Modes and beyond...

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Posted by El Pájaro on August 30, 2000 at 07:45:08:

In Reply to: El Pajaro, more on modes, please posted by Anton Visser on August 30, 2000 at 04:58:37:

: El Pajaro,

: I've started getting into modes several times, but never long enough. My problem is, do you view them as their parent scale, but started on another step in the scale (e.g. do you view D dorian as C major, started on D), or do you think of them as distinctly different scales in their own right? Also, I feel that some modes are more useful than others (e.g. dorian over minor7 chords, locrian over dominant 7 chord one half step up to get all the nice tensions, etc.). What's your opinion?

: Now that we're on the subject of substitution anyway, I've also been fiddling around with playing the harmonic minor scale over a dom7 chord one half step down. This will get you flat and sharp 5th and 9th. However, mentally and visually I'm still thinking melodic minor, and I always have to start from the root of the dom7 chord to find my way. Do you think it will help to practice this substitution as a separate scale (I think it's called the dom altered scale in this case).

: Thanks,

: Anton V.

Hey there Anton,
Well you certainly raised a few interesting points! Let's see...
Regarding your question about seeing the modes as their parent scale beginning in a different note: well this is a really thorny one. I particularly like to think of the modes as distinct scales in their own right. This is no arbitrary thinking, though: every mode has a particular and distinctive "flavor", so to speak, so It's better to learn them thoroguhly as distinctive units. However, when it comes to learn and memorize the modes' FINGERINGS, I actually found useful to relate them to the fingerings of the major scale. This might be a little confusing, so I'd better explain myself with an example: when I practice the fingering for A aeolian beginning with A on the 5th fret of the E string, I like to think the fingering is just the same as that of the major C scale beginning with C on the 8th fret of the E string. Am I clear on this?
To put it another words, every mode should be learned and thought of as a distinct unit, but once you have all the fingerings for the major scale down, learning the fingerings for the modes is a hell of a lot easier.
Regarding your opinion about the "usefulness" of some modes on particular situations: I agree completely. One thing I found particularly interesting is the use of de Dorian mode over dominant 7th chords ...that minor 3rd in Dorian mode definitely adds a little "darkness" to the sound, makes it more interesting's just way cool. Flea often uses this trick with great results.
Regarding your remaining comments: well I'm note done with my experimenting of modes over chords yet (nor anywhere close!), and right now I don't have my bass at hand (shhh!! I'm at work and I'm not even supossed to be doing this), so I guess I should try your suggestions (locrian over dominant 7th chords one half step up, harmonic minor over dominant 7th chords one half step down) before giving my opinion, but I'll have to wait till I get back home for that.
Until then, buena suerte and keep that bass up front in the mix,

El Pájaro.

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