Musicians: Can someone explain Phrygian and other "modes" to me?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brian Perry, Mar 31, 2002.

  1. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    I just bought Tool's album Aenima and noticed that the song 46 & 2 sounds similar to Dream Theater's Home. I searched for some info on why these would sound so similar, and the best I could come up with was that the bass players were both building their rhythms on the Phrygian mode. I also heard DT's bassist refer to the Mixolidian and Dorian modes.
    Can someone explain what these modes are? Are they just glorified scales that can be used as building blocks for rhythm or melody?
    (By the way, I like the Tool album a lot. These guys are obviously talented, but I could do with a bit less profanity!)
     
  2. Sam Hatch

    Sam Hatch Stunt Coordinator

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    From what I remember of my 'shredding' days in the late 80's and reading lots of Guitar mags -- these are just scales. They sound different than the usual Pentatonic deals -- some are a bit darker and match well with Metal soloing (and melody construction as well I suppose). If I recall correctly, most of them 'climb' up the fretboard instead of centering around the same four or so frets.

    I once tried to memorize all of them, in fear of Joe Satriani driving to my house and beating me silly with his headstock in punishment for my guitar laziness -- but when it came to writing my own stuff I just made everything up. It probably was in some certain scale but damned if I knew what it was!

    They do have cool names though -- if I could create new notes somehow, I'd love to make a 'Squeegian' scale!
     
  3. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Modes
    The internet is beautiful thing.
     
  4. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    Yeah, but where'd they come up with the cool names? [​IMG]
     
  5. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    The names are from ancient Greece.
    All the 7 "popular" modes are derived from the major scale. A scale consists of 7 notes thus the popular 7 modes. Each of these modes has a certain sound and "color". The fact that they are based of the major scale is more for reference. So in laymans terms these modes are just different ways of arranging these 7 notes. e.g Mixolydian would be 1,2,3,4,5,6,b7, back to 1. Now heres the tricky part Ionian,Lydian & Moxolydian would be major. Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian and Locrian would be minor. They are all still based on the major scale. I know this is confusing [​IMG] and I dont even think of these things when I play guitar. I had to learn it in college. I hope this helps
     
  6. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    Much of music from that region uses "Harmonic Minor", I'm sure there is plenty of .wav's of that scale out there.[​IMG]
     
  7. Tom Ryan

    Tom Ryan Screenwriter

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    Actually, Jewish music is traditionally based on one of the modes of harmonic minor (I think it's the fourth or the fifth).

    A short explanation of "modes": modes are just extensions of a scale. A scale is a pattern of notes. So, say you play a scale in the key of G, starting on the first note of the pattern and then play the same scale again but starting on the SECOND note of the pattern. You have just played the next mode of the scale. There are as many modes as there are notes on the scale, since going through the pattern at any particular note will produce a mode. Basically, these modes can be used to play a scale anywhere on the fretboard.

    All scales have modes, but what are commonly referred to as "the modes" are the modes of the major scale. The major scale starting on the first note of the pattern is also known as the Ionian mode, and the other six modes of the scale are: Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian.

    -Tom
     
  8. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    To further elucidate on Tom's post, utilizing the key of G Major:
    All scales have 1 Sharp (F#)
    Ionian: Starts on G
    Dorian: Starts on A
    Phrygian: Starts on B
    Lydian: Starts on C
    Mixolydian: Starts on D
    Aeolian: Starts on E
    Locrian: Starts on F#
    They all have different sounds to them, and you will see most jazz / pop tunes with minor chords using Dorian Mode, as Dorian gives a flatted 7th, which happens to sound very cool, and works the ii7 - V7 - I(major)7 progression beautifully.
    This would be A-7 (A minor 7), D7 (Dominant 7th), G major 7.
    So this progression uses the same basic key signature (G major) with various flavors when playing notes that are harmonic extensions to the basic chords.
    This is an area where Jazz/Pop/Rock varies from Classical, since most classical selections use a harmonic minor scale. A harmonic minor scale is seperated from its associated major key by a major 6th. So the harmonic minor of Bb is g minor.
    A G minor scale would consist of:
    G-A-Bb-C-D-Eb-F#-G
    Note the lowered sixth, and the 1.5 tone space between 6th and 7th; in some circles this could be a minor 3rd.
    Probaby way, way more than you wanted to know, and it's been far too many years since music theory [​IMG]
    Regards,
     
  9. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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  10. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

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    for more info, be sure to check out The Guitar Grimoire - Scales and Modes, published by Carl Fischer and available at any self-respecting guitar store. This book has an awe-inspiring amount of information on modes, including thousands upon thousands of diagrams and charts. It's a lot to digest, but it makes a handy reference tool.
     
  11. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    And yet more information.

    When you're reading up on classical music, you will often times see something like:

    Symphony in Bb, or

    Symphony in g

    By convention, upper case denotes a Major key and lower case denotes a Minor key.

    Regards,
     
  12. Mark F Hall

    Mark F Hall Agent

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    Scales and modes

    (I) II III IV V VI VII (I) - IONIAN Scale (Major Scale)

    T T S T T T S

    II III IV V VI VII (I) II - DORIAN Mode

    T S T T T S T

    III IV V VI VII (I) II III - PHRYGIAN Mode

    S T T T S T T

    IV V VI VII (I) II III IV - LYDIAN Mode

    T T T S T T S

    V VI VII (I) II III IV V - MIXOLYDIAN Mode

    T T S T T S T

    VI VII (I) II III IV V VI - AEOLIAN Mode (Relative Minor)

    T S T T S T T

    VII (I) II III IV V VI VII - LOCRIAN Mode

    S T T S T T T

    (I) = Root Note of Key Signature

    T=Tone

    S=Semitone
     

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