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Two octave fretboard patterns for modes — February 25, 2014

Two octave fretboard patterns for modes

Following the recent series of blog posts on modes and modal chords, this post gives you two octave patterns for all the modes rooted on the E string so that you have more potential for creativity and can also compare the differences between each mode.

I’ve produced them in this ‘chord box’ type of format because they may be easier for you to remember than tablature, I certainly find this format easier to remember.  The square indicates the root note.

The idea is that you play each of them off one root to hear the differences i.e. C Major, C Dorian, C Phrygian etc.  The rhythm and picking patterns aren’t that important but try to play each pattern ascending and descending without stopping.

They are movable so you can work them out for all keys very easily, all you need to do is move the starting root note to the appropriate fret.  You could play through them using a circle of fourths or fifths rather than chromatically if you fancy more of a challenge.

I am very grateful to QwikChord (www.qwikchord.com) for these diagrams, I have been after software to do this for a while now and QwikChord is easy to use and free although I had to copy these into Word and then convert to jpg to get them into this blog post.
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Modal Chords — February 19, 2014

Modal Chords

So far I’ve discussed modes in terms of their structure and relation to the comparative major scale.

I haven’t been too prescriptive about how to use them and have encouraged experimentation, however, it is a fair point that you can sound like you are just playing a major scale over the top of chords instead of getting the signature modal sound.
Some music teachers encourage you to learn the patterns of the modes and practice these in all the positions whilst others encourage you to play over certain chords or chord progressions as they say it’s not so much the mode but the harmony against chords that really brings the sound out.
One way to do this and also potentially increase your creativity is to consider modal chords.  All this really means is looking at the structure of the mode and only using the chords that can be formed from it, as these are the chords that will really bring out the distinctive sound of each mode.
The most common modal chords for the Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian and Mixolydian modes are explained below. There are no doubt more chords that could be formed so by all means feel free to create some others of your own. Just bear in mind that sometimes they may not sound too good, for instance if you use 3 and 4 notes in the same chord.  A suspended chord will often be used in these circumstances.

 

Dorian : 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7

We can see that we have a minor triad with the 1 b3 5 notes but there are also a number of potential extended chords that can be formed:

min – 1, b3, 5
min6 – 1, b3, 5, 6
min7 – 1, b3, 5, b7
min9 – 1, b3, 5, b7, 9
min6/9 – 1, b3, 5, 6, 9
min11 – 1, b3, 5, b7, 11
min13 – 1, b3, 5, b7, 13

 

Phrygian : 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7

We can see that we also have a minor triad with the 1 b3 5 notes.  In this instance there appears to be fewer extended chords especially since those with a b9 are not that commonly used:
min – 1, b3, 5
min7 – 1, b3, 5, b7
min7b9 – 1, b3, 5, b7, b9
min11(b9) – 1, b3, 5, b7, b9, 11
We could also consider the use of a sus4 chord as a base triad.  This replaces the b3 with a 4.  The extended notes we could add in are the b7 and b9 which will give us a susb9 chord which is sometimes called the ‘Phrygian chord’
susb9 – 1, 4, 5, b7, b9

 

Lydian : 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7

We can see that we have  a major triad with the 1 3 5 notes. There are a number of extended chords that can be formed and we could also use an add9 chord.  The raised 4th is what really gives the Lydian mode its signature sound.  We tend to use this as a #11 in chords and these are sometimes called ‘Lydian chords’
maj – 1, 3, 5
maj7 – 1, 3, 5, 7
maj9 – 1, 3, 5, 7, 9
maj7#11 – 1, 3, 5, 7, #11
maj13 – 1, 3, 5, 7, 13
add9 – 1, 3, 5, 9
add9#11 – 1, 2, 5, 9, #11
6/9 – 1, 3, 5, 6, 9

 

Mixolydian : 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7

We can see that we have a major triad with the 1 3 5 notes.  This mode lends itself to dominant chords and we can form the dominant 7, 9 and 13 chords.  We could also use a sus4 chord as a base triad for the 7sus4, 9sus4 and 13sus4 chords.
maj – 1, 3, 5
7 – 1, 3, 5, b7
7sus4 – 1, 4, 5, b7
9 – 1, 3, 5, b7, 9
9sus4 – 1, 4, 5, b7, 9
13 – 1, 3, 5, b7, 13
13sus4 – 1, 4, 5, b7, 13
The Locrian Mode — February 13, 2014

The Locrian Mode

The Locrian mode starts on the seventh scale degree.  It is the least used mode, in fact you’ll find very few examples of its use.  In fact I can’t really remember ever using myself.

In the Key of C :  C D E F G A B C  the seventh scale degree is B so we have an B Locrian in this Key.

B Locrian:   B C D E F G A B    The intervals are therefore  S T T S T T T

If we compare to B Major : B  C# D# E F# G# A# B  we can see that the Locrian mode has a b2, b3, b5, b6 and b7 compared to the corresponding major scale.  The b5 is quite unusual; the locrian mode only really fits over diminished chords and doesn’t really have any chordal harmony.  It has a tense, unresolved sound.

An example pattern starting on the A string is shown below.  I’ve started on the A string to keep the fingering pattern fairly uniform.  As with all the modes, you definitely want to experiment a lot with playing this pattern in as many different positions as possible (audio here):

Locrian-page-0

If you need a diagram showing the notes on the fretboard, one is available in the Ionian mode (Major scale) post.

I’ve included a very simple example over a Bdim chord to get you started (audio here).  By all means experiment, you never know you might find a sound you really like!

LocrianExample-page-0

The Aeolian Mode (natural minor scale) — February 11, 2014

The Aeolian Mode (natural minor scale)

The Aeolian mode starts on the sixth scale degree and like the corresponding chord is minor in nature.  It is probably the most commonly used mode over minor chords and can be found in rock, jazz, blues and metal and is much more commonly called the natural minor scale.

In the Key of C :  C D E F G A B C  the sixth scale degree is A so we have an A Aeolian in this Key.

A Aeolian:   A B C D E F G A  The intervals are therefore  T S T T S T T

If we compare to A Major : A B C# D E F# G# A we can see that the Aeolian mode has a b3, b6 and b7 compared to the corresponding major scale.

An example pattern starting on the A string is shown below.  I’ve started on the A string to keep the fingering pattern fairly uniform.  As with all the modes, you definitely want to experiment a lot with playing this pattern in as many different positions as possible (audio here):

Aeolian-page-0

If you need a diagram showing the notes on the fretboard, one is available in the Ionian mode (Major scale) post.

The Aeolian mode works over minor chords or minor chord progressions because of the b3.  The best thing as always is to experiment with voicings and phrasings to find the sort of sounds that you like.

As an example to get you started,  I’ve created a simple pattern using an Am Am Dm Dm Am Am Dm Dm (vi –  ii) progression just to give you an idea of the sound.  (Audio here)

AeolianExample-page-0

The other important point to note is that unlike the major scale, there are in fact 3 minor scales.

The natural minor scale is discussed above;

The harmonic minor is a natural minor scale with the seventh raised a semitone i.e. A B C D E F G# A

The melodic minor is a natural minor scale with the sixth and seventh raised a semitone i.e. A B C D E F# G# A.  Usually the melodic minor is used with ascending notes and the melodic minor with descending notes.

Good luck, and the most important thing – have fun!

The Mixolydian Mode — February 6, 2014

The Mixolydian Mode

The Mixolydian mode starts on the fifth scale degree.  It is the only mode that is dominant in nature and is mostly used in blues and jazz music.

In the Key of C :  C D E F G A B C  the fifth scale degree is G so we have a G Mixolydian in this Key.

G Mixolydian:   G A B C D E F G  The intervals are therefore  T T S T T S T

If we compare to G Major :  G A B C D E F# G  we can see that the Mixolydian mode has a b7 compared to the corresponding major scale.  It is this b7 that gives the Mixolydian mode a dominant 7th nature which is why it suits blues and jazz well as they both tend to use a lot of 7th chords.

An example pattern starting on the A string is shown below.  I’ve started on the A string to keep the fingering pattern fairly uniform.  As with all the modes, you definitely want to experiment a lot with playing this pattern in as many different positions as possible (audio here):

Mixolydian-page-0

If you need a diagram showing the notes on the fretboard, one is available in the Ionian mode (Major scale) post.

The first example is played over a C7 chord (audio here).

MixolydianExampe2-page-0

The second example uses a G7 G7 Dm Dm C7 C7 (V7 ii I7)  chord progression which has the Mixolydian mode played over the top of it as shown below  (audio here).

MixolydianExample-page-0

These are fairly simple examples to get you started, hopefully you can hear the blues / jazz sound of this mode.  Good luck, and the most important thing – have fun!

The Lydian Mode — February 1, 2014

The Lydian Mode

The Lydian mode starts on the fourth scale degree and like the corresponding chord is major in nature.  It has been described as having a modern sound, giving drive or momentum.

In the Key of C :  C D E F G A B C  the fourth scale degree is F so we have an F Lydian in this Key.

F Lydian:   F G A B C D E F   The intervals are therefore  T T T S T T S

If we compare to F Major : F G A Bb C D E F we can see that the Lydian mode has a #4 compared to the corresponding major scale.  It is this #4 that gives the Lydian mode that feeling of musical momentum.

An example pattern starting on the A string is shown below.  I’ve started on the A string to keep the fingering pattern fairly uniform.  As with all the modes, you definitely want to experiment a lot with playing this pattern in as many different positions as possible (audio here):

 

Lydian-page-0

If you need a diagram showing the notes on the fretboard, one is available in the Ionian mode (Major scale) post.

How you play these modes is really up to you.  You could use a Lydian mode all of the time as it will fit with any chord in the key.  For variety you can mix them around a bit, often minor modes will be used over minor chords and major modes will be used over major chords.  The best thing is to experiment with voicings and phrasings to find the sort of sounds that you like.

As an example to get you started,  I’ve created a simple F F C C F F C C (IV I) 8 bar chord progression which has the Lydian mode played over the top of it as shown below.  It’s a simple pattern just to give you an idea of the sound.  (Audio here)

LydianExample-page-0

Good luck, and the most important thing – have fun!