
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Okay. Thank you all for the information. Let me now come back to three questions that came up as a result of this discussion.

    1) Apparently there is no concern for avoid notes in modes. However, in chord-scales there can be. Is this because the avoid note(s) will "dilute" functionality?
    Exactly. Since the avoid notes interfere with the chord function, the resulting sound will blur the chord function and sound like random diatonic notes or worse if you happen to end a phase on an avoid note.

    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    2) Leaving modes altogether and focusing on chord-scales, won't I run into a similar problem I had with modes; that is, if my chords are changing too quickly in a progression, how can a chord-scale over a particular chord really be established in the ear of the listener?
    Are you thinking you have to play every note in the chord scale over each chord? That would be an error in logic. If you want to outline the chords - you focus on chord tones - especially the 3rds and 7ths (for jazz). When you want more freedom and want not to be limited by that (strict chord tone) sound - you can use the chord scale's extensions. But even then, each degree of the chord scale has a unique sound and effect - Ranging from the structural sound of the 1st & 5th, to the color of the 3rd & 7th, to the longing of the 9th and 13th (over major) or 9th and 11th (over minor), to the edge of dissonance of the #11 (major) or 13th (minor).

    Don't think of this in a formulaic way other than to say: staying close to the chords means chord tones, moving further outside of a strict harmonic outline but still well within the harmonic function means chord tones + extensions. The idea is learn to think, see and hear the chord scale as the chord . . . . just more fully developed.

    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    3) and lastly, coming back to the original question--but with chord-scales in mind instead of modes--if the chord is in the position in a progression where it can have two different functions, how does one have time to take one of two different chord-scales and establish its sound in the ear of the listener?
    This rarely happens in my experience. Can you provide an example? If such did occur - you'd have a choice of keeping the functionality of the former tonality or leading the audience towards some new tonality - all by choice of chord scale. Remember each chord scale is tied uniquely to one chord function. In addition, there are chord scales beyond those derived from the major scale. The chords scales derived from the major scale are the most powerful and easiest to use, but there are other options in some cases.


    Maybe we're getting lost in the language. If you have a way to record a progression, try a few different approaches
    1) play just the 3rds and 7ths over each chord
    2) repeat using just the chord tones - 1, 3, 5 & 7
    3) repeat using just the 9ths and 13ths (major) of 9ths and 11th's (minor)
    4) repeat using just the upper structure tones - 5, 7, 9, 13 (or 11 for minor)

    It's a boring exercise but you'll hear the effect of the various chord tones vs extensions over the changes - and you'll hear the difference between staying close to the chords and moving just off the chords. There is a lot of freedom and a lot of potential using the chord scales even without the avoid notes.
    cheers,
    Last edited by Jed; 07-02-2011 at 12:25 AM.

  13. #13
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    It sounds like you are trying to wrestle with an intellectual rationalization for something that your ears would be better at explaining. This isn't uncommon among music theory students from time to time (it happens to us all every now and then). The thing to remember is that your ears are always the final arbiter. If it sounds good it is good - regardless of whether or not you brain and mouth can explain it. As your ears grow, so to will your need to intellectualize - but it's easier once the sounds are in your head.

    I'd suggest you spend some time working on chord tone improvisation - start with triads first and then bit by bit explore the chord extensions. This way you'll build real aural experience and evidence to support your own logic for what works and what doesn't. The mental part is easy once you've got the sounds into your head. But until that point the arbitrary logic of music theory can sometimes seem like nonsense.

    cheers,

    PS Once you get comfortable with triad chord tone improv, you can explore pentatonics over each chord. Note that pentatonics are just generalized chord scales - with one pentatonic (chord) scale per chord type rather than the more granular heptatonic chord scales where there is a unique chord scale per chord function.
    Last edited by Jed; 07-01-2011 at 06:51 PM.

  14. #14
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Okay. Thank you all for the information. Let me now come back to three questions that came up as a result of this discussion.

    1) Apparently there is no concern for avoid notes in modes. However, in chord-scales there can be. Is this because the avoid note(s) will "dilute" functionality?
    I leave this to the other guys/
    2) Leaving modes altogether and focusing on chord-scales, won't I run into a similar problem I had with modes; that is, if my chords are changing too quickly in a progression, how can a chord-scale over a particular chord really be established in the ear of the listener?
    You have already had the answer to this, I'll just add. You play as much of the chord tone as necessary. Two chords per measure in 4/4 time - you only have 2 beats for each chord. Your choice, most of the time R-R on one then R-R on the other, or R-3 on one and R-b7 on the other - in the overall scheme of things it's going by so fast it really does not matter which notes just stay with as many chord tones as makes since.
    3) and lastly, coming back to the original question--but with chord-scales in mind instead of modes--if the chord is in the position in a progression where it can have two different functions, how does one have time to take one of two different chord-scales and establish its sound in the ear of the listener?
    How often does this happen? Don't worry about it right now. Go practice, by the time it does come up you will have already figured it out. Most songs pick a key and stay with it through out the complete song.

    Have fun.

  15. #15
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    You play as much of the chord tone as necessary. Two chords per measure in 4/4 time - you only have 2 beats for each chord. Your choice, most of the time R-R on one then R-R on the other, or R-3 on one and R-b7 on the other - in the overall scheme of things it's going by so fast it really does not matter which notes just stay with as many chord tones as makes since
    Is the OP asking about bass lines? I thought it was a general improv query.

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