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Thread: Modal interchange question

  1. #1
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    Modal interchange question

    Hello, my friends

    When using modal interchange, most of the examples and explanations I see are relating major and minor parallel scales.
    But if one is working in one of the seven modes (Dorian, for example), how can it be applied?

    For example, if I'm working in D Dorian what should be the parallel scale to it?

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Hello, my friends

    When using modal interchange, most of the examples and explanations I see are relating major and minor parallel scales.
    But if one is working in one of the seven modes (Dorian, for example), how can it be applied?

    For example, if I'm working in D Dorian what should be the parallel scale to it?

    Thank you
    "Modal interchange" - as I understand it - means any of the other six parallel modes can be drawn from.
    I think that applies whether you're in a major or minor key or in one of the other modes.

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    "Modal interchange" - as I understand it - means any of the other six parallel modes can be drawn from.
    I think that applies whether you're in a major or minor key or in one of the other modes.
    I didn't understood your answer...sorry.

    Do you mean, if I'm working in D Dorian I can borrow chords from the harmonization started on the 2nd degree of the C minor scale?

    Or if I'm working in G Mixolydian (as an example), I can borrow chords from any of the minor modes?
    Last edited by rbarata; 04-29-2012 at 02:27 AM.

  4. #4
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Hello, my friends
    When using modal interchange, most of the examples and explanations I see are relating major and minor parallel scales.
    But if one is working in one of the seven modes (Dorian, for example), how can it be applied?

    For example, if I'm working in D Dorian what should be the parallel scale to it?

    Thank you
    I started to answer and then thought to let Jon go first as I really do not know what modal interchange is. But hitch hiking on his reply. If you think parallel, R-2-b3-4-5-6-b7 is Dorian just stay in the same key the rest of the guys are in.

    Course any mode works best over a modal vamp, i.e. no V-I cadence so get yourself a Dorian vamp going and help yourself to the notes of R-2-b3-4-5-6-b7.

    Check this out. http://scottsbasslessons.com/welcome-to-the-shed Click on the blank screen several times. Stay long enough to see how to play the notes of the modes, i.e. how to improvise using the modal notes. Playing all the modes over a droning E sound as the modal vamp, or if you prefer, pedal point.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 04-29-2012 at 12:20 AM.

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    Thanks for the video, Malcolm

    That guy plays a lot
    That's a very good explanation on how to see modes. I'm using the same approach. I use a sequencer with two tracks only: one for the guitar and another for the pedal tone.
    The sequence goes like this: in the pedal tone track (with a MIDI clip) I put only a songle C note and jam on top of it only with notes from the CMaj scale. Then I change the pedal tone to a single D and keep jamming only with CMaj scale notes (D Dorian), then change the pedal to a single E and play again something based on the CMaj scale to get E Phrygian, etc, etc.
    This way I'm trainning all the major scales on the fretboard and, simultaneously, I can get a good understanding on how the different modes sound. And I also can develop many technical skills that a guitar player needs (strengh, coordination, etc, etc).

    But my question is not related with how modes are constructed, it is something beyond that. Basically it's about how can I use chords from a specific mode into another mode.

    BTW, on the site you sent me, those lessons that he's advertising, are they supposed to be paid? I like that way how he teaches.

  6. #6
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    I didn't understood your answer...sorry.

    Do you mean, if I'm working in D Dorian I can borrow chords from the harmonization started on the 2nd degree of the C minor scale?
    Yes. That would be D locrian, so not a common choice, but I see no reason why not.
    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Or if I'm working in G Mixolydian (as an example), I can borrow chords from any of the minor modes?
    I see what you're asking. It doesn't have a to be a mode that's more "minor" than the one you're using.
    AFAIK, it literally means any chord from any other mode with the same root note.

    So in G mixolydian you could borrow chords from G ionian, G lydian, as well as G dorian, aeolian etc. Of course, borrowing chords from G ionian will tend to make it like a G major tune with chords borrowed from G mixolydian! But that really doesn't matter.
    This "modal interchange" concept is not much a set of rules or guidelines you can follow to compose something. It's more a way of analysing or explaining odd choices in existing music.
    IOW, when you choose an "outside" chord for your tune, you don't say "this is OK because it comes from parallel mode X"; you say "this is OK because it sounds right".
    Or - more importantly - you don't say "I can't use this chord because it doesn't come from any parallel mode"; you say "I can't use this chord because it sounds wrong" (wherever it comes from).

    Of course, you can use the concept as guidelines if you want, if it allows you to consider chords you might not otherwise think of. But the ear is still the final judge. That's what makes a chord "OK" or not, not any theoretical justification.
    If you want to know WHY a chord sounds "right", you may not get a satisfactory answer from any piece of theory. It's not the business of theory to answer that kind of question. (It may be down to psychology, or personal taste, or cultural heritage.)

  7. #7
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    BTW, on the site you sent me, those lessons that he's advertising, are they supposed to be paid? I like that way how he teaches.
    If you donate over $20 US you get access to and PDF's on everything he has on his site for free. Plus you get an E-mail on all the new stuff he adds.

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    Yes. That would be D locrian, so not a common choice, but I see no reason why not.
    This sentence caught my attention...I wasn't aware that the modes from the major scale could be found also in the minor scale. That's good to know.

    I see what you're asking. It doesn't have a to be a mode that's more "minor" than the one you're using.
    AFAIK, it literally means any chord from any other mode with the same root note.

    So in G mixolydian you could borrow chords from G ionian, G lydian, as well as G dorian, aeolian etc. Of course, borrowing chords from G ionian will tend to make it like a G major tune with chords borrowed from G mixolydian! But that really doesn't matter.
    But if I borrow a chord from any other mode wouldn't it "destroy" the mode I'm in?

    If you donate over $20 US you get access to and PDF's on everything he has on his site for free. Plus you get an E-mail on all the new stuff he adds.
    Thanks Malcolm.

  9. #9
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    This sentence caught my attention...I wasn't aware that the modes from the major scale could be found also in the minor scale. That's good to know.
    Well, the minor scale is a mode of major anyway... (and vice versa); that's what "relative" major and minor means .
    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    But if I borrow a chord from any other mode wouldn't it "destroy" the mode I'm in?
    Might depend how you do it.

    I can't be sure, but I would think that modal interchange between modes other than major and minor would be quite rare - simply because most modes (other than Ionian) are quite weak tonally, and when modern composers (at least) write in modes, one of the purposes would be to focus on that mode's distinctive qualities, to the exclusion of others.
    The use of chords from outside that mode (at least in modal jazz) will typically indicate a change to another mode.

    So you're right in general. I'd say only that modal interchange ought to be theoretically possible between any modes - but would be highly unusual between some.
    I.e. the idea of "destroying" the mode is a sound, a matter of aural judgement: which is the governing principle, as I said before. So if you think it sounds like that, then you wouldn't do it (unless you wanted to destroy it, that is...).

  10. #10
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    I will suggest to learn and memorize a different digitation for each of the 7 modes..

    You could also learn a couple of digitations for every mode (there are 2 wich are the most standart)

    This is important because this way you will have all the fretboard covered, and you wont have to relativize so much (or think so much).. also every digitation has its pros/cons/feel and will prompt you to play some way or another..

    For instance, the "3 notes per string" digitation of the Lydian mode that i use, is made in such a way that allows me to play a lot with semitone bendings, and that helps me in squeezing the feeling that I associate with lydian....

    every digitation will make you develop subjectively intrinsecal ideas like this, wich may be different when using em on their main tonality, or over any other diatonic tonality.. (for instance using B Mixolydian digitation over a A Lydian tonality)

    with time and practice you will forget about those digitations and just play it by instinct, but the process of memorization and study of it (how to connect em, how to pass from one to another) is necessary to develop your own way of playing..

    Also you could connect those digitations in your mind and over the fretboard, with the digitations of the pentatonic scale (very important) and the "super pentatonics" (wich I learned about on an article here in IBM), and probably the arpeggio digitations of your choice...

    all them will perfectly match up togheter, cause they are the same notes, but the intrinsecal ideas you will get of them could be different...

    It's on how you connect all this stuf on your head and on the fretboard wich makes a lot of your improvisational style... this, and the inspiration of the moment, right
    ---

    Playing C Maj/Ionian over a Dm drone will give you D Dorian, of course, but IMO it's better not to relativize so much..

    if the root is D, and the chord is D minor, and you want the cool Dorian sound, why relativize and call it Cmaj?

    Of course they are the same notes, but the tonal center is D, period

    Use whatever digitation you want, use Cmaj scale, use chord tones, use whatever and be aware of it, but call it D Dorian!


    What happens with modes is the functional harmony of chords changes in each of em... some are harder to work cause they dont have a V7 degree, but that does not mean they are imperfect or unworkable by themselves by any means, is just the chords lead differently to different places.. this is one of the virtues of Equal Temperament!

    ---

    About modal interchange, there is many ways to modulate from one mode/tonality to another... i find it most effective for doing three things:

    1-Diatonic modulations: changin the tonal center from one mode to another, but mantaining all the notes...

    2- Close modulation: modifying one of the chords so that it has one or few different notes, and use that as a pivot to stay on the tonality that that new chord implyes...

    it can be simple like changin from Ionian to Lydian.. (where just one note changes, it being the 4)

    or it can be a bit more complex and even happen on the root note of a diatonic chord, if the rest of notes are conserved; as in the typical example of substituting the m7b5 chord of Locrian, by a Maj7 chord half step below..

    For instance, if i was playing Dm9 - Cmaj, it will imply D Dorian..

    but then if you modify the corresponding m7b5 chord (Bm7b5->BbMaj7), and put it on that progression:

    Dm9 - Cmaj - Dm9 - Cmaj - BbMaj7

    at that point the tonal center will be BbLydian, but your original D Dorian will have also modulated to D Eolian!

    or if you prefeer to relativize it to the major scale, Your C Ionian will have modulated to C Mixolydian (see why relativizing is unnecesary..)

    All you do is move the root of that m7b5 back one semitone, and the chord will become a Maj7..


    3- Modulation to scales other that the modes of the Major Scale: for instance it is very easy to modulate from the "Natural Minor Scale" or Eolian, to Harmonic minor scale.. it is very easy to modulate from Dorian to Melodic Minor.. in this example just one note changes, so its very seamless

    or to put an example over the progression we just made

    Dm9 - Cmaj - Dm9 - Cmaj - BbMaj7 - Em9 - BbMaj7 - Em9

    Dm9 - Cmaj: D Dorian

    Bbmaj7: BbLydian

    Em9: BbLydian Augmented (a mode of the melodic minor..)

    ---

    That is just using chords diatonic to Major Scale, Melodic or Hamornic Minor modes.. if you take on account the diminished chords, the tritone subs and chormatisms, and other more wild scales and tonailityes, you can go pretty much wherever you want to go, and thats the point right?

    doing what sounds good to you!
    Last edited by ernzzz; 05-08-2012 at 11:42 PM.
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    I will suggest to learn and memorize a different digitation for each of the 7 modes..
    The way how I'm trainning modes was initially aimed at learning to distinguish the characteristic sounds of each mode (kind of ear trainning). But then I noticed that I could use the same exercise to learn different fingerings which also implies running all the fretboard. So, from one initial goal I got two more (without counting all the physical aspects of the trainning like stamina, finger strength, coordination, etc).

    For instance, the "3 notes per string" digitation of the Lydian mode that i use, is made in such a way that allows me to play a lot with semitone bendings, and that helps me in squeezing the feeling that I associate with lydian....
    Right! Different fingering allows you to play it differently...like you've said, it leads to different ideas.

    Also you could connect those digitations in your mind and over the fretboard, with the digitations of the pentatonic scale (very important) and the "super pentatonics" (wich I learned about on an article here in IBM), and probably the arpeggio digitations of your choice...
    Yes, I believe I've done that in the dorian piece I posted in another thread.

    if the root is D, and the chord is D minor, and you want the cool Dorian sound, why relativize and call it Cmaj?

    Of course they are the same notes, but the tonal center is D, period
    I believe this is something that comes naturally if you practice a lot of modes. Once again, it's like a ear trainning process.

    at that point the tonal center will be BbLydian, but your original D Dorian will have also modulated to D Eolian!
    It starts as a VIIš basis in the major mode (or a IIš in the minor) to become a bVII.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Hello, my friends

    ...if I'm working in D Dorian what should be the parallel scale to it?

    Thank you

    C major.

  13. #13
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    For example, if I'm working in D Dorian what should be the parallel scale to it?
    Just to correct ceilr above: a "parallel scale" is one with the same keynote, or root note.
    For D dorian, D major is the "parallel major"; C major is the "relative major".

    - and there could be various other parallel "modes" or "scales" - in fact, more than there are relative modes. That's because relative modes use the same 7 notes; so there can only be 7 different relative modes of the same set of notes.

    But with parallel modes or scales, you can have many more than 7.
    So there's all the D-root modes of 7 different major scales (D dorian, D aeolian, etc). Then D-root modes of 7 harmonic minor scales; then melodic minor... and various other scales...

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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Just to correct ceilr above: a "parallel scale" is one with the same keynote, or root note.
    For D dorian, D major is the "parallel major"; C major is the "relative major"....
    Oops, my bad; thanks for the correction. (Clearly something else was on my mind!)

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