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Modal Interchange

by rich2k4


Modes, it's something all musicians need to learn sooner or later, if they want to become better overall players.
Some players love em, others are afraid of them, but do the experienced really know how to use them?

for the sake of this lesson, we will be working within the key of C. Most players know the basic major scale, and in the case of C, it is

C, D, E, F, G, A, B if we were to apply this to the modes (if you don't know the modes yet, look at the other mode lessons on this site.) it would look like this.


Ionian - C

Dorian - D

Phrygian - E

Lydian - F

Mixolydian - G

Aeolian - A

Locrian - B




Ionian, Lydian, and mixolydian are major modes. Dorian, Phrygian, and Aeolian are minor modes.

and Locrian is a diminished/half diminished mode.

Now here is where the miscommunication comes in. A lot of players think that if they are soloing in C ionian, and they slide into a D dorian scale, they will change the sound of the solo and the mood of the song. They are wrong, sliding into D dorian from C ionian isn’t going to change anything. Its the same if you slide into E phrygian or any other harmonized mode of the C ionian scale. So that said, if you want Dorian to sound like Dorian, or any mode to sound like the mode they say they are, you are going to have to take the patterns of each of the modes, and transpose them to the I note of the key, in this case C. This is Modal Interchange.

lets take a look. Each mode has its own pattern consisting of whole steps and half steps. W being whole steps and H being half steps.

Ionian - C

W W H W W W H

Therefore the notes in a C Ionian scale are:

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

Dorian - D

W H W W W H W

so the notes in a D dorian scale are:

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

Phrygian - E

H W W W H W W

Notes:

E F G A B C D E
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Lydian - F

W W W H W W H

Notes:

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

Mixolydian - G

W W H W W H W
Notes:

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

Aeolian - A

W H W W H W W

Notes:

A B C D E F G A

Important Note: Aeolian mode is also the Natural Minor scale. since aeolian is a minor mode, and is the natural minor scale, then Am is the relative minor of C
----------------------------------------------

Locrian - B

H W W H W W W

Notes:

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

Now that we know the patterns of the modes, we can get to work on modal interchange. Like I said before, if you want a mode to sound like a mode, then you got to take the pattern, and transpose it to the I note of the entire key.

for example, I am going to take the first 3 mode names and I am going to transpose them to the I note of the Key. since were in the key of C the I note is C.


Ionian - C

W W H W W W H

Notes:

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

Dorian - C

W H W W W H W


Notes:

C D Eb F G A Bb C
---------------------------------------------

Phrygian - C

H W W W H W W

Notes:

C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C
---------------------------------------------

Notice how I took the patterns of the first 3 modes and applied them to the first note of the key. Thus changing the notes, and the sound.

so now that we know this piece of information, lets actually put it to use.

Here is a chord progression I took diatonically out of the key of C. it is a II,V, I progression.

imma add a little flavor to the chords so this is what they will be

Dm9

G7add 13

and a Cmaj7

the chord progression will go in this order Dm9, G7add13, Cmaj7

straight out of the key of C, totally in key, but here is how it all comes together and this is the cool part about all of this.

lets take a look at the notes in C dorian

C D Eb F G A Bb C

and lets compare it to the C ionian notes.

C D E F G A B C

by looking at these 2 scales we see that the 3rd is flatted, and so is the 7th. This should trigger something to the theory buffs.

by stacking 3rds in the dorian scale, we get a 1 b3 5 which is a minor chord, which is also why the dorian is a minor mode.

however we also have the 7th flatted so that adds more flavor and makes it a 1 b3 5 b7, or C Eb G Bb. and we know that if you have the 3rd flatted and the 7th flatted, you have a Minor 7th chord.

so lets borrow a chord from C dorian to add to our chord progression earlier. in this case since we have a 1 b3 5 b7 ill borrow a Cm7 chord.

so now our chord progression is:

Dm9, G7add13, Cmaj7, Cm7

now im going to borrow another chord from the C dorian scale. I'm going to go up to the 4th chord, which is F.

now to flavor it, normally in the C ionian scale you would do a F major 7 chord. however you can not do this when borrowing an F chord from the C dorian scale.

since you have the Eb and the Bb. in a F major 7th I have a F A C E. but since its from C dorian, I can't have the E in there. so I need to make it F A C Eb.

if I wanted I could sharp the A and make it a Bb, which I am going to do. so now I have F Bb C Eb which is a F7sus chord.

now my chord progression is:

Dm9, G7add13, Cmaj7, Cm7, F7sus.

I am going to finish off the progression with 2 chords from the C ionian scale, Dm and Cmaj

so the final progression is:

Dm9, G7add13, Cmaj7, Cm7, F7sus, Dm, Cmaj.

3 bars of ionian, 2 bars of dorian, and 2 bars of ionian.

now the key thing to remember, is that when soloing over this progression, on the first 3 chords use the C ionian scale. When the Cm7 and F7sus come in, switch to C dorian, and then on Dm and Cmaj go back to C ionian.

if you try to solo over the Cm7 and F7sus using the C ionian scale, it will not work, so make sure the dorian is being used.

this is the key to using modes, and this is where they get there sounds. You don't need to borrow from the dorian scale; you can borrow from any mode depending on the sound that you want. Just make sure you transcribe the mode patterns over to the first note of the key, which is the note of the key that you are in.

while it is necessarily a key change, its just for a few bars, and you can say that most of the song is in the key of C, but you borrow a few chords from other modes to give a little flavor.

I hope this lesson was helpful and educational. Thank you for your time.
 

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Personally, I prefer to think of modes in terms of intervals.

Major mode: tonic, maj 2nd, maj 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, maj 6th, maj 7th, tonic.
Mixolydian: tonic, maj 2nd, maj 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, maj 6th, min 7th, tonic
Dorian: tonic, maj 2nd, min 3rd, p 4th, p 5th, maj 6, min 7, tonic
Aeolean: tonic, maj 2nd, min 3rd, p 4th, p 5th, min 6, min 7, tonic
Phrygian: tonic, min 2, min 3, p 4, p 5, min 6, min 7, tonic
Locrian: tonic, min 2, min 3, p 4, dim 5, min 6, min 7, tonic
Lydian: tonic, maj 2, maj 3, aug 4, p 5, maj 6, maj 7, tonic

Another way to look at it is scale degrees:

maj: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
mix: 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7
dor: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
aeo: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
phr: 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
loc: 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7
lyd: 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
 

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Man, stuff like this really makes my brain hurt, and that seriously pisses me off. I'm not a stupid person, and I can pick up technical stuff and mathematical stuff very quickly.

But guitar theory is always some sorta mental block to me. I can just never fucking get it !!!

A good lesson mate. I will study it, but most of the time I might as well be banging my head against a brick wall...

:wutblau:
 

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might also help if you bosh up some mp3 clips of the stuff yer on about or ptb files for those that use powertab or other form of tab :)
peeps see letters and numbers and nodding ther heds saying yea, but to fully comprehend bosh som clips up would surely help to put the theory in the heads :)

theory is great but if its just theory then it can be a daunting task to read and understand it without some aural communication in ther somewher :)

good stuff tho :)
 

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mondola said:
Man, stuff like this really makes my brain hurt, and that seriously pisses me off. I'm not a stupid person, and I can pick up technical stuff and mathematical stuff very quickly.

But guitar theory is always some sorta mental block to me. I can just never fucking get it !!!

A good lesson mate. I will study it, but most of the time I might as well be banging my head against a brick wall...

:wutblau:
I understand what you are saying. It can be hard. One way to kind of get modes is to take a scale and play it up and down in one octave. Take C major for instance:

Code:
------------------------
-----------------------
-----------------------
-------------7-9-10--------
------7-8-10-------------
-8-10-------------------
Now, for mixolydian play a b7:

Code:
------------------------
-----------------------
-----------------------
-------------7-8-10--------
------7-8-10-------------
-8-10-------------------
Hear the difference? Do that with all the modes. Try it over a C major chord. Try it over a C minor, C minor 6, C6, etc...

It gives you a better idea of what they are. Modes are a concequence of keys. For instance, you know that your 6th is the natural minor of the major right? Am contains all the same notes of a C major. But I play over Am instead of CM and I start and stop on A...usually.

When it finally dawns on you how it all works it is sort of a :doh: kind of feeling. It is actually pretty simple, it just seems hard from the outside.

About the numbers and stuff: those are just where the note is in the key. If you remember WWHWWWH it is 1 W 2 W 3 H 4 W 5 W 6 W 7 H 8. Then you just sharp or flat depending on what you want to say.
 

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mondola said:
Okay, I will give it a crack. I wish the penny would drop sooner rather than later though. It's like the No mondola's club, and they already have a mamber called mondola !!!


:wutblau:
Another thing you can try is to play one of the box patterns up and down but start and stop on the different notes. Take note of what key you are in and what notes you are starting and stopping on and what the feel of the scale is like. Then sit down and analyze all the crap that is behind what you are hearing. Also, you can play with intervals. Stick in one box pattern and play through all your intervals and listen to the sound. Move up to the next note (but stay in the same pattern) and do it again...the feel will be different in several of the intervals.
 

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Bump! A very good theory post, can't miss it...
 

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Great post on modal interchange.
Deserves a bump.
One note: You can also use modal interchange between parallel major and minor keys, or different keys.
Some good examples of modal interchange via chords would be:
An Amin chord in the key of E major. (borrows from the paralell minor)
An Fmaj7#11 in the key of A major. (Borrows from the parallel minor)
A Bbmaj7 in the key of A minor (a neopolitan essentially, borrows from phrygian)
An E7b5 in the key of D minor (essentially it's a french augmented 6, borrows from lydian dominant)
A C13 in the key of G minor (borrows from the paralell major)
An Ebmajadd9#11 in the key of Eb major (borrows from lydian)
An Emin7 in the key of A minor (borrows from aeolian)
etc.
Another classic trick is to slip into the key a halfstep up and then back down. For example, if you were using E minor pent you would slip into F minor pent and back. If done smoothly, it's awesome.
 
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