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Old 02-12-2018, 12:21 AM   #21
Silimtao
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To be fair: very briefly, on the ii chord (Dm in key of C), you'll get a dorian sound on that chord.
Wouldn't it be more accurate to say you're getting a minor sound, as opposed to a Dorian sound?
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Old 02-12-2018, 02:43 PM   #22
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Ok - this is great.

There is a bunch of information here - thanks to all. I have read it all and listened to many of the links. I've also watched a ton of youtube videos and I see my issue now. At least I'm starting to piece it together.

I now can achieve the Lydian sound by having a C major chord playing and over top of that I can play C lydian with that sharp 4 (F#). That does indeed give a dreamy type sound.

I also was able to play an A minor chord and flatting the 2nd (B flat) with a solo certainly gives that Phrygian evil feel. Over an A minor I played A B flat then C - I would assume that is named A Phrygian.

My problem now is how that works with a moving chord progression.

Say I wanted to have a Phrygian based solo over the A minor - F maj - G maj chord progression. Could I only get that Phrygian vibe over the A minor since its the only minor chord in that progression?
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Old 02-12-2018, 03:21 PM   #23
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If you're in the key of C major, and the tonal center is C, when you play over the D minor chord, you're still in Ionian. Why? The tune's progression is Ionian, not Dorian. If this were the case, you can say you're changing modes, everytime you change chords.

Chords in isolation don't dictate the mode; the harmonic movement does. Also, while D minor exists in C major diatonically, and in F major diatonically, they have different functions harmonically. D minor is also the relative natural minor of F, there's a Bb in F. Sticking strictly to diatonic harmony, there's no Bb in C major.

Listen to nearly any Knopfler solo- when he plays over chords, he's not "changing modes," he's still diatonic to the key he's playing in, and mainly hitting chord tone diatonic to the key. Things would generally sound like a hot mess, if we assigned a mode to a given chord in a chord progression, and played a solo in that "assigned mode."

I think Sultans is in Dm, btw. That's why every chord in that tune arises out of a harmonized F major scale.


Not necessarily. I've read that Satriani and Vai deliberately write in specific modes. Jazz and fusion players deliberately play in modes, other than the ones we're most used to hearing- Ionian, and Aeolian. It's partly why I got into modes more seriously. I'm tired of straight Ionian/Aeolian.

Samba Pa Ti at first glance sounds like a natural minor mode- until you hear the major 6th- which means it's really Dorian, if you dissect it.

I generally hate the study of theory, but if I'm to progress, I have to learn how to use the tools to get me there.


I used to know the circle of 5ths, but forgot about it. I only use things that serve a purpose for me, and how it relates to playing. For now, I simply have no use for it.

I like "tricks" though. E.g, if something is in A natural minor, I can use the A minor pent, or E minor pent, or C major pent (which is the same as the A minor pent, but the boxes are named differently- something else I haven't learned- "box names").

Or, to find the relative major of any scale- place your finger on any fret, and 4 frets away, lands you on the root note of the relative major, e.g. A minor, 4 frets away is C- C major is the relative major. Of course, the converse is true to find the relative minor.
The box names in that case are just A minor pentatonic or C major pentatonic depending on where you start and stop. Maybe you mean the 5 position patterns? I haven't really learned those either.

They are all interconnected so I can quickly figure them out. If you have a 1-4 pattern in one position on one string the next position down isn't going to have the 1-4 pattern on that same string.

As you say if you start on the 5th fret with a pentatonic pattern (A minor) four frets down is C and if you start there you have the C major pentatonic.

I like knowing the Circle of 5ths just as a way of knowing which notes are in which scale (sharps/flats). It's helpful in figuring out new chords in other positions.

I love Samba Pa Ti (and Santana).
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Old 02-12-2018, 05:13 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Silimtao View Post
Wouldn't it be more accurate to say you're getting a minor sound, as opposed to a Dorian sound?
Sure. It depends on how much of the scale you get a chance to play (or hear). It's that B in the scale that will turn the "minor" sound into a "dorian" one.
But - on a Dm chord in a C major sequence - it's all somewhat academic - literally! I.e. not something a player needs to know or care about.
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Old 02-12-2018, 05:20 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by LesPool View Post
Ok - this is great.

There is a bunch of information here - thanks to all. I have read it all and listened to many of the links. I've also watched a ton of youtube videos and I see my issue now. At least I'm starting to piece it together.

I now can achieve the Lydian sound by having a C major chord playing and over top of that I can play C lydian with that sharp 4 (F#). That does indeed give a dreamy type sound.

I also was able to play an A minor chord and flatting the 2nd (B flat) with a solo certainly gives that Phrygian evil feel. Over an A minor I played A B flat then C - I would assume that is named A Phrygian.
You got it.
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My problem now is how that works with a moving chord progression.
Generally speaking, it doesn't. This whole modal business only works in a scenario like the above, either with a single chord, or a very limited set of chords.
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Say I wanted to have a Phrygian based solo over the A minor - F maj - G maj chord progression. Could I only get that Phrygian vibe over the A minor since its the only minor chord in that progression?
Yes. And the question is - does that actually sound any good? (You could continue the scale over the F, but not over the G.)

Another question would be: why do you want to play a "Phrygian based solo" over a sequence that is clearly Aeolian in nature?
If you want to play a phrygian solo, find a sequence that's in phrygian mode already - or at least doesn't have a chord that suggests some other mode (like the G does in the above sequence). Or write your own, of course!

E.g., you could make that sequence phrygian by using Gm or Bb instead of G. Or rather potentially phrygian... Phrygian is weak, and you'd need to make sure Am really sounded like the key chord, and not F. Play a lot of Am, and use F and Gm or Bb sparingly. Even better, leave the F out entirely (as the relative major key chord it may tend to dominate the sound).

There is this really common misapprehension, that modes are cool sounds you can somehow apply to change the mood of an existing chord progression. This is not true!
If you have just one chord, yes. How many songs do you know with just one chord? With no melody or riffs filling in the other scale notes?

Last edited by JonR; 02-12-2018 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 02-12-2018, 06:56 PM   #26
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The box names in that case are just A minor pentatonic or C major pentatonic depending on where you start and stop. Maybe you mean the 5 position patterns? I haven't really learned those either.

They are all interconnected so I can quickly figure them out. If you have a 1-4 pattern in one position on one string the next position down isn't going to have the 1-4 pattern on that same string.

As you say if you start on the 5th fret with a pentatonic pattern (A minor) four frets down is C and if you start there you have the C major pentatonic.

I like knowing the Circle of 5ths just as a way of knowing which notes are in which scale (sharps/flats). It's helpful in figuring out new chords in other positions.

I love Samba Pa Ti (and Santana).
I never learned "the boxes." I didn't even know they existed, until I came back to playing, and plastered all over the internet was "box 1, box 2, etc." So I had to find my own associations of things.

I made the connections myself, and it was somewhat of an epiphany to learn the minor pent was the same as the relative major pent. To this day, I don't know what the boxes are, and don't intend to learn it. I find more freedom in knowing where the notes are/should be.

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Sure. It depends on how much of the scale you get a chance to play (or hear). It's that B in the scale that will turn the "minor" sound into a "dorian" one.
But - on a Dm chord in a C major sequence - it's all somewhat academic - literally! I.e. not something a player needs to know or care about.
Yes, theory is all academic. But I wanted some clarity for the sake of this conversation.

I guess I wanted to drive home the point that, in a C major sequence/progression, the other chords in the progression, doesn't change the tonal center (or mode), and the mode you're in is Ionian.

I would take playing the B natural as a passing tone, or possibly a 9th over a C maj chord, but I wouldn't treat it as "making a Dm chord Dorian."

BTW, I enjoy your posts. I've learned quite a bit in reading them.
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Old 02-12-2018, 07:25 PM   #27
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You got it.
Whoohoo!

Thanks so much for you help. With your direction and also watching this badass 80s Frank Gambale modes video on youtube I think I pieced it together.

The youtube video took me a step further and connected me with what you were saying about it being more of a chord progression that defines the modal sound.

I started another thread with a track I wrote in Lydian. Too much going on in this thread and I don't want it to get buried.

Last edited by LesPool; 02-13-2018 at 12:46 PM. Reason: edit
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Old 02-12-2018, 11:52 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Silimtao View Post
I never learned "the boxes." I didn't even know they existed, until I came back to playing, and plastered all over the internet was "box 1, box 2, etc." So I had to find my own associations of things.

I made the connections myself, and it was somewhat of an epiphany to learn the minor pent was the same as the relative major pent. To this day, I don't know what the boxes are, and don't intend to learn it. I find more freedom in knowing where the notes are/should be.


Yes, theory is all academic. But I wanted some clarity for the sake of this conversation.

I guess I wanted to drive home the point that, in a C major sequence/progression, the other chords in the progression, doesn't change the tonal center (or mode), and the mode you're in is Ionian.

I would take playing the B natural as a passing tone, or possibly a 9th over a C maj chord, but I wouldn't treat it as "making a Dm chord Dorian."

BTW, I enjoy your posts. I've learned quite a bit in reading them.
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Old 02-13-2018, 05:12 PM   #29
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Let's talk mixolydian. Flat 7. Does that mean that over a c major chord if I solo with a flat 7 I would achieve that? So a b flat thrown in with the rest of the natural notes would get that?
Let's just make it simple. Play "China Grove" in the key of "E" and play the solo using "E" Mixolydian. All that means is you don't play the 7th, you just substitute it with the b7th. It doesn't matter if you play the solo note for note. What you'll notice is that you are now the worlds greatest "Southern Rocker".
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