I think the question came up very often in the comments of Guitar Vlog.

And it is true that there are finally few people who really know how to play modal and even fewer people who know how to explain it, even in some well-known music schools.

I spent a lot of time understanding how to improvise with the modes simply because there is nothing to understand but to hear!

Notes are like words, it is the way of arranging them that makes sentences make sense or not.

I see myself a teacher in a school in my area that has a very famous name that told us to play melodic Ab minor on an altered G chord (because Ab minor melodic and G superlocrian are composed of the same notes) it is SHIT to think like that !!! And that's why the students do not understand anything and they can not speak.

Effectively the modes are from a range but it does not work to think in derivation.

- "it's easy to play D dorien, we have to play the range of do on a Dmin7"

Here is typically the wrong method.

When improvising with a mode you have to rethink the whole articulation around the main poles of the mode. And above all you have to get to hear the color of the mode because each mode has its color, its personality, its universe ...

When I discussed the subject of modes in the Guitar Vlog I threw myself the challenge of getting to hear the mode without bass or chords references.

Thanks to this work I really progressed in modal improvisation on a single chord or within a grid of several chords, so we can have fun to "color" each chord freely according to his tastes.

My method :

Sing each mode from a fundamental to hear the mode and the intervals that compose it. Believe me by doing this job you will really realize what a fashion is.

We play the mode either with a vacuum string that makes "a drone" to always refer to the fundamental and realize the value of the notes according to their position with respect to this fundamental.

We have fun improvising a solo or a piece of chords as I do in the videos.

After doing this work on the 7 modes of the major scale, the 7 modes of the harmonic minor scale, the 7 modes of the melodic minor scale and the 7 modes of the harmonic major scale I can guarantee you that it made me much progress and I found what modes I wanted to develop in priority.

Besides the well-known ones like the Dorian or Mixolydian mode, I have a very pronounced taste for the dorian b2 (mode resulting from the II degrees of the melodic minor), the mixolydien b6 (V of the melodic minor) and modes of the harmonic major ... this said I write this now but maybe tomorrow it will have changed.

There are so many modes ... surely hundreds ... at one time I wanted to have fun all the census but it is not easy because there are many sources divergent ...

If we consider the 7-note modes, we could consider all pentatonic scales, heptatonic scales, even triad, 8 note modes or 9 notes, symmetrical and synthetic modes, modes with limited transpositions of Messiaen and so on.

In the excellent Guitar Cook book of Romain Morlot we can find a very important number! What a job to list all this !!!

And to make music with all this, many work life would not be too much !!!

In the Guitar Vlog season 1 I started to explore some ranges a bit folkloric such as Hungarian or Persian ... but I will devote an article to each because I find it very interesting and challenging.

I can guarantee you that this method is the right one because it works clearly on the people on whom I was able to test it. There is not a student to whom I explained this system which did not say to me "ha there is there I understood !!!"

To train one can have fun playing so what miles of davis or impressions of john coltrane (these two pieces have the same grid based on the dorian mode).

Focusing on one mode in particular is a good way to move forward and hear the difference.

When I work the modal game on the grid of so what I train to go from one mode to another,

I use the melodic minor mode, Dorian # 4, Dorian B2, Dorian B5 or the major Neapolitan scale or other ... in fact all the modes that contain the minor third and the sixth major and I enjoy myself to accompany me at the same time time with the characteristic chords as if I were a pianist. And in the end when we do that we finally hear each color and on everything we feel freer.

The context

We use the modes especially in music derived from jazz and traditional music. There is a person who follows the Vlog who told me that in the metal also new groups were working a lot on modes a little more "exotic".

The most used modes are undoubtedly the Dorian mode and Mixolydien mode (in the blues for example).

My feelings :

Personally I have several methods or systems to play "modal".

I would say even more than according to the mode there is a method. If I'm not used to playing it I try to play the main triad and really "color" it with the characteristic notes of the mode or the super structure.

When you go in there you will have your preferences ... there are modes that do not speak more than that and even within a grid I divert the use of some.

For example on an agreement m7b5, I play rarely think locrien. I prefer phrasing the minor triad with this system: Cm7b5 is equivalent to Ebm / C and I prefer phrasing the triad of Ebm. Otherwise I would use the nat2 locrien from the melodic minor or the nat6 locrien from the harmonic major.

It's really fun to color each chord of the grid in a different way, because on some complex jazz grids it is possible to phrase only the general tone of the piece, it is also very interesting too. To phrase in a "motivic" way, that is to say to base oneself on the basic melody and to develop it to its climax is a very very good way to work and is completely complementary of the work of the modes.


The magic of the modes ... as I say above one can phrasize with the "good notes" and nevertheless it will not sound modal where one will not hear "the sound" of the mode and there is finally all the magic of the music.

As I often say, music is a language and notes are like words:

"Table, eat, Sebastian, guitar, travel," are all legitimate words and yet if they are not arranged correctly the sentence is totally meaningless.

It is also interesting to note that each music has its own language.

Ha ... it's good music!

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