Modes

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Modes

Post by Syscrusher » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:57 pm

Hey everyone. I thought I'd jump on this new theory thread. Hope that's ok. There seemed to be some interest in learning about modes so I'll try to offer a concise description. Please add to it if you feel I've missed something.

The modes, as their names suggest are Greek in origin but the Greek Modes were somewhat different from the modes that were later codified in 8th century Europe. Those are the modes we use today. In the 8th and 9th centuries Gregorian chants were composed using seven different "moods" (ie: mode). Each mode had a different but related arrangement of tones (T) and semi-tones (ST) (or steps and half steps for the Americans). Originally no mode was given privileged status but eventually the Ionian mode and it's relative the Aeolian were preferred for their usefulness in harmonization. This preference gave birth to our modern "diatonic" system.
For a while the modes generally fell out of favour during the Baroque and Classical periods. The late Romantics began dabbling in their use but it was the Impressionists that really revived them. Debussy used them to great effect often to evoke "ancient" atmospheres. In the 1950's jazz artists such as Miles Davis started a trend in their use called "Modal Jazz" where the songs were composed and improvised upon using the various modes.

Today when we speak of modes we do so with Ionians privileged status in mind. Ionian is what we call The Major Scale and Aeolian is the Natural Minor scale. It is useful to think of these scales as the primary major and minor scales respectively. It is also useful to use the key of C as it has no sharps or flats

The modes of C are as follows:

C Ionian (note Ionians placement first) - major - Do to Do
D Dorian - minor - Re to Re
E Phrygian -minor - Mi to Mi
F Lydian - major - Fa to Fa
G Mixolydian - major - So to So
A Aeolian - minor - La to La
B Locrian - diminished - Ti to Ti

Each mode has a formula of tones and semi-tones. For instance, C Ionian is spelled like this:

C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C
- T - T - ST - T - T - T - ST

Thus D Dorian starts on the second degree of Ionian (Re) and is spelled like this:

D - E - F - G - A - B - C - D
- T - ST - T - T - T - ST - T

Phrygian starts on the third (Mi):

E - F - G - A - B - C - D - E
- ST - T - T - T - ST - T - T

Lydian starts on the fourth degree:

F - G - A - B - C - D - E - F
- T - T - T - ST - T - T - ST

Etc...

Note that the major modes have a distance of a major 3rd (T+T) between the first and third degrees and the minor modes have a minor 3rd (T+ST) between the first and third.

You can easily see (and hear) the differences in the modes if you compare the major modes to Ionian (primary major) and the minor modes to Aeolian (primary minor) - A single alteration by semi-tone of Ionian or Aeolian will result in an alternate mode -

Major Modes:

Raising (#) the 4th of Ionian gives you Lydian

Lowering (b) the 7th of Ionian gives you Mixolydian

Minor Modes:

Raising (#) the 6th of Aeolian gives you Dorian

Lowering (b) the 2nd of Aeolian gives you Phrygian


Locrian is a bit of a special case. It is often viewed as a "theoretical" mode that doesn't have much practical use. This largely due to the fact that it doesn't contain a perfect 5th interval and is thus unstable (the perfect 5th in other modes "points" to the tonic or first note of the mode). Also it's tonic chord is a diminished triad which doesn't make a great point of resolution.
The Locrian mode requires two alterations of Aeolian - lowered 2nd and lowered 5th.

Our ears have been conditioned to favour the Ionian mode so in order to properly hear the individual qualities of each mode one needs to "tonicize" the first note of each mode. The easiest way to do this is to create a drone on a particular pitch and then play a mode starting on that pitch paying particular attention to the note that differs from either the Ionian or Aeolian - ie the 4th of Lydian or the 2nd of Phrygian.

The use of modes can really add something to a melody. Take the theme from "the Simpsons" for example; The main part of the melody is Lydian 1-3-#4-6-5-3-1-6-#4-#4-#4-5. Take away the #4 thus "rounding it off" to Ionian really removes the interest in the melody. Often "Greensleeves" (Dorian melody) is "rounded off" to Aeolian when sung as "What Child Is This". Greensleeves goes (altered from Aeolian) 1-3-4-5-#6-5-4-2-7. Remove the #6 and the melody becomes a little easier for the modern ear to sing while caroling but makes the melody a little less engaging.

I hope this is somewhat helpful. Any comments or questions welcome.
Last edited by Syscrusher on Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:51 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Modes

Post by UncleBibby » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:04 pm

Thanks for writing this! I saw all these "modes" on the Korg DS-10 Kaoss Pad screen, but I had no idea what they were.

I'd be interested to find out if I was subconsciously using any of these "modes" in my past songs. I'm guessing I was probably using Ionian for most of them?
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Re: Modes

Post by Cfgk24 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:49 pm

Thanks Syscrusher!
Great Article!

Korg players - try running through all the different modes on your Kaoss pads to see how different they sound.
Try and find the First note (use C) and run up and down from there. It should resolve nicely back onto the C. :D
There are some extra 'modes' on Korg such as Raga. Egyptian, etc. These can make life a little more colorful :)

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Re: Modes

Post by Syscrusher » Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:12 pm

Cfgk24 wrote:Thanks Syscrusher!
Great Article!

Korg players - try running through all the different modes on your Kaoss pads to see how different they sound.
Try and find the First note (use C) and run up and down from there. It should resolve nicely back onto the C. :D
Yes! It would be good to make a pattern with a C drone. On the other voice set the Kaoss pad to C Ionian and goof around. Then set it to C Lydian and mess around some more. Finally, for the major modes, set it to C Mixolydian. Against the background drone you should be able to hear the individual character of these modes come through.

You should compare the major modes against each other then move to the minor modes. Keep the drone on C then use the Kaoss pad to play C Aeolian then C Dorian and then C Phrygian. You can try C Locrian and you'll probably notice that is doesn't resolve to the tonic quite like the other modes. Although with a steady drone it's difficult not to feel a resolution and that is kind of the point of the exercise. You need to enforce the tonic or your ears will naturally start hearing Ionian. That is why it is also important to compare the modes in a "parallel" (all starting on the same tonic -C in this case) rather than a "relative" fashion ( C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian etc...). Since the modes of C major all share the same notes (they are "related" or "relative") the tendency is to hear only Ionian unless a new tonic is enforced. There are many ways to enforce a tonic but by far the easiest and best way for our purposes here is with a drone.

Oh and thanks Cfgk24!

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Re: Modes

Post by DS-10 Dominator » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:51 am

Thanks for all the info so far!
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Re: Modes

Post by Cfgk24 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:30 pm

Yes, Musically - Very useful to REINFORCE THE TONIC! The Tonic being the first note - e.g. C in C Ionian
A great idea to use this as a drone.
the shorter 5th String on a 5 string banjo is considered a drone string.
Instruments like the Hurdy Gurdy have many Drone Strings
The Sitar has what is called Sympathetic strings - They reinforce the tonic - not by being struck but by resonating harmoniously when the melody strings are being played

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Re: Modes

Post by WMRhapsodies » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:13 pm

UncleBibby wrote:Thanks for writing this! I saw all these "modes" on the Korg DS-10 Kaoss Pad screen, but I had no idea what they were.

I'd be interested to find out if I was subconsciously using any of these "modes" in my past songs. I'm guessing I was probably using Ionian for most of them?

You are for sure subconsciously using some of these modes in your songs (by listen at them I would not say you didn`t know anything about that).

The day I spent some time improvising over two of your songs I remember one was around C Major, the other around C Minor (I say "around" because I -and, likely, you too- was using some "strange-to-the-scale" notes, but I can't say if it really involed a "mode change". I'm familiar with the "classical" scales: Major and different types of Minor, not as much with all this other "modes". I need still to read more carefully to what Sycrusher just wrote...)

If you want to know wich scale-mode you are using first you may ask yourself wich is the tonic, that is, the note that act as basis and in wich the melody probaly starts-ends, or at any case, feels "resolved". Then see if the first three notes going upwards from it made the T+T pattern or a T+ST pattern and you may at least know if it is a Major or Minor mode.

Edit: miswrote the T+T stuff yesterday.
Last edited by WMRhapsodies on Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Modes

Post by WarpToken » Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:17 am

So what "mode" does say a harmonic minor fall into?
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Re: Modes

Post by Syscrusher » Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:34 am

WarpToken wrote:So what "mode" does say a harmonic minor fall into?
That is a good question. Harmonic Minor is not a mode. Modes all share the same scale formula of tones and semi-tones but starting on different degrees. Harmonic Minor is a scale unto itself. It can be best understood as the Natural Minor (Aeolian Mode) with a raised 7th - thus giving a minor scale a leading tone. A "leading tone" is, by definition, a semi-tone below the tonic and points upward to a tonic resolution. None of the minor modes have a leading tone. The Harmonic Minor scale gets it's name from it's usefulness in harmonizing the minor scale and exploiting the tension/release that the presence of a leading tone can provide. This should/could be fully explained later.

Interestingly, much like the Major Scale can be said to have seven modes, each starting on a different degree, so the Harmonic Minor has it's own seven modes. The modes of the Harmonic minor scale sound quite exotic and most are somewhat esoteric but they do crop up as melodies from time to time. The popular song "Miserlou" is a mode of the Harmonic Minor I believe.

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Re: Modes

Post by Cfgk24 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:33 am

Lol, forgive me if I'm wrong - haven't had any coffee yet this morning
Modes do not all share the same progression of Tones and semitones.
Each Mode has a Different progression. If you use only white keys on the piano - all the modes can be visited - however the tonic would change - You would not use any Sharps or Flats (accidentals on the piano keyboard) it is used to demonstrate that despite changing mode - you can still end up playing the same notes lol. (this confused the hell out of me for years when I sused to write down what notes were playing in a tune - look at it, confidently tell someone that the tune was played in the key of C when in fact it was A Aeolian...)

What changes is the Tonic
C Ionian is different o D Ionian but both ahave the same progression of Tones and semitones
likewise you can compose using G Ionian, G Mixolydian, G Lydian etc. In this case the tonic remains the same but the progression up from the Note G would change.

Each key - black or white - on the piano keyboard has it's own complete set of Modes. :o

See also the thread on Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor

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Re: Modes

Post by WMRhapsodies » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:10 am

Cfgk24 wrote: If you use only white keys on the piano - all the modes can be visited - however the tonic would change

That points to the thoughts I want to share here, and I'm interested in what you or Syscrusher (or anyone) may think about it, or correct me if I'm wrong. Didn't all this "modal" stuff be recovered to made easier to shift from one tonic to another?. Or, for to say otherwise, for to "relax" all this tension around one specific note/chord?

In baroque-classical western music any musical piece was usually named after the scale it is based in, like "Tocatta in C minor". This does not exclude there were any other scale played. You can have, for example, an ABA structure where the A section is in C minor but B is in some other scale and with some other note acting temporarily as tonic. This kind of change was usually made softly in a way that the audience hardly noticed it. This is known in classical music as "modulation" (a term that seems to have a much more broad significance in electronic music). This "art of modulation" follow some known rules, since the different major and minor scales show diverse levels of familiarity (sharing chords, notes or relevant degrees..-I know just the very basic of this, if anyone wrote about it more knowingly I'll be thankful).

But at any case any musical piece pointed always to one single note/chord that act as a Tonic for the whole composition. What makes that tensions were also strong and significant always, despite of that modulated passages.

But then, if you listen at Debussy or Miles Davis, his music has this kind of ethereal or elusive spirit, quite different from that of Mozart, Rossini or Bach (however, there are exceptions for Bach...Since he seems to develop the art of modulation so far you can still listen at some of his fugues as a sort of paradoxical "geometric impressionism")...

I'm guessing the adoption of this "modal" system is the main cause of this elusiveness...Since seems so easy to shift from one tonic to another, just remaining on the same seven notes!. I' m interested in to know if this is a known fact and if there are (as for modulation on classical western music) some "rules" or habits for to make this changes (besides of the obvious connection between major and minor modes).
Last edited by WMRhapsodies on Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Modes

Post by WMRhapsodies » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:31 am

Syscrusher wrote:
WarpToken wrote:So what "mode" does say a harmonic minor fall into?
Harmonic Minor is not a mode.
Hehe, that just explains why I got crazy trying to find a mode on the KAOSS pad that fits with an harmonic or melodic minor scale based song...still, "pentatonic minor" or "blues minor" scales work fine, I think...Any other?

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Re: Modes

Post by Syscrusher » Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:39 pm

Cfgk24 wrote:Lol, forgive me if I'm wrong - haven't had any coffee yet this morning
Modes do not all share the same progression of Tones and semitones.
Each Mode has a Different progression. If you use only white keys on the piano - all the modes can be visited - however the tonic would change - You would not use any Sharps or Flats (accidentals on the piano keyboard) it is used to demonstrate that despite changing mode - you can still end up playing the same notes lol. (this confused the hell out of me for years when I sused to write down what notes were playing in a tune - look at it, confidently tell someone that the tune was played in the key of C when in fact it was A Aeolian...)

What changes is the Tonic
C Ionian is different o D Ionian but both ahave the same progression of Tones and semitones
likewise you can compose using G Ionian, G Mixolydian, G Lydian etc. In this case the tonic remains the same but the progression up from the Note G would change.

Each key - black or white - on the piano keyboard has it's own complete set of Modes. :o

See also the thread on Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor
Each of the seven modes are based on the same progression of tones and semi-tones but each mode starts on a different degree of the progression.

Donian translates into solfege as Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do Re with all it's attendant tones and semitones. Phrygian is Mi Fa So La Ti Do Re Mi. Lydian is Fa So La Ti Do Re Mi Fa. Of course you can start a mode on any note as long as you follow it's formula of tones and semi-tones.

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Re: Modes

Post by Cfgk24 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:42 pm

Having read all this - does anyone think korg DS10 is a Kids toy? lol

I found this on the internet:
Modal theory is very simple once you understand it, and yet, this simple concept has been the cause of more confusion than any other musical principle in existence.

For most musicians, the terms scale and mode are interchangeable. While there is a certain amount of truth to this perception, understanding the difference between a scale and a mode is essential.

A scale can be defined as a series of notes, arranged by order of pitch, between a root and the octave. Theoretically, any combination of notes between the root and octave could be considered a scale. On the more practical side, there are a finite number of note combinations that have gained acceptance in western music. Eastern music, on the other hand, tends to be more open-ended as far as the note combinations that are considered acceptable.

A mode can be thought of as a way of manipulating the notes of a scale in order to generate a greater variety of sounds.


I have always thought of Modes as Scales and scales as Modes.
But what about the Chromatic Scale? Pentatonic Scales?

The Quote above says that the modes and scales have GAINED ACCEPTANCE in western music.
I know plenty of classical musicians who think that Folk music isn't proper music - that a banjo is not a real instrument - maybe a kind of snobbery? Some eastern and Asian music has notes in it that don't even exist on the Piano. Which brings me to the point that the Piano keyboard is based on the principal of EQUAL TEMPERAMENT.
That is there is a compromise in the tuning of the instrument to make up for the fact that B# is not the same as C Natural.......yet it shares the same key on the piano but We'll have another thread on that...

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Re: Modes

Post by Syscrusher » Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:51 am

Cfgk24 wrote:I have always thought of Modes as Scales and scales as Modes.
But what about the Chromatic Scale? Pentatonic Scales?

The Quote above says that the modes and scales have GAINED ACCEPTANCE in western music.
I know plenty of classical musicians who think that Folk music isn't proper music - that a banjo is not a real instrument - maybe a kind of snobbery? Some eastern and Asian music has notes in it that don't even exist on the Piano. Which brings me to the point that the Piano keyboard is based on the principal of EQUAL TEMPERAMENT.
That is there is a compromise in the tuning of the instrument to make up for the fact that B# is not the same as C Natural.......yet it shares the same key on the piano but We'll have another thread on that...
We are getting deep into some semantics here but just for clarity's sake: All modes are scales but not all scales are modes. The Greek Modes specifically refer to the permutations of the T T ST T T T ST formula: ie Dorian = T ST T T T ST Phrygian = ST T T T ST T T Lydian = T T T ST T T ST etc... however you can make a mode out of any scale; There are modes of the Harmonic Minor for instance.

As I mentioned in my "intervals" post different cultures divide the octave differently. We have 12 discreet notes but some have 24 or even 36. In the West we divided our octave into 12 notes long before we developed equal temperament. Equal temperament is a welcome compromise - without it a piano would sound in tune in only one key signature. Equal temperament puts all 12 keys equally out of tune so all keys are accessible - they are all just slightly out of tune. This is akin to tuning your guitar to chord; If you perfectly tune a G chord then all the other chords will sound out of tune - especially the unrelated ones. That is why you should never tune your guitar to a chord.

The chromatic scale is just all 12 notes of the octave. Pentatonic scale are what the name implies - 5 note scales. Most cultures have used pentatonic scales of some sort. The ones we tend to use in the Western music ( and the ones on the DS-10 Kaoss Pad) are the Major Pentatonic 1 2 3 5 6 1 ( or Do Re Mi So La Do) and the Minor Pentatonic
1 b3 4 5 b7 1 ( or La Do Re Mi So La)

Just to address the notion of scales and modes "gaining acceptance in western music"- This is somewhat of an lopsided understatement. Western music is based entirely on scales and modes- without them there would be no "western music" (and I don't mean Roy Rogers ;)

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Re: Modes

Post by WMRhapsodies » Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:09 am

Syscrusher wrote:
We are getting deep into some semantics here but just for clarity's sake: All modes are scales but not all scales are modes. The Greek Modes specifically refer to the permutations of the T T ST T T T ST formula: ie Dorian = T ST T T T ST Phrygian = ST T T T ST T T Lydian = T T T ST T T ST etc... however you can make a mode out of any scale; There are modes of the Harmonic Minor for instance.

I'm sorry because I think my first comment to UncleBibby was really confusing (I was taking any conventional major or minor scales as "modes")...I'm slowly understanding all this modal stuff (I hope so) ... This last comment of Syscrusher is enlightening. So you can make modes out of any scale (major or minor) just by applying this permutations. That is, starting-ending from any degree of the scale and taking this note as a tonic. Right?...

----

Besides, about the modulation thing...Well, maybe I was going just too fast, and it may deserve another thread. Just left here something I found on the subject, if anyone interested:

" Before the advent of modal music in the '50s, solo improvisations were based around the specific key of a piece -- that is, its tonal center, the starting point to which its melodies and chord progressions would return for a feeling of resolution or completeness. Modal improvisations, on the other hand, were based on modes (...) The most commonly used modes did relate to major scales, though; each note in the scale was also the first note of a new mode, which would incorporate all of the notes in the original major scale, but sounded different because the new starting point rearranged the order of distances between notes. Thus, if a musician were improvising over, say, a D chord, he could essentially choose any key center whose corresponding scale included the note D (...). The new order of distances between notes could produce very different moods --

(note: I think this is why Cfgk24 said "Each Mode has a Different progression (of tones and semitones)". Then Syscrusher "Each of the seven modes are based on the same progression of tones and semi-tones". Both assertions seem right and complementary to me)


(...) The results often had a meditative, cerebral feel, (...). Modal music had a subtle tension produced by the fact that the solo lines, while melodic, didn't always progress or resolve exactly as the listener was accustomed to hearing; plus, every time a new mode was introduced, the tonal center shifted, keeping the listener just off balance with a subtle unpredictability. Miles Davis was the first jazz musician to improvise and compose according to modal structure; his Kind of Blue is the definitive modal jazz album, and two of his sidemen on the record -- John Coltrane and Bill Evans -- later went on to become modal innovators in their own right."

http://www.allmusic.com/explore/style/modal-music-d2613

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Re: Modes

Post by Syscrusher » Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:52 pm

WMRhapsodies wrote: So you can make modes out of any scale (major or minor) just by applying this permutations. That is, starting-ending from any degree of the scale and taking this note as a tonic. Right?...
Yes, but only the Greek Modes (the ones with Greek names) are derived from the Major Scale (T T ST T T T ST). You can make modes out of the Harmonic and Melodic minor scales as well. Even the pentatonic scale has five "modes" - one for each note of the scale.
WMRhapsodies wrote: (note: I think this is why Cfgk24 said "Each Mode has a Different progression (of tones and semitones)". Then Syscrusher "Each of the seven modes are based on the same progression of tones and semi-tones". Both assertions seem right and complementary to me)
Yes, depending on how you look at it we were both aiming at the same conclusion - just some semantic differences. My point was merely that while the progression (order) of tones and semitones doesn't change, it is where you start within that progression that gives you a particular mode.
WMRhapsodies wrote: Besides, about the modulation thing...Well, maybe I was going just too fast, and it may deserve another thread. Just left here something I found on the subject, if anyone interested:
As far as the concept of "modulation" goes, well, that deserves a thread of it's own and basic Functional Harmony should be discussed first.

Modal modulation can be discussed here though as it is a slightly different beast. Also, I can discuss a particular relevant quirk of the DS-10 Kaoss pad that I came upon when working on "Pulsar Navigator" for the space compilation.

Like I said, harmonic modulation is the fairly complex business of changing the key (tonal center) within a piece of music. We'll leave that for another thread. Modal modulation is the process of changing from one mode to another. The tonal center may or may not change. For instance: changing from A Aeolian to A Phrygian does not change the key - it would still be A Minor while changing from A Aeolian to Bb Ionian does change the tonal center from A to Bb.
If I had a chord progression - say Am - C - Dm I could play A Aeolian over the entire progression and it would fit fine. Since the tonal center stays in Am there is no need for me to rename the Aeolian mode Ionian as it passes over the C chord or Dorian as it passes over the Dm chord. A Aeolian, C Ionian, and D Dorian all contain the very same notes and the key is clearly staying in A minor.

This brings up the notion of relative modes. I find it useful to think about modes this way:
There are 12 Major Scales - one for each note of the Chromatic Scale - and each Major Scale has 7 modes, each mode starting on a note of that particular Major Scale. For instance:

The Modes Of C Major (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C):

C Ionian (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C) - the same as C Major
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)
G Mixolydian (G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G)
A Aeolian (A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A) - also "A Natural Minor" the relative minor of C Major
B Locrian (B-C-D-E-F-G-A-B)

The Modes of G Major (G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G):

G Ionian (G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G) - the same as G Major
A Dorian (A-B-C-D-E-F#-G-A)
B Phrygian (B-C-D-E-F#-G-A-B)
C Lydian (C-D-E-F#-G-A-B-C)
D Mixolydian (D-E-F#-G-A-B-C-D)
E Aeolian (E-F#-G-A-B-C-D-E) - also "E Natural Minor" the relative minor of G Major
F# Locrian (F#-G-A-B-C-D-E-F#)

Etc...

Each of these corresponding modes are said to be related. Let's continue the metaphor for a second; The Modes of G Major a contain the same "genetic code" or "DNA sequence" G-A-B-C-D-E-F# therefore they are relative. The deciding factor in which mode is being invoked when playing a particular "DNA sequence" is what is the tonic note is. I can play a D Mixolydian Mode till I turn blue, but if you are playing an E Minor chord underneath as the tonic, my D Mixolydian will just end up sounding as E Aeolian (it's relative). Also if I just improvise on that particular "DNA sequence" (G-A-B-C-D-E-F#) melodically by myself but aim my phrases to a particular step, or favour a particular note -say C- then I invoke that particular mode - in this case C Lydian.

Modes can also enforce, or at least suggest a chord progression and visa-versa. For instance the chord progression Am-Dm-Am-Dm suggests A Aeolian or perhaps A Phrygian. The simple alteration of the progression from a Dm chord to a D major chord ( Am-D-Am-D ) suggests A Dorian.

This brings me back to my song "Pulsar Navigator" which I'll use as an example both because it applies to the subject but also, as mentioned, presented a particular technical hurdle on the DS-10. The song itself is in the key of E Minor. The song drones on a Em chord for quite some time before any changes so I actually had a bit of freedom as far as which minor mode to choose, however I settled on E Dorian for the melody - I thought it would set the mood for my lonely space traveler. When the first chord change comes around it is actually somewhat unusual in that it is not a relative chord to E Minor (or E Dorian). The new chord is a Dm and in the key of Em the chord based on a D root note is usually a major chord. This required me to employ some modal modulation; I "follow" the chord progression down so that over the Dm chord the melody is now playing in D Dorian. If I did not change the mode it would have ended up sounding like I was playing a D Ionian (D Major Scale) over a Dm chord. Very clashy. (Note that E Dorian is the relative of D Ionian and thus contains all the same notes.) The other chord was not so problematic (perhaps not the right word as I found the results of my mode change rather pleasing ;)) as it was a Bm and Bm is a relative of Em. You could say that over the Bm I switched to B Aeolian but there is not much point as, being related, there was no real tonal shift and E Dorian and B Aeolian share the same notes; So over the Bm I just continued with E Dorian.

Here is where the issue with the DS-10 comes in and it's not so much a bug as an idiosyncrasy. My idea was originally to improvise with the Kaoss pad throughout the tune in song mode (which I ended up doing a bit of but ended up playing much of it on the keyboard or over-dubbing Kaoss pad moves). I set up the melody voice Kaoss pad with E Dorian on the Em and Bm patterns and set the Dm pattern with D Dorian. I wanted the melody to smoothly transition from the E Dorian to D Dorian on their common, or "pivot" notes.

E Dorian = E F# G A B C# D
D Dorian = D E F G A B C
Pivot tones = E G A B D

The problem was that when I held my stylus on the Kaoss pad in order to sustain a pivot note through a change from the E Dorian pattern to the D Dorian pattern the note would spontaneously change! Even though I was holding the stylus on a note common to both modes!

I figured out that what was happening was that the that modes were starting on their respective tonics from left to right on the X axis so that the two X axis matrix' no longer lined up: Since the X axis for E Dorian started on the left on E and the X axis for D Dorian started on D it was no surprise after thinking about it for a second that the pivot notes wouldn't "line up" on the X axis. For instance the 5th "grid point" on the E Dorian X axis is the note "B" but the 5th "grid point" on the D Dorian X axis is the note "A" - so holding the stylus steady on the Kaoss pad would result in a shift from a "B" note to an "A" note as the pattern changed. The solution required a bit of relative thinking. I needed the X axis in both patterns to start on E in order for the pivot notes to line up properly but still required a modal change from E Dorian to D Dorian. What relative of D Dorian starts on E? Well that would be E Phrygian of course!

D Dorian = D E F G A B C
E Phrygian = E F G A B C D

Voila! Problem solved. Transitions were now smooth on the pivot tones:

E Dorian = E F# G A B C# D
E Phrygian = E F G A B C D

Notice how the above modal steps line up with the #'s being the only difference.

In the end, like I said, I didn't play the lead line live in song mode but overdubbed it later. Still the process of improvising with the Kaoss pad gave me lots of little ideas. If you listen you can hear the lead anticipate the upcoming modal shift by starting a D Dorian phrase over the Em pattern but resolving itself on the Dm chord. It's a jazzy trick.

Edit: I read this over and realized some points were not clear so I revised a little.

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Cfgk24
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Re: Modes

Post by Cfgk24 » Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:10 pm

Thanks Syscrusher - This does clarify a lot of little confusions.

It is really nice that you supplied the Practical references to your Pulsar Navigator track.
I think it is a Credit to Korg DS10 that the note changes are so instant on the kaoss pad when you change mode between patterns. You'll have to use the keyboard to hold that pivot note across the pattern change lol.

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Syscrusher
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Re: Modes

Post by Syscrusher » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:13 am

Cfgk24 wrote:Thanks Syscrusher - This does clarify a lot of little confusions.

It is really nice that you supplied the Practical references to your Pulsar Navigator track.
I think it is a Credit to Korg DS10 that the note changes are so instant on the kaoss pad when you change mode between patterns. You'll have to use the keyboard to hold that pivot note across the pattern change lol.
Thanks Cfgk24! The point was however, that I solved the Kaoss pad problem thus I was able to use the Kaoss pad to hold the pivot tone.

Glad this cleared some things up though! Modes are a little tricky at first.

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WMRhapsodies
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Re: Modes

Post by WMRhapsodies » Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:30 am

Thanks a lot Syscrusher for the detailed answer-as for all the info shared before-.

Syscrusher wrote:If I had a chord progression - say Am - C - Dm I could play A Aeolian over the entire progression and it would fit fine. Since the tonal center stays in Am there is no need for me to rename the Aeolian mode Ionian as it passes over the C chord or Dorian as it passes over the Dm chord. A Aeolian, C Ionian, and D Dorian all contain the very same notes and the key is clearly staying in A minor.
I see. So enforce a new tonic is not at all as easy as I naively guessed before.

Had a kind of experimental confirmation of this yesterday, when I took the keyboard and thought "hey, let's practice some of this exotic modes! :D ", keeping on the white keys just for pure lazyness. I started on A, holding it with the left hand for some time, later making some easy chords, while improvising with my right hand (this is just "A Natural Minor", right, but still sound a bit nicely archaic to me since I'm more familiar to harmonic or melodic minor scales). Then I stopped for some seconds (checked the email or something) and started a "new" improvisation at some other note (but still keeping always in the white keys, that is, in one of this "Modes of C" you listed)...but even if I somewhat insist in that new key found that I had to resolve on A. Kind of obvious I imagine :oops: . Still, is funny I think how memory works at this matters, since I "stopped" and consciously tried to start from a new scale -while there were no new chord or melodic progression that enforced me to actually take the new note as a real new root-

---

It has been really nice to follow your thoughts on Pulsar Navigator (I've need paper and pencil here, hehe). I think it has teached me a lot, not just for the detail but also about the kind of thinking beneath...and this final "trick" using that E Phrygian as a pivot or bridge. Really interesting, as I guess, is this auto-remapping of the kaoss pads (M01, by the way, holds the kaoss settings for the entire song, so no chance to make this kind of modulations without stopping and selecting a new scale).

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