Approaches to chord writing in modal keys - Jemsite
Players & Bands, Music & Sounds, Tours & Jams, Lessons & Theory! Covers everything from discussing musicians, bands, music, albums, videos, local jams & sharing multimedia links (no illegal file sharing please).

 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-01-2003, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 1,514
Approaches to chord writing in modal keys

Hey folks,

there seems to be lots and lots of questions about modes/keys lately so I
have decided to wite a kind of tutorial on it.

The first thing you going to have to do if you want to play in F dorian is to
write a chord progression that is in F dorian! seems pretty obvious

But how do you do that??

When writing in any mode you have three basic sets of chords.


1) The primary chords which include the tonic chord and the chords that
include the distinctive flavour of that mode.

2) The secondary set of chords are all of the other chords excluding the
tertiary chord/chords

3) The diminished chords are the set of chords that contain the diminished
fifth or tritone (usually only one in each mode/key). In general this chord
is rarely used as it suggests the dominant seventh of the major key with
the same number of sharps or flats as the mode in question and destroys
its modal feel.


So basically your chord progression is going to start on the tonic chord
and then go through a bunch of primary and secondary chords and end
up on the tonic again, while all the time trying to avoid that diminished
chord. The unique sound of your music is going to come from the order in
which you place the chords in your progression. And this will ultimatly
allow you to create new and interesting melodies.



Examples.

In the lydian mode (which seems to have much popularity on this forum)
the characteristic flavour is the raised fourth step (When compared to the
major scale).

The chords that contain this flavour are the chords of II and VII.
Therefore the primary chords are I (because the tonic is always a
primary chord), II and VII.

the dimished chord is IV because a diminished fifth is created between
the raised fourth and the tonic.

The secondary chords are therefore all the ones i have not mentioned i.e.
III, V and VI.

For example in E lydian A# is the flavour note.
Primary chords
I = E,G#,B
II = F#,A#,C#
VII = D#, F#, A#

Diminished chord is IV = A#, C# E
(the interval between A# and E is a tritone and resembles F#, A#, C# E,
which is the dominant seventh of B major hence when this chord is
sounded there is a tendency for the music to feel more B major-ish then
E lydian and move in that direction destroying the lydian feel) Nearly all
examples of modal writing I have looked at avoid using the dimishesd
chord or uses a modified chord, which i wont deal with here.

Secondary chords are
III = G#, B, D#
V = B, D#, F#
VI = C#, E, G#



In the DORIAN mode the characteristic flavour is the raised sixth step
(when compared to the natural minor scale)

therefore the primary chords are the tonic chord (i.e. I) plus those chords
that contain this raised sixth step (i.e. II and IV) the dimished chord falls
on the characteristic step of that scale (i.e. VI) and therefore the
secondary chords are III, V, VII.


In the PHRYGIAN mode the characteristic flavour is the flattened second
step (when compared to the natural minor scale)

therefore the primary chords are the tonic chord (i.e. I) plus those chords
that contain this flattend second step (i.e. II and VII) the dimished chord
falls on the fifth step of that scale (i.e. V) and therefore the secondary
chords are III, IV, VI.


In the MIXOLYDIAN mode the characteristic flavour is the flattened
seventh step (when compared to the major scale).

therefore the primary chords are the tonic chord (i.e. I) plus those chords
that contain this flattened seventh step (i.e. V and VII) the dimished
chord is III and therefore the secondary chords are II, IV, VI.


The LOCRIAN mode is the odd one out and is in general infrequently used
as the tonic chord is also the dimished chord which makes it unstable.


The use of seventh/nineth chords in modal writing:

as a general rule the only really use-able seventh and nineth chords are
those that dont contain the dimished fifth.

So as an example of 7th chords in E lydian you have the tritone between
A# and E so therefore as the chord of four is already excluded the only
other chord that need be excluded is II7 (F#,A#,C#,E). All other seventh
chords are ok.

The nineth chords of IV, II, III and VII also contain the Diminished fifth
and must be excluded for this reason.

OK now we have covered what chords we can and cant use to maintain
the modal feel.

Simple lydian example here:

Yoink!!!!

In this example I started on the tonic chord, then played a primary chord
(contains the A#) of VII added a seventh to give it a more airy sound. the
played a secondary chord (III) then another secondary (VI7) then a
pseudo primary V7 (as it contains the A#) and then back to the tonic

Chords progression in above example = I, VII7b, III, VI7, V7, I
Forgot to use nineths, sorry.


Next time I will cover synthetic scales modes and their uses.
Devo is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-04-2003, 05:41 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 1,514
got some interesting ideas for whole tone, serial and overtone scales, will
try record one of them tomorrow. Any questions/comments on above
stuff first?

anyone got a preference for either serial, whole or overtone?

cheers
Devo is offline  
post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-06-2003, 07:21 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 1,514
One thing I should have mentioned before.

When you write something unless its really short your going to want to
explore a range of different moods. One effective and easy way to
accomplish or emphasise these mood changes is to change mode.

Changing mode is most effective on a stationary key centre (i.e. on the
same tonic) and usually requires frequent repetition of the tonic tone in
the harmony line. It also changes your primary chord pallet so you can
really change the direction and sound of your music. But what modes
should you move from or to?

If you think of modes existing on some sort of scale from darkness to
brightness with:

Locrian
5 flats

Phrygian
4 flats

Aeolian
3 flats

Dorian (the midpoint mode, not too happy and not to sad)
2 flats

Mixolydian
1 flat

Major
No flats

Lydian
1 sharp


Moving by small steps for example, from locrian to Phrygian or from
Lydian to major, makes the transition more subtle and will serve to build
emotional tension. The opposite of that (for example moving from locrian
to Lydian) can be used to create more dramatic mood changes in your
music and will be really brash and obvious.
Devo is offline  
post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-06-2003, 07:42 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 1,514
Well I decided to do the overtone scale because I have been writing in it
for the past few months and find it really fascinating at the moment.

Basically when you plan any single note on any instrument you generate
a series of overtones that scale upward beyond our range of our ears,
with some instrument producing more overtones than others.

The first few notes in the overtone series of any note are always the
same relative to that note and as you will see later this allows you to use
some really unusual compositional techniques.

So what are these overtones??

Lets take the E overtone scale being that E is the lowest note on the
standard six string guitar.


Here is the set of overtones of bass E that I can play on my classical
guitar. (only goes up to high C)

YOINK!!!


-------1--- 2--- 3--- 4------ 5----6----7----8--------9--10---11---12

The lower the note is in the series the stronger its relationship to the tonic
note and the more resonant it will be when played simultaneously with the
tonic note.

Looking at this series above you can see that the strongest relationships
are between the first and third partial and the first and fifth partial. (The
second and fourth partials are the same note repeated up an octave)

From the series above it is also clear that the more distance that exists
between partials the less dissonant the interval is going to sound. For
example partial 11 sounded over the tonic is not dissonant at all, however
if you move partial 11 down two octaves then it becomes extremely
dissonant when sounded over the tonic note.

An interesting feature of this scale is that if you can add partials of
partials to construct chords. One idea that I use a lot is to use partials of
the first non tonic overtone (the strongest overtone) to construct chords.

For example in E the first and strongest non tonic partial is the third
partial (which confusingly is the fifth degree of the scale). So if you sound
Partial 2 and 3 above E and then sound partial 3 of partial 3 you start
building very strong resonant chords.

YOINK!
YOINK!


Remember that these chords are going to be their most resonant when
the distances between the notes of the chord are similar to those in the
overtone series.

OK so now we know the overtone scale!! Yay!! How do we use it in
metal/rock??

Here is an example I put together with some drums and bass. This
example modulates back and forth between E and F overtone scales in
answering phrases to create a sense of urgency and unsettled-ness as
the two scales have virtually no shared notes. I also use 6/8 time which
dances back and forth between two in a bar and three in a bar to enforce
this urgency, and stick in a 5/8 bar to enforce the unsettled-ness. And
then do the whole thing again in 6/4 so you can rock out to it. Enjoy!

YOINK!
Devo is offline  
post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2003, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 1,514
Just made this little locrian jam file to practice your locrian chops over.

YOINK!

enjoy!

also edited the first post to include Vai styled lydian example
Devo is offline  
post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-14-2003, 04:12 AM
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 297
Whoa, Devo, you are a monster. Thanks for the great post and files!
Ancestor is offline  
post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-14-2003, 06:55 AM
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Liverpool, UK
Posts: 740
sh*t devo!! that must of took f*cking hours man , nice work!!
Anton is offline  
post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-14-2003, 07:10 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 1,514
hey cheers guys,

took a while but I really enjoyd it, was great fun comming up with examples.

great excuse to practice some theory and try make it fun and interesting for myself.

Steve
Devo is offline  
post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-23-2003, 12:18 AM
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 87
hay devo,
i am trying to get used to the sound and fell of the modes but some are harder then others , i cand do lydian, mixolydian, minor.
i was wondering if u could write out some chord progresions that i could practice improvising for each of the modes.
just some simple progressions would be greatly appreciated

thanks
the second eye is offline  
post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-07-2010, 09:29 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: nottingham uk
Posts: 33
Re: Approaches to chord writing in modal keys

Devo, I notice that you mention some files of music and backing. Where would I find them. Sorry not used to this forum yet.

Many thanks for the lesson by the way. Its comprehensive and gives clarity to those of us who are kinda getting there with this stuff.

regards
potatohead is offline  
post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-13-2010, 02:37 AM
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Burbank, CA
Posts: 28
Re: Approaches to chord writing in modal keys

Sorry, dude, you're bumping a seven-year-old thread.

Dorian - I-IV-I is very dorian. Use the IV and ii chord.
Phrygian - bII-i. So much metal uses this progression. The first riff from Megadeth's 'Symphony Of Destruction' uses this exact chord progression.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeS7TttYirE

Lydian - I have yet to find a convincing lydian progression. Mostly, I find it used modally. Rush's "Freewill" is lydian, and so is the theme from Back To The Future.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnxkfLe4G74
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTGyeGgMpk8

There are also some lydian riffs in Peter Hammill's 'Silver', but it's kind of limited to a few sections. Where the vocal comes in, it's lydian. Around one minute, it changes modes. At 1:41, it's lydian again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Oeg-Ob7Iq4

Mixolydian - bVII-I and v-I. bVII-I is used a lot in blues and rock. If you look around, you can find it. v-I is much more colorful, and you don't see it as much. I can't think of a good example of v-I, but I think there's some Henri Duparc chansons that make use of the cadence. Try here at 1:19 - 1:30.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nASMWsd-Uzk

Aeolian - well, it's minor. If you want aeolian minor (natural/pure minor), use v-i or bVII-i. i-iv-i also works, and anything that uses the i. iiį, iv, v, VI, and VII chords.

Locrian - Sorry, can't think of one.
SchecterWhore is offline  
Reply

Tags
chord progression

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Jemsite forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address

IMPORTANT: You will be required to activate your account so please ensure that your email address is correct.

If you do not receive your activation check your spam folder before using the CONTACT US form (at the bottom right of each page).



Email Address:
OR

Log-in











Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Modal Arpeggio Lesson JackButlerGOT Players & Bands, Music & Sounds, Tours & Jams, Lessons & Theory! 0 12-15-2009 09:35 AM
when writing material do you become what your writing! vaitamin7v Off-topic / Miscellaneous 1 05-08-2008 09:33 PM
Modal Exercise LethalAe86TypeR Players & Bands, Music & Sounds, Tours & Jams, Lessons & Theory! 8 12-04-2006 07:43 PM
Modal soloing...need help - what's your approach? chilln2music Players & Bands, Music & Sounds, Tours & Jams, Lessons & Theory! 6 12-04-2001 06:38 AM
Modal jam tracks - a little fun Devo Players & Bands, Music & Sounds, Tours & Jams, Lessons & Theory! 1 09-13-2001 10:09 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome