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Thread: Modes.. Scales... and Improvisation

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Modes.. Scales... and Improvisation

    Many wonder what "scales" to lay over chords and progressions.. This is certainly one way to approach practice.. yet the retrograde or reverse applies as good and well.. Meaning what? lol

    Meaning play a line.. scale.. modal statements and look for "chords" ( and statements ) to play with them. This is a Mixolydian statement..


    Those of you that already know this one will surely recognize it from two songs.. Scarlet Begonias and Fire On The Mountain... For everyone else, please don't look these Grateful Dead songs up on Youtube, UNTIL you've diddled around with this and find various approaches to it.

    I often take this approach in music.. well I've been using this approach for quite a few decades now.. Listening to Grateful Dead recordings of live shows and especially the "Space" segments... illustrates this, right on stage with a band.

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Deep East Texas Piney Woods
    As you used the bottom four strings I switched over to my bass way of thinking. Perhaps it will illustrate how you decided on what notes to use.

    Your tab as I see it in B Mixolydian: Notes B–C#–D#–E–F#–G#–A and then scale degrees R-2-3-4-5-6-b7.

    R-3-5-8|b7-3-b7-2|8-b7-2-4|8-b7-3-R|| In this format it's generic and now can be moved into any key you like. Place the R and play the pattern - it'll give you a Mixolydian lick in any key you like.

    • Measure 1 - R-3-5-8 sets us up as a major lick.
    • Measure 2 - b7-3-b7-2 keeps the major 3 going and introduces the b7 charistic note of Mixolydian.
    • Measure 3 - 8-b7-2-4 --- 8 which is the root in the next octave followed with the b7 again is a strong Mixolydian choice. The 2-4, are best used as passing notes .... moving along....
    • Measure 4 - 8-b7-3-R, good return to the tonic R to end the lick.

    Good example of how to break up a mode into solo notes, i,e. not relying upon modal notes in order to function as a tune, or lick. The question is always how do I play them so they do not sound like a modal exercise. Your post addressed that.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Major Scale Box Pattern
    E|---7---|--R(8)-|-------|---2---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---| 6th string
    Major modes
    Ionian same as the Major Scale. R-2-3-4-5-6-7
    Lydian use the major scale and sharp the 4 - yes, it’s that simple. R-2-3-#4-5-6-7
    Mixolydian use the major scale and flat the 7. R-2-3-4-5-6-b7

    Minor Modes
    Aeolian same as the Natural Minor scale. Major scale and flat the 3, 6 & 7, or R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7
    Dorian use the Natural Minor scale and sharp the b6 back to a natural 6. R-2-b3-4-5-6-b7
    Phrygian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2. R-b2-b3-4-5-b6-b7
    Locrian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2 and the 5. R-b2-b3-4-b5-b6-b7
    Last edited by Malcolm; 07-02-2012 at 12:35 AM.

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