Discussion in 'Lessons & Techniques' started by living room rocker, Dec 26, 2018.

  1. living room rocker

    living room rocker Active Member

    Mar 15, 2018
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    I've pored over every internet article I can get my hands on regarding modal playing (modes); sometimes re-reading an article numerous times to understand the author's concept. I probably incorrectly associate modes with playing lead guitar but understand they're basically scales with alternate interval spacing that give different musical "flavors". If I'm understanding correctly, a guitarist can either use note(s) from outside of a song's key signature to produce this desired "flavor" (parallel, I believe is the term) OR switch between relative neck patterns/positions where all the notes played are within the song's key signature (series, I believe is the term). I can easily hear the "flavor" when introducing note(s) outside of a key, but not so much when playing the modes in series. What am I missing and why is this.......not accenting the right notes?

    How do do you fellow guitarists introduce modes into your lead playing?
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2018
  2. DaveInSoCal

    DaveInSoCal Active Member

    Jun 22, 2018
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    Personally I don't do pure modes, I tend to mix everything together for the flavor of the song. I am self taught so I probably have no idea what I'm doing.

    Guys like Yngwie, Vinnie Moore, Michael Romeo etc are straight up mode guys.

    Regarding series vs parallel, playing notes parallel to the key introduces tension that is very easy to hear / feel, series not so much. If you listen to a guy like Neal Schon, I would say he was generally a series player, no dark notes (or not many).
    So when you play within the key you need to rely on voicing the note to make it stand out. Timing, vibrato, attack, harmonics all the goodies!
    The way I do it is I think of it as if I were singing a melody, how would I like it to be presented.

    If you want to get good at using modes, I guess start with one and get to where you can play in any key in all of the positions and see how you can work it into songs. When you master it move on to another one.
    Have fun!
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2018
    Ray and living room rocker like this.
  3. sparky88

    sparky88 New Member

    Dec 20, 2018
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    Okay, here's the simplest and briefest way I can give an overview of the modes.

    The C major scale is:
    C D E F G A B C

    The C Major scale itself is the first mode of the C major scale, called the Ionian mode.

    If you now play the exact same C major scale again but this time starting and ending on D you'd get the second mode which is D Dorian.

    D E F G A B C D

    If you then did the same again from E to E you'd get the third mode E Phrygian.

    E F G A B C D E

    Continue this until you get back to C again and you end up with all seven modes which would be:

    C Ionian (major scale) - C D E F G A B C
    D Dorian - D E F G A B C D
    E Phrygian - E F G A B C D E
    F Lydian - F G A B C D E F
    G Mixolydian - G A B C D E F G
    A Aeolian (natural minor scale) - A B C D E F G A
    B Locrian - B C D E F G A B

    If you did this same process with any major scale you would get the same modes in the same order - Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aoelian, Locrian. The only thing that would change are the root notes of each, so the modes of the B major scale would be B Ionian, C# Dorian, D# Phrygian etc.

    Okay, so that's the theory behind the modes and "in theory" that works with playing them on the guitar too... (so if you wanted to play in D Dorian you could just play the C major scale and treat D as the root note), however it isn't really the best way to implement them.

    This is far more advanced than can be summed up in a single post, but the best way to implement them is to understand how each mode is constructed (they are all either the major scale or natural minor scale with ONE note altered to give them each their individual 'flavour') and then simply make this one alteration to the major or minor scale (or major or minor pentatonic) that you already know.

    Here's a quick example:

    D Dorian mode

    You *could* just play C major with the root note as D (and for shred style 3 note per string runs this works fine)

    But when you know that D Dorian is the D natural minor scale with a major 6th (this being the distinctive "flavour" note of Dorian Mode) you could simply play your D natural minor scale and alter the 6th note.

    OR (and this is how I do it and teach to my students) you could play your usual D minor pentatonic vocabulary and just add the major 6th "flavour note" to that. Then you only have one extra note to add to get that Dorian flavour, but using a scale/licks you're already comfortable playing.
    Zoot and living room rocker like this.
  4. living room rocker

    living room rocker Active Member

    Mar 15, 2018
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    Thank you DaveInSoCal and sparky88 for taking time to shed light on this. I've a decent grasp of the theory behind this but struggle with the implementation. Differences in modes played parallel seem much more obvious than when played in series, at least to my ears. I've yet to properly accent the tonal center and "flavor" notes when in series. I've asked myself why one would utilize notes outside of a song's key signature (i.e parallel), but realize now it's done all the time. I'm starting to understand modes are less about scales and more about a framework for the best notes played over a chord.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
  5. GrumpyOldDBA

    GrumpyOldDBA Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2018
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    I do practice major and minor scales but ( hey I'm lazy ) just practice mode 1 for minor and mode 1 and 2 for major.

    I think it was covered pretty well already it's the same notes just a different starting position so a different fretboard pattern.

    Most of the time I'm not really needing anything beyond real chords and the pentatonic boxes ( which I think is very handy to practice all 5 boxes ). Advanced players yes can seamlessly blend in 8 note major and minor scales while playing and my guitar teacher is bonzo behind everyone learning this.

    Many of us just don't need this beyond mode 1 for both major and minor "most of the time".

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