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Thread: Modes. Why is it so hard?

  1. #16
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    They examples I gave you for the song Greensleeves represent something that is totaly Diatonic and in a natural scale.(Except for the brief harmonic minor). You said that you wanted to write songs like this. You used Greensleeves and Scarebarough Fair as references. These songs are not at all Phrygian or modal to the extent you are saying now.They are modal only to the extent of the most basic level of Theory. Now you are saying that you want to write stuff that is not diatonic? Is that what you are saying? Cause that is a different thing.

  2. #17
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    i'm going to read your PM in a second. but in response to this post...

    greensleeves and scarborough fair are in the natural minor, correct? (also called aeolian mode.) that being the case, these songs use the diatonic chords of their relative major.

    -->keep in mind, one of the things i've been trying to *cement* in my mind is the general law for how to harmonize modes and what happens when you do so. i recently was told by you and someone else in that other thread that harmonizing any mode of the major scale will result in the *same diatonic chords of that major key* but in a different sequence.

    so knowing this fact (which is new to me--i had been thinking about it in the wrong way), we can say that greensleeves is in E aeolian, which means it uses the G major diatonic chord set, but that it treats the e minor chord (the vi chord) as the tonic chord.

    if this is true, i can extract a general law of modal progreessions from this fact. (whether the results will always sound 'good' or whether a vamp would sound better is a seperate matter.)

    law: to write a modal-sounding song or chord progression, take the major key diatonic chord set, but treat one of the other chords as the tonic chord. the chord you choose as your tonic relates to the mode associated with it. for example using the iii as the tonic will lead to phrygian sounding progressions, one reason being that the IV major chord occurs one half-step away from it.
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

  3. #18
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fortymile
    i'm going to read your PM in a second. but in response to this post...

    greensleeves and scarborough fair are in the natural minor, correct? (also called aeolian mode.) that being the case, these songs use the diatonic chords of their relative major.
    Actually they are in the minor key. Only the first chord is in Aeolian mode. Los Boleros

    -->keep in mind, one of the things i've been trying to *cement* in my mind is the general law for how to harmonize modes and what happens when you do so. i recently was told by you and someone else in that other thread that harmonizing any mode of the major scale will result in the *same diatonic chords of that major key* but in a different sequence.
    basically modes are natural scales in different order and relating to a different root Los Boleros

    so knowing this fact (which is new to me--i had been thinking about it in the wrong way), we can say that greensleeves is in E aeolian, which means it uses the G major diatonic chord set, but that it treats the e minor chord (the vi chord) as the tonic chord.
    it would be more correct to say that the are in minor keys Los Boleros

    if this is true, i can extract a general law of modal progreessions from this fact. (whether the results will always sound 'good' or whether a vamp would sound better is a seperate matter.)

    law: to write a modal-sounding song or chord progression, take the major key diatonic chord set, but treat one of the other chords as the tonic chord. the chord you choose as your tonic relates to the mode associated with it. for example using the iii as the tonic will lead to phrygian sounding progressions, one reason being that the IV major chord occurs one half-step away from it.
    Yes. That is one concept. Like the example you had with Louie Louie being in Mixolydian.
    Last edited by Los Boleros; 12-04-2004 at 10:47 PM.

  4. #19
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    ok, well, why is it more correct to say they are in minor keys?

    aeolian mode is the natural minor scale. which is also the scale you get if you go down to a relative minor of a major key and play the scale from there.

    that being the case, it seems like its just 'convention' to say that these songs are in minor key. they are, of course. and minor key is the proper term to use because most people use that term. but for the purpose of understanding all of this mode stuff once and for all, thinking of those songs as being in either the aeolian mode OR in a minor key has got to equal the same thing, in the end, in terms of how the chords are functioning. if not, why? whats the physical, mechanical difference? if there isn't one, then this all makes sense to me. the chords of a minor key song follow the chords of the aeolian mode. it seems to me.

    getting all the minor details straight and fitting into one broad framework of understanding seems crucial to understanding modes. you can't be left with little hanging questions or you walk away doubting you've understood it completely, and then you end up working without confidence. so i apologize for dragging this into the ground, but it's an important detail.
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

  5. #20
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    "so knowing this fact (which is new to me--i had been thinking about it in the wrong way), we can say that greensleeves is in E aeolian, which means it uses the G major diatonic chord set, but that it treats the e minor chord (the vi chord) as the tonic chord.
    it would be more correct to say that the are in minor keys Los Boleros"


    ---at this point i don't care what's more correct to say. i care if this is true or not. this is a very important point that has the potential to clear everything up for me.

    if it's an un-true point, i need to understand why.
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

  6. #21
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fortymile
    . but for the purpose of understanding all of this mode stuff once and for all, thinking of those songs as being in either the aeolian mode OR in a minor key has got to equal the same thing, in the end, in terms of how the chords are functioning. if not, why? whats the physical, mechanical difference?
    The song is in a key and in this case it is E minor. The seven modes within this key are but subdivisions. You would refer to Aeolian when you are speaking of the Chord Em. When the Chord changes to D, you are still in E minor scale but can begin to analize it as D Mixolydian at that point. There are other types of progressions that are said to be in a certain mode as the key. Take Em A7. over this progression you can apply E Dorian over the whole progression but this is different from the basic modal theory. (Playing modes over progressions rather than chord of the moment)

  7. #22
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    you know more theory than i.

    but it looks like, i think, you are coming at this from the position of 'what mode works over this progression?' whereas i am talking about 'what mode can you can you say the chord progression itself falls completely within (as far as the sequence of chords, which depends on which chord is singled out as the tonic)'

    that is really the only thing i am trying to figure out. i dont really care about soloing aspects at all right now. either we are both right and there's different ways to talk about it, or i'm just not getting something.

    a chord progression such as:

    Emin, Fmaj, Gmaj (a simple three chord 'phrygian' progression in my book) ...can have the E phrygian scale played over the entire progression. so you would call this progression a phrygian progression. how can you not? yes it's in the key of C, but how can you not call the whole thing phrygian?

    i thought greensleeves worked the same way, but in aeolian. but i havent analyzed it yet.

    this is why modes are so hard. it looks like it should be as i am envisioning it, but i am getting a 'no' but not a 'why not'

    i mean, a progression written in c major could be said to be in the ionian mode. it's notes and thus its chords all come from ionian. so why wouldn't a progression written in A minor be said to be in the aeolian mode?

    it is true that sheet music using the above progression (e minor, f maj, g maj) would have to include in the key signature 'no sharps or flats' and so someone analyzing the key signature would say 'hey, that's in C. alright.' but the tonic chord is Eminor. your ear is treating that as the tonic center, and theres that F major chord there, and anyone hearing those two chords together with a resolve from Fmaj to Eminor is going to say 'by god that's phrygian. i'd stake my life on it.'

    it's the signature phrygian progression. you can say that progression is in the key of C, but how can you ignore its distinct modal flavor with that weird flat II chord right above the tonic Eminor? that chord doesnt happen in a minor key or in a major key.

    i guess what i'm trying to argue is that even using a diatonic chord set, the perception of where the tonic chord is sort of has to define the mode the progression is based on.

    if this is wrong, you seem to be saying it is, then i must retire, and admit that i still dont understand modes.
    Last edited by fortymile; 12-05-2004 at 06:43 AM.
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by fortymile
    you know more theory than i.

    but it looks like, i think, you are coming at this from the position of 'what mode works over this progression?' whereas i am talking about 'what mode can you can you say the chord progression itself falls completely within (as far as the sequence of chords, which depends on which chord is singled out as the tonic)'

    that is really the only thing i am trying to figure out. i dont really care about soloing aspects at all right now. either we are both right and there's different ways to talk about it, or i'm just not getting something.

    a chord progression such as:

    Emin, Fmaj, Gmaj (a simple three chord 'phrygian' progression in my book) ...can have the E phrygian scale played over the entire progression. so you would call this progression a phrygian progression. how can you not? yes it's in the key of C, but how can you not call the whole thing phrygian?[coler=red] In the example Em F G, the key sig is the key of C. the modes over the chord of the moment are Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian. If you wanted to call it the key of e phrygian, there is no harm in it at all. I believe that there are alot of guys that would understand that. If you are looking for what mode those chords belong to, you could say they belong to all seven modes. But you are using E phrygian because it has a tendency to resolve to E as a whole. Believe me I understand your thinking. So far this whole dilema has only been in translation and the outcome has not been effected. Typically when I play with other musicians, and the topic of key comes up, the key has never been in Phrygian although many songs play Em F G. That being said, we can probably lay this to rest as it doesn't really matter what you call it.Music is still the same.[/color]

    i thought greensleeves worked the same way, but in aeolian. but i havent analyzed it yet.

    this is why modes are so hard. it looks like it should be as i am envisioning it, but i am getting a 'no' but not a 'why not'the reasong greensleeves is in Em is because it does not resolve to G there fore it is not the key of G major. There is only one sharp and this can only be G major ir E minor.

    i mean, a progression written in c major could be said to be in the ionian mode. it's notes and thus its chords all come from ionian. so why wouldn't a progression written in A minor be said to be in the aeolian mode?[code] You can say this, really you can. As long as people understand, its kool. The Key is determined by the sharps and flats in the key signature. The modes are the different references as they apply to the chords of the moment. A song in A minor can be said to start in Ionian mode if the first chord is Am If the next chord is Dm then the new mode is D Dorian.[/color]



    it is true that sheet music using the above progression (e minor, f maj, g maj) would have to include in the key signature 'no sharps or flats' and so someone analyzing the key signature would say 'hey, that's in C. alright.' but the tonic chord is Eminor. your ear is treating that as the tonic center, and theres that F major chord there, and anyone hearing those two chords together with a resolve from Fmaj to Eminor is going to say 'by god that's phrygian. i'd stake my life on it.' It is totally possible to have a song that does not resolve to its key note. Calling it the key of E phrygian can help describe the feel for the song but if you are working with compitent musicians and you just say the chords are Em F G, That's all he/she needs to know. You could write a song that has just the Em F G but if you wanted to add a bridge and include Am or C, you could at any moment. Just because you chose not to does not mean it is not in the key of Am/CMajor.

    it's the signature phrygian progression. you can say that progression is in the key of C, but how can you ignore its distinct modal flavor with that weird flat II chord right above the tonic Eminor? that chord doesnt happen in a minor key or in a major key.Yes it does, it happens everytime you go from F to Em

    i guess what i'm trying to argue is that even using a diatonic chord set, the perception of where the tonic chord is sort of has to define the mode the progression is based on.

    if this is wrong, you seem to be saying it is, then i must retire, and admit that i still dont understand modes. It is Technically wrong but mechanically right.
    .....

  9. #24
    some guy Doug McMullen's Avatar
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    Well, I promised myself I'd stay out of this... but promises get broken.

    40mi:

    law: to write a modal-sounding song or chord progression, take the major key diatonic chord set, but treat one of the other chords as the tonic chord. the chord you choose as your tonic relates to the mode associated with it. for exampleusing the iii as the tonic will lead to phrygian sounding progressions, one reason being that the IV major chord occurs one half-step away from it.
    Your law is correct in my opinion... but what does "treat" one of the chords as a tonic chord mean?... what does it mean to "use" the iii as the tonic? THAT'S the interesting part... how do you do that? A big part of the answer IMO is melody.

    I would guess that you hear Em F G as a clearly phyrigian progression because you are playing the chords in root position and hearing the root movement as a melody.

    Consider this:

    Em is a common substitute for C major (Em (EGB) = CMaj7(no root) (C)EGB) ... so Em F G is very very close to C F G. The common as dirt I IV V of C F and G. Your modal progression could be used to harmonize a bajillion melodies, not just phyrgian melody.

    The question is how does E get to be heard as the tonic of song. It all hinges on those words "treat" and "use."

    It's not just a matter of proclaiming E to be the tonic, it has to be 'treated' that way -- melodically and harmonically -- the tonic isn't so much chosen as it is created by the music.

    Look at harmonic and melodic minor -- why did those scales get invented? Why is natural minor, as a key, quite rare? The answer is, "treating" A as the tonic of a C major scale, turning C major into A minor is A LOT easier if you give A the support of a "leading tone" -- that is, G#. In order to "treat" A as the tonic, classical composers rejiggered the scale. As it turns out this has interesting harmonic and melodic consequences as well.

    Hope this makes sense. Your law is correct in that it works "in theory"... but getting it to work in actual musical situations is more complex and more interesting.

    In this entire discussion of modal chord progressions my feeling is that you are missing a lot by thinking only in terms chord progression without reference to melody. I'm sure you can play C F G (or Em F G) in a variety of ways on the guitar to get a variety of sounds... some of that variety comes from the way, by using different voicings of the chords, you get different melodic movement between the chords.

    Hope this helped.

    OOOP... actually, I've just noticed that in your law you are insisting on restricting yourself to a diatonic set of chords -- scratch what I said about your law being correct. Why do we have to restrict ourselves to diatonic chords? Why?
    Doug.
    Last edited by Doug McMullen; 12-05-2004 at 06:08 PM.

  10. #25
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    ...because i am trying to find the most basic truth that i can about modal chord progressions and i heard it was best to start with the basics and not get too advanced right away. recently i learned that in "harmonizing the modes," you end up with the same set of major key chords, just rearranged in a different order. previously, i had thought for some reason that you ended up with different chord types. your "why does it have to be diatonic?" thing at the end there confuses me. how can the modes be anything BUT diatonic? they're built from the major scale, so all the chords in a modal progression must be the diatonic chords, right?

    thanks for jumping in, doug. thanks for continuing to hack away at this, los boleros.

    but how can i be right according to doug and wrong according to los boleros?

    doug, i see what you mean about emin, f, g as being almost identical to c, f, g. hadn't thought of that. i just assumed that the emin, f, g progression in my example would be 'treated' as resolving to e min because the emin would be heard as the tonic chord, and yes, from what i understand, melody can and should be used to help cement that perception of emin as the tonic. do you even need to delve into melodic support, though? if you start strumming e min in a "spanish way" on guitar and then hop up to the Fmaj, your ear hears the phrygian feel. as long as you never bring the c maj chord in. the second you bring in C maj, it seems like you have to start talking about the song as sort of 'withholding the tonic' until the Cmaj is revealed. if a Cmaj is eventually introduced, you might be able to talk about the first section as 'sounding phrygian,' and that's about all you can say. either way, of course, it is in the key of C.

    It is totally possible to have a song that does not resolve to its key note. Calling it the key of E phrygian can help describe the feel for the song but if you are working with compitent musicians and you just say the chords are Em F G, That's all he/she needs to know. You could write a song that has just the Em F G but if you wanted to add a bridge and include Am or C, you could at any moment. Just because you chose not to does not mean it is not in the key of Am/CMajor.--los boleros

    i never said it wouldn't be in the key of Am/Cmaj. in this whole thread, i'm not talking about 'inventing a modal key' or somehow abandoning traditional major/minor keys. like you said the traditional key signature is "all he/she needs to know" and i would never abandon that because that's the clearest way to communicate with other musicians. but what does your ear feel? thats what i'm trying to get out of this, is a modal understanding of certain diatonic progressions.

    by the way, yes/no: is there such a thing a modal key? like 'the key of e phrygian?' i would suspect not, but a clear answer of yes or no on this issue will be another piece of verified data for me to hang on to. i believe i have seen in sheet music before the abbreviation 'phryg.' next to the key signature. if i'm not hallucinating that memory, i would assume that's there to tell the musician that while the piece might be in the key of C, you should think of it as being modally centered on E.

    it's the signature phrygian progression. you can say that progression is in the key of C, but how can you ignore its distinct modal flavor with that weird flat II chord right above the tonic Eminor? that chord doesnt happen in a minor key or in a major key.Yes it does, it happens everytime you go from F to Em--los boleros

    the chord does, but the phrygian feel only happens if you are "treating" the E min as the tonic. If, elsewhere in the song, you are using the C major chord, you have already defined for the listener's ear the subjective sense of C major as the tonic chord. going from F to E min in that case sounds like going from the IV to the iii. treating the e minor as the tonic makes it sound like going from the flat IImaj to the i.

    this is fun/exhausting


    Last edited by fortymile; 12-05-2004 at 07:50 PM.
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

  11. #26
    some guy Doug McMullen's Avatar
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    but how can i be right according to doug and wrong according to los boleros?
    I don't think it breaks down quite like that... although I do disagree with LB on somethings I think we're both saying rather similar things... I'm trying to say, "right, but..." he's saying, "not quite...." it actually amounts to a pretty similar response.


    i'm not talking about 'inventing a modal key' or somehow abandoning traditional major/minor keys. like you said the traditional key signature is "all he/she needs to know"
    Um, like LB, I thought you were talking about inventing modal keys... be sure you aren't confusing key with key signature. Key signature is how a key is marked on a staff... key refers to a grounding scale and tonality of a composition.
    yes/no: is there such a thing a modal key? like 'the key of e phrygian?'
    Yes. But "key" is a funny term... it doesn't mean one exact thing. A melody played over an Esusb9 chord could be said to be in the key of E phrygian. But that's a different thing than chords like: Bm7b5 E7 Am being in the key of A minor. Functional harmony, chords cadencing to other chords and creating strong tonal centers I think some composers have worked on this for "modal" progressions, but I don't really know about it.

    If, elsewhere in the song, you are using the C major chord, you have already defined for the listener's ear the subjective sense of C major as the tonic chord
    .

    Where elsewhere, how elsewhere? Does just playing a C chord anywhere "define" that chord as the tonic?

    Let's look at some chords from "Stormy Weather" as it is typically played -- The basic chords of the A section are |Am7 D7|Gma7 G#dim7| repeat... (if you want to sing it, start on D7, "don't know {Gmaj7} why...")

    It's a V I progression in G ... Gmaj7 is the I, and |Am7 D7| is the V7... (in harmonic effect |ii V7| is the equivalent of |V7|) notice that the Gdim, although completely non-diatonic doesn't bother anyone -- it doesn't establish a new key, it just connects Gmaj7 and Am7.

    These repeating |V7| Is| make the key of G quite clear.

    To get to the bridge the chords go: |Am7 D7#5| G6 G7| -- The tonic is reached (G6) and then it gets turned into a G7 which passes us nicely into the key of C (which is where the song goes in the bridge.)

    My point, this progression (like about a billion others) relies on V7 I cadences to do the work of making the harmony clear.

    Chords move and interact with melody in interesting and surprising ways. The things that the great jazz and pop songwriters of the last century did with chords and melody are very much worth studying, people like Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen were just wizards of harmony. Harold Arlen wrote Stormy Weather... look at him harmonize an A# sharp melody note with an Am7 chord -- that's just wrong, LOL... but he makes it work.

    I know you are fascinated with modal harmony but can't I convince you to look into some of the cool sh&t done with plain old jazz and blues harmony first? I think if you mess around with ideas like secondary dominants, back-cycling, tonic chord stability, tritone substitutions, modal interchange, pedal points, etc. and if you look at how it all works with melody... then the modal harmony stuff won't make you crazy.

    Doug.

  12. #27
    chewing bubble gum Chim_Chim's Avatar
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    I think that (partially) what Doug is trying to convey here is that you must learn to crawl,then to walk,then to run...ALL before you even think of attempting to scale the mountain top.It's very easy to be wrongly focused on the long term goals and all the glory that goes with reaching such stellar goals,and so you develop this sort of tunnel-vision where you are focused on the finish line but have forgotten that you have yet to run the race.You're skipping the main course and going straight for the dessert.It would be nice to learn all of the fancy pants moves that make you a guitar-playing stud overnight and get all the glory the following day.But you need to learn the traditional harmony basics as relates to Major and Minor "keys" that have been the bedrock for centuries,before you learn all the studly new modern "tricks" that break all of those rules.Them studly tricks are fairly recent develoments of the last century.So you might consider them fancy "new-fangled" studly tricks,lol.

    There's alot of music in major keys or minor keys.What's more is major and minor keys are the entire basis of functional harmony.When you have a ii-V-I sequence it's all leading to the I of the key,the tonic.Therefore the only scale you need is the scale of the I chord,i.e. "the major scale".-- But it's not quite that simple! -- You don't just play the scale in random fashion.You have to listen to how it sounds (how it "harmonizes") with each chord and play what sounds good over each chord.You won't necessarily have time to play the whole scale if the changes are uptempo! - So you have to sometimes carefully select just the right note or combinations of notes over each chord.And then you have to make these notes "lead" from one chord to the next.You have to try and weave a melody through the changes and have it all come out as a single,solitary,solid melody that fits the changes in time as one melodic unit harmonized by those changes. If you experiment with this you'll start to hear melodies.If you've got the chord sequence down and at the desired tempo then listen to just the backing and try to hear a melody over the whole chord sequence.Try to hear a melody that matches up in time with it startin on the ii chord then moving to the V7 then to the I then voilla -BACK TO THE ii CHORD!! --AHA! --Your chord progression has looped around and guess what,so has your melody!

    Okay so now,maybe you have a head for your tune.A "THEME" which you can repeat in order to take the listeners on a ride with you.You can take them wherever you want from this point.A little bit of variation and feel and you can take them off in all sorts of directions.And they'll have something interesting to follow,a melody! -- Then maybe you think about soloing,MELODICALLY!

    It's got to be melodic man.Straight up.-- no bs!!!!
    Last edited by Chim_Chim; 12-05-2004 at 11:09 PM.
    Some days I seem to do OK. Other days I feel like just shoving an M-80 right up my guitar's butt.

  13. #28
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    Where elsewhere, how elsewhere? Does just playing a C chord anywhere "define" that chord as the tonic?

    ---->i was under the impression that this is true in many cases, (but i could be wrong.) you can play all of the other chords in C major key and avoid the C major chord. you can play 98 percent of the song in this way and hit the C major chord as the very last chord and your ear will suddenly hear that chord as the bedrock of the harmony. like a key change thats not a key change.

    but can't I convince you to look into some of the cool sh&t done with plain old jazz and blues harmony first? I think if you mess around with ideas like secondary dominants, back-cycling, tonic chord stability, tritone substitutions, modal interchange, pedal points, etc. and if you look at how it all works with melody... then the modal harmony stuff won't make you crazy

    --->sure, i'll look at this stuff as i come across it. for modal interchange, according to LB, i already have a working definition. if i play a song that's entirely diatonic in the key of C major but slip in, here and there, a C# major chord, then i would define that as modal interchange to phrygian mode. i hope this is right, because it really makes sense to me. likewise, the way Louie Louie slips in a v minor chord makes it seem like it grabs that chord from mixolydian mode. this is my definition of modal interchange; i hope it's correct.

    i wonder if, because so many people misunderstand modes, the General Idea has formed that it is something to be avoided until, as chim says, you can "walk." undoubtedly this is true with so many advanced concepts people want to employ, and i'm not qualified to judge, really, if modal harmony qualifies as something so advanced that you must learn a bunch of other little things first. that you must learn to crawl, etc. to me, it seemed like the next logical step after diatonic theory. grasping diatonic theory took just a little bit of focused effort, at which point you NATURALLY develop very general questions about the modes. you figure: "if the diatonic chords form on top of the scale notes in the sequence of the scale notes, and if modes are the same scale but in a different order, then modes should have thier own harmonic sequence." it's just such a natural question to ask, and one that seems to beg a general answer, in the same way that diatonic theory IS the general answer to the general question of how the diatonic chords spawn from the major scale.

    in other words, while in practice there may be a lot of minutiae i am going to need to know to exploy modes effectively, i really dont think i am going to get there without having an AHA moment. i got my AHA moment in diatonic theory by merely reading about it, and it was crystal clear. i'm becoming frustrated that there doesnt seem to be such an explanation for modes. because logically it seems there should be, and on one level i simply can't believe it doesn't exist.

    anyway, thanks guys. i'm going to mark this as 'unresolved.'
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

  14. #29
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Fortymile, It is better to ask questions than not to. I cannot really add anything on this issue as I have run out of things to say. While I do believe that the answers to your questions have been addressed in this thread, I am still unclear about your intentions based on some conflicting information. All of a sudden it sounds like you are interesting in Jazz when originally you were talking rock. Jazz players use alot of different approaches than rockers do. It is almost fair to say that Jazz theory is more evolved than classical theory. If you want to learn about Jazz theory, I believe that Doug is more qualified than me But Regardless, the basics are the basics. Even learning alot of the Jazz flavores should require a strong comprehension of Diatonic modes. And although you say that you are only wanting this for chord progressions, Progressions without a melody are not a song. At least not in my opinion. So Basic Modal Theory Is the marriage of Chords and melody. There is no way around that.
    Good luck in your ventures.

  15. #30
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    hey man i loooove asking questions and eating up server space. i just get worried people get sick of me. this thread has taken up a lot of your time, after all.

    thanks, by the way.

    when you say that progressions without a melody are not a song, that is a tricky statement. i know when i sit home and write music, i initially just write the chords and rhythm together. i'm a rock writer, so i deal with riffs and progressions first and foremost. a lot of people do. when i find a progression or riff i like, i start to take it to new places, trying out ideas one by one, but in the absence of melody. sometimes the progressions are diatonic and sometimes there's a foreign chord or two. only after i have a beat and some progressions or riffs that work well together and keep me interested for a week at least do i say 'this is a song.' even without a melody at that early phase, to me at that point it's a song...a song without a melody. this is a result of the way i think i guess. i view progressions as the stage and the melody as the actor which adds the drama and meaning. but without the actor you've still got a nicely dressed set, chillin' out as the lighting man runs through the program.

    so i guess, if habit persists, i will keep writing in the way i'm most familiar with, which is to begin with chords and riffs. (unless i get comfy with new ways of writing). as i stay in this realm of 'progression-twiddling and discovery,' i had hoped to have some more tools at my disposal. modal tools to help me invent progressions that are right now a bit outside of my ken, you know. and i was hoping to keep it all kind of free in my mind, not separating chord progressions into genres. not thinking so much about 'this comes from jazz and this from classical.' because when you're sitting writing progressions all you're doing is listening for what sounds good in a rock context. and you could take hints from jazz or classical or folk-modal progression styles and work it into a rock format, for sure, and a listener would feel it as rock.

    i know what you mean, though.
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

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