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Jazz Guitar Lessons: Introduction to Modes

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we're gonna enter
the realm of the mode.
We're gonna talk about modes and
modal improvisation and
applying modal improvisation to
normal harmony and jazz improv.
It's a much disputed topic, modes,
and I think a somewhat
misunderstood one at times.
And I really wanna try my best to
explain why it's important to know them,
and in my opinion, and why they matter.
The construction of the modes
makes it a little bit confusing because I
think maybe as some of you already know,
and if you don't, I'll tell you now.
They're basically all made out
of the same basic major scale.
And so sometimes people say well why do
you need to call it something different.
And I'm gonna do my best to explain that
and I think there's a good reason for it.
Alright so why do they matter and why are
they different from just a major scale.
First of all the basic concept
is this think of the piano.
And we'll stay in the key of C so
that you can relate it to the piano.
On middle C again and middle C to
the next C above it, one octave.
All the white keys, is a C major scale.
That's also called C Ionian.
Now if you remember, we actually
made a play along track earlier
in the curriculum with C Ionian
which is really C major.
So actually, in this case we're only gonna
talk about that right now in reference,
in that that's where all
the other modes come from.
When we actually get into using the modes,
we won't start with the Ionian,
we'll go right to Dorian because the
Ionian, I think we've already covered it.
And I think we all understand it,
we've talked a lot about the major scale.
So, what this, the modes, you know,
do is basically, you take the major scale,
the Ionian mode,
And you start it in a different place.
And then it takes on
a different characteristic.
I'll explain why and
I'll explain how in a moment.
But just the basic concept is, if I take
the C major scale, same exact notes and
start on D, the one note above middle C,
play from D to D, rather than C to C.
It sounds like this.
You know, tonally it's,
it's the same notes, but
if I emphasize and let's go back and
remember that when I was teaching you
minor scales I included Dorian,
as a minor scale.
So listen to it just as, on its own.
It does have a,
you know, a unique sound.
Now we're not hearing it in relation to
We're hearing it by itself.
And so it, it's a minor mode and
it's got a different set of intervals
because you're up one note.
That continues all the way
up through the modes.
The next mode is Phrygian which is based
on the third degree of the scale, so
it starts on E and goes to E.
It's got its own characteristic.
Again, try to hear it not as
a C scale starting on E but.
It has its own sound.
I'm gonna get more into its,
its sound later.
Et cetera, et cetera.
We're gonna go up.
F to F is Lydian.
G to G is mixed Lydian.
Now all I'm doing is taking
the C scale and, and
starting it from a different point.
That's Aeolian we talked about the natural
minor scale.That's what that is.
And then Locrian
Sounds like Loco, crazy.
Locrian, and it is a little bit crazy.
So the concept is very simple,
you just take a scale,
whether it's C or A, or whatever.
And you start it from each of the
scaletones and go to that scaletone and
that creates each of those modes.
I would suggest at this point if some of
you know how to use manuscript paper,
sit down with a a piece of paper and
write out Dorian in D.
And then try and
write it out in every key.
You can go around the cycle of fifths and
or cycle of fourths on,
which you can see on I think on the theory
site on, on ArtistWorks there's
an explanation, explanation of
the circle of fifths, circle of fourths.
When, and
write it out in every key however, don't
use the key signature at the beginning so
all you have to do is write dots.
Actually write in the sharps and
flats that occur in that key, so
you can actually see the construction, and
you have to think about, well,
is that a C sharp is it an F sharp?
So that's something you might wanna do
just to really, like, get into the theory
of it, but basically, the basic
concept is pretty self-explanatory.
Now each mode, to really explain it,
has a certain characteristic sound.
And that sound can be pointed out,
can be brought out, and
understood better by a chord sequence.
Or even a single chord.
And I'm gonna give examples when we go
through each mode of what they are.
But just briefly, Dorian,
the right when we started this
lesson I played a series of chords.
That's a very Dorian-sounding progression.
And I think when we hear the colors
of the chord sequences that I'm
going to provide for you and
the play-along tracks that go with them.
It's gonna be much clearer, what
the characteristics, what the colors, and
what the usefulness is, of each mode.
So let's get into it.
Here we go.